December 2014 - Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Stephen

Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Stephen. Photo of St. Stephen: Courtesy St. James Cathedral Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Stephen. Photo of St. Stephen: Courtesy St. James Cathedral

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Marian apparition to a Mexican peasant

16th century
Feast day: December 12

Under this title, Our Lady is the patron of Mexico, the United States and all of the Americas, as well as the protector of unborn children. In 1531, she appeared in a vision to the peasant Juan Diego, on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City, and charged him with asking the bishop to build a church on that spot. But the bishop demanded a sign, so Our Lady had Juan Diego gather flowers in his cloak, in December, to take to the bishop. When Juan Diego opened his cloak, the colorful image of Guadalupe was emblazoned on the cactus-cloth. That icon is preserved in the most famous shrine in the Western Hemisphere, and Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to inspire poor and oppressed people worldwide.

St. Stephen

One of first deacons was stoned to death

18th–19th centuries
Feast day: Dec. 26

Christianity’s first martyr was probably a Greek Jew. Stephen’s story is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles. He was among the first seven deacons chosen to serve the Hellenist Christian community in Jerusalem. But the wonders he worked rattled local Jewish leaders. Witnesses at his trial before the Sanhedrin gave false testimony, and Stephen defended himself with a stirring speech recalling the long history of Israel’s relationship with God and calling the Jews “stiff-necked people” who “always oppose the Holy Spirit.” As he was stoned to death outside the city, he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He is the patron of bricklayers, stonemasons and numerous individual Christian churches.

Northwest Catholic - Dec. 2014