January 19 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Marianne Cope
Feast Day: January 23
Patron of: Lepers, Outcasts, HIV-Patients
Born in Germany in 1838, Marianne emigrated with her family to Central New York when she was two years old. In 1862 she became a Franciscan sister. In her years in Syracuse, NY she established two hospitals and served as both a teacher and principal. In 1883 St. Marianne accepted an invitation to serve as a missionary in Hawaii to the poor and to people suffering from leprosy. She established hospitals and schools and cared for vulnerable girls. Marianne also helped to care for St. Damien of Molokai in his final days. Marianne never returned to live in the United States. She remained in Hawaii carrying on her work for the poor and suffering until her death in 1918. she was granted a royal award for all of her work with the suffering and vulnerable. In 2011 she was canonized thus becoming the first saint from the Diocese of Syracuse, NY.
January 12 – The Baptism of the Lord: St. Nina
Feast Day: January 15
Patron of: The nation of Georgia
Nina was born in the region of Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey) in the year 300. She was probably a slave who was brought to Georgia. There she lived a very quiet and pious life and her zeal for the Lord was shared with others.
Nina was unafraid to speak of Christ and of finding real freedom with him. Through her example and bold proclamation many became converted to the faith. She is said to have even converted the queen of Georgia. She is an example of a true lay apostle.
January 5 – Epiphany of the Lord: St. Andre Bessette
Feast Day: January 6
Plagued his entire life with ill health and orphaned at 12, Alfred Bessette persevered in his vocation to religious life chiefly through his devotion to St. Joseph. He joined the Holy Cross Fathers of Quebec at the age of 25 but was barely able to work at all due to his weak health. The Congregation wanted to release him but Bro. Andre, as he became known, requested and received permission to stay from the Bishop of Montreal. He became a porter at one of the local schools run by the Fathers. He requested of the Bishop permission to build a chapel in honor of St. Joseph near the school grounds. With barely any money he began with a small wood shed. Over the years as he trusted in St. Joseph and with continued support of patrons, Bro. Andre eventually built the great St. Joseph’s Oratory Basilica in Montreal. He died before seeing its completion.
December 29 – The Holy Family Of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Pope St. Sylvester I
Feast Day: December 31
Sylvester’s papacy was marked by some very momentous events that had lasting impact on the Church and the world. He was pope from 314 to 335. In that time the Church emerged from the catacombs to become publicly accepted in the Roman Empire. His was the time of the rise of the powerful and consequential Emperor Constantine and the Edict of Milan that recognized the legality of Christianity. The building of the great papal basilicas of St. Peter’s and St. John Lateran came about during his reign as did the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 AD. All of these events happened during his papacy but not necessarily by his initiative. Sylvester thus proves that responsible leadership never means unnecessary micro-management. Sylvester had the humility and the desire for the growth of the Church, and he allowed other actors to utilize their skills for the common good. The humble wisdom of Sylvester had a lasting impact on God’s Church.
December 22 – Fourth Sunday of Advent: St. Fabiola
Feast Day: December 27
Patron of: Those who are Divorced
Fabiola belonged to a fabulously wealthy patrician family in Rome in the 300’s. She was an early devotee of St. Jerome. Her husband lived such a wretched life that she divorced him according to Roman law. She married a second time while her first husband still lived causing scandal to the Church in Rome. When her second husband died she approached the Lateran Basilica in Rome dressed in the clothes of a pauper and publicly repented, which had a marvelous effect on the people of Rome. From then on Fabiola used her immense wealth to care for the poor and suffering, even building a hospital in Rome where she personally nursed the poorest and most suffering patients For a time she joined St. Jerome in Bethlehem studying scripture, praying and living a life of asceticism. She became a great patron of the Church and of religious orders.
December 15 – Third Sunday of Advent: St. Adelaide
Feast Day: December 16
Patron of: Abuse Victims, In-Law Problems
At the age of two in 931 Adelaide was promised in marriage to a rival’s son. This was part of a peace agreement in the Kingdom of Burgundy in Italy. Another rival to the throne rose up and killed Adelaide’s husband and king, Lothaire. Attempts were made to force Adelaide into another marriage. After refusing, Adelaide was imprisoned but escaped. While in refuge in Canossa she met the Holy Roman Emperor, Otho; they married and ruled jointly. Adelaide was widely popular due to her wisdom and care for her people. Later, her daughter-in-law was extremely jealous of her popularity and began to mistreat her. Adelaide eventually had to leave the palace to seek peace. When her son and daughter-in-law both died Adelaide
returned to court to become regent for her grandson. Her court was known for its solemnity and deep spirituality.
December 8 – Second Sunday of Advent: St. John of the Cross
Feast Day: December 14
Patron of: Contemplative Prayer
John is considered one of the greatest poets in Spanish history. His poetry expresses his mystical experience of intimate love of God. He is a Doctor of the Church, meaning that his teaching on the life of prayer and spiritual growth was unique in the history of the Church. John joined with St. Teresa of Avila to reform the Carmelite Order and initiate the Discalced branch, which continues to this day. For his efforts he was persecuted by his own community and often held isolated in prison. It was during his imprisonment and vast suffering that he experienced his greatest mystical prayer and composed his best poetry. John is best known for his poem and teaching on the Dark Night of the Soul. This is a time of intense intimacy with God, when all things of the world are purged from the soul and the reward of God’s love is all that remains.
December 1 – First Sunday of Advent: Blessed Ivan Sleziuk
Feast Day: December 2
Born in the Ukraine in 1896, Ivan studied for the priesthood as a young man with the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. He was ordained a priest in 1925. After twenty years of faithful ministry, Ivan was consecrated a coadjutor bishop in 1945, meaning he shared episcopal responsibility with the bishop who consecrated him. This was done as a precaution since the Soviet government was threatening to arrest Church leadership. Ivan himself was arrested soon after and was sent to a labor camp in Russia for 10 years. He was released in 1954. Once again, Ivan was arrested by Soviet officials and sentenced to a hard labor camp in 1962. He was released again in 1967 but spent the rest of his life as a bishop being constantly harassed by communist authorities and interrogated often by the KGB. He died of his injuries in 1975.