Saints of December – Deacon Ed’s Message -12-16
Continuing on with our saints of the month, this month’s, saints are as follows:
December 3rd. is the feast day of St. Francis Xavier(1506-1552). He was born at the family castle of Xavier in the area of Spanish Navarre on April 7, 1506. He studied at the University of Paris receiving his licentiate in 1528. While he was there he met Ignatius Loyola. With Loyola he was one of seven Jesuits who took their vows at Montmartre in 1537. He was ordained at Venice in 1537 with Ignatius and four other Jesuits. He went to Rome in 1838 and in 1540 he was sent as one of the first Jesuit missionary to the East Indies. On April 7, 1541 he left for with a brief from the Pope appointing him as the apostolic nuncio to the Indies. He arrived at Goa 13 months later and spent the next 5 months preaching and ministering to the sick and imprisoned and teaching children, laboring to correct the immorality of the Portuguese and denouncing the practice of concubinage so prevalent in the city. After many years other areas in same vicinity he went on to visit in Malacca, New Guinea and Japan. He was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV and was proclaimed patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X on December 3, 1622.
December 6th. is the feast day of St. Nicholas(350). He was probably born at Patara in Asia Minor of wealthy parents. He was named bishop of Myra and became known for his zeal, holiness and miracles. He was put in prison for his faith during the persecution under Emperor Diocletian. He was present at the Council of Nicaea where he denounced Arianism. It was after the death of his parents he devoted his life to convert sinners giving much of his wealth to the poor. He looked out for the deprived and under privileged children. It has been reported that he restored the life of 3 children. This led to the practice of children giving gifts at Christmas. The meaning of his name, St. Nicholas the metamorphose of which Sint Klaes became to be known as Santa Claus by the Dutch. He is also the patron saint of Greece, Apulia, Sicily Lorraine and Russia.
December 7th. is the feast day of St. Ambrose(340-397) was born in Trier Germany. He was the son of Ambrose the praetorian prefect of Gaul. On the death of his father he was taken back to Rome. It was in Rome that he became a lawyer noted for his oratory and learning. He later was appointed by Emperor Valentian to be governor of Liguria and Aemil with his capital at Milan. He was baptized on December 7, 734 after his election confirmed by the Emperor. On December 7, 374 he was consecrated as Bishop. He gave away all his possessions, began a study of theology, the bible and many Christian writers. He made a numerous impact on the government and people of his time. After the death of Theodosius, Ambrose preached his funeral oration and Ambrose died two years later in Milan.
December 9th. is the feast day of St. Juan Diego. He was born in 1474 in Cuautitlan, Mexico. He died in 1548 in Mexico. He was an Indian born in 1474 in Cuauhtitlan. In 1524 he and his wife Maria Lucia were among the first to be baptized after the arrival of the main group of 12 Franciscan missionaries in Mexico. IN 1531 he stated that he had an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, on his way to mass. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul II, on July 31,2002. He declared Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Queen of America”. Her feast day is celebrated on December the 12th. each year.
December 13th. is the feast day of St. Lucy(304). She was born of noble parents at Syracuse, Sicily. When she refused to marriage to a suitor during Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of the Christian and ordered her to be burned to death. The flames made no impression on her and she was stabbed through the throat. She is invoked by those with eye trouble perhaps because of her name which means light.
December 14th. is the feast day of St. John of the Cross(1542- 1591). He was born at Old Castle, Spain on June 24, 1542. When seventeen he began working for the director of a hospital at Medina. He continued his studies at Salamanca, and was ordained in 1567. On November 28.1568, John and four others founded the first men’s house of the reform Duruelo, beginning the Discalced Carmelites and John took the name John of the Cross. He became ill with a fever went to the priory at Ubeda for medical attention and died there on December the 14th. He his recognized as one of the great mystics of all time and his writings are among the world’s greatest spiritual classics. Among them is “The Dark Night of the Soul”, which he wrote while in prison. He was canonized in 1726, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1926.
December 21st. is the feast day of St. Peter Canisius was born a renowned Dutch Jesuit Catholic priest. He became a strong support of the Catholic faith during the time of the Protestant reformation in Germany. He was born on May 8,1521 and died on Decmeber21, 1597 in Fribourg Switzerland. A deeply prayerful man and constant worker, he restored the Catholic Church in central Europe. He did this through his preaching, his writings and the founding of Jesuit colleges. At 15 years of age he studied Latin at the school of St. Stephen. Later in 1540 he became a Master of Arts and undertook the study of theology in 1546 after much study he was ordained a Jesuit. Peter started a long career of apostolic labor in many countries throughout Europe from 1546-1547.He participated in the Council of Trent. In 1548 he joined other Jesuits in opening a school in Messina in 1549. He joined the faculty of the University of Ingolstadt. To meet the challenge of Luther’s popular catechism he published his summary of Christian doctrine in 1555. And in 1556 he came out with a German edition of his summary. He became superior of the Upper German Province. He traveled over 2,000 miles through Italy, Austria, Bavaria and the Rhineland. He died at the age of 76 at Fribourg Switzerland on December 21, 1597. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1925.
December 23rd. is the feast day of St. John of Kanty. He is also known as St. John Cantius. He was born in Kety, Poland to Stanislaw and Anna Kanty. He attended Krakow Academy where he attained a bachelor and Iicentate degree in 1418, becoming a Doctor of Philosophy. Upon graduation he spent three years conducting classes at the University while preparing for the priesthood. Upon his ordination he became rector at the school of the Most Holy Sepulcher in Miechow. He attained a doctorate in theology and became the director of the theology department. He held the professorship until his death in 1473, during his lifetime he spent many hours copying the manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures and other scholarly works. In physics he helped develop Jean Burldan’s theory of incpetus which anticipated the works of Galileo and Newton. He was known for his generosity and compassion to the poor, especially to students at the university. During his lifetime he made several journeys to Jerusalem and Rome. He died while in retirement in 1473 at the age of 83. He is the patron saint of the diocese of Biesko-Zywiec since 1992. He was beatified on March 18, 1676 by Pope Clement X and canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.
December the 25th. is the celebration of the birth of Christ. This story and how it came about I will write about when I write about His life and that of each of the apostles in a later writing.
December 26th. is the feast day of St. Stephen. A learned Greek speaking Jew probably born in a foreign land but living in Jerusalem, he may have been educated at Alexandria, was converted to Christianity, and was one of the seven chosen by the Twelve to take care of the secular needs of the Hellenic Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem. He was ordained a deacon by the Twelve and began to preach and perform miracles. His success as a preacher caused some of his elders to become jealous of him, charged him with blasphemy. He was brought before the Sanhedrin. He spoke eloquently in his own defense, denounced his accusers and then described a vision of Christ standing at the right hand of God after denouncing them for resisting the Holy Spirit. He was seized and dragged to the outskirts of the city and stoned to death. He was the first Christian martyr. His story is told in Acts 6-7.
December 27th. is the feast day of St. John Apostle. As I have mentioned I will cover the life of the apostles in a later writing.
December 29th. is the feast day of St. John Becket. John and his twin sister Ann were born in Sandymount, Dublin to Gerald and Peggy Beckett. John attended St. Columba’s college where he was taught music by Joe Groocock. John wrote his first work of music at the age of fourteen. In 1933 the family moved to Greystone County Wicklow. John received his scholarships to study at the Royal Irish Academy of music and the Royal College of music in London. He went to London in 1945 and studied composition for three years. He returned to Dublin in 1950 and his father died in September of that year. In 1958 he went back to Dublin when the first performance of Bach’s ST. Mathew Passion took place. John played the piano at the performance. In 1961 John was involved in a serious auto accident in Ireland in which he broke both of his arms, a hip and an ankle. Recovering from his injuries he went on to continue his practice of music. He returned to England where he taught a music class at the Chiswick Polytechnic. In 1961 he married Vera Slocombe. However the marriage broke up in 1969 and he returned to Dublin. He died on the morning of his 80th.birthday February 5, 2007 and was cremated. Eleven days after a small service was held which consisted of Japanese music as this was his final wish.
December 31st. is the feast day of St. Sylvester(335). Little is known of him but what is known is that he was the son of Rufinus, a Roman, he was ordained and succeeded Pope Miltiades as Pope on January 31,314. He had represenitives at the Council of Arles and at the first General Council of Nicaea in 325 which condemned Donastism an Arianism, respectively. During his pontificate many new churches and notably basilicas of St. Peter and St. John Lateran.