Archive for the ‘Saints of 350-399’ Category

Feast of St. Siricius (November 26)   1 comment

Above:  Pope St. Siricius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SIRICIUS (DIED NOVEMBER 26, 399)

Bishop of Rome

St. Siricius of Rome comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Siricius, Bishop of Rome, was a man of whom a range of opinions existed during his lifetime.  St. Paulinus of Nola (c. 354-431) considered St. Siricius haughty.  Yet the querulous St. Jerome (347-419) initially detected no guile in St. Siricius.  Later, when Sts. Jerome and Siricius were on opposite sides of the Origenist dispute, St. Jerome lambasted (with his characteristic invective) Sts. Rufinus of Aquileia (344/345-411) and John II of Jerusalem (c. 356-417).  Yet St. Siricius defended those two saints.  In that context, St. Jerome laid into the Pope, too, in the middle 390s.

St. Siricius, born in Rome, had been a reader under Pope Liberius (reigned May 17, 352-September 24, 366), as well as a deacon under Popes Liberius and St. Damasus I (reigned October 1, 366-December 384).  Antipope Ursinus, who had lost the papal election to St. Damasus I, tried again in December 384.  He lost again.  St. Siricius won the election unanimously.  Emperor Valentinian II (reigned 375-392) approved, too.  He even provided funds for the restoration and enlargement of (old) St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

Above:  The Interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, 300s

Image in the Public Domain

St. Siricius was a consequential Pope.  He was the first one to issue decrees in the style and with the force of imperial decrees.  He also insisted that the Holy See approve of all episcopal consecrations, and that more than consecrator be present.  Our saint flexed his papal muscle by intervening in the schism (381-417) at Antioch.  He respected the counsel of the Council of Caesarea (the one in Palestine) and recognized St. Flavian I (not Evagrius) as the rightful Patriarch of Antioch in 399.

Above:  The Roman Imperial Prefecture of Illyricum, 318-379 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

St. Siricius laid the foundation for the papal vicariate in 385.  He granted the Bishop of Thessalonica the privilege to authorize all episcopal appointments in the Balkans (parts of present-day Greece, North Macedonia, and Albania, as well as what used to be Yugoslavia, to be precise).  As of 378, the Prefecture of Illyricum consisted of the Roman imperial dioceses of Pannonia, Dacia, and Macedonia.  The Diocese of Pannonia became part of the Prefecture of Italy (as the Diocese of Illyricum) in 379.  Dacia (north of Macedonia) and Macedonia were also part of the Prefecture of Italy (384-388, 391-395).  In 395, Thessalonica became the capital of the reconstituted Prefecture of Illyricum, consisting of the Dioceses of Macedonia and Dacia.  In the 390s, Bonosus, Bishop of Naissus (now Niš, Serbia) from c. 380 to c. 391, argued against the perpetual virginity of St. Mary of Nazareth.  St. Siricius condemned that opinion but not the bishop.  He left judgment of the Bishop of Naissus to other bishops in the region.  They deposed him.

St. Siricius was, by the standards of the late fourth century C.E., an orthodox Roman Catholic.  In 392/393, for example, he excommunicated Jovinian, a monk who denounced fasting and celibacy.  The Pope maintained order yet refrained from being harsh.  His treatment of the heresy of Priscillianism and of Priscillian himself was consistent with this summary.

Priscillianism was a form of Gnosticism with a modalistic Trinitarian theology, mixed with vegetarianism.  Priscillian was a Spanish layman.  The heresy may have developed beyond his statements.  Anyhow, Priscillianism was austere (to a point).  According to this heresy:

  1. Satan was an evil principle, not a rebellious angel.
  2. Bodies were creations of Satan, therefore, evil.  (This nixed the Incarnation, therefore the Atonement.)
  3. Human souls were emanations from the Godhead.
  4. The union a soul with a human body was punishment for that soul’s sins.  (One may wonder what sins those were.)
  5. Procreation was a sin.  (After all, the human body was evil.)
  6. Marriage was a sin.
  7. Eating meat was a sin.  (Animal bodies were apparently evil, too.)
  8. Free love was permissible.  (This was not an example of austerity.  It was, however, consistent with Gnostic attitudes about how to treat supposedly evil bodies.)
  9. Fasting on Sundays and during the three weeks prior to the Feast of the Epiphany was standard practice.
  10. Abstaining from attending church during Lent was standard practice.
  11. Christ did not exist prior to the conception and birth of Jesus.

The Synod of Saragossa (380) denounced Priscillianism.  Yet this official condemnation did not prevent Priscillian from briefly serving as the Bishop of Avila after that synod.  Priscillian and his supporters, exiled in 381, wandered in the Roman Empire.  In Italy, they sought audiences with St. Ambrose of Milan (337-397) and St. Damasus I.  Neither bishop gave them so much as the time of day.  After imperial officials revoked the Priscillians’ exile, the heretics returned to Spain.

Yet rival Western Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus (reigned 383-388), an Arian, had a different perspective.  In 386, he had Priscillian and some followers thereof tried, convicted, and executed.  St. Martin of Tours (c. 330-397) had pleaded in vain with Magnus Maximus not to execute them.  St. Siricius condemned these executions, too.

St. Siricius died in Rome on November 26, 399.

Priscillianism thrived as a schismatic sect, complete with its own bishops, in Galicia (north of modern-day Portugal, in Spain) until the Council of Braga (563).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND ABBOT; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS, FRANKISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

THE FEAST OF RUTH BYLLESBY, EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBISTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940; AND SAINT WLADYSLAW GORAL, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR, 1945

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O God our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Saint Siricius of Rome

to be a bishop in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all bishops the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants

of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of St. Heliodorus of Altinum (July 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Site of Ancient Altinum, Near Venice, Italy

Image Source = Google Earth

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SAINT HELIODORUS OF ALTINUM (332-390/400/407)

Associate of Saint Jerome, and Bishop of Altinum

St. Heliodorus of Altinum comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via St. Jerome (c. 347-420).

St. Heliodorus, born in Dalmatia (now Croatia) in 332, became a Roman soldier then a friend and associate of St. Jerome, translator of the Bible into Latin as the Vulgate.  St. Heliodorus followed the great translator to the Holy Land and helped to finance that translation project.  He must have been able to deal well with difficult personalities, for St. Jerome was irascible and intellectually arrogant.  St. Jerome was, to quote Holy Women, Holy Men (2010), “seldom pleasant” and “never dull.”  St. Jerome also admitted his failings, though.

St. Heliodorus moved to Italy.  He lived as a hermit in Aquileia for years.  Later, he served as the Bishop of Altinum, a small town near the eventual site of Venice.  Our saint vigorously opposed Arianism, one of the more persistent heresies.  Jesus was fully human and fully divine, as well as the Logos of God and NOT a created being, our saint insisted.

St. Heliodorus died in Altinum between 390 and 407.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servant Saint Heliodorus of Altinum,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with him attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 724

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Feast of Sts. Spyridon of Cyprus and Tryphillius of Leucosia (June 13)   4 comments

Above:  Roman Cyprus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SPYRIDON OF CYPRUS (270-CIRCA 348)

Bishop of Tremithus, Cyprus

His feast transferred from December 12

Alternative feast days = August 11 and December 14

converted

SAINT TRYPHILLIUS OF LEUCOSIA (DIED 370)

Bishop of Leucosia, Cyprus

His feast day = June 13

Alternative feast days = June 11 and 12

Sts. Spyridon of Cyprus and Tryphillius of Leucosia argued forcefully against Arianism, the heresy that Jesus had only one nature–divine.

St. Spyridon, a native Cypriot born in 270, grew up a pious youth in a devout Christian family.  He, a shepherd, married and fathered a daughter.  His wife and daughter became nuns.  St. Spyridon became a monk at Mount Carmel, near Acre.  Eventually, our saint became the Bishop of Tremithius, on Cyprus.  During the reign (305-311) of Emperor Galerus, our saint suffered severely for his faith.  During a period of persecution, St. Spyridon’s faith cost him his right eye, his left calf, and his freedom.  He spent a few years doing hard labor in a Spanish mine until the Edict of Milan (313) freed him.  Our saint then resumed his episcopal duties in Tremithus.  St. Spyridon also participated in the First Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Sardica (343).  He died circa 348.

St. Tryphillius was part of St. Spyridon’s legacy.  St. Tryphillius, a native of Rome, studied in Constantinople and became an attorney.  St. Spyridon converted the lawyer to Christianity.  In time, St. Tryphillius became the Bishop of Leucosia (now Nicosia), Cyprus.  He, like St. Spyridon and St. Athanasius of Alexandria (295/298-373), opposed Arianism and, for his efforts, became a target of Arian antipathy.  St. Tryphillius lived simply.  He also preached eloquently and daily.  Furthermore, our saint composed a commentary on the Song of Songs.  He died in 370.

The canonization of these two saints occurred pre-Congregation.  All Roman Catholic canonizations were pre-Congregation until 993, the year of the canonization of St. Ulric of Augsburg (890-973), Bishop of Augsburg.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH; AND SAINT ATHANASIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH AND “FATHER OF ORTHODOXY”

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SILVESTER HORNE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FRIEDRICH HASSE, GERMAN-BRITISH MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JULIA BULKLEY CADY CORY, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGISMUND OF BURGUNDY, KING; SAINT CLOTILDA, FRANKISH QUEEN; AND SAINT CLODOALD, FRANKISH PRINCE AND ABBOT

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Lord Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine,

thank you for the glorious mystery of your Incarnation,

essential to the Atonement, and therefore, our salvation.

May we, affirming your full humanity and full divinity without necessarily understanding them,

grow, by grace, into our full stature as human beings and achieve our full potential in God.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Genesis 1:26-31

Psalm 110

Hebrews 1:1-14

John 1:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR, 68

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Feast of St. Julius I (April 12)   3 comments

Above:  St. Julius I

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JULIUS I (DIED APRIL 12, 352)

Bishop of Rome

Christian doctrines developed over centuries, through much debate and a series of synods and ecumenical councils.  Some of the Church Fathers, such as St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen, were orthodox, by the standards of their time, but have become heretics post mortem and ex post facto.

Emperor Constantine I “the Great” declared Christianity legal, not official.  (Many sources get this wrong, for they pay insufficient attention to documented facts.)  His decision involved the Roman imperial government in the development of the Christian faith and the Church for centuries.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria (circa 296-373), one of the greatest Christian theologians, served as the Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, from 328 to 373, with interruptions.  He was in exile in 336-337, 339-346, 356-361, 362-363, and 365-366.  St. Athanasius, the “Father of Orthodoxy,” argued forcefully against Arianism, the heresy that Christ was a created being.  This was not merely a theological debate; it was an issue into which emperors intervened.

Marcellus of Ancyra (died 374/376) was the Bishop of Ancyra.  He went into exile in 336.  The following year, after the death of Constantine I, imperial officials permitted the bishop to return to Ancyra.

St. Julius I became the Bishop of Rome on February 6, 337.  His election filled a vacancy that had lasted for four months; Pope St. Mark had held office from January 18 to October 7, 336, then died.  St. Julius I was a Roman.  Almost no early information about him, not even the year of his death, has survived in historical records.

Marcellus of Ancyra and St. Athanasius of Alexandria returned to exile in 339.  The two of them, in Rome, found St. Julius I to be an ally.

The allegation against Marcellus of Ancyra was heresy–being a Sabellian, to be precise.  Sabellianism was a variety of Modalistic Monarchianism, an attempt to maintain monotheism by arguing for a simplified Trinity.  Allegedly, God the Son and God the Spirit were temporary modes, or projections, of God the Father.  One practical consequence was arguing that God the Father became incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth then died on a cross.

In Rome, at a synod in 340, Pope Julius I declared Marcellus of Ancyra and St. Athanasius of Alexandria orthodox.  Officially, Marcellus had not written i favor of Sabellianism.  No, he had written in a speculative manner, officially.  Furthermore, he had affirmed a Catholic baptismal creed in the presence of St. Julius I.

The synod of 340 did not resolve the manner, though.  In 342 or 343 Emperors Constantius II (reigned 337-361) and Constans I (reiged 337-350) called the Council of Sardica.  This council affirmed St. Athanasius as the rightful Patriarch of Alexandria, confirmed his orthodoxy, confirmed the orthodoxy of Marcellus of Ancyra, condemned Arianism, and established that a deposed bishop had the right to appeal to the pope.  East-West tensions marred the council; most members came from the West.

St. Athanasius returned to his see again in 346.

St. Julius I died on April 12, 352.  His immediate successor was Liberius (in office May 17, 352-September 24, 366), whose best intentions failed in the face of the force Constantine II brought to bear against him and St. Athanasius and in favor of Arianism.

Marcellus returned to his see in 348.  He, deposed again in 353, became officially heterodox, according the synods in 353 and 355, as well as according to St. Athanasius.

By 354 St. Julius I was a recognized saint in the Roman Catholic Church.  Formally becoming a saint was a relatively fast process in the days of pre-congregation canonization.

Arianism has remained alive and well, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 23, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE LAST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, POLYCARP OF SMYRNA, AND IRENAEUS OF LYONS, BISHOPS OF MARTYRS, 107/115, 155/156, CIRCA 202

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALEXANDER AKIMETES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL WOLCOTT, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEFAN WIINCENTY FRELICHOWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF MAINZ; AND SAINT BERNWARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HILDESHEIM

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Glorious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church.

Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.

Where it is corrupt, purify it;

where it is in error, direct it;

where it is in anything amiss, reform it.

Where it is right, strengthen it;

where it is in want, provide for it;

where it is divided, reunite it;

for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior,

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:1-6

Psalm 12:1-7

Acts 22:30-23:10

Matthew 21:12-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 735

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Feast of St. Mary of Egypt (April 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Mary of Egypt, by José de Ribero

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARY OF EGYPT (CIRCA 344-CIRCA 421)

Hermit and Penitent

Alternative feast days = January 25, April 1, April 2, April 9, and November 5

St. Mary of Egypt comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, of The Episcopal Church.  She is also a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and in Eastern Orthodox churches.  In Eastern Orthodoxy another day to celebrate the life of St. Mary of Egypt, a paragon of penitence, is the fifth Sunday in Great Lent.

Before I write about the life of St. Mary of Egypt, I choose to address a proverbial elephant in the room:  chronology.  Nearly all accounts (including the one in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018) of her life mention that, in the last two or so years of her life, she knew a priest-monk, St. Zosimus of Palestine, who allegedly buried her and wrote her biography.  However, the frequently listed lifespans for both saints do not support the possibility of this.  If one accepts that St. Mary of Egypt died circa 421, one must reject that she could have known St. Zosimus of Palestine (circa 460-circa 560).  Some sources ignore this chronological conundrum.  Others push St. Mary’s lifetime into the fifth and sixth centuries, the timeframe for St. Zosimus.  Some sources adjust the dates for St. Zosimus down a century, into the timeframe of St. Mary.  I remain suspicious of the two saints having met.

I have years of experience writing hagiographies.  I also know that people knew how to keep track of what year it was in antiquity.  Nevertheless, I recall more than one occasion when I was taking notes about saints who allegedly knew each other and I realized that they could not have known each other because of chronology.  Hagiographers should keep their chronologies in order.

St. Mary of Egypt, born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 344, spent most of her life as a penitent and a hermit.  She left home at age twelve and became a prostitute.  Seventeen years later, she accompanied a group of pilgrims to Jerusalem.  They were going to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14).  She was seeking to fulfill her lust and find customers.  The pilgrims entered the church, but an invisible barrier prevented the prostitute from crossing the threshold.  St. Mary of Egypt confessed her sins, repented of them, and called upon the Mother of God.  Our saint, across the threshold, advanced toward the alleged True Cross of Christ.  She dedicated her life to God.  St. Mary spent the next forty-seven or so years as a hermit in the desert beyond the Jordan River.

Many Low Church Protestants, regardless of where they fall on the liberal-conservative spectrum, underestimate the spiritual value of holy hermits.  Holy hermits are useless, many Low Church Protestants claim.  Yet, if one affirms the efficacy of prayer, as I assume most Low Church Protestants do, one should recognize the inestimable value of holy hermits, who spend so much time in prayer.  If one accepts the efficacy of prayer, one should give thanks for holy hermits.  Historical accounts of many Desert Fathers and Mothers also indicate that many people went out to consult them for spiritual counsel.

Whatever St. Mary of Egypt did day in and day out for forty-seven years, it was of great spiritual value.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HENRY MORSE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1645

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT DASWA, SOUTH AFRICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SEYMOUR ROBINSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI PIERLUIGI DE PALESTRINA, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIGEBERT III, KING OF AUSTRASIA

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Merciful Lord, who raises up sinners by your boundless compassion and mercy:

Cause the desert sun to burn away our coarseness and to melt our hardness of heart,

that, like your servant Mary of Egypt,

we may not depart from this life until we understand

the ways of repentance and the benefits of prayer;

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

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

Hebrews 11:32-40

Psalm 91:9-16

John 20:11-18

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 213

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Feast of St. Zoticus of Constantinople (December 31)   1 comment

Above:  Roman Imperial Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED CIRCA 350)

Priest and Martyr, Circa 350

St. Zoticus of Constantinople comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in America.

St. Zoticus cared for the poor and the sick, and became a martyr.  He was a wealthy man in the service of Emperor Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337).  In 330, when Constantine I moved the imperial capital to Constantinople (the former Byzantium), St. Zoticus also moved to Constantinople.  He became a priest and began to take care of poor people and orphans in his home.  Thus began a homeless shelter, built and maintained at least partially with imperial funds.  St. Zoticus objected to the customary practice by which the military drowned lepers.  He rescued the lepers and cared for them at the shelter.

Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361), an Arian, crossed theological paths with the orthodox St. Zoticus.  The immediate cause of the martyrdom of St. Zoticus, however, was much like that of the martyrdom of St. Laurence of Rome about a century earlier.  When Constantius II, assuming that St. Zoticus had used imperial funds to purchase luxury items, tried to claw back the funds.  St. Zoticus presented sick and homeless people.  Constantius II ordered the execution of our saint, dragged over stones, behind wild mules.

St. Zoticus agreed with St. Laurence, who asserted that the poor are the treasures of the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR.; AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Olympias of Constantinople (December 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Olympias of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT OLYMPIAS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (361/368-JULY 25, 408)

Widow and Deaconess

Also known as Saint Olympias the Younger

Alternative feast day = July 25

St. Olympias the Constantinople had another name–Olympias the YoungerOlympias the Elder, her aunt, had been a fiancée of Emperor Constans I (reigned 337-350) and the Queen of Armenia, then a kingdom subordinate to the Roman Empire.  Our saint came from one of the elite families of the Roman Empire.

St. Olympias the Younger, daughter of Seleucus and Alexander, entered the world in Constantinople no earlier than 361 and no later than 368.  She married Nebridius, who served as the Prefect of Constantinople.  St. Olympias, as a widow, used her wealth well.  She financed a hospital and an orphanage.  She helped monks exiled from Nitria.

St. Olympias, a deaconess as a widow, also befriended St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  The Patriarch had run afoul of Empress Eudoxia, the power behind the throne of Emperor Arcadius (reigned 395-408).  Arcadius, at Eudoxia’s behest, had St. John exiled in 404.  The Patriarch died in exile three years later.

St. Olympias also went into exile in 404, because of her association with the Patriarch.  The empire disbanded the community of non-cloistered women in her home, seized her assets, and sent her on her way.  St. Olympias died in Nicomedia on July 25, 408.

St. Olympias did much for God and other people, especially the poor, orphaned, and sick.  She could have done more, if not for the intervention of Eudoxia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Pambo of Nitria, His Proteges and Their Associates, St. Melania the Elder, and Her Family (November 8)   3 comments

Above:  The Eastern Roman Empire

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

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SAINT PAMBO OF NITRIA (DIED CIRCA 375)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Pambo of the Nitrian Desert

His feast transferred from July 18

mentor of

SAINT AMMONIUS OF SKETE (DIED CIRCA 403)

Desert Father

His feast = November 8

teacher of

EVAGRIUS OF PONTUS (345-399)

Monk, Theologian, and Deacon

Also known as Evagrius Ponticus and Evagrius the Solitary

teacher of

PALLADIUS OF GALATIA (363/364-420/430)

Monk, and Bishop of Helenopolis

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SAINT DIDYMUS THE BLIND (CIRCA 313-398)

Biblical Scholar

His feast transferred from October 18

teacher of 

SAINT RUFINUS OF AQUILEIA (344/345-411)

Monk and Priest

His feast transferred from October 1

ordained by

SAINT JOHN II (CIRCA 356-JANUARY 10, 417)

Bishop of Jerusalem

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT MACARIUS OF EGYPT (CIRCA 300-391)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Macarius the Elder

His feast transferred from January 15, January 19, and April 4

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SAINT MACARIUS OF ALEXANDRIA (CIRCA 300-395)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Younger

His feast transferred from January 19 and May 1

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SAINT PISHOY (320-JULY 15, 417)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Bishoy

His feast transferred from June 19

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SAINT MELANIA THE ELDER (325-410/417)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from June 8

grandmother of

SAINT MELANIA THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 383-DECEMBER 31, 439)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from December 31

wife of

SAINT PINIAN (DIED IN 420)

Monk

His feast transferred from December 31

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The genesis of this post was the listing of St. Ammonius (of Skete) [feast day = November 8] in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.  One connection led to another until I had thirteen saints, not including some I had added to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days already.

St. Pambo of Nitria

Above:  St. Pambo of Nitria

Image in the Public Domain

St. Pambo of Nitria (died circa 375) was an influential spiritual figure.  He, a disciple of St. Antony of Egypt (d. 356), founded a monastery in the Nitrian Desert of Egypt.  St. Pambo advised, among others, St. Rufinus of Aquileia, St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 295-373), St. Melania the Elder, St. Pishoy, St. John the Dwarf (c. 339-c. 405), and St. Ammonius of Skete and his brothers.  St. Pambo died in the company of St. Melania the Elder.

St. Ammonius of Skete (died circa 403), one of a host of saints named “Ammonius,” was one of four brothers who became hermits under St. Pambo in the Nitrian Desert.  Prior to becoming a hermit, St. Ammonius had memorized much of the Old and New Testaments and mastered much of the work of early Christian theologians.  Our saint, a popular spiritual director, taught Evagrius of Pontus, befriended St. John Chrysostom, and knew St. Melania the Elder.  Two of the brothers of St. Ammonius became priests.  A third brother, Dioscorus, became the Bishop of Hermopolis.  St. Ammonius, nearly drafted into the episcopate, protested so vehemently that he remained a monk.  He died circa 403, while visiting Chrysostom.

Evagrius of Pontus, born in Ibora, Asia Minor, in 345, struggled with vanity and lust.  He grew up in a Christian family and studied in Neocaesarea.  His teachers over time included Origen, St. Macarius of Alexandria, St. Macarius of Egypt, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger, St. Melania the Elder, and St. Ammonius of Skete.  St. Basil the Great ordained Evagrius a lector.  In Constantinople, in 380, St. Gregory of Nazainzus the Younger ordained our saint to the diaconate.  The following year, Evagrious participated in the First Council of Constantinople, which revised the Nicene Creed.  Evagrius, struggling with vanity and lust, visited St. Rufinus of Aquileia and St. Melania the Elder in Jerusalem; she advised him to become a monk.  He did, in Jerusalem in 383.  Two years later, Evagrius moved to the Nitrian Desert. Eventually he relocated to Kellia.  Our saint, who taught St. John Cassian and Palladius of Galatia, created a list of eight evils–the antecedent of the Seven Deadly Sins.  He died in Kellia, Egypt, in 399.

Palladius of Galatia (363/364-420/430) wrote of the Desert Fathers.  His Lausaic History (419-420), the archive of the Desert Fathers, has preserved their wisdom for posterity.  Palladius, a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, sided with his teacher in imperial disputes.  Our saint, a monk from 386, was a monk with Evagrius of Pontus and St. Macarius of Alexandria for nine years.  Later, for health-related reasons, Palladius moved to Palestine.  In 400 he became the Bishop of Helenopolis.  Political exile filled 406-412, but our saint returned to his see in 412/413.

St. Didymus the Blind (circa 313-398) was of the school of Origen in Alexandria, Egypt.  St. Didymus, orthodox (at least according tot he standards of his time; human theological orthodoxy shifts sometimes) wrote commentaries on the Bible and on the theology of his teacher, Origen.  The blind ascetic taught St. Rufinus of Aquileia and St. Jerome, who later had harsh words for Origen and Origenists.  St. Didymus also developed a system to help blind people read.

St. Rufinus of Aquileia, born near Aquileia in 344/345, became a monk.  He, raised in Christian family, was a monk in Aquileia in 370, wheen he met St. Jerome.  St. Rufinus studied under St. Didymus the Blind in Alexandria from 373 to 380.  St. Rufinus followed St. Melania the Elder to Jerusalem in 380.  She financed the founding of his new monastery, located on the Mount of Olives.  St. Rufinus studied Greek theology in that monastery.  He resumed his friendship with St. Jerome in 386.  Four years later, St. John II (circa 356-January 10, 417), the Bishop of Jerusalem, ordained St. Rufinus to the priesthood.

The renewed friendship with St. Jerome ended due to the Origenist dispute.  Origen was orthodox, according to the theological standards of his time, but theologians subsequently redefined orthodoxy.  This process made him a heretic ex post factoSt. Jerome, an argumentative individual, lambasted Origen, Origenists, and Origenism.  Two of his targets were St. Rufinus of Alexandria and St. John II of Jerusalem, starting in 394.

St. Rufinus, marginalized in ecclesiastical circles because of his defense of Origen, resided in Italy from 397 to 408.  He, St. Melania the Younger, and St. Pinian fled to Sicily, due to the invasion of Alaric, as the Western Roman Empire crumbled.  St. Rufinus died in Sicily in 411.

St. Macarius of Egypt

Above:  St. Macarius of Egypt

Image in the Public Domain

The two St. Macariuses were a team.  St. Macarius of Egypt/the Great/the Elder, born in Shabshear, Lower Egypt, circa 300, eventually found his vocation.  The erstwhile saltpeter smuggler had married because his parents wanted him to do so.  The union was brief; his wife died.  Then our saint’s parents  died.  St. Macarius the Elder gave his money to the poor and became a priest.  Later he visited St. Antony the Great in the desert, and became a monk.  At the age of 40 years, St. Macarius became the abbot at Skete.

St. Macarius the Younger/of Alexandria, born in Alexandria, Egypt, circa 300, found his vocation in mid-life.  He, a merchant until he was 40 years old, accepted baptism and became an ascetic in the desert.  He, ordained to the priesthood became the prior of a monastery between Nitria and Skete.  One influence on St. Macarius the Younger was St. Pachomius the Great (292-346/348), the Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism.

In the fourth century C.E., Roman imperial politics was, for a time, inseparable from the conflict between Arians and orthodox Christians.  The Emperor Valens (reigned 364-378), an Arian, exiled the two St. Macariuses to an island in the Nile River.  They evangelized the inhabitants.  Our saints returned to the Nitrian Desert when the political situation changed.  Two of the people who greeted them were St. John the Dwarf and St. Pishoy.

St. Macarius the Elder died in 391.

St. Macarius the Younger in 395.

St. Pishoy, born in Shansa, Egypt, in 320, was another disciple of St. Pambo of Nitria.  St. Pishoy, raised in a Christian home, became a monk under St. Pambo at the age of 20 years.  St. John the Dwarf ordained St. Pishoy, who became a hermit in 375, after St. Pambo died.  St. Pishoy, known for his wisdom, kindness, and orthodoxy, founded a monastery at Skete.  The Berber invasion forced him to move in 408.  St. Pishoy founded a new monastery on the Mountains of Ansena, in Egypt.  He died there on July 15, 417.

St. Melania the Elder

Above:  St. Melania the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

St. Melania the Elder (born in 325), whose life intersected with many other lives, came from an extremely wealthy family.  They owned estates throughout the Roman Empire.  Her father, Marcellinus, married her off when she was 14 years old.  St. Melania the Elder’s husband was Valerius Maximus Basilius (circa 330-after 364), the Proconsul of Achaea (361-363).  He and two of their three children died when St. Melania the Elder was 22 years old.  She and her remaining son, Valerius Publicola, moved to Rome.  St. Melania the Elder converted to Christianity and raised her son as a Christian.

St. Melania the Elder, aged 32 years, left her son in the care of a guardian and took servants with her to Nitria, where she visited for a few months.  She became a traveling student of theology and patron of monasticism.  In 373, for example, St. Melania the Elder provided financial support for the orthodox monks exiled to Diocaesarea.  She and St. Rufinus of Aquileia settled in Jerusalem in 380.  There St. Melania the Elder financed a convent, where she lived, as well as a monastery, for St. Rufinus.

St. Melania the Elder, a cousin of St. Paulinus of Nola, was also an Origenist.  St. Jerome did not spare her from his poison pen.

St. Melania the Younger

Above:  St. Melania the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Valerius Publicus (died in 406) grew up and had a family in Rome.  He married Caeionia Albinus, daughter of a consul.  They had a daughter, St. Melania the Younger, born in 383.  At the age of 14 years she married a cousin, Valerius Pinanus, a.k.a. St. Pinian (died in 420).  They were an extremely wealthy couple.  After their two children died young, Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian embarked on lives of celibacy.

St. Melania the Elder, visiting her family in Rome circa 400, influenced her granddaughter to follow her back to Jerusalem.  Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian moved, donated generously to the Church and the poor, and eventually became monastics in Messina, Sicily, starting in 408.  As Sts. Melania the Younger, Pinian, and Rufinus of Aquileia had fled Itlay because of the invasion of Alaric, as the Western Roman Empire crumbled.  Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian were on Sicily until 410.  That year they met and befriended St. Augustine of Hippo, and mutually founded a convent in northern Africa, with St. Melania the Younger serving as the Mother Superior.

After St. Melania the Elder died in 410/417, Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian relocated to Palestine, where they founded another convent.  St. Pinian died in 420.  Afterward, St. Melania the Younger founded another monastery and church in Jerusalem.

She died in that city on December 31, 439.

Thank you, O reader, for taking his multi-saint journey through holiness with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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O God, by whose grace your servants

Saint Pambo of Nitria,

Saint Ammonius of Skete,

Evagrius of Pontus,

Palladius of Galatia,

Saint Didymus the Blind,

Saint Rufinus of Aquileia,

Saint John II of Jerusalem,

Saint Macarius the Elder,

Saint Macarius the Younger,

Saint Pishoy,

Saint Melania the Elder,

Saint Melania the Younger,

and Saint Pinian,

became burning and shining lights 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

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Feast of Sts. Maximilian of Antioch, Bonosus, and Maximianus the Soldier (August 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Empire, 330

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH (DIED CIRCA 353)

SAINT BONOSUS (DIED IN 362)

SAINT MAXIMIANUS THE SOLIDER (DIED IN 362)

Roman Soldiers and Martyrs

These three saints were soldiers of the Herculean Legion of the imperial Roman Army.

The first to die was St. Maximilian of Antioch.  In 353 Constantius II (reigned 337-361) sat on the throne.  He was, for orthodox Christians, a troublesome figure, given his Arian sympathies and policy of exiling certain prominent orthodox bishops, including St. Athanasius of Alexandria.  St. Maximilian received an order to remove the monogram of Christ, the Chi-Ro, from the legion’s standard.  He refused, and became a martyr.

Above:  The Chi-Ro

Image in the Public Domain

A few years later, the pagan Julian the Apostate (reigned 361-363) launched an empire-wide persecution of Christianity.  It was not a full-scale persecution, such as that Diocletian had started in 303, but it was still persecution.  Julian did sent St. Athanasius of Alexandria into another exile and found ways to make life unduly difficult for Christians.  He, for example, ordered that Christians found guilty of crimes receive harsher sentences than non-Christians convicted of the same offenses.  Julian also forbade Christians to hold teaching jobs.  He sought to restore the empire to its religious state prior to the time his kinsman Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) had legalized Christianity, a growing religion.  Officially Christianity remained legal.  Officially Julian’s policy was religious toleration.  Actually, his policy was the opposite of toleration.  Julian, in his mind, had a mission from the gods to heal an ailing society.  In 362 Sts. Bonosus and Maximianus the Soldier received orders to replace the Labarum of Constantine, which included the Chi-Ro with a pagan banner.  They refused, became prisoners, endured tortures, and died.

Christianity outlived Constantius II and Julian the Apostate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Maximilian of Antioch, Saint Bonosus, and Saint Maximianus the Soldier

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

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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Feast of St. Paulinus of Nola (June 22)   2 comments

Above:  St. Paulinus of Nola

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MEROPIUS PONTIUS ANACIUS PAULINUS (CIRCA 354-JUNE 22, 431)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Nola

St. Paulinus of Nola and his wife Therasia did much to help the poor, especially of Nola, Italy.

St. Paulinus and his wife were initially pagans.  Our saint, born in Buridigala, Gaul (now Bordeaux, France), circa 354, came from a prominent and wealthy family.  He became a lawyer and a Roman imperial official.  After he left public service the couple retired to Buridigala.  Later they moved to Therasia’s estate at Alcala de Henares, Spain.  There they welcomed their only son into the world.  There they also grieved after he died about a week after his birth.

In the wake of their son’s death St. Paulinus and Therasia converted to Christianity and dedicated their lives to God.  St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Delphinus of Bordeaux (d. 403), the Bishop of Buridigala, facilitated the conversions and baptisms in 392.  St. Paulinus and Therasia sold or gave away most of their wealth and embarked on their new lives.

St. Paulinus became a clergyman.  He, ordained a priest in Barcelona in 394, moved to Nola, Italy, where he and Therasia helped poor people.  In 409 our saint, by then a widower, became the Bishop of Nola by popular demand; he served for the rest of his life.  He lived as a monk at home.

St. Paulinus, a prolific writer, composed one of the oldest surviving Christian wedding songs.

St. Paulinus had a group of prominent friends.  They included Emperor Theodosius I “the Great” (reigned 379-395), Pope St. Anastasius I (in office 399-401), St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Nicetas of Remesiana, St. Martin of Tours, and St. Jerome.  The glue of Christian faith held them together.

St. Paulinus died at Nola on June 22, 431.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT AND HIS PUPIL, SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD FREDERICK LITTLEDALE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Heavenly Gather, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Saint Paulinus of Nola,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature of the fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 718

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