Abendua / December 2022

Artzai Ona Newsletter

December is the twelfth and final month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and is also the last of seven months to have a length of 31 days.  December got its name from the Latin word decem (meaning ten) because it was originally the tenth month of the year in the calendar of Romulus c. 750 BC, which began in March.  The winter days following December were not included as part of any month.  Later, the months of January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, but December retained its name.

In Ancient Rome, there were four Agonalia (Victim- remanences of the victims offered to divinities as a new business or difficult travel was to be started), 

  1. the day in honor of Sol Indiges (the Sun God) was held on December 11, as was Septimontium (festivals celebrated on the 7th hill, upon which the city of Rome was founded by Remulus and Remus).  
  2. Dies natalis (birthday) was held at the temple of Tellus on December 13, 
  3. Consualia was held on December 15, 
  4. Saturnalia was held December 17–23, 
  5. Opiconsivia was held on December 19, 
  6. Divalia was held on December 21,
  7. Larentalia was held on December 23, and the 
  8. dies natalis of Sol Invictus (which became the Christmas Day) was held on December 25.

The winter solstice happens on Wednesday, December 21, 2022! This is the astronomical first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year.  For the northern half of Earth (the Northern Hemisphere), the winter solstice occurs annually on December 21 or 22. (For the Southern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on June 20 or 21.) 

The winter solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the whole year, making it the “shortest day” of the year. Thankfully, after we reach the winter solstice, the days begin to once again grow longer and longer until we reach the summer solstice—the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Think of it this way: Although the winter solstice means the start of winter, it also means the return of more sunlight. It only gets brighter from here! 

He has to grow and I must diminish- John 3:30).

Liturgical Celebrations

Advent is a season of the liturgical year observed in most Christian denominations as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year in Western Christianity, and is part of the wider Christmas and holiday season.

The term “Advent” is also used in Eastern Christianity (including Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Lutheranism and Eastern Catholicism) for the 40-day Nativity Fast, which has practices different from those in the West.

The name was adopted from Latin adventus “coming; arrival”, translating Greek parousia. In the New Testament, this is the term used for the Second Coming of Christ. Thus, the season of Advent in the Christian calendar anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives: the physical nativity in Bethlehem, the reception of Christ in the heart of the believer, and the eschatological Second Coming. John the Baptist

Charles Eugène de Foucauld de Pontbriand, Viscount of Foucauld (15 September 1858 – 1 December 1916) was a French soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnographer, Catholic priest and hermit who lived among the Tuareg people in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. Orphaned at the age of six, de Foucauld was brought up by his maternal grandfather, Colonel Beaudet de Morlet. He joined the Saint-Cyr Military Academy. Upon leaving the academy he opted to join the cavalry. He thus went to the Saumur Cavalry School, where he was known for his childish sense of humour, whilst living a life of debauchery enabled by an inheritance he received after his grandfather’s death. He was assigned to the 4th Chasseurs d’Afrique Regiment. At the age of twenty-three, he decided to resign in order to explore Morocco by impersonating a Jew. The quality of his works earned him a gold medal from the Société de Géographie, as well as fame following publication of his book Reconnaissance au Maroc (1888). Once back in France, he rekindled his Catholic faith and joined the Trappist order on 16 January 1890. Still with the Trappists, he then went to Syria. His quest of an even more radical ideal of poverty, altruism, and penitence, led him to leave the Trappists in order to become a hermit in 1897. He was then living in Palestine as a porter at convents of the Poor Clares in Nazareth and in Jerusalem, writing his meditations that became the cornerstone of his spirituality.

Ordained in Viviers in 1901, he decided to settle in the Algerian Sahara at Béni Abbès. His ambition was to form a new congregation, but nobody joined him. Taking the religious name “Brother Charles of Jesus”, he lived with the Berbers, adopting a new apostolic approach, preaching not through sermons, but through his example. In order to become more familiar with the Tuareg, he studied their culture for over twelve years, using a pseudonym to publish the first Tuareg-French dictionary. He collected hundreds of Tuareg poems (paying a few sous to anyone who would bring poems to his hermitage) which he translated into French. He censored nothing in the poems, and never changed anything that might not conform to Catholic morality. De Foucauld’s works are a reference point for the understanding of Tuareg culture. On 1 December 1916, de Foucauld was assassinated at his hermitage. He was quickly considered to be a martyr of faith [3][4] and was the object of veneration following the success of the biography written by René Bazin (1923). New religious congregations, spiritual families, and a renewal of eremitic life are inspired by Charles de Foucauld’s life and writings.

Francis Xavier (born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta; Latin: Franciscus Xaverius; Basque: Frantzisko Xabierkoa; French: François Xavier; Spanish: Francisco Javier; Portuguese: Francisco Xavier; 7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552), venerated as Saint Francis Xavier, was a Navarrese Catholic missionary and saint who was a co-founder of the Society of Jesus.

Born in Javier (Xavier in Old Spanish and in Navarro-Aragonese, or Xabier, a Basque word meaning “new house”), in the Kingdom of Navarre (in present-day Spain), he was a companion of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits who took vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre, Paris in 1534.[3] He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly the Portuguese Empire in the East, and was influential in evangelisation work, most notably in early modern India. He was extensively involved in the missionary activity in Portuguese India.

Saint Nicholas of Myra (traditionally 15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of Greek descent from the maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor (Greek: Μύρα; modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, unmarried people, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the pious, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus (“Saint Nick”) through Sinterklaas. 

Ambrose of Milan (Latin: Aurelius Ambrosius; c. 339 – c. 397), venerated as Saint Ambrose,[a] was a theologian and statesman who served as Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397. He expressed himself prominently as a public figure, fiercely promoting the Christian faith against Arianism and paganism. He left a substantial collection of writings, of which the best known include the ethical commentary De officiis ministrorum (377–391), and the exegetical Exameron [it] (386–390). His preachings, his actions and his literary works, in addition to his innovative musical hymnography, made him one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century.

Ambrose was serving as the Roman governor of Aemilia-Liguria in Milan when he was unexpectedly made Bishop of Milan in 374 by popular acclamation.

The Immaculate Conception is the belief that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. First debated by medieval theologians, it proved so controversial that it did not become part of official Catholic teaching until 1854, when Pius IX gave it the status of dogma in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus. The Immaculate Conception became a popular subject in literature, but its abstract nature meant it was late in appearing as a subject in works of art. The iconography of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception shows Mary standing, with arms outstretched or hands clasped in prayer. The feast day of the Immaculate Conception is December 8.

Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474 as Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native to Mexico. He became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. Following the early death of his father, Juan Diego was taken to live with his uncle. From the age of three, he was raised in line with the Aztec pagan religion, but always showed signs of having a mystical sense of life. He was recognized for his religious fervor, his respectful and gracious attitude toward the Virgin Mary and his Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, and his undying love for his ill uncle. When a group of 12 Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico in 1524, he and his wife, Maria Lucia, converted to Catholicism and were among the first to be baptized in the region. Juan Diego was very committed to his new life and would walk long distances to receive religious instruction at the Franciscan mission station at Tlatelolco. On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was in a hurry to make it to Mass and celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. However, he was stopped by the beautiful sight of a radiant woman who introduced herself, in his native tongue, as the “ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God.” Our Lady of Guadalupe.

John of the Cross, OCD (Spanish: Juan de la Cruz; Latin: Ioannes a Cruce; born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez; 24 June 1542 – 14 December 1591), venerated as Saint John of the Cross, was a Spanish Catholic priest, mystic, and a Carmelite friar of converso origin. He is a major figure of the Counter-Reformation in Spain, and he is one of the thirty-seven Doctors of the Church. John of the Cross is known for his writings. He was mentored by and corresponded with the older Carmelite, Teresa of Ávila. Both his poetry and his studies on the development of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and among the greatest works of all Spanish literature. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. In 1926, he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI, and is commonly known as the “Mystical Doctor”.

Nativity of the Lord. On this day, the Church focuses especially on the newborn Child, God become human, who embodies for us all the hope and peace we seek. We need no other special saint today to lead us to Christ in the manger, although his mother Mary and Joseph, caring for his foster-son, help round out the scene.

But if we were to select a patron for today, perhaps it might be appropriate for us to imagine an anonymous shepherd, summoned to the birthplace by a wondrous and even disturbing vision in the night, a summons from an angelic choir, promising peace and goodwill. A shepherd willing to seek out something that might just be too unbelievable to chase after, and yet compelling enough to leave behind the flocks in the field and search for a mystery. On the day of the Lord’s birth, let’s let an unnamed, “non-celebrity” at the edge of the crowd model for us the way to discover Christ in our own hearts—somewhere between skepticism and wonder, between mystery and faith. And like Mary and the shepherds, let’s treasure that discovery in our hearts.



The Holy Family consists of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph. The subject became popular in art from the 1490s on, but veneration of the Holy Family was formally begun in the 17th century by Saint François de Laval, the first bishop of New France, who founded a confraternity.

The Feast of the Holy Family is a liturgical celebration in the Catholic Church, as well as in many Lutheran and Anglican churches, in honour of Jesus, His mother, and his legal father, Saint Joseph, as a family; it has been observed since 1921 when it was inserted by Pope Benedict XV. The primary purpose of this feast is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.

Page dedicated to Andra Mari’s (Our Virgin Mary)

  1. Our Lady of Pilar (La Pilarica=pillar + -ica=little, small, in the dialect of Aragón) in Zaragoza.

The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar (Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar) is a Roman Catholic church in the city of Zaragoza, Aragon (Spain). The basilica venerates Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title Our Lady of the Pillar praised as “Mother of the Hispanic Peoples.” Local traditions take the history of this basilica to the spread of Christianity in Roman Spain attributing to an apparition to Saint James the Great, the apostle who is believed by tradition to have brought Christianity to the country. Many of the kings of different kingdoms within Spain, and many other foreign rulers and saints have paid their devotion before this statue of Mary. Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Ávila, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and Blessed William Joseph Chaminade are among the foremost ones. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is one of two minor basilicas in the city of Zaragoza, and is co-cathedral of the city alongside the nearby La Seo de Zaragoza. The architecture is of Baroque style, and the present building was predominantly built between 1681 and 1872. According to ancient local tradition, soon after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Saint James was preaching the Gospel in Spain, but was disheartened because of the failure of his mission. Tradition holds that on 2 January 40 AD, while he was deep in prayer by the banks of the Ebro River, The Mother of God appeared to him and gave a column of jasper and instructed him to build a church in her honor: “This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build.”

The Basilica of El Pilar in Zaragoza
Pilarreko basilika edo Pilarko Ama Birjinaren basilika (sarritan El Pilar edota Pilaricaren basilika deitua) Espainiako Aragoi erkidego autonomoko Zaragoza hiriburuan dagoen basilika bat da. Gaur egungo eraikin barrokoa 1681-1961 urte bitartean eraikia izan zen. San Salvador katedrala edo La Seorekin batera hiri honetako bi katedraletako bat da. Kondairak dioenez, Zaragozan Santiago Apostoluari agertu zitzaion Ama Birjina, kristautasunera jende gehien eraman zuen lekua izan baitzen. Zutabe bat zeramaten aingeruekin agertu zen Ama Birjina. Zutabe hori kapera txiki baten lehen zutabe bihurtu zen, eta, mendeak igaro ahala, gure herrialdeko monumenturik garrantzitsuenetakoa bihurtu zen.