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St. Daniel the Prophet

St. Daniel the Prophet by Lewis Williams, OFS

Artist Narrative:

This Old Testament book, author unknown, focuses on the life of Daniel, a young Jew taken into captivity in 6th century B.C. Through much distress, Daniel emphasizes that Yahweh will vindicate his people. His many stories teach us that men of faith can handle any adversity. One famous story is about his three friends, taken captive with him, who were bound and thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshipping the god of King Nebuchadnezzar. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego remained unhurt, walking about and singing blessings to the Lord. Daniel 3: 26-45 lists their prayer; “Blessed are you… in all you have done…For we have sinned and transgressed by departing from you… Do not take away your mercy from us…but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy…Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name…” They sang multitudes of praise on their deliverance. May St. Daniels’ faith encourage us in our most difficult struggles and remind us to be people of much thankfulness for our blessings.

His feast day is December 17.

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Daniel was one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. He lived around the year 550 B.C. When he was a young man, the King of Babylon attacked Jerusalem, overran it, and took many of the people into captivity including Daniel. Because Daniel was handsome and bright, he was one of the young Israelites selected to receive training to prepare for the king’s service.

Daniel remained faithful to Jewish law despite many temptations. While the king allowed the selected men to eat a daily portion of food and wine from the king’s table, Daniel and his friends refused because the food was considered unclean according to Jewish Law.

God gave Daniel knowledge and proficiency in all literature and science and in particular, he gave Daniel the gift of understanding all visions and dreams.

While Daniel was in the king’s service, he interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams which could not be explained by any of the other court personnel. Many years later, he interpreted the Writing on the Wall to King Belshazzar - who was the son of King Nebuchadnezzar.

Other court personnel became jealous of Daniel’s success and tried to find some grounds for accusing Daniel of wrong doing. But, they could find none. So, they tricked the king into signing a decree whereby no one was to address any petition to God or man for thirty days. Failure to comply with the decree was punishable by death by being thrown into the lion’s den. Not knowing about the decree, Daniel continued to pray three times a day. The men went to the king to complain that Daniel paid no attention to the king’s decree. While the king was saddened, he had to enforce the law. The king reluctantly ordered Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den.

After spending a restless night, the king went to the lion’s den and found Daniel to be unharmed. The king was very happy that God had saved Daniel. The king later wrote to all of his people All peace to you, I decree that throughout my royal domain the God of Daniel is to be revered and feared.

Daniel wrote all of his prophecies in a book. He became a great statesman and prophet and lived to see the Jewish people return to their homeland.