The 12 Popes of Christmas Vatican 1

The 12 Popes of Christmas Vatican 1 December 23, 2023

Let us be inspired this Christmas with the merry mystical words of the successors of Peter with a small snapshot of the world around them. I’m going back 12 popes to the middle of the 19th century. These 1st 6 popes are from Vatican 1 on.

Bl. Pius IX June 16,1846 – February 7,1878
Pope During American Civil War

Subject and later the last sovereign of the Papal States, becoming a Italian citizen. Opened the First Vatican Council; lost the Papal States to Italy. Defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and defined papal infallibility. Issued the controversial Syllabus of Errors. Longest-serving pope since Peter (c. AD 30–64).

Christmas 1854

God, therefore, from the beginning and before the ages, chose and foreordained to his Son a mother, in whom he would become incarnate and from whom he would then, in the happy fullness of time, be born.  And certainly it was quite fitting that so venerable a Mother should always shine adorned with the splendors of the most perfect holiness, and, entirely immune from the stain of original sin, should bring about the most complete triumph over the ancient serpent; for to her God the Father had ordained to give his only-begotten Son — begotten of his womb, equal to himself and loved as himself — in such a way that he might be, by nature, the only and common Son of God the Father and of the Virgin; for the Son himself had determined to make her his mother in a substantial way; for the Holy Spirit had willed and caused him to be conceived and born of her, from whom he himself proceeds.
-Pius IX Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus (8 December 1854)

The World Around the Pope

Notable Song of the Year

The Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslas (1953) by English hymnwriter John Mason Neale  and  Thomas Helmore  is written.

Notable Events of Christmastime 1854

December 25, 1854 – The El Pueblo 1854 Christmas Tragedy occurs when the indian tribe of over 100 Muache Utes and Jicarilla Dindes (mostly Muache Utes)  under the leadership of Chief Tierra Blanco (Spanish for “White Earth”) led the attack against Fort Pueblo, Colorado killing 15 men (mostly native Mexicans, and one Canadian), and capturing one woman, and two boys. This was in retaliation after the deaths of Chief Chico Velasquez and others who died of smallpox after having been given blanket coats which the Muache believed had been deliberately contaminated.

Notable Literature and Arts of the Year

The Light of the World (1851–1854) by  William Holman Hunt (1827–1910)

Charles Dickens publishes the short story The Seven Poor Travellers(1854)

Leo XIII February 20, 1878 –  July 20, 1903
Last Pope Elected in the 19th Century

Issued the encyclical Rerum novarum; supported Christian democracy against Communism. Had the third-longest reign after Pius IX, and John Paul II. Promoted the rosary and the scapular and approved two new Marian scapulars; first pope to fully embrace the concept of Mary as mediatrix.

Christmas 1892

To all fathers of families, Joseph is verily the best model of paternal vigilance and care. In the most holy Virgin Mother of God, mothers may find an excellent example of love, modesty, resignation of spirit, and the perfecting of faith. And in Jesus, who was subject to his parents, the children of the family have a divine pattern of obedience which they can admire, reverence, and imitate. Those who are of noble birth may learn, from this Family of royal blood, how to live simply in times of prosperity, and how to retain their dignity in times of distress. The rich may learn that moral worth is to be more highly esteemed than wealth.

When Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are invoked in the home, charity is likely to be maintained in the family through their example and heavenly entreaty ; a good influence is thus exerted over conduct ; the practice of virtue is thus incited ; and thus the hardships which are everywhere wont to harass mankind, are both mitigated and made easier to bear.
-Pope Leo XIII Breve Neminem fugit June 14, 1892

The World Around the Pope

Notable Song of the Year

Away in a Manger (March 2, 1882) is found in the  “Children’s’ Corner” section of the anti-Masonic journal The Christian Cynosure under the heading “Luther’s Cradle Song. The origin of the words is obscure.

Notable Non-Christmas and Christmas Events of 1882

March 29, 1882 – The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization, is founded in New Haven, Connecticut founded by Blessed Fr. Michael J. McGivney

In 1882, the look of the holiday season changed forever.

Instead of decorating a Christmas tree with candles, Edward H. Johnson, inventor and vice president of Thomas Edison’s booming electric company, strung 80 red, white and blue light bulbs on his scrawny evergreen. The whole thing rotated six times per minute on an electric crank. More than a century later, those 80 bulbs have multiplied into hundreds of millions of tiny electric lights — perhaps billions — decorating American homes and roughly 40 million live trees each year.
Dave Mosher  The Curious Evolution of Holiday Lights (December 23, 2018), Wired

Christmas Lights GIFs | Tenor

Notable Literary Publications of the Year

Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper (1882) is published in the U.S. 

I will set down a tale as it was told to me by one who had it of his father, which latter had it of HIS father, this last having in like manner had it of HIS father—and so on, back and still back, three hundred years and more, the fathers transmitting it to the sons and so preserving it.  It may be history, it may be only a legend, a tradition. It may have happened, it may not have happened:  but it COULD have happened.  It may be that the wise and the learned believed it in the old days; it may be that only the unlearned and the simple loved it and credited it.

Notable Arrivals and Departures of the Year

January 18, 1882 – Winnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne,is born.(d. 1956) 

“I did want crackers,
And I did want candy;
I know a box of chocolates
Would come in handy;
I do love oranges,
I did want nuts.
I haven’t got a pocket-knife—
Not one that cuts.
And, oh! if Father Christmas had loved me at all,
He would have brought a big, red india-rubber ball!”
A. A. Milne, King John’s Christmas

January 30, 1882 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (d. 1945) is born.

March 24, 1882 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. dies (b. 1807).

St Pius X August 4 1903 – August 20, 1914
1st Pope Elected in the 20th Century

Encouraged and expanded reception of the Eucharist. Combatted Modernism; issued the oath against it. Advocated the Gregorian Chant and reformed the Roman Breviary

Christmas 1903

The hut in Bethlehem is a school, from which the divine Redeemer begins his teaching, not with words, but with works, teaching that the only means of rehabilitation is sacrifice in poverty and pain. — The pompous theories, the sensational rallies, the discussion of burning questions are of no use. To restore everything in Christ, without science taking care of it, without wealth lending help, and without politics intervening, this lesson is enough; and society, walking along this path, would be happy in universal contentment and tranquility.

The hut in Bethlehem is a school, where if we see a pagan Caesar become an unconscious instrument of divine Providence and contribute admirably to the foundation of the Church, no one can doubt that God does not help her to defend and preserve it. — Certainly the evils that afflict it at the present are many and very serious, its enemies (masked or obvious) numerous and powerful; the means they have to do harm are formidable; but we must not lose heart, because in the divine promises we have the certainty that God will always achieve the predetermined end, using the same evil, as Augustine says, produced by our free will at the triumph of good.
-St. Pius X To the members of the Roman Curia on the occasion of the exchange of Christmas wishes (December 23, 1903)  

The World Around the Pope

Notable Song of the Year

Babes in Toyland is an operetta composed by Victor Herbert with a libretto by Glen MacDonough, which wove together various characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes into a musical extravaganza.

Notable Events of 1903

December 17 – Just in time for Christmas. Orville Wright flies an aircraft with a petrol engine, the Wright Flyer, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in the first documented and successful powered and controlled heavier-than-air flight.

Notable Literary Publications of the Year

The Josephs’ Christmas (1902) by Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery is published.

Notable Films of the Year Released

The Film Life and Passion of the Christ (1903) is released.

Notable Arrivals and Departures of the Year

April 11, 1903 – Gemma Galgani, Italian mystic, Catholic saint dies. (b. 1878)

May 3, 1903 – Bing Crosby, Mr. White Christmas is born (d. 1977).

Christmas Letter of St Gemma to her spiritual Director, Venerable Father Germano
December 24, 1900Do you know what I would do myself, my dad, with Jesus? I would like to do what the angels do with Him; but since I can’t, I would like to offer Him the warmest affections of my devotion; and I pray to my Mom [Blessed Virgin Mary] to offer to Jesus, just born, these little sacrifices and affections that often come to me. St Gemma Galgani: A grace given to St Gemma on Christmas

Benedict XV   September 3, 1914 –  January 22, 1922
Pope During World War 1

Credited for intervening for peace during World War I. Issued the 1917 Code of Canon Law; supported the missionaries in Maximum illud. Remembered by Benedict XVI as a “prophet of peace”.

Christmas 1917

Accustomed by now, and by divine ordainment destined to liberate the joys of the sweetest occasions tempered by sadness, We prepared Ourselves to repeat the groans of the Father and the troubles of the Pastor in commemorating, for the fourth time in days of war, the anniversary of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And to return to the Lord it would be enough to go to Bethlehem with the simplicity of the Shepherds, it would be enough to listen to what voice is poured out, the herald of Heaven, on the divine Nativity scene.

Oh! peace of Christ, dear to every age that possessed you, how much dearer should you be to Ours, which has so long since lost you… But the peace proclaimed by the Angels in Bethlehem does not want hatred or vengeance, neither greed nor massacres… it is a voice of meekness and forgiveness…. It is a promise made, or rather it is a reward announced “to men of good will“. Oh! May those who see in the celebration of the Christmas feasts the invitation to return to the Lord by way of Bethlehem not forget this!
-POPE BENEDICT XV To the Sacred College of Cardinals at the vigil of the Solemnity of Christmas (December 24, 1917)

The World Around the Pope

Notable Song of the Year

Christmas in Camp (Anonymous, recorded ca. 1917)

From Voices of Christmas Past – 1898 to 1922 : Dawn of Sound – Vintage Audio on the Net 

Notable Events of  1917

World War 1 rages on.

December 25, 1917 – Jesse Lynch Williams‘s Why Marry?, the first dramatic play to win a Pulitzer Prize, opens at the Astor Theatre, New York City.

J. R. R. Tolkien, on medical leave from the British Army at Great Haywood, begins The Book of Lost Tales (the first version of The Silmarillion), starting with the “Fall of Gondolin“. This first chronicles Tolkien’s mythopoeic Middle-earth legendarium in prose.

Notable Literary Publications of the Year

The first edition of the World Book Encyclopedia – simply known as The World Book – is published by the Hanson-Roach-Fowler Company, and is one of the first American encyclopedias to cover the major areas of knowledge to a mass audience.

Once on a Time (1917) by A. A. Milne is published.

This story is hard to tell, for I have to piece it together from the narratives of others, and to supply any gaps in their stories from my knowledge of how the different characters might be expected to act. Perhaps, therefore, it is a good moment in which to introduce to you the authorities upon whom I rely.

First and foremost, of course, comes Roger Scurvilegs. His monumental work, Euralia Past and Present, in seventeen volumes, towers upon my desk as I write. By the merest chance I picked it up (in a metaphorical sense) at that little shop near—I forget its name, but it’s the third bookshop on the left as you come into London from the New Barnet end. Upon him I depend for the broad lines of my story, and I have already indicated my opinion of the value of his work.

Notable Films of the Year Released

October 22 – The Adventurer, a Charlie Chaplin slapstick extravaganza is released.  Chaplin  (April 16 1889) would live until Christmas 1977, which is the same year Bing Crosby died.
December 10, 1917 – Tom Sawyer, based on the Mark Twain novel starring Jack Pickford  is released.

Notable Arrivals and Departures

May 29 – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States is born (d. 1963)

June 7, 1917– Dean Martin, American actor and singer is born (d. 1995).

December 22, 1917 Frances Xavier Cabrini, first American canonized as a saint dies (b. 1850).

Pius XI February 6, 1922 – February 10, 1939
Pope in-between wars.

 Signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy (1929) establishing Vatican City as a sovereign state. Inaugurated Vatican Radio (1931). Re-founded the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (1936). Created the feast of Christ the King. Opposed Communism and Nazism.

Christmas 1922

We, therefore, write to you now, “our mouth is open to you” (II Cor. vi, 11) as the birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the New Year approach, and wish this letter to be not only a message of glad greetings but a Christmas gift as well from a father to his loving children.

We pray most fervently, and ask others likewise to pray for this much-desired pacification of society, especially at this moment when after twenty centuries the day and hour approach when all over the world men will celebrate the humble and meek coming among us of the Sweet Prince of Peace, at whose birth the heavenly hosts sang: “Glory be to God in the highest; and on ,earth peace to men of good will.” (Luke ii, 14)
PIUS XI Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio (23 December 1922)

The World Around the Pope

Notable Song of the Year

When the Christmas Chimes Are Ringing (Lewis James, recorded 1922)

from Voices of Christmas Past – 1898 to 1922 : Dawn of Sound – Vintage Audio on the Net

Notable Events of 1922

Notable Literary Publications of the Year

Margery Williams – The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real is published. 

THERE was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking, nuts and oranges and a toy engine, and chocolate almonds and a clockwork mouse, but the Rabbit was quite the best of all. For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

Notable Films of the Year Released

The Ten Commandments, (1923) directed by Cecil B. DeMille, starring Theodore Roberts is released.

Notable Arrivals and Departures

April 3, 1922 – Doris Day, American actress and singer is born (d. 2019)

June 10, 1922 – Judy Garland, star of Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis is born (d. 1969).

August 2 , 1922 -Alexander Graham Bell inventor of the telephone dies (b. 1847) .

November 26 1922 Charles M. Schulz,  creator of Peanuts and a Charlie Brown Christmas is born (d. 2000)

VenPius XII March 2, 1939 – October 9, 1958
Pope During World War 2

Invoked papal infallibility in the encyclical Munificentissimus Deus; defined the dogma of the Assumption. Eliminated the Italian majority of cardinals. Credited with intervening for peace during World War II; controversial for his reactions to the Holocaust, but did help hide Jews. Published the Humani generis, the first encyclical to specifically refer to evolution and took up a neutral position, concentrating on human evolution.

Christmas 1942

With ever new freshness of joy and piety, beloved children of the whole universe, every year at the recurrence of Holy Christmas, the message of Jesus, Light in the midst of darkness, resounds from the manger in Bethlehem to the ears of Christians, reverberating sweetly in their hearts; a message that illuminates with the splendour of heavenly truths a world darkened by tragic errors, instills an exuberant and trusting joy to a humanity anguished by deep and bitter sadness, proclaims freedom to the children of Adam, forced into the chains of sin and guilt, promises mercy, love, peace to the infinite hosts of the suffering and afflicted, who see their happiness disappear and their energies broken in the storm of struggle and hatred of our own stormy days.

And the sacred bronzes, announcing this message on all continents, not only recall the divine gift given to humanity at the beginning of the Christian age; but they also proclaim and proclaim a consoling present reality, a reality that is eternally young, so always alive and life-giving; It is the reality of “the true light that enlightens every man who comes into this world” and knows no sunset.
VenPius XII Radio message Con sempre nuova freschezza for Christmas (December 24, 1942)

The World Around the Pope

Notable Song of the Year

White Christmas” is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. The song was written by Berlin for the 1942 musical film Holiday Inn. The composition won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 15th Academy Awards. Bing Crosby’s record topped the Billboard chart for 11 weeks in 1942 and returned to the number one position again in December of 1943 and 1944. His version would return to the top 40 a dozen times in subsequent years.

Since its release, “White Christmas” has been covered by many artists. The version sung by Bing Crosby is the world’s best-selling single (in terms of sales of physical media), with estimated sales in excess of 50 million physical copies worldwide. When the figures for other versions of the song are added to Crosby’s, sales of the song exceed 100 million. 

Notable Events of 1942

To you who serve in uniform I also send a message of cheer-that you are in the thoughts of your families and friends at home, and that Christmas prayers follow you wherever you may be.

To all Americans I say that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is not enough-that we as a Nation and as individuals will please God best by showing regard for the laws of God. There is no better way of fostering good-will toward man than by first fostering good-will toward God. If we love Him, we will keep His Commandments.

It is significant that tomorrow-Christmas Day-our plants and factories will be stilled. That is not true of the other holidays we have long been accustomed to celebrate. On all other holidays work goes on-gladly-for the winning of the war.

So, Christmas becomes the only holiday in all the year.

Photo Description: Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Christmas message on the radio from his study in the FDR Library in Hyde Park, New York, December 24, 1943. NPx 61-71

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: CHRISTMAS 1942 – War Room – U.S. Army War College

June 12, 1942 – Anne Frank, on her 13th birthday, makes the first entry in her new diary in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.

December 31, 1942 – The Times Square Ball in Times Square, New York City is not dropped for the first time. Instead, there is a moment of silence at midnight, followed by the sound of bells playing from sound trucks at the base of One Times Square.

Notable Literary Publications of the Year

Franz Werfel – The Song of Bernadette (1942) is published.
Lloyd C. Douglas – The Robe
C. S. Lewis – The Screwtape Letters (Christian apologetics)
Mary Poppins Opens the Door, ( 1943)

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”― C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Notable Films of the Year Released

Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire is released.
Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz (Oscar winner), starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, is released.
Bambi, directed by David Hand is released.

Notable Arrivals and Departures

November 20, 1942 Joe Biden, 46th President of the United States is born.

April 24, 1942Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of  Green Gables and The Josephs’ Christmas dies. (b. 1874) 

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