The Christmas celebration in the forest of Greccio | Giotto di Bondone | Fresco in the Upper Church of Saint Francis, Assisi | photo by The Yorck Project

Christmas at Greccio

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.

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Nativity | Martin Torner

The Nativity of the Lord

December 25. All feast days celebrate, in one way or another, the gifts of God granted to us human beings. Today we celebrate THE gift─the Son of God made flesh. A gift granted to all people of all times and places. Truly we have been gifted.

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St Stephen | Domenico Ghirlandaio | photo by

Saint Stephen

December 26. If it weren’t for Saint Luke telling us about the selection and martyrdom of Saint Stephen in Acts of the Apostles, we would know nothing about him at all. The little we do know, however, speaks volumes about what kind of man he was, his love for Jesus, and the early Church community.

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Detail of the central panel of a triptych | Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John | Pietro Perugino | photo by The Yorck Project

Saint John the Apostle

December 27. Saint John the Apostle, also known as the Beloved Disciple, was the writer of the fourth Gospel, and presumably, the only apostle who was not martyred. He is also the disciple to whom Jesus entrusted his mother from the cross. Symbolized as an eagle, Saint John’s Gospel “soars” in its theological treatment of the good news.

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The Massacre of the Innocents | Angelo Visconti

Holy Innocents

December 28. Based on an account in Saint Matthew’s Gospel, King Herod slaughtered a number of male babies in an attempt to rid himself of the perceived threat of a usurper of his throne. What he didn’t realize is that Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world─a fact that emerges later in Saint Matthew’s Gospel.

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St Thomas of Canterbury | photo by Lawrence OP | flickr

Saint Thomas Becket

December 29. Saint Thomas Becket, the well-known archbishop of Canterbury, England, is a saint with a checkered past. As depicted in the movie "Becket," Thomas did not at first take his responsibilities as a deacon seriously, but when King Henry II tried to use his friend’s lukewarm devotion to his advantage, he found a converted cleric who was a worthy match for any king.

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Virgin and Child with Female Saints | Gérard David | Image designed by Mark Sullivan | Franciscan Media

Saint Egwin

December 30. Saint Egwin was a Benedictine monk who became the bishop of Worcester, England. He seems to have had a good reputation─except with the clergy; they found his reforms a bit too strict. He was exonerated by Rome, however, and he continued to function as the diocesan bishop.

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Head reliquary of Pope Sylvester I. | photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen

Saint Sylvester I

December 31. Saint Sylvester lived during the time of Constantine when the Church was coming out of hiding and becoming the Church of the empire. Little is known about him, but much is presumed.

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The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Book) | Sandro Botticelli.

Mary, Mother of God

January 1. One of the more theological feasts of Mary, this feast of her title "Mother of God" has a long history, and is rooted in the faith of the people. Viewing Mary as our mother has many meanings and ramifications, all of which enrich our faith and point us toward Jesus.

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Image: Saint Basil the Great Line engraving | Welcome Images

Saint Basil the Great

January 2. Saint Basil is the Father of Eastern monasticism—as Saint Benedict is for western monasticism. Besides being a good pastor, Saint Basil also lead the fight against Arianism, a heresy that denied the divinity of Christ.

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