Saint Sylvester was born in Rome around the year 250. Not much is known about him, but legends surround him. Some legends state that at a young age, Sylvester was put under the care of a priest to be formed in the practice of religion and sacred literature.
Saint Anysius was a Martyr of Greece. She was a wealthy woman of Salonika, in Thessaly, who used her personal funds to aid the poor.
St. Thomas was born in London, England around the year 1117. He was the son of pious parents, and his mother converted to Christianity through the example and teachings of his father. From his early youth, Thomas was educated in religion and holiness.
The Holy Innocents are the children mentioned in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 2:16-18.
St. John, the son of Zebedee and brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He became the "beloved disciple" and the only one of the Twelve who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when Christ made him the guardian of His Mother.
Just after Christmas, the Catholic Church remembers its first martyr, and one of its first deacons, Saint Stephen. Roman Catholics celebrate his feast Dec. 26, while Eastern Catholics honor him one day later.
The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131; in Latin Dies Natalis.
In the first ages, during the night before every feast, a vigil was kept. In the evening the faithful assembled in the place or church where the feast was to be celebrated and prepared themselves by prayers, readings from Holy Writ (now the Offices of Vespers and Matins), and sometimes also by hearing a sermon.
The Scandinavian island nation of Iceland celebrates its national patron, St. Thorlak Thorhallsson, on Dec. 23.
Not much is known about the life of St. Chaeromon except that he was a bishop of Nilopolis in Egypt who was already advanced in age when Emperor Trajanus Decius began the intense persecution of Christians.
An important figure in the Catholic counter-reformation that responded to the 16th century spread of Protestantism, the priest and Doctor of the Church Saint Peter Canisius is remembered liturgically on Dec. 21.
Saint Dominic was born in 1000 in Cañas, Navarre, Spain. He was born a peasant, and as a youth worked as a shepherd until he entered the Benedictine monastery in Navarre. When Dominic refused to hand over the monastery lands at the King of Navarre’s demands, he was forced to leave the house with two other monks.
Blessed Pope Urban V was born Guillaume de Grimoard at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310. He studied canon law and theology in Avignon and became a Benedictine monk. He was named abbot of his monastery in 1352, and served as a papal diplomat and was eventually sent as an ambassodor to various locations. He also served as a bishop around Italy and throughout Europe.
Not much is known about the life of Saint Gatian, but we do know that he was the first bishop of Tours in France, and is said to be a disciple of Saint Denis of Paris. Arriving in Gaul, a pagan land, completely untouched by the Good News, Gatian scattered the first seeds of the faith in the region of Tours, laying the foundations of the Church in the city of the great Saint Martin.
St. Jose Manyanet y Vives was born on January 7, 1883 in Catalonia, Spain. At the age of five, José’s mother dedicated him to the Virgin Mary, and later entered the seminary while still a youth. He was ordained in 1859 and served as the secretary of the bishop of Urgell, the seminary librarian, and the chancery administrator before responding to the call to found two religious congregations.
Born in 931 in Burgundy, France as the daughter of King Rudolph II of Burgundy, Adelaide was promised in marriage when she was only two years old, to a man named Lothaire, the son and heir of his enemy, Hugh of Provence.
Born in Genoa Italy on April 2, 1587, Virginia was raised in an aristocratic family which was nonetheless pious, and from a young age she longed to consecrate herself to God in the religious life. However, she was pressured into an arranged marriage at the age of 15 on account of her social status, and had two daughters.
Dec. 14 is the liturgical memorial of Saint John of the Cross, a 16th century Carmelite priest best known for reforming his order together with Saint Teresa of Avila, and for writing the classic spiritual treatise “The Dark Night of the Soul.”
St. Lucy is a virgin and martyr of Syracuse in Sicily, whose feast is celebrated on December 13th. According to tradition, Saint Lucy was born to rich and noble parents in the year 283. Her father was of Roman origin, but his early death left her dependent upon her mother, whose name, Eutychia, seems to indicate that she was of Greek heritage.
Saint Damasus was born in Rome at the beginning of the fourth century. His father, a widower, had received Holy Orders there and served as parish priest in the church of St. Laurence.