Archive for the ‘Saints of 29-199 C.E.’ Category

Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28)   2 comments

Above:  Massacre of the Innocents, by Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

The Unfortunate Cheapness of Human Life

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Christmas is supposed to be a happy season, right?  Yet darkness exists within it.  Consider, O reader, the sequence of three great feasts:  St. Stephen (December 26)St. John the Evangelist (December 27), and the Holy Innocents (December 28).

The kingdom of the Earth has yet to become the Kingdom of God in its fullness.  Thus we read of exiles in Jeremiah 31.  Then we read the plausible story of the Holy Innocents in Matthew 2.  Herod the Great, we know from both Biblical and extra-Biblical sources, was a disturbed and violent man who had members of his family killed.  One need not stretch credibility to imagine him ordering the murder of strangers, even young children.  Reading the story from Matthew 2 then turning to Psalm 124 creates a sense of jarring irony; one is correct to wonder why God did not spare the Holy Innocents also.

On another note, the account of the Holy Innocents provides evidence for the Magi arriving when Jesus was about two years old.  According to the Western calendar, as it has come down to us, Herod the Great died in 4 B.C.E., placing the birth of Jesus circa 6 B.C.E.  I prefer to use the term “Before the Common Era” for the simple reason that speaking and writing of the birth of Jesus as having occurred “Before Christ”–six years, perhaps–strikes me as being ridiculous.

Back to our main point, while admitting the existence of morally ambiguous and difficult scenarios with only bad choices, and in which doing our best cannot help but lead to unfortunate results….

Human life is frequently cheap.  From abortions to wars, from gangland violence to accidental shootings and crimes of passion, from genocidal governments to merely misguided policies, human life is frequently cheap.  The innocent and the vulnerable suffer.  People who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time suffer.  May God have mercy on us all, for each of us is partially responsible, for merely being part of the social, economic, and political systems that facilitate such suffering.

The kingdom of the Earth has yet to become the Kingdom of God in its fullness.  Only God can make that happen.  We mere mortals can and must, however, leave the world better than we found it.  We can and must do this, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod.

Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims;

and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and

establish your rule of justice, love, and peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 31:15-17

Psalm 124

Revelation 21:1-7

Matthew 2:13-18

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 143

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/fourth-day-of-christmas-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-december-28/

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Posted March 17, 2018 by neatnik2009 in December, Saints of 29-199 C.E.

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Feast of St. John the Evangelist, Apostle (December 27)   2 comments

Above:  Saint John the Evangelist in Meditation, by Simone Cantarini

Image in the Public Domain

The Beloved Apostle

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The assigned readings, taken together, speak of the fidelity of God and the imperative of human fidelity to God, whose face Moses did not get to see.  Yet this deity is the same one who became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth (however those Trinitarian dynamics actually worked; I have learned to avoid trying to explain the Holy Trinity, for attempting to make sense of the Trinity leads to a host of heresies.)

St. John was a brother of St. James (one of the two St. Jameses among the Apostles) and a first cousin of Jesus; Zebedee was the father of Sts. James and John, as well as an uncle (by marriage) of Jesus.  Our Lord and Savior called his first cousins Boanerges, usually translated

sons of thunder.

A now-deceased seminary professor I heard speak decades ago said, however, that the word actually meant

hell raisers.

Jesus and St. John were apparently emotionally close, not that St. John always understood his cousin.  After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus St. John helped to spread the nascent Gospel, a mission that filled the rest of his long life, which ended in exile.  Of the twelve Apostles Jesus called, St. John was, excluding Judas Iscariot, the only one not to die as a martyr.

According to tradition St. John wrote the Gospel of John, the three letters of John, and Revelation, a book with no “s” at the end of its title.  Certainly he did not write all of the above, although how much he wrote has long been a matter of scholarly debate.

Nevertheless, the life of St. John the Evangelist is a good one to consider.  If an overly ambitious hell raiser can learn the value of serving God endure suffering for the sake of righteousness, and survive opportunities for martyrdom only to die in exile, each of us can, by grace, take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, wherever he leads.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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Shed upon your Church, O Lord, the brightness of your light, that we,

being illumined by the teaching of your apostle and evangelist John,

may so walk in the light of your truth, that at length we may attain to the fullness of eternal life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Exodus 33:18-23

Psalm 92 or 92:1-4, 11-14

1 John 1:1-9

John 21:19b-24

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 141

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/third-day-of-christmas-feast-of-st-john-the-evangelist-apostle-december-27/

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Posted March 17, 2018 by neatnik2009 in December, Saints of 29-199 C.E.

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Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr (December 26)   2 comments

Above:  St. Stephen, by Luis de Morales

Image in the Public Domain

The First Christian Martyr

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The readings for the Feast of St. Stephen remind us of the grim reality that suffering for the sake of righteousness is frequently a risk.  We read of one of the many difficulties of the faithful prophet Jeremiah, a man who spoke truth to power when that power was dependent upon hostile foreigners.  The historical record tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt chose both the King of Judah and his regnal name, Jehoiakim.  Matthew 23, set in the Passion Narrative, reminds us of some of the prophets and teachers, whom God had sent and authorities at Jerusalem had martyred.  Contrary to the wishes of the author of Psalm 31, God does not always deliver the faithful from enemy hands.

St. Stephen, one of the original seven deacons, was probably a Hellenized Jew.  As a deacon, his job in the Church was, in the words of Acts 6:2,

to wait on tables.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The deacons were to provide social services while the Apostles preached and taught.  St. Stephen also debated and preached, however.  His speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-53) led to his execution (without a trial) by stoning.  St. Stephen, like Jesus before him, prayed for God to forgive his executioners (Acts 7:60), who, in their minds, were correct to execute him for blasphemy, a capital offense in the Law of Moses.  Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul the Apostle, was prominent in the killing of St. Stephen.  The Apostle recalled the death of St. Stephen and his role in it in Acts 22:20.

Religion, by itself, is generally morally neutral; one can be a moral atheist just as easily as one can be a moral or immoral adherent.  Good religion and bad religion certainly exist.  The test, in moral terms, yet not theological ones, is what kind of adherents they create and nurture.  Regardless of the name of a religion or the content of its tenets, does the reality of living it make one a loving, merciful human being or a judgmental person who might be quick to execute dissenters or consent to that?  This question is always a relevant one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen,

who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ,

who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15

Psalm 31 or 31:1-15

Acts 6:8-7:2a; 51c-60

Matthew 23:34-39

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 139

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/second-day-of-christmas-feast-of-st-stephen-deacon-and-martyr-december-26/

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Feast of Sts. Getulius, Amantius, Caerealis, Primitivus, and Symphorosa of Tivoli (June 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Temples of Vesta and of the Sybil, Tivoli, Italy

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS AMANTIUS AND GETULIUS OF TIVOLI (DIED 120)

Brothers, and Martyrs at Tivoli

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SAINTS CAEREALIS AND PRIMITIVUS OF TIVOLI (DIED 120)

Roman Soldiers, and Martyrs at Tivoli

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SAINT SYMPHOROSA OF TIVOLI (DIED IN THE EARLY 100S)

Wife of St. Getulius of Tivoli, and Martyr

Her feast transferred from July 18

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No information, aside from names, years of death, and places of martyrdom has survived for many Christian martyrs of the Roman imperial period, unfortunately.  We do know slightly more about these five saints, however.  Their stories, combined, provide enough information for a brief post.

The narrative begins with St. Getulius.

St. Getulius was a Roman military officer during the reigns of Emperors Trajan (98-117) and Hadrian (117-138).  After St. Getulius converted to Christianity he resigned his commission.  He and his brother, St. Amantius, also a Christian, went to central Italy, to live among the Sabines.  Hadrian dispatched Caerealis and Primitivus to apprehend the brothers.  Caerealis and Primitivus found Sts. Amantius and Getulius, who converted them to Christianity.  The judge Licinius, under imperial orders, sentenced the four Christians to death.  He granted them an opportunity for a reprieve; the Christians, to avoid execution, had to renounce their faith.  They refused.  Therefore, in Tivoli, in 120, they received the crown of martyrdom via clubbing to death.

St. Getulius left a widow, St. Symphorosa, who also became a martyr during the reign of Hadrian.

God and history have issued their verdicts–against the persecution over which Hadrian presided.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND SAINT OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT ST. GALLEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants

Saints Getulius, Amantius, Caerealis, Primitivus, and Symphorosa of Tivoli

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 131

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

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

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Feast of St. Blandina and Her Companions, the Martyrs of Lyons (June 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Blandina

Image in the Public Domain

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THE 48 MARTYRS OF LYONS, 177

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote at length of these martyrs at the beginning of Book 5 of his Ecclesiastical History.

Empire-wide persecutions of Christians were rare in the Roman Empire.  Usually persecutions were regional and occasional.  For some period of time prior to 177 there was no persecution in Lyons.  Then it resumed.

The persecution of Christians in Lyons assumed several forms.  Initially public marginalization, such as exclusion from the marketplace, occurred.  Then pagan mobs attacked Christians and vandalized their homes.  The next stage entailed public interrogation, followed by incarceration and torture.  At this stage most of the martyrs, including St. Pothinus, the aged Bishop of Lyons, died.  By means of torture authorities extracted from some victims false confessions of sordid offenses, such as incest and cannibalism.  Under pressure some Christians, including St. Biblis, renounced the faith, only to reclaim it, then to die horribly.

At the end of the persecution crowds filled the amphitheater for six days to watch the martyrdoms of St. Sanctus (a deacon), St. Attalus (a longtime church member), St. Maturus (a recent convert), St. Ponticus (who was fifteen years old), and St. Blandina (a slave).  St. Blandina was the last one to die.  Eusebius concluded:

After they were exposed and insulted for six days, the martyrs’ bodies were burned to ash and swept by the wicked into the Rhone, which flows nearby, so that not even a trace of them would still appear on earth.  They did this as if to conquer God and defeat their rebirth so that, as they said, “they might not have any hope of resurrection, because of which they have introduced a strange new cult, ignored torture, and gone joyfully to death.  Now let’s see if they will rise again and if their god will save them.”

–Translated by Paul L. Maier (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel Publications, 1999), page 178

God and history have issued their verdicts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PACHOMIUS THE GREAT, FOUNDER OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNAL MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERTO DE NOBOLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MEUX BENSON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST; CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST, AND BISHOP OF FOND DU LAC; AND CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WORCESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND OXFORD; FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE RESURRECTION; THEOLOGIAN; AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND WORLD PEACE

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Grant, O Lord, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs

Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of you,

and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 12:1-3a

Psalm 34:1-8

1 Peter 1:3-9

Mark 8:34-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 403

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Feast of St. Justin Martyr (June 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Justin Martyr

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR (100/110-166/167)

Christian Apologist and Martyr

St. Justin Martyr was a major figure in early Christian history.  He, a student of Greek philosophy, pioneered the project of reconciling faith and reason.

St. Justin grew up a pagan.  He, born at Flavia Neopolis (formerly Shechem, Samaria; subsequently Nablus, in the West Bank of the River Jordan), spent years studying and mastering various schools of Greek philosophy.  Our saint sought meaning.  Circa 130 St. Justin found that meaning after a meeting with a Christian on the beach at Ephesus.  Our saint, while acknowledging the wisdom and truth present in Greek philosophy, came to regard Christianity as the sole rational religion and the only

safe and profitable philosophy.

One of the people he debated was one Trypho, a Jew, who argued that the New Testament distorts the Hebrew Bible.  St. Justin replied that the latter actually foreshadows the former.

Circa 150 St. Justin moved to Rome, where he founded a school and where he spent the rest of his life.  Our saint wrote influential texts, some of which have survived.  St. Justin addressed the First Apology (circa 155) to the Emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161) and his adopted sons, Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161-180) and Lucius Verus.  Our saint refuted allegations of immorality against the Church, argued for the reasonableness of Christianity, and described contemporary Baptismal and Eucharistic rites and theology.  The bases of the Dialogue with Trypho were encounters at Ephesus.  The audience for the Second Apology (161) was the Roman Senate.

St. Justin, orthodox according to the standards of the time, became something of a heretic post mortem, as did other Ante-Nicene Fathers, notably Origen and St. Clement of Alexandria.  St. Justin, for example, concluded that God the Son is subordinate to God the Father, a position antithetical to subsequent orthodox developments in Trinitarian theology.

Circa 165 St. Justin debated the Cynic philosopher Crescens publicly; this led to the demise of our saint and six of his pupils.  Apparently Crescens was an unsavory character; St. Justin accused him of being immoral and ignorant.  The revenge of Crescens proved St. Justin’s first point.  The Cynic philosopher denounced St. Justin and six of his pupils as Christians.  (The authorities could have arrested St. Justin for years, if they had been of a mind to do; he was living openly and writing apologia to imperial officials, after all.)  When St. Justin and the others refused to sacrifice to the gods, they endured scourging then met their martyrdom via beheading.

These martyrs had the courage of their convictions.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PACHOMIUS THE GREAT, FOUNDER OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNAL MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERTO DE NOBOLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MEUX BENSON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST; CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST, AND BISHOP OF FOND DU LAC; AND CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WORCESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND OXFORD; FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE RESURRECTION; THEOLOGIAN; AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND WORLD PEACE

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O God, who has given your Church wisdom and revealed deep and secret things:

Grant that we, like your servant Justin and in union with his prayers,

may find your truth an abiding refuge all the days of our lives;

through Jesus Christ, who with the Holy Spirit lives and reigns

with you, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Almighty and everlasting God, you found your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher,

seeking the true God, and you revealed to him the sublime wisdom of your eternal Word:

Grant that all who seek you, or a deeper knowledge of you, may find and be found by you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Psalm 16:5-11

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 12:44-50

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 401

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Feast of St. Quadratus the Apologist (May 26)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Roman Empire, 117 C.E.

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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SAINT QUADRATUS THE APOLOGIST (SECOND CENTURY C.E.)

Early Christian Apologist

Eusebius of Caesarea (circa 260-339) mentioned one Quadratus in his Ecclesiastical History.  The great historian, without explaining who Quadratus was, wrote that Quadratus had written a defense of Christian faith and sent it to the Roman Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138) because, as Eusebius explained,

certain wicked men were trying to get our people into trouble.

Eusebius–The Church History:  A New Translation with Commentary, translated by Paul L. Maier (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel Publications, 1999), page 136

Eusebius also wrote that copies of that document were commonplace among Christians then praised the intelligence and orthodoxy of Quadratus.  Next the great historian quoted that apologia:

Our Savior’s deeds were always there to see, for they were true:  those who were cured or those who rose from the dead were seen not only when they were cured or raised but were constantly there to see, not only while the Savior was living among us, but also for some time after his departure.  Some of them, in fact, survived right up to our time.

–Maier, page 136

Copies of the apologia of Quadratus were commonplace in the lifetime of Eusebius, but the document has not survived the ravages of time.  We would not have the opportunity to read any part of it except for the fact that Eusebius included an excerpt.

St. Jerome (347-419) understood the apologist to have been St. Quadratus of Athens, the Bishop of Athens, Greece, in the 120s.  Many subsequent scholars have disagreed with that conclusion, though.  On one hand, the apologia dated to 124 or 125, so the timeframe fit.  On the other hand, how many Quadratuses were contemporaries of each other?

Regardless of who St. Quadratus the Apologist was, we can be certain of one fact:  he was the earliest known Christian apologist.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PHILIP AND DANIEL BERRIGAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF ANNE ROSS COUSIN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD THOMAS NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER; BROTHER OF BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ENGLISH BAPTIST EVANGELIST, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS NIECE, CAROLINE MARIA NOEL, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARIA JOSEPHA ROSSELLO, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF PITY

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Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servant Saint Quadratus the Apologist,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and, at the last,

share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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