December 7. One of Ambrose’s historical claims to fame is that he was instrumental in the conversion of Saint Augustine, and also baptized him. Known for his lively preaching and writing, Saint Ambrose must have been a force to be reckoned with. Maybe those qualities were what attracted Saint Augustine. But Saint Ambrose stands on his own merits--independent of his protégé.
December 8. Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin is the patron of the United States. Thus this is a major feast--in fact a Holy Day of Obligation--for the Church in the United States of America.
December 9. The fact that Our Lady appeared to a simple peasant has been viewed as a sure sign of Mary’s care for the “little people” of society. Saint Juan Diego played a major role in the recognition of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Without his courageous witness few people would have known of her love for the indigenous peoples of Mexico—and elsewhere.
December 10. Concerned about the faith of young single men caught up in the industrial revolution in Germany, Blessed Adolph Kolping bucked social pressure by ministering to them. Today, the Kolping Society upholds the dignity of workers throughout the world.
December 11. Saint Damasus was highly praised by his secretary, Saint Jerome. This adulation must have been much appreciated, as Saint Damasus faced the trials of the papacy in his day. A fearless leader, Saint Damasus did not always achieve victory in this life.
December 12. The Blessed Virgin’s appearance at Tepeyac to Saint Juan Diego in 1531, was the beginning of a beautiful story of God’s and Mary’s love and care for the peoples of Mexico. As Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Blessed Virgin was named patroness of all of the Americas in 2003.
December 13. Little is known about Saint Lucy except that she had taken a vow of virginity, and that she was martyred in 304. Yet devotion to her sprung up in the early Church, and she is mentioned among the martyrs in the First Eucharistic Prayer.
December 14. Saint John of the Cross was a 16th century reformer of the Carmelite way of life. Together with Saint Teresa of Avila, he lived the primitive Rule of their Order, and paid a dear price for his commitment to reform and authentic living. Saint John of the Cross died in 1591.
December 15. Blessed Mary Frances Schervier founded the Sisters of the Poor of Saint Francis, devoted to caring for the poor of this world. To this day they run hospitals and homes for the aged in the United States and around the world. Blessed Mary Frances died in 1876.
December 16. Blessed Honoratus was born in 1829 and died in 1916. A Capuchin Franciscan, he founded many religious congregations for lay people, and wrote many volumes of sermons and ascetical theology. A true son of the Church, he showed many signs of humility, including accepting his removal from all leadership roles in the communities he had founded.