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Creator of “Kneeling Santa” was Lifelong Catholic and Activist

Michael Rielly

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Creator of “Kneeling Santa” was Lifelong Catholic and Activist

The Kneeling Santa idea came to Ray Gauer while he was on retreat at a Trappist Monastery in Kentucky in the 1940s.

National Catholic Register
August 4, 2020
Jim Graves



With the coming of the internet, pornography has saturated society and become a challenging addiction for many to overcome. A few generations ago some saw the harm porn would unleash, and joined early efforts to have local and state governments enforce anti-obscenity laws. Among those was lifelong Catholic Ray Gauer (1921-1997), who is perhaps better known for his creation of the “kneeling Santa.”

Gauer was born in Chicago, where he attended both Catholic and public schools. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy, but contracted tuberculosis and was discharged in 1947. He recovered, married wife Ella and became the father of seven children. He studied accounting at DePaul University and moved to Hollywood, California, in 1954.


Perhaps Gauer will be especially remembered for the Kneeling Santa, an idea which came to him on retreat at a Trappist Monastery in Kentucky in the late 1940s. His plan was to depict Santa Claus kneeling before the Infant Christ, because, as he explained, “Santa Claus is really St. Nicholas and would be the last person to detract from the real reason for the season — the birth of Christ.”

Gauer tried for years to interest others in his idea — including Walt Disney — but it wasn’t until 1976 that Gauer brought his Santa vision to reality, the same year he got his law degree. A chance meeting with the religious woodcarving artist Rudolph Vargas led to a hand-carved prototype that made the kneeling Santa an international symbol of Christmas. It is made and marketed by Roman, Inc. in Chicago, a major distributor of religious articles.

Gauer was a daily communicant at St. Simon and Jude Parish in Huntington Beach in the Diocese of Orange, California. He died of a heart attack in 1997. His first wife Ella had died of leukemia in 1982; he married his second wife, Betty, in 1996. At the time of his death he had seven children and 13 grandchildren.

SOURCE: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimgraves/creator-of-kneeling-santa-was-lifelong-catholic-and-early-anti-porn-crusade


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One of my favorite ornaments, I keep a small one out all year long to remind me why I do what I do and that at some point I will have to answer for my actions.

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The Church where I was blessed enough to do this twice, ..... many years ago. They were getting rid of the 9" display. So I was able to recover it and save it!

I am still trying to make one for our Outdoor display, life size paper mache, making it water proof is the challenge. 

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