Feast of St. Maruthas (December 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Map of the Sassanid Empire in the 400s

SAINT MARUTHAS (DIED CIRCA 415)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Maypherkat and Missionary to Persia

His feast transferred from December 4

In this post I repeat the pattern of writing about foundational figures.  Today’s great man was a saint who risked his life for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and founded many churches.

St. Maruthas (died circa 415, although some sources claim that he lived into the early 420s) was the Bishop of Maypherkat, in Roman Mesopotamia (Syria in those days; southwestern Turkey these days), near the border with Persia, then called the Sassanid Empire (224-651).  Sassanid policy had been to persecute Christians, killing many of them, ruthlessly.  Then Yezdegerd I (reigned 399-420) came to power.  St. Maruthas, who functioned as a Roman diplomat as well as a bishop, sought the permission of Emperor Arcadius (reigned 383-408) to ask Yezdegerd I to change this policy.  Alas, Arcadius was too busy harassing St. John Chrysostom (https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/feast-of-st-john-chrysostom-january-27/) to have time for such a request.

A few years later, however, St. Maruthas had his opportunity.  He, while on a diplomatic mission for Emperor Theodosius II (reigned 402-450), obtained Yezdegerd’s permission to found churches anywhere in the Sassanid Empire.  Thus the saint began to establish an ecclesiastical infrastructure there.  Apparently, the saint impressed the Sassanid monarch with this expertise in medicine.

The saint was talented in other ways.  He also composed hymns, wrote an account of Persian martyrs, and composed theological treatises.

It is worth noting that Yezdegerd I’s approval of the Christian mission offended many Zoroastrians.  That faith tradition, as I understand it, affirms life–everything from gardening to enjoying life to procreating.  Anything deemed destructive–from being perpetually grumpy to taking life–is bad, according to Zoroastrianism.  In fact, one traditional label of Zoroastrianism is “the good religion.”  Yet, in the name of “the good religion,” Persian monarchs supervised bloody persecutions.  I am not surprised, however, for there is a long history of people killing and oppressing others in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 13, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRICE OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH CARDINAL BERNARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS TAVELIC AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Saint Maruthas, who made the good news known in Persia.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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