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Saints of Advent

November 30 - St. Andrew the Apostle

St. Andrew, a fisherman and brother of Simon Peter, was one of the 12 apostles. In Matthew's Gospel, Andrew and Simon Peter were spotted by Jesus while he walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, but in John's account, Andrew met Jesus through John the Baptist. The Gospels don't tell us much about St. Andrew, but after Jesus' death and resurrection, he is said to have spread the Good News along the Baltic Sea to parts of modern-day Greece and Turkey. He died by crucifixion in Patras (now part of Greece). [Read more.]

December 4 - Saint John Damascene, Priest & Doctor of the Church

John was born in Damascus, Syria, in the late seventh century to a wealthy Christian family, at a time when Damascus was under Islamic rule. He succeeded his father as chief representative of the Christian community to the caliph in Damascus but would eventually be forced to resign because of his faith. He entered a remote monastery located between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, where he devoted himself to prayer and writing, producing 150 works on theology, philosophy, and religious education, as well as a defense of the veneration of icons and numerous hymns. His work was widely cited in the Middle Ages. Pope Leo XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1890.

December 6 - Saint Nicholas, Bishop 

Born to wealthy parents, Nicholas was orphaned as a child and raised by an uncle who was a priest. Determined to follow his uncle’s path, he distributed his inheritance through many acts of charity, some of which led to the tales of St. Nicholas we hear at Christmas today. Nicholas became Bishop of Myra, in present-day Turkey, at a time when the Roman Emperor Diocletian began his persecution of Christians in 303. Refusing to denounce his faith, Nicholas spent nearly 10 years in prison. [Read more]

December 7 - Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Saint Ambrose, who lived in the 4th century, is one of the four original Latin doctors of the Church, along with Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and Saint Gregory the Great.  His extensive writings include treatises on ethics, the priesthood, the sacraments, the role of Mary, and the liturgy. Ambrose was the beloved governor of two Roman provinces headquartered in Milan when he was chosen as the new bishop. Not yet a baptized Christian, he initially refused but was urged to reconsider, and within a week, he was baptized, ordained, and consecrated the Bishop of Milan. Saint Ambrose would become a fierce defender of the faith known for his defense against the growing Airan heresy, which disputed the divinity of Christ. [Read more]

December 9 - Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was born in 1474 in Cuautlitlán, now part of Mexico City, but little is known about his life prior to his conversion to Christianity at age 50.  In 1531, about seven years after his baptism, Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass when the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, located on the outskirts of the city. She asked him to go to the bishop and in her name ask that a shrine be built in Tepeyac. Not believing Juan Diego, the bishop asked for a sign. Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac, where the Blessed Mother directed him to a place where beautiful roses were in bloom despite the fact that it was winter. He took the flowers to the Blessed Mother who placed them in his cloak and told him to take them to the bishop. When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell to the ground and formed the image of the Blessed Mother. [Read more.]

December 11 - Saint Damasus I, Pope

Saint Damasus I served as pope from 366 to 384. Although his papacy was originally marked by controversy and violence, it would become a period in which Christianity continued to grow in Rome, becoming the state religion in 380.  It was also during Saint Damasus' papacy  that Latin became the language of the Church, both in liturgy and in Scripture. [Read more.] 

December 13 - Saint Lucy, Virgin & Martyr

Saint Lucy devoted her life to Christ, giving away most of her family's fortune to the poor. Wanting to remain single and a virgin, she angered the man she was supposed to marry, who sent her before the Roman governor of Sicily, where she was accused of prostitution. Despite being persecuted, Saint Lucy never faltered in her faith. [Read more.]

December 14 - Saint John of the Cross, Priest & Doctor of the Church

Known as the "Mystical Doctor of the Church," Saint John of the Cross was a 16th century Spanish Carmelite priest who, along with Saint Teresa of Avila, were key figures in reforming the Catholic Church in the years following the Protestant Reformation. Together, the two found the Discalced Carmelite Order. St. John of the Cross is also known for his poetry and mystical writings, which include “The Spiritual Canticle” and “The Dark Night of the Soul." [Read more.]

December 21 - St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church

St. Peter Canisius (1521–1597) was a critical figure in the restoration of the Catholic Church in Germany after the Reformation. Through his preaching and writings, including his well-known Summary of Christian Doctrine and two other catechisms, he helped bring people back to the faith and became known as the second apostle of Germany (with St. Boniface being the first). [Read more.]

December 23 - Saint John of Kanty, priest

The patron saint of Poland and Lithuania, St. John of Kanty was a scholar known for his humility, his kindness, and his generosity.  After being ordained to the priesthood, he taught philosophy and theology at a prestigious university outside Kraków until false accusations led him to be sent to a rural parish in Bohemia (later part of the Czech Republic).  Although his new congregation was not welcoming, knowing of his previous difficulties, and it was not a position for which he was well-prepared, St. John of Kanty eventually won the people over.  Later, cleared of the accusations that had been made against him, he returned to Kraków, where he taught sacred Scripture and was beloved by the people.  [Read more.]