This is not the first time the world and the church have faced contagion.

In the 14th century, plague killed 50 million people in Europe, about 60% of the population. Devastated communities turned to their faith.

A team of holy helpers entered the medieval Catholic imagination then. These 14 saints from the early centuries of the church were invoked during one of the darkest moments of history. All had suffered.

St. George refused to arrest Christians and offer sacrifices to Roman gods. St. Blase, bishop in Armenia, would not worship Roman gods and was beheaded.

St. Erasmus was tortured gruesomely by being cut open. St. Pantaleon kept escaping execution with the help of Jesus, until he accepted beheading and union with Christ.

St. Vitus inspired many conversions and performed many miracles, which angered those who hated Christianity. St. Christopher was the son of pagans who used his strength to help carry people across a raging stream where there was no bridge.

St. Denis was a zealous missionary to France who was beheaded. St. Cyriacus became beloved of one emperor for working healings but fell afoul of the next, who tortured and executed him.

St. Acacius was a captain in the Roman army who converted and catechized others. He was denounced and beheaded. St. Eustace was a general in the army who converted to Christianity. He and his wife were burned to death after refusing to participate in a pagan ceremony.

St. Giles, the only non-martyr of the 14, became a monk in Greece who was renowned for holiness. St. Margaret of Antioch converted to Christianity and became a consecrated virgin. She was killed after refusing advances of a Roman soldier.

St. Barbara became a Christian and was beheaded by her own father. St. Catherine of Alexandria, daughter of the Queen of Egypt, embraced Christianity and rebuked Roman persecutions before herself being beheaded.

Holy helpers, who faced trials, pray for us.