The Catholic Commentator  

Gazing upon the Wall of Saints at Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, one sees champions of the faith spurring on its viewers to strive for lives of holiness with the message “you can too.” 

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(Right) The Wall of Saints at Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant features saints of diverse backgrounds to show people that, whatever their state in life, they can achieve a life of holiness. Photos by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator 


“I certainly believe God created each and every single one of us, and the reason is God desires us to be saints. We were created for heaven. Not all of us are going to become canonized saints, but we are called to live lives that are ‘canonizeable,’ ” said Holy Rosary pastor Father Joshua Johnson. 

Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t realize they are called to be saints, according to Father Johnson. Depending on their state in life, they may say “I’ll try to be holy or a saint, ‘when …’ ” 

“We always put off holiness,” said Father Johnson. “The reason we put off holiness and the idea of being a saint is because we misunderstand what it means to be a saint. 

“To be a saint is to struggle. It’s a struggle for heaven in our own unique way. But we’re all called to holiness.” 

Father Johnson noted that when people come to church, they face the altar and the Mass is focused toward Jesus. 

“As they are gazing toward Jesus during Mass, Jesus is speaking to them and informing them on how they are called to go out and be a saint,” he said. “So I wanted them to see (as they walk out of the church) a diversity of saints. They didn’t look alike, they didn’t have the same prayer life, they didn’t have the same state of life vocation, they didn’t have the same work place, they were different ages, different genders, different races, they were of different backgrounds. So you might see someone who looks like you that inspires you to say, ‘I can be a saint.’ ” 

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Saints Jacinta and Francisco, and Lucia, who is in the process of being canonized a saint, is one of the portraits on the Wall of Saints at Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant that serves as an inspiration of viewers in their walk of holiness.  


The wall highlights canonized saints, those who have the title “blessed or venerable,” single men and women, married couples, popes and other religious, those persecuted for their faith and martyrs. 

Father Johnson pointed to St. Martin de Porres, who was considered a “half-breed” because he was the son of a freed woman of Panama, most likely black and of indigenous stock, and a Spanish grandee of Lima, Peru. St. Martin’s father never acknowledged his son and abandoned his family after a sister was born. 

“We have so many people now that don’t have a (structured) family or a father. St. Martin is an example of how to experience the fatherhood of God,” Father Johnson said. 

St. Josephine Bakhita was kidnapped at 7-years-old and sold into slavery several times. 

“St. Bakita was abused,” said Father Johnson. “She helped people who suffered sexual and mental abuse or who endured human trafficking.”

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Recently canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta, was known for her service to the “poorest of the poor” in India. 


He said you can look at saints such as these and ask, “How did you forgive them?”  

Those suffering from illness can look to Blessed Luce Bandano, a “small town” Italian teenager who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, and suffered through painful treatments. Yet, she refused pain-easing drugs so she could remain lucid and offer her suffering up to Jesus. 

“She was on a joyful journey to eternity,” said Father Johnson. 

Parents who have suffered from the death of a child or who are wanting help in their marriage can turn in prayer to Saints Zeleie and Louis Martin, the parents of St. Therese, “The Little Flower.” The Martins, the first married couple to be canonized together, lost four of their nine children in early childhood and the remaining five entered religious life. St. Therese’s portrait is to the left of her parents on the Wall of Saints.

Father Johnson developed the idea for the wall after hearing through another priest about Tracy Christianson, who specializes in portraits of saints. He shared with her his vision of what he wanted it to be. In addition to their diversity, Father Johnson also wanted saints who had a devotion to Jesus through the Holy Rosary (the namesake of the church). Christianson made the larger 20 inches by 26 inches canvases especially for the church. 

Father Johnson gave the portraits as a gift to Holy Rosary for All Saints Day. The response was so popular that Father Johnson decided to keep them up. 

“We put a wooden frame around them, because the church has so much wood,” said Father Johnson. “We have a lot of beautiful cypress and oak. I wanted the frames to have continuity with what we already have in the church.” 

And the location of the wall of saints also adds a spiritual dimension to the Mass. 

“It’s a cool thing because the saints are facing the same way we are. They are facing the sanctuary,” said Father Johnson. “They are facing the throne of glory. The angels and saints are worshipping with us at every Mass as taught in the Book of Revelations,” he said. 

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Saint John XXIII is most known for convening of the Second Vatican Council, which called for major shifts in the liturgy, theology and church life, including more participation of laity within the church. He died, however, before the end of the council, which closed under Pope Paul VI.


The saintly gallery is also an inspiration for Father Johnson. 

“It helps me with the homily during Mass. I’ll look up, and not only see the body of Christ right here on earth, but also in heaven through the Wall of Saints.” 

It’s also a good catechetical tool. He has used the Wall of Saints in retreats for Cristo Rey and St. John Primary schools. 

“All of time people are looking at the saints after Mass and saying, ‘What’s this person’s story?’ I recommend that they Google the saint and learn about their life and ask them to pray for them,” Father Johnson said. 

Holy Rosary parishioners said the Wall of Saints motivates them to answer the call of discipleship.

“It is a reminder to us to befriend the saints that the Lord has given to us, and not to view them just as role models but also companions along this journey to heaven,” said Morgan Melancon.</span id=”28″> “Another beautiful aspect of this wall is how it serves as a reminder for all people departing Mass. As we depart from Mass being filled with the holy Eucharist, we are called to go out and live our everyday lives as disciples of Christ just as the saints did.” 

Jennifer Morales said the Wall of Saints helps her to see, through faith, the invisible thread connecting heaven and earth. 

“After my father passed away in December 2016, I continue to feel connected to him. Experiencing this has helped me understand that the spiritual union of the living and the dead is so important,” Morales said. “I have to believe that the church thinks it’s important enough to enshrine this in our creed – asking us to believe that we are still in real community and communication with those who have died. 

“To believe in the communion of saints is to believe that those who have died are still alive and are linked to us in such a way that we can continue to talk with them, that our relationship with them can continue to grow, and that if need be, the reconciliation that might not have been possible before their deaths can now occur. The Wall of Saints helps me strive to become holy. I long for sanctification. I believe there is a saint inside each one of us who wants to mirror the greatness of God, the holiness within, the place in each one of us that wants to feel connected with the rest of God’s creation.” 

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Ugandan martyr St. Charles Lwanga, who protected his fellow pages, ages 13-30, from abuse of the Bagandan ruler of his time and taught them the Catholic faith, was burned to death in 1886. He is the patron of youth and Catholic action in most of tropical Africa.