Saint Ambrose. Feast Day. December 7th. Aurelius Ambrosius, better known as saint Ambrose in English was born in Trier in Germany in 340. He was the son of a praetorian prefect of Gaul and was well educated in rhetoric,poetry and law. Ambrose became a lawyer and due to his oratory skills and great diplomacy was appointed consular prefect of Liguria and Emilia, headquartered in Milan.When the bishop of Milan died turmoil broke out in the city between the Roman Catholics and the Arians ,using his diplomatic skills Ambrose pacified the boisterous crowd his authority was so impressive that someone cried out, ,” Ambrose for bishop”.Thus by popular demand he was credited with the title, Bishop of Milan in 374. Immediately he was baptised, ordained and consecrated as Bishop, undertaking intensive studies in theology of which he had no former knowledge under the guidance of saint Simplican. Ambrose quickly adopted an ascetic lifestyle by giving all his belongings and wealth to the poor. Avidly opposed to paganism and Arianism which dispelled the Divinity of Christ, he quickly put a stop to all their religious activity and growth in Milan. Saint Ambrose was a wonderful writer who composed many hymns and treatises, letters and sermons. He is traditionally credited with promoting ” antiphonal chant and with the composition of the famous advent hymn ” Veni Redemptor gentium”. He also had a very strong influence on saint Augustine. Ambrose died in 397 aged around 57 and was one of the four of the original Latin Doctors of the Church. He is the patron saint of bishops, bee keepers domestic animals ,Milan and the police force.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. December 8th.The Feast of the Immaculate conception is an obligatory holy day of worship in the Universal Church.It is a belief of ancient origin in the Church but it was not defined as a dogma until 1854 by pope Pius IX in the constitution “Ineffabilis Deus.” It pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary ” in the first instance of her conception ,by a singular privilege and grace granted by God in view of her merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin” . This means from the very moment God infused her soul in to her body she was completely pure.Mary had been chosen by divine providence from the beginning of time to be the innocent vessel who would carry Gods son and remains perpetual Virgin, the formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul at baptism because it was totally excluded from her soul. Her heart like Jesus is Immaculate,full of complete love , humility and mercy. Our Lady is the perfect example of motherhood and womanhood ,as she is the new obedient Eve who gave birth to Jesus the new Adam. On this day we give thanks to God for our Mother in heaven who due to her purity and obedience, is our strongest intercessor with God and greatest protector against the Satan. Although void of all sin Mary is human and was not made exempt from human pain ,suffering and death as our Lady of Sorrows, she fully understands human pain and suffering and is the embodiment of true compassion.
Saint Juan Diego of Mexico. Feast Day . December 9th. Juan Diego was a native Indian and the first Roman Catholic Indigenous saint from the Americas. He was born just outside Mexico and was a simple, humble peasant farmer who converted form the old Aztec religion to Catholicism. At the age of 57 Juan Diego was a recently widowed man who was living with his elderly uncle when he first experienced visions of the Virgin Mary. He was on his way to Mass when he first encountered Our Lady in December 1531 on the hill of Tepeyac now in Mexico City .The Virgin Mary told him to go to the bishop of Mexico to request that he built a chapel on the exact site in her honour so that she could pray for the people of Mexico and intercede for their healing. At first the bishop did not believe Juan Diego and asked for a sign of proof ,the Virgin being aware of this placed some flowers in Diego’s cloak and told him to take them to the bishop. When Juan Diego opened his mantle in front of the bishop the roses fell to the floor and imprinted on his cloak was a perfect irremovable image of the Virgin Mary. The bishop at once fell to his knees and ordered the construction of the chapel. Today the chapel known as the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the major pilgrimage sites in the world . Nothing more is really known of Juan Diego’s life ,he was canonised in 2002 by Pope John Paul 11 and is patron of all indigenous people.