Old Testament Prophets who are Saints in the Church’s calendar

Since the beginning of December, Holy Mother Church has been imitating the Lord on the Road to Emmaus.

She has been reminding us of all the prophecies about the coming of the Messiah who would also be incarnate God.

She has done this subtly, through feast days, but feasts that are not generally visible to most of us.  Holy Mother Church has used her “album of the saints”, the Roman Martyrology to teach about the Old Testament Prophets.

Sometimes you hear people – even priests, for shame – use the word “liturgy” when they mean “Mass”.  “In today’s ‘liturgy’…”, they say.

No.  The Mass is the greatest expression of the Church’s liturgy, but it is not all there is.  There are also the canonical hours of the divine Office.  The Office also makes use of the liturgical book called the Roman Martyrology.

Paging through the Martyrology, we find that many Old Testament figures are counted as saints.

If the general calendar of the Church permits, it would even be possible to celebrate them for Mass!

Today, for example, is the Winter Solstice AND the Feast of St. Micah.

About those Old Testament prophets…

Keep in mind that in earlier days, Advent was longer than it is now, from Martinmas.  Prophets start popping up in the calendar in the Martyrology.

19 Nov – Abdia or Obediah.
1 Dec – Nahum
2 Dec – Habakkuk
3 Dec – Sophonius or Zephaniah
16 Dec – Haggai and some sources David (others have David on 29 Dec)
18 Dec – Malachi
21 Dec – Micah
24 Dec – “Commemoratio omnium sanctorum avorum Iesu Christi, filii, David, filii Abraham, filii Adam…”

Just a little public service announcement.

FYI… other prophets

1 May – Jeremiah
9 May – Isaiah
15 June – Amos
20 July – Elijah
23 July – Ezekiel
21 Sept – Jonah
17 Oct – Hosea
19 Oct – Joel




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  2. optiksguy says:

    No date for Nathan? I’ve been searching far and wide for an authoritative date on which to celebrate my son’s Name Day.

  3. Danteewoo says:

    In the same spirit, the Byzantine Rite commemorates Old Testament saints on the two Sundays before Christmas. (And thank you, Novus Ordo, for driving me to the East.)

  4. Cameron466 says:

    I read somewhere that Christmas trees were originally “Paradise Trees,” a way of celebrating the feast of Adam and Eve on the 24th, meant to represent the trees in Eden. They used to hang fruit, candles (“light of the world”) and cookies (Eucharist as the fruit of the tree of life), which I take it correspond to modern bulbs and lights. Now that I know this, even ostensibly “secular” Christmas decorations become an occasion for contemplation.

    Interesting how even attempts to secularize Christmas just lead back into what it is in a roundabout fashion. The secularists try to avoid making Christmas seem too “religious” by slapping the face of a 3rd century Catholic bishop on everything in sight.

  5. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    And there’s St. Lot! In the Wikipedia “Madaba Map” article there is an External link to The Madaba Mosaic Map at the Franciscan Archaeological Institute where, with a bit of searching around, fascinating information may be found about him and his commemoration .

  6. Front Pew View says:

    Daniel is July 21 according to the Roman Martyrology (my name day). My wife thought it was December 17, but I recently figured out that the Greeks and Lutherans commemorate Daniel on Dec. 17.

  7. IaninEngland says:

    @ Cameron466
    He might well be called “S. Nicholas” by some, but be aware that Santa Claus has more than a soupçon of Odin (yes, *that* Odin!) about him.
    He’s banned in our household, but we did tell the children about the real S. Nicholas and the three unwed maidens.

  8. Imrahil says:

    @IaninEngland…: While of course everyone is free to ban in one’s household what he likes, I fail to see why the enrichment of the popular legendary function of a saint with motives that, yes, did rather obviously float around before connected with Odin should be a reason to do so.

  9. gaudete says:

    I’ve seen Nathan listed on various websites for the 24th of October, but as there is the angelic Saint Raphael on the same day, he hardly gets a mention.

  10. IaninEngland says:

    @ Imrahil
    No, S. Nicholas was not banned. Odin / Santa Claus was, however. We don’t like pagan, imitation “gods”. I do appreciate that “Santa” is a version of the word “Saint” and “Claus” is a pet form of “Nicholas”, but Santa Claus and S. Nicholas are two completely different people.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    It is a fascinating and complicated ‘ matter’. My impression is that in England, Father Christmas and St. Nicholas are historically different, though there are something like influences back and forth – and already cases of interchangeability in the Nineteenth century.

    In the Netherlands they seem completely different: Sinterklaas (with mitre and crozier) and the ‘Kerstman’ (‘Christ[mas]man’: festively clad for winter), and are celebrated on 5/6 December and connected with 25 December respectively. Perhaps Imrahil could tell us of how things stand with St. Nicholas and the ‘Weihnachtsmann’ in various German-speaking places.

    Tolkien interestingly developed ‘Father Nicholas Christmas’, distinct from but explicitly named after the Saint.

    I have the impression the supposed ‘Odin’ debts are dubious – or at least dubiously exaggerated – and in keeping with an approach that attributes all sorts of Christian feasts (etc.) to pagan origins – though pagan elements can be taken up and transformed, even as pagan temples – like the Parthenon in Athens – were sometimes transformed into churches rather then being eradicated.

    The world-famous – and influential – early Nineteenth-century American poem is called ‘ A Visit from St. Nicholas’ and the visitor is nicknamed “St. Nick” in it – though he is winter- rather than liturgically-/pontifically-clad, and associated with “the night before Christmas”.

    The Nineteenth-century American and Dutch ‘developments’ seem to include sorts of ‘Reformation’ popular reintroductions of Saints as benevolently intervening in daily life, and to varying extents enduringly controversial as such (!)

  12. IaninEngland says:

    @ Venerator Sti Lot
    Many thanks for your interesting insights. I rather think the Dutch have it more or less right and someone has just mixed in a lot of rubbish with the real story. Would that more of our Bishops were like S. Nicholas!
    The world does tend to do this to Christian events and stories. I mean, just look at Easter! It’s rotten, but we have to counter this somehow. I think it was Sol Invictus (“the unconquered sun”) that was invented to imitate the Christian Christmas (which was celebrated before Sol Invictus was invented).
    To my mind, it’s part of a programme of “sanitising” Christian festivals and stories in the sense of pushing God out of them while aping them, keeping all the bits that the world finds acceptable. So, at Christmas, the focus is moved away from the birth of the Saviour and shifted towards giving gifts and partying. Not necessarily bad things in themselves, but not the major focus of the festival. It’s what the Evil One does, I’m afraid.
    Personally, I love the fact that the incarnate Son of God was laid in a manger, a feed-trough. A huge hint that we should *eat* Him (and drink His Blood). Transubstantiation anybody?

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Probably worth mentioning here is – or are – poetic and musical attention to the Limbus patrum in connection with Christmas -about which I wish I knew a lot more than I do!

    But two examples occur to me:

    The Fifteenth-century poem which is apparently a song text without the music – if the Wikipedia article, “Adam lay ybounden”, is reliable;

    An oratorio by Allesandro Scarlatti for Christmas Eve, the title of which I have forgotten.

  14. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    A correction and update: Alessandro (!), and it is the “Cantata Per la Notte di Natale – 1705”, a recording of which was made by Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano, released on the Opus 111 lable in 1996 (which someone has uploaded on YouTube at the moment – though, sadly, without text or translation).

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