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.
December 17. Saint Hildegard of Bingen was a remarkable woman who fulfilled many roles in her lifetime. A Benedictine nun, she became a rather well-known mystic whom Pope Eugene III encouraged to write. She ruffled feathers when she moved her monastery to Bingen, and confronted civil as well as ecclesiastical officials. Hildegard was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.
December 18. Blessed Anthony Grassi had a deep devotion to Our Lady of Loreto from his childhood. He joined the Oratorian Fathers at 17, and was known as a very good student. Struck by lightning at age 29, Anthony was paralyzed for a few days before recovering, and becoming somewhat a changed man.
December 19. Blessed Pope Urban V was a simple man who never wanted to be pope. He was quite content to remain in his Benedictine monastery. But, when called to serve the Church, Blessed Urban did so with great devotion and wisdom.
December 20. The connection between Saint Dominic of Silos and Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order, is a curious but interesting one. Separated by 1000 years, the two men were linked by a prophecy given by Saint Dominic of Silos to the mother of the other Dominic.
December 21. An important Catholic reformer in Germany, Saint Peter Canisius earned a master’s degree at age 19, and then joined the Jesuits. He was a great writer and patron of the sick and imprisoned. Peter Canisius was an active member of the Council of Trent, and implemented its decisions. He also taught at the university level and helped found many colleges and seminaries.
December 22. Blessed Jacopone da Todi’s life changed radically when his wife died in an accident at a local tournament. Turning from his self-indulgent life, he eventually became a Franciscan friar, but life was not easy even then. Jacopone is most known for writing the beautiful hymn, "Stabat Mater," in the later years of his life.
December 23. Saint John of Kanty was a beloved priest in Kraków, Poland, where he taught Scripture. A simple, humble man, Saint John was often taken advantage of, but maintained his generous attitude to those in need. He died on Christmas Eve of 1473.
December 24. Being a man who wanted to experience things with all of his senses, Saint Francis decided one Christmas to depict the birth of Jesus with live animals and real people. This “first crèche” was created in Greccio in 1223. Our tradition of having a Christmas crèche in our homes and churches continues the practice begun all those years ago.