St Andrew the Apostle-Feast Day November 30th. St Andrew was a hardy Galilean fisherman and the elder brother of St Peter the Apostle. He was born some time in the early first century and originally was a disciple of John the Baptist. As soon as he saw Jesus however he instantly recognised him as the Messiah and along with Simon Peter left his home and became a constant companion of Christ. Andrew was the first disciple of Christ and it is most likely that he introduced his brother St Peter to Him. The Lord promised to make both brothers » Fishers of men». Andrew as one of the closer apostles to Christ played a large part in most of the important events in His life . He possessed great social skills, it is Andrew who brings the first foreigners to meet Jesus and who tells Jesus about the loaves and the fishes in JN 6.8. After the Lord ascended in to heaven tradition tells us that Andrew went to spread the» Good News of the Gospel», in Greece. One famous tradition says that he founded a church at Byzantium appointing Stachys as its first bishop. He is said to have been martyred by the Romans on an X shaped cross at the city of Patras in Archaea. His relics are situated at the Basilica of St Andrew in Patras ,the Amalfi cathedral in Italy and in St Marys Roman Catholic cathedral in Edinburgh in Scotland. Andrew was formally declared the Patron Saint of Scotland in 1320 and from the 10th Century the distinctive X- shaped cross associated with St Andrew was used on the Scottish flag. He is also a patron Saint of Romania , Greece ,Russia and fisherman.
St Francis Xavier-Feast Day December 3rd. After St Paul , Francis is probably the greatest single missionary in the Catholic Churches history . He was born in to a wealthy Basque family in Navarre in 1506. Francis left home as a young man to study at the university of Paris where he met and befriended Saint Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Jesuits. With five other men they took their monastic vows together in 1534 at Montmartre forming the very beginnings of the Society of Jesus. In 1538 Francis visited Rome and two years later in1540 the Pope granted approval to the Jesuit foundation. The very same year Francis was sent to the East Indies ,he first landed at Goa preaching the Gospel and reforming the morality of the Portuguese Catholics which had gone astray. For the next 7 years he lived among the poor in India, Sri-Lanka and Malaysia bringing Christ to the lower castes and sharing in their lifestyle. In 1548 he moved to Japan to evangelize and by the time he left his converts numbered around 2000. As he was on his way to China in 1552 he fell ill and died on the island of Sian- Chain ,his body was taken to Goa where it was enshrined. He was canonized in 1622 and declared the patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius XI in 1927.
St Barbara-Feast Day December 4th. St Barbara was born in the mid third century, she is an early Christian Greek saint and one of the 14 holy helpers. Originally brought up a pagan she was the daughter of a wealthy man called Dioscorus. Her father was very protective and locked Barbara up in a tower to preserve her from the outside world. When Dioscorus found her an apt suitor he tried to arrange a marriage but Barbara who had devoted herself to Christ and had converted to Christianity in secret refused him. Barbara also asked the builders to carve out an extra window in her new bath chamber so that the three windows represented the Holy Trinity before the construction was complete. After a questioning from her father about this act she acknowledged herself as a Christian and her father was so enraged that he attempted to kill her with a sword. Barbara´s prayers however created an opening in the tower wall and she was miraculously transported to a mountain gorge. Eventually she was dragged before the prefect of the province Martinianus ,tortured terribly and thrown in a dark prison but she refused to surrender her faith. Every night her open wounds healed and the torches they used to try and burn her with, would not touch her. Eventually she was beheaded by her own father who for this atrocity was struck by lightening by God and consumed in flames. Barbara was buried by a Christian and her tomb became a place of many miracles. Barbara is invoked for protection against fire and lightening and is the patron saint of builders and architects.