10th Day: Danseurs and Elizabeth

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, whose feast is today, January 4, is worth paying attention to. Born (1774) and married (1794) into the upper strata of New York society, she was a devout Episcopalian, devoted parent, and dedicated helper of the poor. Widowed in 1803 and received into the Catholic Church in 1805, she endured anti-Catholic... Continue Reading →

9th Day: Holy Name & Ballerinas

On January 3, the Church celebrates the Holy Name of Jesus. In the current Roman Calendar, it is a relatively minor day, an "optional memorial," and in various other church calendars, it is celebrated on different days as well. "What's in a name?" Shakespeare asks in Romeo and Juliet. A lot, actually.  Your name is the... Continue Reading →

8th Day: Milkers and Cappadocians

The gift on the Eighth Day: Eight Maids A-Milking. What could that be? Are these young women themselves the gift, which is quite repugnant, or are there services being provided for by the "True Love." This, and all the subsequent gifts, are gifts of human beings, or better, human services. As one can infer from... Continue Reading →

5th Day: Gold & Family

Did you ever notice while singing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" that there's something unique about the fifth day? Not only are the "five go-old rings" sung jarringly slower, almost like going over a speed bump too fast, they are also the only inanimate objects in the whole list. Among the twelve gifts, six are birds... Continue Reading →

4th Day: Murder & Crows

A lot of killing going on after Christmas. On the 26th, St. Stephen, the first (adult) who gave witness to Jesus by giving his life; yesterday, the infant martyrs, Holy Innocents; and today St. Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century Archbishop of Canterbury, who was, in a sense, a martyr for religious freedom, at least freedom for... Continue Reading →

3rd Day: Faverolles & Infants

Did you ever notice that half of the gifts are birds?  First a partridge, yesterday turtle doves, today "three French hens," tomorrow calling birds, Then after the "five go-old rings," there are geese and swans. Why "French" hens? Well, it seems that they are a special breed of chickens, called Faverolles, first developed in France in... Continue Reading →

2nd Day: Turtle Doves & St. John

Two turtle doves. Pigeons and doves I'm familiar with (pigeons obnoxiously almost everywhere you don't want them; doves at funerals and papal pictures).  Turtle doves are migrating birds common to Europe, Asia, and Africa, crossing the equator to live perpetually in summer. Smart idea if you have the wings (frequent flyer miles?) and stamina for... Continue Reading →

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