St. Patrick (d. ca. 461, feast is 17 March) is remembered for the evangelization of Ireland. As great a saint as Patrick was, let’s not let him overshadow our Lord’s foster father, St. Joseph (19 March). Joseph’s feast is one of three (together with the February saint, St. Matthias the Apostle, and the Feast of the Annunciation, when observed on 25 March) in which liturgical colors change in Lent, i.e., the feast takes precedence over the season. The Feast of the Annunciation, which commemorates the annunciation by the archangel Gabriel to Mary that she will bear the Messiah (Luke 1.26-38) was, in the West, New Year’s day until 1582.
March can be remembered as the month of three Gregories: Gregory of Nyssa (d. 394; feast 9 March) was one of the “Cappadocian Fathers,” early theologians instrumental in the development of doctrine about the Holy Trinity. Gregory the Great (d. 604; feast 12 March, superseded this year by a Sunday) was Bishop of Rome. He reformed much of the liturgy in the western church, with much church music being afterwards referred to as Gregorian Chant. Gregory the Illuminator (d. 332; feast 23 March) was missionary to Armenia, the first Christian kingdom.
Three saints with whom this parish has a special connection include James DeKoven (22 March), John Keble (29 March) and John Donne (31 March). Dekoven was prominent in the 19th century Ritualist (“Oxford”) Movement, of which Grace is a daughter. He was elected bishop of Wisconsin, but consecration was denied him as “too Catholic” in a 19th century church milieu in which conflicts over ritual and liturgy were prominent. John Keble’s 1827 book, The Church Year, was an early signpost in what would become the Ritualist Movement. Keble was concerned about things like the calendar of saints!
A parish connection with John Donne is much more tenuous, but he is included because of the influence of his poetry on what would become Anglicanism. Donne (who served as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London in the 17th century) became a priest because the king wanted this to happen. He was much more focused on being a poet, and has been described as a “metaphysical” poet, i.e., one using unusual metaphors and linguistic conceits. His spiritual poetry and his sermons and essays came to influence many writers and Church figures, setting a contemplative tone in an Anglican sensibility on matters of love and death.