May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of December inspire you to grow closer to Christ Jesus. The month of December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.
December 3: St. Francis Xavier 1506-1562
St. Francis met St. Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris in 1525. He was enrolled as one of the first of 7 Jesuits and became a priest in 1537. He was an extraordinary missionary and began his journeys in 1540. His missions included western India, Japan, and several islands in the far east. It was said that on some days he baptized so many people that at night he could not raise his arm from fatigue.
He died at the start of a mission to China. He was buried in a shallow grave and his body covered with quicklime, but when exhumed three months later it was found fresh and incorrupt. St. Francis Xavier was proclaimed patron of foreign missions and of all missionary works by Pope St. Pius X.
“When trying to evangelise, no tool is more effective than that of personal witness…People can argue with points of doctrine but no-one can argue with a personal testimony!”– St. Francis Xavier
December 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8, 1854. In this declaration, he stated,
“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”Pope Pius IX
It is interesting that 4 years after this dogma was declared, Mary confirmed the truth of this doctrine when she appeared to St. Bernadette at Lourdes. She introduced herself with the title “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” –Miraculous Medal
December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe
In the winter of 1531, St. Juan Diego heard unusual music and a woman’s voice calling his name from Tepeyac Hill, near Mexico City. He climbed the hill and encountered a young woman, appearing to be of his own people in physical appearance and dress. The woman identified herself as the Virgin Mary and told Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill to assist in the conversion of the nation and be a source of consolation to the people. The bishop was skeptical and on Juan’s second visit requested he ask Our Lady for a sign.
When Juan returned to the hill, Mary gave him a sign. Miraculously, roses appeared on the hill in the middle of winter, and Juan gathered them in his tilma. He returned to the bishop and when Juan released the tilma, allowing the flowers to fall to the floor, it was revealed that a miraculous image of Our Lady had imprinted itself on his tilma.
The bishop immediately fell to his knees and came to believe in Juan Diego’s message. A church was built on the spot of the apparition, as Mary had requested, and 8 million people converted to Catholicism in a short period of time upon hearing of or viewing the miraculous image of Our Lady.
“Let not your heart be disturbed… Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish for? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”– Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 14: St. John of the Cross 1542-1591
St. John of the Cross was born of a poor family that could not give him training in a trade, so he became the servant of the sick in the hospital of Medina. In 1563 he offered himself as a lay brother to the Carmelite friars, who, however, perceiving his unusual talents, had him ordained a priest. St. Teresa of Avila asked him to help her in the reform of the Carmelite Order. This reform caused him many sufferings and trials. But his sufferings only deepened his interior peace and devout longing for heaven.
St. John was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on August 24, 1926. He is the patron of the contemplative life, mystical theology, mystics, and Spanish poets. Some of his most famous works include Ascent of Mount Carmel, Dark Night of the Soul, and A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul.
“In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds.”-Saint John of the Cross
December 25: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
On this day the Church celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas season begins on December 24 with the first Vespers, and ends on the feast of the Baptism of Christ, Sunday, January 9, 2022.
The Christmas tree, which originated in 1605 at Strasbourg, Germany, was introduced into France and England in 1840. It symbolizes the great family tree of Christ which through David and Jesse has its roots in Abraham, the father of the chosen race. It is adorned with lights so we can recall that Christ is the Light of the world enlightening those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”– John 1:14
December 26: Feast of St. Stephen (Died ~ 34 AD)
Stephen was a member of the first group of seven deacons, whom the Apostles appointed to help with their administrative tasks. He was “filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit,” and as a witness to Christ he confronted his opponents with courage fulfilling the promise made by Jesus (“But say whatever will be given to you … for it will not be you who are speaking but the Holy Spirit” Mk 13:11). Acts 6 tells us “. . .Disputing with Stephen they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke.”
The deacon Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem two years after the death of Christ and is the first martyr. The account in the Acts of the Apostles relating his arrest and the accusations brought against him emphasize the parallel with our Saviour’s trial; he was stoned outside the city wall and died, like his Master, praying for his executioners.
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”– Acts 7:60
December 27: The Feast of the Holy Family
Devotion to the Holy Family is a recent development, and grew in popularity in the 17th century. Several religious congregations have been founded under this title. In 1893 Pope Leo XIII approved the feast to be celebrated regionally, as a way to counter the breakdown of the family unit. On October 26, 1921 Pope Benedict XV inserted the Feast of the Holy Family into the Universal Calendar. His goal was to restore the true spirit of family life, with the Holy Family as the model. The gospel passage below demonstrates God’s love and respect for the family, through the obedience of Jesus to Mary and Joseph.
“He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and His mother kept all these things in her heart.”– Luke 2:50-51
December 28: Feast of the Holy Innocents
When King Herod learned that the newborn king of the Jews had been born, he asked the three Magi to locate him and report back, so that Herod may also do Him “homage”. But the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. When Herod realized that the Magi had “deceived” him, he ordered all male inhabitants in Bethlehem, under the age of two, to be put to death. The Church considers these innocent boys to be martyrs of the Faith even though they died instead of Christ rather than for Him. In the last decades the pro-life movement sees the Holy Innocents as symbolic of the scourge of abortion and the slaughter of innocent unborn children. The Holy Innocents are the patron saints of babies.
“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”– Mat 2:18