Saints: December 2009 Archives

Pope Saint Sylvester I

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The liturgical prayer for Saint Sylvester may be found here.

The Church's Liturgy commemorates the death of Pope Saint Sylvester, a pope we rarely think about other than on the day of his memorial. Many of the hagiographical materials available seem to be more apocryphal narratives surrounding the saintly pope than factual occurrences: for example, the Sylvester's slaying a dragon (note the image above) and raising the dragon's victims to life; or the curing of Constantine of leprosy; and the Donation of Constantine. It is recorded that Pope Sylvester baptized Constantine. The historical evidence for this pontificate for this era is sorely lacking for such an important time in Church history. What is known of Sylvester is given to us through the Vita beati Sylvestri. The lack of historical record, however, does not mean the events of history did not happen, it just means we don't have reliable sources. However, given that the narratives are recorded in ecclesiastical memory and the liturgical patrimony of the Church, means that their was a historical man who followed Christ, ordained priest and elected Pope, and worked for the good of the Christian faith given in Tradition. Post-modern people often place too much emphasis on the manuscript tradition (what is absolutely verifiable) and too little weight on hagiographical materials, including homilies and pious legends, to give  us a sense of Church history.

The son of Rufinus and Justa, Sylvester was ordained a priest by Pope Marcellinus and elected bishop of Rome in AD 314, after the death of Pope Saint Miltiades.

During his twenty-one year pontificate, in addition to the various churches honoring the martyrs, he oversaw with Constantine and Helena as patrons, the construction of three of the greatest Roman churches: Saint John Lateran, Holy Cross of Jerusalem, and the first Saint Peter's. Sylvester's pontificate also saw the development of the Roman Liturgy, the foundation of a school of singers for the Liturgy and the publication of the first Martyrology. Further, Sylvester was instrumental in stemming the spread of Arianism throughout the Western church, as well as the promulgation of orthodox christology (homousion of the Son) in the wake of Nicea I (325).

Saint Thomas Becket

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Our prayer today is one asking the Lord for the grace being a courageous witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The liturgical prayer (used at Mass) is found here.

Read Butler's life of Becket and/or the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the martyred archbishop.

I'm multi-media here at Communio blog, so I found a montage of scenes from the movie "Becket" (1964) with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole creatively put together. The acting is superb, dress is stunning and the drama insightful.

You like to read the piece on transferral of Becket's relics here.

Saint Stephen

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Stephen saw the heavens opened; he saw and entered; blessed is the man for whom the heavens were opened.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, grant us to imitate what we revere, so that we may learn to love also our enemies; for we celebrate the birth to immortality of him who interceded even for his persecutors with Thy So our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saint Stephen is known as a deacon and the Protomartyr (the first among all martyrs who witness to Christ). Chapters 6 and 7 of the Acts of the Apostles give us an understanding of Stephen. Saint Stephen is the patron of deacons, permanent and transitional, bricklayers and of Hungary.

A news item from the Pope on Saint Stephen and those those suffer for their faith.
JP the Pilgrim.jpgPope Benedict recognized John Paul II as living a life of heroic virtue upon the recommendation of the Congregation for Saints. There are various steps the Church takes when she investigates someone for possible canonization. This is the second of four of the steps, next being "beatification." The Church will now refer to John Paul as the "Venerable Servant of God ..." but there is no public ceremonial for bestowing this title as there is when a person is beatified or canonized.

Also, in an extraordinary move, the Pope recognized the the heroic virtue of Pope Pius XII

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The Holy Father also acknowledged that God has made a new saint for the Church: Blessed Mary Mackillop. Blessed Mary was an Australian sister, foundress and educator born in 1842 and died in 1909. In the face of great hardship encountered as the result of a nasty bishop, she was excommunicated for about year but Mother Mary of the Cross was virtuous  throughout the ordeal. The bishop, an alcoholic received Mother Mary back into full communion on his deathbed. John Paul beatified Mother Mary in 1995 and she has wide acclaim. She is Australia's first saint.

A canonized saint in the Catholic Church is a declaration of moral certitude and therefore an infallible statement of the Church, that that person does enjoy, as far as it's humanly possible to say, beatitude with the Blessed Trinity. Hence, a saint is "made."

A Wiki article on Mary Mackillop is found here.

Also, made a saint is Blessed Andre Bessett!!!

Saint Lucy

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While Saint Lucy prayed, there appeared unto her blessed Agatha, who comforted the handmaid of Christ.

Hear us, O God our Savior, that as we rejoice in the feast of blessed Lucy, Thy virgin and Martyr, so may we also be strengthened in the love of true piety.

Since Saint Lucy is the patron saint of those diseases of the eyes, let us remember these people before God through the intercession of Saint Lucy. Also, let us pray for those women who live their lives in the Order of Consecrated Virgins that Saint Lucy will guide them.

Saint Juan Diego

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Lord God, through Saint Juan Diego You made known the love of Our Lady of Guadalupe toward Your people. Grant by his intercession that we who follow the counsel of Mary, our Mother, may strive continually to do Your will.

The Vatican biography on Saint Juan Diego  and Pope John Paul's 2002 canonization homily. Also, there is a part of the beatification homily here.

The Pope said in part at the canonization:

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favor upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.

Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen.

Saint Ambrose

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O Ambrose, wonderworker and champion of the Church, Godbearing hierarch: thou did work miracles by thy faith and love for God; therefore we the earthborn glorify thee and cry out: Glory to Him Who has glorified tee; glory to Him Who has crowed thee; glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all. (Troparion, tone 1)

The Liturgy's prayer for Saint Ambrose may be found here.

A biography for Saint Ambrose is found here and here.

Saint Ambrose on the Holy Spirit:

But lest perchance any one should speak against as it were the littleness of the Spirit and from this should endeavour to establish a difference in greatness, arguing that water seems to be but a small part of a Fount, although examples taken from creatures seem by no means suitable for application to the Godhead; yet lest they should judge anything injuriously from this comparison taken from creatures, let them learn that not only is the Holy Spirit called Water, but also a River, as we read: "From his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this He said of the Spirit, Whom they were beginning to receive, who were about to believe in Him" (Jn 7:38-39).

So, then, the Holy Spirit is the River, and the abundant River, which according to the Hebrews flowed from Jesus in the lands, as we have received it prophesied by the mouth of Isaiah (Is 66:12). This is the great River which flows always and never fails. And not only a river, but also one of copious stream and overflowing greatness, as also David said: "The stream of the river makes glad the city of God.

For neither is that city, the heavenly Jerusalem, watered by the channel of any earthly river, but that Holy Spirit proceeding from the Fount of Life, by a short draught of Whom we are satiated, seems to flow more abundantly among those celestial Thrones, Dominions and Powers, Angels and Archangels, rushing in the full course of the seven virtues of the Spirit. For if a river rising above its banks overflows, how much more does the Spirit, rising above every creature, when He touches the as it were low-lying fields of our minds, make glad that heavenly nature of the creatures with the larger fertility of His sanctification. (St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit, Book One, 176-178)

Saint Nicholas, bishop

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You have proved yourself to be a holy priest, O Nicholas; You served God in Myra and lived the Gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people; You rescued the innocent from death, therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine. (St Nicholas Kontakion, Tone 3)

You were revealed to your flock as a measure of faith. You were an image of humility and a teacher of self-control. Because of your humble life, heaven was opened to you, because of your poverty, spiritual riches were granted to you. O holy bishop Nicholas, we cry out to you: Pray to Christ our Go that our souls may be saved.

The Liturgy's prayer for Saint Nicholas may be found here.

A brief bio on Saint Nicholas is here.

Saint John of Damascus

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St John of Damascus2.jpgSaint John of Damascus spent most of his life in the monastery of Saint Sabas, near Jerusalem, under Muslim rule, indeed, protected by it. Born in Damascus c. 676, John received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Muslims. He resigned after a few years so that he could go to the monastery of Saint Sabas. Saint John is considered the last of the Greek Church Fathers (his writings)

Three points to remember about the Damascene:

1. he is known for his opposition to the iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Muslim territory that his enemies could not silence him.

2. he is famous for his treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the Greek Fathers. It is said that this book is for Eastern equivalent of Aquinas' Summa. 

3. he is known as a poet, one of the two greatest in the Eastern Church (the other being Romanus the Melodist). His devotion to the Theotokos (the Blessed Virgin Mary) and his sermons on her feasts are well known.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Saints category from December 2009.

Saints: November 2009 is the previous archive.

Saints: January 2010 is the next archive.

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