We all know about the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. (I hope.)

But there are other holy families too. Millions of families characterised by hidden holiness, including your own. (I hope.) And then there are also a few holy families, which like the Holy Family of Nazareth, are a focus of public veneration and imitation.

For example, there was a family of eleven in fourth century Cappadocia who claim six canonised saints among their number! St Emmelia and St Basil had ten children, including St Theosebia, St Naucratius, St Macrina, St Basil the Great (a Doctor of the Church), St Gregory of Nyssa (another Doctor), and St Peter of Sebasteia.

And then there is the Martin family. Bl Louis Martin and Bl Zélie Martin, like their Cappadocian counterparts, had nine children, one of whom is a Doctor of the Church (St Thérese of Lisieux). Three of their children died as infants, another died at age 5, and the remaining five became consecrated religious. There are efforts underway to beatify St Thérèse’s sisters.

I think there are two important lessons to draw from this. In the first place, the family is the domestic church. This is where character is built and faith is bequeathed. Family life is a natural and fruitful means to holiness!

In the second place, holiness begets holiness. Choose your friends wisely. If you hang around people who strive to love God and their neighbour with their whole being, then you’ll start striving for the same.