The older a person gets, the more they can usually appreciate the incredible potential that exists within every young child.
What will they learn? What will they discover? Will they have a family of their own? What will be their greatest highs? What will be their darkest lows?
Maybe it’s because most of us realize that we haven’t used our own potential to its fullest extent.
The saints are far from perfect, but they are individuals whom the Church holds up as examples of people who truly followed after Christ, lived in God’s grace, and demonstrated heroic virtue. But they all started out as young children like everyone else: full of potential that could have been used for great good or not. That’s what I think of when I look at this windows into the past. There’s so much potential there – and, by God’s grace, it was used for great good. May that be the case in all of our lives.
Each picture from the saints childhood is followed by a picture of them as an adult, which in most cases is the image with which most people are familiar.
1) Bl. Mother Teresa
Born in the Ottoman Empire in 1910, Bl. Mother Teresa was a member of the Sisters of Loreto at first, but eventually founded her own religion congregation, the Missionaries of Charity. She spent most of her life serving the poor in India, although she traveled the world as the Missionaries of Charity and her fame grew.
2) St. John Paul II
Born Karol Wojtyla in Poland in 1920, St. John Paul II was elected pope in 1978. He had one of the longest and most prolific papacies in history.
3) St. Thérèse of Lisieux
St. Thérèse of Lisieux was a French Discalced Carmelite nun in the 19th century. Though she died at the age of 24 in obscurity, the autobiography she wrote on her deathbed has inspired the faith of millions. St. John Paul II gave her the title of Doctor of the Church for her spiritual insights – the youngest person to ever receive that honor.
4) St. Katharine Drexel
St. Katharine Drexel was the heiress of a large fortune, which she used to fund the missionary work in the U.S. of her religious congregation, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
5) St. Maximilian Kolbe
St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz.
6) St. Josemaría Escrivá
St. Josemaría Escrivá was a Spanish priest who founded Opus Dei, an international organization of laypeople and clergy dedicated to helping all people live a life of holiness, regardless of the circumstances of their life.
7) St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)
Born Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was raised in an observant Jewish family, though she became an atheist as a teenager. After earning a doctorate in philosophy, she converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun. Due to her Jewish background, she was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she died in gas chamber in 1942.
8) St. Padre Pio
St. Padre Pio was a 20th century Capuchin priest known for his holiness, mystical experiences, and miraculous abilities. (See: 3 Fascinating, Rare Videos of St. Padre Pio, the 20th Century Stigmatist)
9) St. Bernadette Soubirous
When she 14 years old, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous several times over the course of several weeks in Lourdes, France. Disliking the attention her experiences brought, she joined the Sisters of Charity of Nevers. She died at the young age of 35. The site of the apparitions is now a major pilgrimage site, with a large number of reported miracle healings there since the 19th century.
10) St. Mary MacKillop
St. Mary MacKillop was a foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, which serves the rural poor in Australia and other places around the world.
11, 12, & almost 13) Bl. Jacinta Marto, Bl. Francisco Marto, and Lúcia Santos (open cause for canonization)
Bl. Jacinta Marto, Bl. Francisco Marto, and Lúcia Santos were just children when they experienced several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. Both Bl. Jacinta Marto and Bl. Francisco Marto died within a few years of the apparitions, but Lúcia Santos lived to age 97, dying in 2005 (partly explaining why the other two children are beatified, but Lúcia is not). Below is a picture of Lúcia in her old age.