Do Not Forget the Advent Saints

Don't Forget the Advent Saints!

by James Martin, SJ
Liturgical Year: Advent

During the season of Advent, most of our attention is focused, quite rightly, on the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This wonderful liturgical season also offers other stories, ones that often go overlooked: the stories of the saints.

For many people, the lives of the saints seem, frankly, boring or irrelevant. That's not surprising given the way they're often depicted in churches: either as bland plaster statues that make them look dull or as figures in dramatic stained-glass windows that make them look superhuman. The saints were neither. A quick look at the lives of two “Advent saints” shows that they were truly human people who led fascinating lives.

Take St. Francis Xavier, whose feast we celebrate on December 3. When you're writing your Christmas cards, you might think of all the letters that the great missionary sent back to his Jesuit brothers in the sixteenth century. These letters were widely circulated and they thrilled Europe with tales of wonderful new peoples in Africa, India, and Japan. Or remember the feast day of St. Ambrose on December 7 when you're thinking about being forced to do so much Christmas shopping. He was forced to do something, too: In the fourth century he found himself in a church in Milan during a time of religious controversy. The crowd suddenly shouted, “Ambrose, bishop!” He was acclaimed and appointed as bishop even though he wasn't even baptized!

Other wonderful Advent saints include St. Juan Diego (December 9), Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12), St. Lucy (December 13), St. John of the Cross (December 14), and St. Peter Canisius (December 21).

So don't forget to mail your Christmas cards early, and don't forget about the lives of our amazing Advent saints, too!


James Martin, SJ 

James Martin, SJ, is associate editor of America magazine and a prolific author, writer, and editor.

See More

Books by James Martin, SJ

Lourdes Diary

Seven Days at the Grotto of Massabieille

Fr. Martin's illuminating and humorous account of seven busy and gratifying days at Lourdes is a vivid description of a place with a special, mysterious spiritual presence.

Shop Now

A Jesuit Off-Broadway

Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions

Theater and theology share the stage in Fr. James Martin’s A Jesuit Off-Broadway, the true story about the making of a celebrated play.

Shop Now

Awake My Soul

Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions

A contemporary look at traditional devotions from well-known Catholic writers.

Shop Now

Praying with America

100 Years of Encountering God in Prayer with America Magazine

Praying with America presents and celebrates the diversity of prayer over the past century and offers readers the wisdom and inspiration of leading Catholic thinkers on the practice of prayer.

Shop Now

My Life with the Saints 10th Anniversary Edition

This best-selling memoir of spiritual self-discovery is an homage to the Catholic saints who have accompanied Fr. Martin throughout his life


Shop Now

Who Cares About the Saints?

Let James Martin, SJ author of the bestselling book My Life with the Saints introduce you to his favorite Catholic saints in this exciting new saints DVD.

Shop Now

A Jesuit Off-Broadway

Behind the Scenes with Faith, Doubt, Forgiveness, and More

An Off-Broadway cast has plenty of questions about life and faith - and Fr. James Martin, author of My Life with the Saints, is just the right person to offer some answers in A Jesuit Off-Broadway.

Shop Now

Mi vida con los santos

En Mi vida con los Santos James Martin nos presenta una conmovedora experiencia respect a su relación con los Santos –desde María, la madre de Jesús, hasta San Francisco o la Madre Teresa- y la manera personal en la que ha side dirigido por los heroes de la Iglesia a lo largo de toda su vida.

Shop Now

My Life with the Saints

A remarkable memoir of a man's lifelong personal attachment to twenty-four holy men and women who changed his life.

Shop Now