Archive for May 2012

Feast of Sts. Plutarch, Marcella, Potanominaena, and Basilides of Alexandria (June 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Egypt, 150 Common Era

MARTYRS AT ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT (202)

St. Plutarch of Alexandria was the brother of Heraclas of Alexandria (circa 180-247), also a saint on the Roman Catholic calendar.  Yet I refuse to admit Heraclas to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  For my reason, keep reading, O reader.  Both Heraclas and St. Plutarch came to Christ via Origen, who taught them at the great catechetical school of Alexandria.  Heraclas became Origen’s assistant then successor as head of the school.  Later,in 231,  Heraclas succeeded St. Demetrius as Bishop of Alexandria.  And Heraclas excommunicated Origen and forced him out of that city.  The contents of the previous sentence explains why I do not call him St. Heraclas.  I like Origen, who, like the rest of us, was right about a great deal and mistaken about other matters.  And excommunicating him was the wrong thing to do.

St. Plutarch and Sts. Marcella and Potanominaena, mother and daughter students at the catechetical school, faced criminal charges of being Christian during the reign (193-211) of Roman Emperor Septimus Severus.  Needless to say, all of them died.   Also executed was St. Basilides, who led the daughter to her death yet, as the story goes, converted after a vision of the daughter.  However the conversion came, it came.  And he died because of it–a classic case of what the Roman Catholic catechism calls Baptism of Blood.

Sometimes I feel like a very repetitive person, but that is necessary on certain occasions.  So here I go again.  One cannot end a religion by martyring people.  In fact, the blood of the martyrs does indeed water the church.  I read about martyrs and wonder how I would have responded under their circumstances.  I can speak only for myself just as only you, O reader, can speak for yourself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, PURITAN MISSIONARY AMONG THE ALGONQIN

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AUGUSTUS BENNETT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF AOTEAROA

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 Almighty God, who gave your servants

Saints Plutarch, Marcella, Potanominaena, and Basilides of Alexandria

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 713

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Feast of Sts. John the Georgian, Euthymius of Athos, and George of the Black Mountain (June 27)   Leave a comment

 

Above:  The Flag of the Republic of Georgia

SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, A.K.A. THE IBERIAN (DIED CIRCA 1002)

Abbot

His feast transferred from July 12

father of

SAINT EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS (DIED 1028)

Abbot and Translator

His feast transferred from May 13

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SAINT GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, A.K.A. SAINT GEORGE MTASINDELI OR SAINT GEORGE THE HAGIORITE (1014-1066)

Abbot and Translator

His feast = June 27

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I like monks.  I also admire translators.  With those simple and unapologetic statements I begin.

St. John the Georgian (died circa 1002) was also known as St. John the Iberian.  I have listed him primarily as “the Georgian” because he was Georgian, not Spanish or Portuguese.  The Encyclopedia Americana (1962), Volume 14, page 615, uses “Iberia” to refer to the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and to an

ancient region Asia.  It now forms part of the Soviet republic of Georgia.  The Iberians were defeated by Pompey and the region became part of the Roman Empire until after the time of Julian.

There was also a Georgian kingdom (extinct for over four centuries by the time St. John the Georgian was born) sometimes called Iberia.  Yet, out of a desire for clarity, I refer to Georgia, not Iberia, beginning now.

St. John the Georgian was a nobleman and a military commander.  He, with his wife’s permission, became a monk on Mt. Olympus in Bithynia.  He brought his son St. Euthymius of Athos (died 1028) from Constantinople to Mt. Olympus.  Their reputation for sanctity attracted so many followers that they had to leave just to have more solitude.  So they relocated to Mt. Athos, where, with the help of General Thornikos, St. John’s brother, they founded Iviron Monastery for Georgians circa 980.  St. John served as the first abbot, relinquishing the post circa 1002 in favor of his son.  St. Euthymius served as abbot for fourteen years.  He resigned so that he could devote himself full-time to translating the Bible and theological treatises by Church Fathers into Georgian.  That was admirable work.

There were disturbances between Greek and Georgian monks on Mt. Athos.  (Alas, even monks are not immune to the more unpleasant aspects of human nature.)  Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII (reigned 1025-1028) summoned St. Euthymius to Constantinople to explain these disturbances.  The former abbot died en route of injuries he sustained after falling from a mule.

A monk who revised the Bible translation of St. Euthymius was St. George of the Black Mountain (1014-1066).  He had lived in Syria and traveled widely in the Holy Land before serving as Abbot of Iviron Monastery.  Later St. George became a monk on Black Mountain in Armenia, hence his surname Mtasmindeli, literally, “of the Black Mountain.”  He also followed in the footsteps of St. Euthymius by translating theological treatises into Georgian.

Such work requires solitude.  Preparing these posts (written longhand prior to typing online) requires solitude.  These posts, of course, are nothing compared to major theological treatises or the Bible.  So imagine, if you will, O reader, how much solitude those projects required.  I stand in awe of these men who sought to glorify God, with whom they desired solitary communion.  The Church would be intellectually bereft without such individuals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, PURITAN MISSIONARY AMONG THE ALGONQIN

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AUGUSTUS BENNETT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF AOTEAROA

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O God, by whose grace your servants

Saint John the Georgian,

Saint Euthymius of Athos, and

Saint George of the Black Mountain,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became bright and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

Feast of Sts. William of Vercelli and John of Matera (June 25)   Leave a comment

Above:  Italy in 1190 Common Era

SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI (1085-1142)

Roman Catholic Hermit

His feast = June 25

friend of

SAINT JOHN OF MATERA (DIED 1139)

a.k.a. Saint John of Pulsano

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from June 20

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I have detected a pattern common to many hermits:  They seek solitude yet attract followers.  It is good to seek to follow a holy person, a positive influence, for the polar opposite is to run with a bad crowd.  But what about the holy hermit’s need for solitude?  Today’s saints were such hermits.

St. John of Matera (died 1139) was born–where else?–at Matera, in Basilicata, in southern Italy.  He joined an island monastery nearby, off the coast of Taranto, in the region of Apulia.  His aloofness and austerity alienated other monks there, so he left for Calabria then for Sicily.  Spending 2 1/2 years as a monk at Ginosa, St. John rebuilt a church.  Unfortunately for the saint, he allegedly found a hidden treasure.  This charge was enough for authorities to imprison him.  Yet the saint broke out of jail and fled the area.

Next he encountered St. William of Vercelli (1085-1142).  St. William was a nobleman from Vercelli, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.  His parents died when he was an infant, so relatives raised him.  At age fourteen St. William made a pilgrimage to Compostela.  Seven years later, at Melfi, in Basilicata, in southern Italy, he began to live as a hermit on Monte Solicoli.  Once St. William began to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but he abandoned it after robbers attacked him.  He became a hermit at Monte Virgiliano instead.  St. William attracted so many followers that he built a monastery there.  And there St. John of Matera, a fugitive, joined the community.  It was a strict community–too austere for many.  So Sts. William and John, along with five followers, left for Monte Laceno in Apulia, in southern Italy.  This community ended in fire.  The hermitages destroyed, the saints went their separate ways.

St. John moved to Bari, where his effective preaching did not shield him from charges of heresy.  So he returned to the community at Ginosa.  Later he went to Monte Gargano, where he built a monastery and served as abbot.

St. William relocated to Monte Cogneto in Basilicata.  Later he founded monasteries at Salerno, Conza, and Guglietto.  While at Salerno St. William advised King Roger II of Sicily (reigned 1102-1154), whose empire ranged from southern Italy to northern Africa and who reformed the law and patronized science.  St. William died at Guglietto.

Reading about lives of saints and organizing the material one has learned can be quite interesting.  In this post alone I have had the opportunity to write about an empire and a jailbreak.  Even better, I had a chance to ponder two men within whom still waters ran deeply.  That was inspiring.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, DEACON AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate  love of this world,

that we, inspired by the devotion of your servants

Saints William of Vercelli and John of Matera,

may serve you with singleness of heart,

and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or 9:57-62

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

Feast of St. Nicetas of Remesiana (June 23)   1 comment

Above:  The Balkans in the Roman Empire, 395 Common Era

SAINT NICETAS OF REMESIANA (CIRCA 335-CIRCA 414)

Roman Catholic Bishop

His feast transferred from June 22

It is easy to take some things, especially old ones–for granted.  They have always existed, right?  Wrong!  They were new once, and somebody originated them.  With that introductory thought I turn to St. Nicetas of Remesiana (circa 335-circa 414).  He was Bishop of Remesiana in Dacia, in present-day Serbia, and a successful missionary.  The saint also wrote dissertations on the Trinity (he rejected Arianism), liturgical singing, and the creed.  In his writings we have the earliest known use of the term “the communion of saints.”  And he might have composed the great Te Deum Laudamus.  So, with great enthusiasm (understated enthusiasm, given my sedate ways), I add St. Nicetas to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, where he joins his good friend, St. Paulinus of Nola.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, DEACON AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

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O Almighty God, you gave to your servant

Saint Nicetas of Remesiana

special gifts of grace to understand teach the truch

as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God,

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one god, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 721

Feast of Sts. John Jones and John Rigby (June 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

SAINT JOHN JONES (DIED JULY 12, 1598)

Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

His feast transferred from July 12

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SAINT JOHN RIGBY (CIRCA 1570-1600)

Roman Catholic Martyr

His feast = June 21

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I could make my usual (for British martyrs) statement about freedom of religion and the need for governments to refrain from labeling a certain religious affiliation as treasonous, but I will move directly to telling the story of two saints.

St. John Jones (died 1598), a Welsh Roman Catholic, became a Franciscan in 1559.  He made his vows in France and worked in Rome before undertaking his English mission in 1592.  Jones served as the Franciscan Minister Provincial in England before authorities arrested him in 1596.  Richard Topcliffe, the priest hunter with at best a casual relationship with facts, lied, saying that Jones had said a home Mass for two Catholics who, at the time , were in prison. So Jones could not have been in their company at their home, could he?  But why let objective reality prevent one from arresting, torturing, and incarcerating someone?  Jones was never a legally free man again.  Authorities executed him by hanging, drawing, and quartering on July 12, 1598.  Two Catholics who retrieved his dismembered remains from poles received long prison terms.

Before Jones died he helped St. John Rigby (circa 1570-1600) return to the Roman Catholic Church.  Rigby worked in an Anglican household and attended Anglican services despite his Roman Catholic background.  Then he reverted to Roman Catholicism and refused to deny this fact.  So he met the same fate as did Jones on June 21, 1600.

These examples testify convincingly to the faith for which these men died and to the sin of killing people over theological disagreements.  Their executions were legal–they were not crimes–but they were immoral.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, DEACON AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saints John Jones and John Rigby

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 714

Feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga (June 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  AIDS Ribbon

Image Source = Gary van der Merwe

SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA (MARCH 9, 1568-JUNE 21, 1591)

Jesuit

A saints book published in 2007 lists saints according to causes.  For the cause “AIDS Patients and Caregivers” one finds the name of this saint.  It is an appropriate choice.

St. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591) came from an elite family of warlords.  His father was Marquis Ferrante of Castiglione.  The expectation was that the saint would marry, have children, and pursue the family business.  Yet the young saint knew better.  He spent years trying to convince his father that he had a different vocation before he succeeded.  During that liminal time Gonzaga practiced religious austeries and instructed some of the poor people of Castiglione in the faith.

The saint’s six years as a Jesuit were challenging for him.  His persistent health problems slowed his progress and studies, begun and Milan after he entered the order at Rome in 1585.  Finally, in 1587, the saint made his vows.  The order sent him to work as a nurse at a hospital in Rome.  He had to overcome his revulsion at wounds and diseases to practice compassion.  Plague struck Rome in 1591.  The saint contracted the disease by treating patients.  Thus he died, aged twenty-three years, on June 21.

May we honor all who endanger themselves to care for others.  And may we do the same for all who have placed themselves in peril for the sake of others.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, DEACON AND ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELENA, MOTHER OF EMPEROR CONSTANTINE I

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O God, by whose grace your servant Saint Aloysius Gonzaga,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723

Feast of Sts. Teresa, Sanchia, and Mafalda of Portugal (June 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Iberia in 1190

SAINT TERESA OF PORTUGAL (1178-1250)

Princess, Queen, and Nun

Her feast = June 17

sister of

SAINT SANCHIA OF PORTUGAL (1182-1229)

Princess and Nun

Her feast = June 17

sister of

SAINT MAFALDA OF PORTUGAL (1204-1252)

Princess, Queen, and Nun

Her feast transferred from May 2

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Today I add to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days three sisters, members of the royal house of Portugal.  Theirs was a world different from ours.  Theirs was a world of absolute monarchies, arranged marriages, and an Iberian peninsula divided among several kingdoms and between two religions.  Shall we begin?

Sts. Teresa (1178-1250), Sanchia (1182-1229), and Mafalda (1204-1252) were daughters of King Sancho I of Portugal (reigned 1185-1211).  Sancho’s son Alfonso II (reigned 1211-1223) succeeded to the throne immediately.  The Kings of Castille and Leon were close relatives.  So it was that Rome anulled the marriage of St. Teresa to her cousin, King Alfonso IX of Leon (reigned 1188-1230), and the union of St. Mafalda and her cousin, King Enrique I of Castille (reigned 1214-1217), on the grounds that everybody was too closely related.  These were arranged marriages.  And both Mafalda and Enrique were minors; she was eleven years old on her wedding day.  It was, as I wrote, a different time.

St. Teresa, no longer married (yet the mother of two daughters and a son) returned to Portugal and founded a double monastery on the grounds of the family estate at Lorvau.  She became a nun there after 1230, when she settled the succession dispute in Leon.  Alfonso IX had died.  His widow, another cousin named Berengaria, whose marriage Rome also anulled, asked the first wife to solve the problem of succession.  St. Teresa permitted Beregaria’s son Fernando III of Castille (reigned 1217-1252) to rule in Leon.

St. Mafalda, upon her return to Portugal, entered religious life at Arouca Convent.  She used her royal connections to obtain generous funding for a home for a widows, a hostel for travelers, the restoration of Oporto Cathedral, and other charitable works.

St. Sanchia retired from court life upon the death of her father in 1211.  She helped the Francicans and the Dominicans expand into Portugal.  And she founded a convent at Celles and became a nun there.

I could take this opportunity to defend the merits of monasticism against those who impugn it, but I have done so in other posts; I do not feel like repeating myself in that regard at this time.  But I do make this point:  These women, within the rules of society at their place and in their time, pursued holy lives.  They helped other people and did not use their royal connections for their own benefit.  We should honor their memories and thank God that they lived.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANDREW FOURNET AND ELIZABETH BICHIER, COFOUNDERS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE CROSS; AND SAINT MICHAEL GARICOITS, FOUNDER OF THE PRIEST OF THE SACRED HEART OF BETHARRAM

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF SUDAN

THE FEAST OF TE WERA HAURAKI, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world,

that we, inspired by the devotion of your servants

Saint Teresa of Portugal,

Saint Sanchia of Portugal, and

Saint Mafalda of Portugal,

may serve you with singleness of heart,

and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or 9:57-62

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722