This day — this date, Dec. 30 — has always made me feel a little bit sad. Or to put it more precisely, I’ve always felt a sort of sorrow for this day. It is the only day in the Octave of Christmas that does not have some big-name (or for that matter any-name) saint to go with it.
This after the almost saintly fireworks display of St. Stephen (protomartyr and deacon), St. John (Apostle, Evangelist, and the “Beloved Disciple” who took Mary herself into his own home), the Holy Innocents (who, especially in our infanticide-is-still-the-law-of-the-land society speak more importantly by their witness than ever before). Then St. Thomas Becket, the most famous martyr of medieval Europe and whom every writer from Geoffrey Chaucer to T.S. Eliot has paid homage to, and finally, on New Year’s Eve, Pope Sylvester I, whom I’ve written about at length here.
So what happened to Dec. 30?
Well, I can almost hear the liturgists arguing that being a ferial day in the Octave of Christmas makes it unique in and of itself and reflects back on Christmas and the Christ Child himself. Which is, I guess, true. Still, just looking at the liturgical calendar there almost seems to be a hole in it.
And this is not some post-Second Vatican II innovation (like the dropping/exchanging of St. Valentine on Feb. 14 to Sts. Cyril and Methodius, leaving St. Valentine nowhere to be found), but true of the old calendar as well.
For those of you who pray the Office of Prime (suppressed under St. Paul VI, but liberated for usage in the Divine Office by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008), in the reading from the Roman Martyrology (which comes in the middle of the office) there are a number of saints for the penultimate day of December.
First, and by far foremost, of these saints is Pope St. Felix — a “martyr, who ruled the Church in the reign of the Emperor Aurelian.” However, before one wonders why on earth this pontiff-martyr is not recalled the way his next-day confrere Pope St. Sylvester I is, the Martyrology notes, “His festival is, however, observed on May 30.”
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