The Spirit blazes in an upper room;
A hundred twenty flames spout sparks to cast
Christ’s wildfire on the earth, and make it bloom.

The Magdalen, apostle unsurpassed,
Conveys her fragrant nard to salve Provence,
While Peter and Paul inspire an empire vast.

New missioners serve far-flung nations’ wants:
Lioba, Boniface, and Xavier
Empower Christians at baptismal fonts.

The reverend Fathers by their works confer
Tradition’s gleam, from Polycarp to Bede;
Belief glints orthodox when they concur.

Wise virgins their Lord’s brightest counsel heed;
Lucy and Agnes, John the Evangelist
Change needs unmet for gifts that virtues breed.

Religious seize the daylight to assist
Their neighbors: Jeanne Jugan consoles the poor;
Camillus offers warmth the sick had missed.

Brisk soldiers steal a march as battles roar:
The fervent Forty on the frozen lake,
Sebastian strengthening his forceful corps.

Dynamic monks the tempting world forsake,
Like Odo sing, and Hildegard compose,
Or to a hermitage their musings take.

The friars’ way is fraught with worldly blows,
But Anthony in preaching hammers hell,
And earth is sweeter through the prayers of Rose.

Emelia and her Basil model well
How luminescent hearth and home ignite
Keen children who in holy deeds excel.

Saints widowed glow with pertinacious light.
Anne, Bridget, Monica maintain white heat;
Leo Dupont brings Jesus’ face to sight.

John Vianney sits in Christ’s mercy seat;
Korea’s priest forever, Andrew Kim,
With ardent feats of courage stands replete.

The martyrs’ roll call swells a mighty hymn:
Modestus, Vitus, and Crescentia crowned;
Ten million shine from ancient ages dim.

Determined bishops heresy confound:
Charles, Athanasius, Robert, or Martin of Tours,
And Cyprian whose unquenched words resound.

The scholar Catherine scintillates allure,
Forming for Doctors doctrine’s aureole;
Aquinas and Bernard smelt meaning sure.

Rome’s pontiffs glisten in a monarch’s role
To guide one Church in lucid truth divine,
Strong Innocent and Pius, toward her goal.

The poet Ephrem beams in every line;
Therese and Ambrose burnish verse terrene;
Scop Caedmon lauds creation’s high design.

France under Louis flares with sunlike sheen,
And Margaret’s reign in Scotland knows no shade;
With Christ their King and Mary radiant Queen,
The saints electrify the world God made.



Margaret Coats lives in California.  She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.  She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others.  

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36 Responses

  1. Paul W Erlandson

    Bravo, Margaret!

    I like this VERY much.

    I only wish I were a better student of history, so as to have been familiar already with the stories of all the saints mentioned.


    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks, Paul! My choice of saints necessarily brings in some unfamiliar ones; I’m glad you felt the force of the whole, and liked it.

      • John Ryan

        Absolutely beautiful! Chronological history lesson of the True Church in poem form.

    • Jonicis Bulalacao

      Thanks, Margaret, for reminding me of the work and power of the Holy Spirit .

      • Margaret Coats

        The Spirit continues to work since the first Pentecost, reminding us of His power that we see in the saints! Thanks for your comment, Joni.

  2. paul buchheit

    Margaret, this shows a great knowledge of Christian history. Well done!

    • Margaret Coats

      History offers many perspectives, increasing our fortitude as we are willing to increase our knowledge. Thank you!

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    An intricate mosaic of the saints in limpid terza rima! It shows how that meter is well suited for lists and compilations. This is really excellent work, with a truly eclectic choice of saints. I thought to myself “Imagine putting the entire Roman Martyrology into one long poem!” Not possible, of course, but Margaret gives us a beautiful piece of it.

    • Margaret Coats

      Eclectic choices functioned like unexpected conceits to “expand” each category of saints; those names suggest a depth of the group beyond what standard examples offer. This is a needed strategy with only three lines per category! And new but thoroughly traditional categories (soldiers, spouses) also increase the number of saints in the poem. The new category of poets was easy to fill with diversity: a bishop and Western doctor, a deacon and Eastern doctor, a virgin nun and a confessor layman. Thank you for your appreciation and your description of the work as a mosaic!

  4. Sally Cook

    Dear Margaret,
    I know very little of history. Because of this, I was forced to go to what is my primary area of knowledge — the visual.
    And of course , the moment I seriously studied the illustration chosen for your poem, l understood the poem.
    Does this make any sense to you?

    • Margaret Coats

      Yes, it makes perfect sense! I had suggested to Evan a picture with several categories of saints, but it lacked the fire and energy of Pentecost. Evan preferred a classic Pentecost picture: the fire was there, but not many saints. When I found the illustration with gold icon background, and gold halos for each saint like individual tongues of fire, and the composition just packed full of different kinds of saints, that was it! I’m glad we took the time and effort to find something that works as a full visual explanation of the poem.

  5. Sally Cook

    Both poem and illustration glow with truth. I would expect nothing else from you.

  6. Joe Tessitore

    How thrilling, Margaret, and how very glorious!
    May yours be a blessed Pentecost!

    • Margaret Coats

      Your comment is a blessing–and may you too have a blessed Pentecost!


    Margaret, what a marvelous pageant of the saints with a deeply inspired and inspiring closing! Your knowledge of hagiography is dazzling. Thank you for this.

    • Margaret Coats

      Always loved Lives of the Saints! Thank you for the compliment on the pageant’s closing.

  8. Julian D. Woodruff

    Quite a litany, Margaret, and though I think Therese is the most recent you mention, it’s worth remembering that other great saints have followed her, too, and will continue to do so. I do wish that I (to speak only of myself) were feeling more the warmth of that climate change of which the title speaks at the current moment. But mea culpa!

    • Margaret Coats

      Yes, it is good to recall that there are saints among us at present–like us with battles yet to be fought. Speaking of the ages-long continuance of the first Pentecost, it seems easier to feel the charge (or change) the saints exert after they are gone. The most recent of them in the poem is Pius X (died 1914). His canonization was delayed by an investigation of whether he was too harsh to modernists. He was not. That in itself I find invigorating, as modernists attack us much more viciously today. I hope that makes sense. For a more recent but yet uncanonized saint, how about Jerome Lejeune (died 1994), a scientist who probably lost a Nobel Prize because of his stand for ethics (and he knew it when he spoke out). Please do your best to have a warmer Pentecost for all eight days, starting today with the Vigil!

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Dear Margaret,
        Lejeune is a figure unknown to me, so thank you for the suggestion, and best wishes to you, too, for Pentecost!
        In apology for overlooking Pius X, and to reiterate your point about climate change, here’s this:

        Pi[o]us Remembrance

        Why did I not consider Pius X
        When reading through your saintly litany?
        For only V and IX occurred to me,
        Not other Pii, most praiseworthy men.

        Like X, Pius the XII would also be
        A member of that company, I bet,
        ‘Though not officially, at least as yet,
        His name cleansed soon, I hope, by history.

        Another Pius (Pio) finds a place
        Within this list of those who served with love
        Jesus’s holy will, who now above
        Enjoy eternally our Lord’s embrace.

        I speak here just of Pii and no others,
        But nigh on numberless the source of leaven
        To our salvation’s cause, sisters and brothers
        Who people now the hallowed halls of Heaven.

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you for this Pentecost Monday contribution, Julian! This is a legal-religious holiday in France, that French people (practicing Catholics or not) refuse to give up, and I’m glad to see your poem celebrating it with attention to the saintly Pii. I wanted Padre Pio among my priests, but found no room–which is my loss and not his. And among the Innocents, there is Blessed Innocent V, who baptized Genghis Khan’s ambassadors, but I was thinking also of the uncanonized Innocent III, strong and effective in many good ways, but controversial. Therefore I agree with you on Pius XII as a saint-in-waiting, from our earthly point of view. Your “hallowed halls of heaven” line could make a good title for an All Saints Day poem!

  9. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Margaret, this admirably crafted poem, with its attention to intricate detail, is majestic. I have shared it with those who will appreciate its magnitude and magnificence. Thank you.

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Susan. Your words make me feel as much a queen as my royal patroness in the final stanza above!

  10. Phyllis Schabow

    This poem demonstrates the scope of Margaret’s interests, education and imagination – all employed excellently to honor tomorrow’s holy Feast of Pentecost. I have forwarded this page to our parish web site, San Secondo d’Asti in Guasti, CA to display the hidden talent of our choir director for others to enjoy. Well done, good and faithful servant!

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Phyllis! And just in case parishioners wonder why San Secondo did not get into the poem, let me give the beginning of the hymn I wrote for him:

      Sancte Secunde patrone,
      Tua sub protectione
      Vivamus in gratia.

      San Secondo, noble patron,
      May we under your protection,
      Live in sanctifying grace.

  11. R M Moore

    Dear Margaret…today is Pentecost Sunday and this was a breathe of fresh air for me to read and enjoy…thank you!

    • Margaret Coats

      Very dear friend, I am happy we could be in touch today through this poem. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  12. John Ryan

    Absolutely beautiful! Chronological history lesson of the True Church in poem form.

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, John! As I know you noticed, the chronology is not a straight line, but does represent all ages of the Church since the first Pentecost. And now, of course, these saints live in what Augustine calls “the Eternal Present,” where they are able to influence us favorably in a number of ways.

  13. David Watt

    Margaret, I greatly admire your breadth of knowledge, and your ability to present detail as a beautiful whole.

    • Margaret Coats

      David, to me this poem seems to spring not so much from knowledge as from friendships developed over many years. But I am very glad to know that I did my friends credit with the beauty of the whole. Thanks!

  14. Tom and Laurence Rimer

    Margaret, what an extraordinary cornucopia of saints, and a considerable expansion of the original text in Acts 2 concerning Pentecost. Your powerful opening provides the frame though which the myriad names can come flowing out. We know some of the references, but not all. Their significance, as conveyed in your verse, is made clear. And the illustration you chose is a powerful reminder of all those dedicated Christian souls, past, present, and future.

    Tom and Laurence Rimer

    • Daniel Kemper

      I noted the terza rima, too, and felt the Dantean nod particularly nicely suited. Almost all else already said! Looking forward to more!

      • Margaret Coats

        Thanks, Daniel. Terza rima is the obvious choice for depicting Paradiso among us since the Spirit came–though it may be easier to spot Inferno and Purgatorio from where we live!

  15. Margaret Coats

    This reply is for Tom and Laurence Rimer above. I’m glad you appreciate how the opening stanza works! The second stanza, of course, mentions saints present at Pentecost described in Acts of the Apostles, and they represent Apostles as a category. The third stanza cascades into the apostles to the nations who come later: Boniface the Anglo-Saxon apostle to pagan Germany, and his kinswoman Lioba who assisted him, then the great Francis Xavier who went to India, began evangelization in Japan, and had China in his sights as he died. That stanza does two big jumps through centuries. It’s the real pivot point telling us that the poem will stretch to every age, and as you say, reminds us of dedicated Christians past, present, and future. Thanks for commenting!

  16. Loretta Garcia

    Margaret, your poem welled up within me a feeling of warmth, courage, fidelity, and love for the glorious communion of Saints! I especially enjoyed how names flowed….. “Lucy and Agnes, John the Evangelist…..”
    Beautiful! Thank you Dr. Coats

    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you, Loretta! I’m very touched that the poem can create the feeling you describe.


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