A Catholic Monthly Magazine

December Saints

Saint Maria de las Maravillas de Jesus (1891-1974)

Maria de las Maravillas was born in Madrid, Spain, into a devout Catholic family. At the time, her father was Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See. Reading the writings of St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila engendered in her the desire to become a Discalced Carmelite, but she had to wait six years after her father died, in 1913, before her mother would accept her decision.

Before her final profession in 1924, Sister Maria had already received a special call from God to found the Carmel of Cerro de los Angeles, which she did in 1926. From then on, she founded a series of Teresian Carmelite Monasteries in which she and her Sisters sought to live and transmit the spirit and ideals of St Teresa of Jesus and St John of the Cross.

Despite Sister Maria’s natural aversion and sense of inadequacy in accepting positions of responsibility, she was appointed prioress of each of the convents she founded. She was often criticised for the poverty of these convents. Charges were made that they were not solid, small in size, and unfurnished. She would reply, however, that “it is not our concern to plant a seed, since the Discalced Carmelites have already been founded. Even if our convents collapse, nothing will happen.”

Amid enormous deprivation, Mother Maravilllas instilled courage and happiness into her Sisters, always being an admirable example to her daughters. She also remained a mystery to them, since only her spiritual directors knew of the ‘dark night of the soul’ in which she lived throughout her life. None of her Sisters even guessed the profound spiritual aridity and trials she suffered, because she made total faith and abandonment to the will of God her guide.

On 8 December, 1974, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Mother Maravillas was anointed and received Holy Communion. Three days later, surrounded by her community, she died, a true and devoted Carmelite to the end.

Saint Maria, give us the strength to be true to our vocation.

(Source: Internet – various)

Saint John Damascene (676-749)

This Doctor of the Church was born in Damascus, Syria. Receiving an excellent classical education, and fluent in Arabic as well as Greek, John worked in the Muslim court until the hostility of the caliph towards Christianity caused him to resign his position, about the year 700. He became a monk at Mar Sabas monastery near Jerusalem, where he taught, preached many of his luminous sermons in Jerusalem, and began to compose his theological treatises.

It was about this time that the Byzantine emperor ordered the destruction of images in Christian churches. John fought the heresy, bringing down upon himself the wrath of the emperor and the hatred of the iconoclast party.

He has left a rich legacy of writings, including a refutation of heresy, an exposition of the Orthodox faith, and a study of contemporary religious issues. His writings on Mary constitute a true theology of the Mother of God, and his sermons on the saints, the liturgical feasts, and the Gospels show vast learning.

Saint John, teach us a love of true doctrine.


Saint Charbel Makhlouf (1828-1898)

Although this saint never travelled far from the Lebanese village of Beka-Kafra, where he was born, his influence has spread widely. Joseph Zaroun Makhlouf was raised by an uncle, because his father died when Joseph was three. At the age of 23, Joseph joined the Monastery of Saint Maron at Annaya, Lebanon, and took the name ‘Charbel’ in honour of a second-century martyr. He professed his final vows in 1853 and was ordained six years later.

Charbel lived as a hermit until he died on Christmas Eve in 1898. His reputation for holiness prompted people to seek him to receive a blessing and to be remembered in his prayers. He followed a strict fast and was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. Christians and non-Christians soon made his tomb a place of pilgrimage and of cures.

Saint Charbel, obtain for us a love of solitude with God.


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