St. Sylvester

St. Sylvester, born in Rome, was ordained by Pope St. Marcellinus during the peace that preceded the persecutions of Diocletian. He passed through those days of terror, witnessed the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, and saw the triumph of Constantine in the year 312. Two years later he succeeded St. Melchiades as Bishop of Rome. In the same year, he sent four legates to represent him at the great Council of the Western Church, held at Aries. He confirmed it’s decision and imparted them to the Church.

The Council of Nice was assembled during his reign, in the year 325, but not being able to assist at it in person, on account of his great age, he sent his legates, who headed the list of subscribers to its decrees, preceding the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. St. Sylvester was Pope for twenty-four years and eleven months. He died in the year 335. His Feast Day is December 31st.

St. Anysia

Martyr of Greece. She was a wealthy woman of Salonika, in Thessaly, who used her personal funds to aid the poor. A soldier accosted her in the street and tried to drag her to a pagan sacrifice. Anysia resisted and was killed when the soldier attacked her with his sword.

St. Aileran

Monk, biographer, and scholar-also called Sapiens the Wise. Aileran was one of the most distinguished professors at the school of Clonard in Ireland. St. Finian welcomed Aileran to Clonard. In 650, Aileran became rector of Clonard, and was recognized as a classical scholar and a master of Latin and Greek. He wrote The Fourth Life of St. Patrick, a Latin-Irish Litany and The Lives of St. Brigid and St. Fechin of Fore. His last work was a treatise on the genealogy of Christ according to St. Matthew. A fragment of another of Aileran’s works has survived: A Short Moral Explanation of the Sacred Names. Scholarly institutions across Europe read this work aloud annually. Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on December 29, 664 is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster.

St. Anthony the Hermit

Anthony was born about circa 468 at Valeria in Lower Pannonia. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was first entrusted to the care of St. Severinus. After the death of Severinus, an uncle, Bishop Constantius of Lorsch in Bavaria took charge of his upbringing. While in Bavaria, Anthony became a monk. He returned to Italy in 488 and joined the cleric Marius and his companions as a hermit at Lake Como. However, he gained so many disciples that he was forced to flee. Anthony then went to Lerins in Gaul and became a monk there. However, he lived only two years at Lerins before his death, renowned for his miracles and spirituality.

St. John the Apostle

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

St. John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee and Salome, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. John was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry. He is considered the same person as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos and the Beloved Disciple. John’s older brother was St. James the Great, another one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. Jesus referred to the brothers as “Boanerges,” meaning “sons of thunder.” John is believed to be the longest living apostle and the only not to die a martyr’s death.

John, along with Peter and James, were the only witnesses of the raising of Daughter of Jairus, and the closest witnesses to the Agony in Gethsemane. John was the one who reported to Jesus they had “‘forbidden’ a non-disciple from casting out demons in Jesus’ name.” This prompted Jesus to state, “he who is not against us is on our side.”

John and Peter were the only two apostles sent by Jesus to make preparations for the final Passover meal, the Last Supper. During the meal, St. John sat next to Jesus, leaning on him rather than lying along the couches.

John was the only one of the Twelve Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion. He stood faithfully at the cross when the Savior made him the guardian of His Mother.

After the Assumption of Mary, John went to Ephesus, according to Church tradition. He later became banished by the Roman authorities to the Greek Island of Patmos; this is where he allegedly wrote the Book of Revelation. It is said John was banished in the late 1st century, during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering no injuries. It is also said that all those who witnessed the miracle in the Colosseum were converted to Christianity. Emperor Domitian was known for his persecution of Christians.

John is known as the author of the Gospel of John and four other books in the New Testament – the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. The authorship of the Gospel is credited to the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” and John 21:24 claims the Gospel of John is based on the “Beloved Disciple’s” testimony. However, the true authorship has been debated on since 200. In his Eclesiastical History, Eusebius states the First Epistle of John and the Gospel of John are agreed upon as John’s. Eusebius continues to state the second and third epistles of John are not John the Apostle’s.

In the Gospel of John, the phrase “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” or “the Beloved Disciple” is used five times, but is not used in any other New Testament accounts of Jesus.

St. John is called the Apostle of Charity, a virtue he had learned from his Divine Master, and which he constantly inculcated by word and example. The “beloved disciple” died in Ephesus after AD 98, where a stately church was erected over his tomb. It was afterwards converted into a Mohammedan mosque.

St. John is the patron saint of love, loyalty, friendships, and authors. He is often depicted in art as the author of the Gospel with an eagle, symbolizing “the height he rose to in his gospel.” In other icons, he is shown looking up into heaven and dictating his Gospel to his disciple.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that St. John was given the promise of immortality from Jesus. It also teaches that in 1829, John was also resurrected, along with Peter and James, and “restored the priesthood authority with Apolistic succession to earth,” according to the Doctrine and Covenants 27:12.

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist’s feast day is celebrated on December 27.

St. Stephen

Stephen’s name means “crown,” and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr’s crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.

God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen’s preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.

After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward. His feast day is December 26th.

St. Eugenia

There definitely was a Roman martyr named Eugenia but the rest of her story is a romantic fictitious legend. According to it she was the daughter of Duke Philip of Alexandria, governor of Egypt during the reign of Emporer Valerian. She fled her father’s house dressed in men’s clothing and was baptized by Helenus, bishop of Heliopolis, who sent her to an abbey of which she later became abbot. Accused of adultery by a woman she had cured of a sickness and whose advances she had resisted, she was hailed before a judge to answer the charges; the judge was her father. Exonerated when she revealed she was a woman and his daughter, she converted him to Christianity (he later became a bishop and was beheaded for his faith). Eugenia converted many others, including her mother, Claudia, and suffered martyrdom by sword for her faith in Rome, where she had gone with her mother. Her feast day is December 25th.

St. Adele

St. Adele, Widow. A daughter of King Dagobert II of Germany, St. Adele became a nun upon the death of her husband, making provisions for her son, the future father of St. Gregory of Utrecht. She founded a convent at Palatiolum near Trier and became its first Abbess, ruling with holiness, prudence, and compassion. St. Adele seems to have been among the disciples of St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, and a letter in his correspondence is addressed to her. After a devout life filled with good works and communion with God, she passed on to her heavenly reward in 730.

St. John of Kanty

The people of Olkusz in Bohemia in 1431 had every reason to be suspicious of their new pastor. They knew what a Cracow professor would think of their small rural town. But even more insulting, their town was once again being used as a dumping ground for a priest who was “in disgrace.”

John had indeed been kicked out of his university position — unjustly. Rivals who resented John’s popularity with the students had cooked up a false charge against him. John was not even allowed to appear at his own hearing or testify in his own defense. So at age 41, he was shipped off to be an apprentice pastor.

Certainly no one would have blamed John if he was furious at such injustice. However, he was determined that his new parishioners would not suffer because of what he happened to him.

But there was no overnight miracle waiting of him in Olkusz. He was nervous and afraid of his new responsibilities. And, despite the energy he put into his new job, the parishioners remained hostile. But John’s plan was very simple, and came not from the mind but from the heart. He let his genuine interest and concern for these people show in everything he did. Despite working for years without any sign of success, he was very careful not to demonstrate impatience or anger. He knew that people could never be bullied into love, so he gave them what he hoped they would find in themselves.

After eight years, he was exonerated and transferred back to Cracow. He had been so successful that these once-hostile people followed him several miles down the road, begging him to stay.

For the rest of his life, he was professor of sacred Scripture at the university. He was so well-liked that he was often invited to dinner with nobility. Once, he was turned away at the door by a servant who thought John’s cassock was too frayed. John didn’t argue but went home, changed into a new cassock, and returned. During the meal, a servant spilled a dish on John’s new clothes. “No matter,” he joked. “My clothes deserve some dinner, too. If it hadn’t been for them I wouldn’t be here at all.”

Once John was sitting down to dinner when he saw a beggar walk by outside. He jumped up immediately, ran out, and gave the beggar the food in his bowl. He asked no questions, made no demands. He just saw someone in need and helped with what he had.

John taught his students this philosophy again and again, “Fight all error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love. Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause.”

In His Footsteps:

John put all his effort into a new and frightening job, that others might have considered beneath him. Today do something you have never done before or do something in a new way, perhaps something that has frightened you or you felt was beneath you. This can be something as simple as trying a different type of prayer or as complex as serving others in a new way.

Prayer:

Saint John of Kanty, you were unjustly fired from your work. Please pray for those who are jobless or in danger of losing their jobs that they may find work that is fulfilling in every way. Guide us to ways to help those looking for work. Amen

St. Chaeromon

Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was instituted by Emperor Trajanus Decius, Chaeromon Was quite elderly. He and several companions fled into the Arabian desert and were never seen again. The bishop and his companions are listed as martyrs.