The Nativity of the Lord, Jesus Christ (Solemnity)
Celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Our Lord. In the earliest days of the Church there was no such feast, the Saviour’s birth was commemorated with the Epiphany by the Greek and other Eastern Churches. First mention of the feast, then kept on 20 May, was made by Clement of Alexandria c 200. The Latin Church began c 300 to observe it on 25 December, though there is no certainty that Our Lord was born on that day. Priests have the privilege of saying three Masses, at midnight, daybreak and morning. This was originally reserved to the Holy Father alone – beginning about the 4th century he celebrated a midnight Mass in the Lateran Basilica (in which according to tradition, the manger of Bethlehem is preserved), a second in the church of Saint Anastasia, whose feast comes on 25 December and a third at the Vatican Basilica. Many peculiar customs of the day are the outcome of the pagan celebrations of the January calender. The Christmas tree, of which the first known mention was made in 1605 at Strasbourg, was introduced into France and England in 1840. The feast is a holy day of obligation, preceded by the preparatory season of Advent and by a special vigil – should it fall on a Friday it abrogates the law of abstinence. Today’s Gospel is the prologue of John.
St Adalsindis of Hamay
St Alburga of Wilton
St Anastasia of Sirmium
St Basilée of the Via Latina
Bl Bentivoglio de Bonis
Bl Diego de Aro
St Eugenia of Rome
St Fulk of Toulouse
Blessed Jacopone da Todi OFM (1230-1306) Franciscan Friar, Author of the “Stabat Mater”
St Jovin of the Via Latina
Bl Maria Therese von Wüllenweber
Bl Matthew of Albano
Bl Michael Nakashima Saburoemon
St Romulus of Berry
Martyrs of Nicomedia: 20,000 Christians martyred by order of Diocletian. They were reported to have all been in the single basilica to celebrate Christmas. While there unquestionably was an endless series of martyrs under Diocletian, it’s likely the ancient sources exaggerated the numbers of this incident. And as the Christmas holy day was not celebrated in the East in 303, they were probably gathered for another feast. They were burned alive in 303 in the basilica of Nicomedia.
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