Archive for the ‘Saints of 500-549’ Category

Feast of St. Columba of Iona (June 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Columba of Iona

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT COLUMBA OF IONA (CIRCA 521-597)

Celtic Missionary and Abbot

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In the midst of all his toils, he appeared loving unto all, serene and holy, rejoicing in the joy of the Holy Spirit in his inmost heart.

–St. Adamnan, on St. Columba of Iona

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St. Columba of Iona is one of the more popular Celtic saints.  He is a figure on the calendars of the Roman Catholic Church and various provinces of the Anglican Communion.  Furthermore, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) merge his feast with those of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne (circa 590-651) and St. Bede of Jarrow (672/673-735).  Those Lutheran denominations lists Sts. Columba, Aiden, and Bede as renewers of the church.  St. Columba is absent from the calendar of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), however.  That calendar does list St. Bede, however.  Furthermore, one should not confuse St. Columba with his contemporary, St. Columban/Columbanus (543-615), the Abbot of Bobbio.  x

Many hagiographies of St. Columba contain legendary and historically unreliable material.  I choose to ignore that content.

St. Columba was an Irish prince.  He, born in County Donegal circa 521, was a son of Feidlimid.  Our saint, benefiting from royal status, studied under St. Finnian of Moville and St. Finnian of Clonard.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood of the Celtic Church circa 551, founded churches and monasteries in Ireland.  (Celtic monasteries were centers of missionary activity.)

Above:  Iona, the Holy Isle

Image Source = Google Earth

Circa 563, St. Columba and twelve monks relocated to Iona, apparently to get away from interference from certain Irish authorities, who were harassing some of his monks.  Our saint founded a church and a monastery.  He went on to found more monasteries in Scotland.  Monks from St. Columba’s monasteries evangelized Picts.  Many monks founded other monasteries, from which other monks went out and evangelized.

St. Columba, revered as a living saint during his final years, died in his sleep during the night of June 8-9, 597.  He had been copying a portion of the Psalter by hand immediately prior to resting.  His corpse wore a smile.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY; AND HIS SON, WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ALBANY; HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET AND RELIGIOUS WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICT AND LIEGE, AND FLORIBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZITA OF TUSCANY, WORKER OF CHARITY

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Almighty God, who filled the heart of Columba

with the joy of the Holy Spirit and with deep love for those in his care:

may your pilgrim people follow him,

strong in faith, sustained by hope, and one in the love that binds us to you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 475

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O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant Columba

you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland:

Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance,

we may show our thankfulness to you by

following the example of his zeal and patience;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Isaiah 61:1-3

Psalm 97:1-2, 7-12

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Luke 10:17-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 417

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Gracious God, by his preaching your servant Columba

brought the light of the gospel to Scotland;

give us grace to follow his example of zeal and patience and

to expand our energy on winning others to faith in your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

or

Glory to you, Spirit of God, for the preaching of Columba,

aptly named the dove, and for his companions at Iona;

though we may never banish monsters from the river Ness,

help us, like him, to be loving to everyone,

happy-faced, in the joy of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Isaiah 66:18-19

Psalm 18:31-37 or Psalm 47

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Mark 4:35-41

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia

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O God, you girded your servant Columba with the cincture of holiness

and made him a pilgrim for Christ in the midst of the Irish and Scottish peoples.

Grant that, having his life and labours in remembrance,

we may rest upon your love and be cheerful in all adversities,

as we await the redemption of all things in

your well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ;

who is alive and reigns, with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Psalm 89:20-26

Luke 10:17-20

–The Anglican Church of Canada

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Feast of St. Petroc (June 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Petroc’s Church, Bodmin, Cornwall, England

Image Source = Google Earth

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SAINT PETROC (DIED CIRCA 564)

Welsh Prince, Abbot, and Missionary

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

St. Petroc was originally a saint of the Celtic Church.  He died prior to the arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury et al. (597) and the Synod of Whitby (664).  His feast transferred into the Roman Catholic Church then into The Church of England.  Many legends about him developed then repeated in hagiographies.  I have chosen to disregard these.

St. Petroc was a Welsh prince who led a religious life.  His father was Glywys, the King of Glywysing, one of the Welsh kingdoms.  After King Glywys died, St. Petroc refused a crown and sailed to Ireland, to study and to begin life as a religious.  A few years later, St. Petroc returned to Great Britain and settled at Padstone, Cornwall.  There he founded a monastery and served as the abbot for at least three decades.  Our saint also founded churches, as well as a second monastery.  The location of the second monastery was in the Cornish countryside.  St. Petroc, furthermore, converted Constantine, the King of Dumnonia, to Christianity.  St. Petroc died in Pastow, Cornwall, circa 564.  He had laid the foundation of Christian faith in much of Cornwall.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR, 1012

THE FEAST OF DAVID BRAINERD, AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST THEN PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

THE FEAST OF MARY C. COLLINS, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MISSIONARY AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Petroc,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Cornwall, England.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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Feast of Sts. Radegunda and Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus (December 14)   1 comment

Above:  Venantius Fortunatus Reading His Poems to Radegonda, by Lawrence Alma-Tameda

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT RADEGUNDA (518/520-AUUST 13, 587)

Thuringian Roman Catholic Princess, Deaconess, and Nun

Her feast transferred from August 13

mentor and patron of

SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTI(AN)US FORTUNATUS (CIRCA 530-CIRCA 610)

Roman Catholic Poet, Hymn Writer, and Bishop of Poiters

His feast = December 14

Different spellings of the names of Saints Radegunda and Venantius, who have different feast days on the Roman Catholic calendar, exist.  Despite the separate feast days, one cannot properly tell the story of one saint without recounting the story of the other.   I merge the feasts here, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, for that reason.

On a light note, perhaps you, O reader, will agree that, regardless of whether one prefers Venantius Honorius Clementius Fortunatus or Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, he had the best name of any saint, canonized or otherwise.  The name rolls off one’s tongue nicely.

St. Radegunda, born in 518/520, was a princess of Thuringia, in modern-day Germany.  In 531 the Franking king Clothar/Clotaire/Lothair I (reigned 511-561) conquered Thuringia and killed most of the royal family.  He forced Radegunda to marry him the following year.  This was a political move, far from a love match.  St. Radegunda led a pious and simple life; she avoided extravagance and performed many good works while she endured her marriage.  She fled from that childless union in 550, after her husband had ordered the murder of her brother, thereby ending the male line in the Thuringian royal family.  The Church protected St. Radegunda, and Médard, the Bishop of Noyon, ordained her a deaconess.

St. Venantius Honorius Clement(ian)us Fortunatus, born in Treviso, Italy, circa 530, became a great Latin poet.  He, educated in Ravenna and Milan, traveled in Gaul and southern Germany.  (Contradictory stores provided various reasons for the road trip.)  He settled in Poitiers, at the Frankish royal court, and befriended Queen Radegunda.

In 560 St. Radegunda, deaconess and a former queen, founded the Convent of the Holy Cross, the first convent in Europe, at Poitiers.  The name of the first abbess was Agnes.  St. Radegunda lived there as a nun and devoted herself to good works.  St. Venantius became a priest and served as the chaplain of the convent.  He also composed Latin hymns about topics ranging from the cross of Christ to St. Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God.  He also wrote poetic praise of wine.  In 569 the Roman Emperor Justin II (reigned 565-574) gave the convent a piece of the alleged True Cross.  St. Venantius composed Vexilla Regis (still part of the Roman Catholic rites for Holy Week) for the occasion.

St. Radegunda died at the convent on August 13, 587.

St. Venantius became the Bishop of Poitiers in 599.  He served in that position for the rest of us life, until circa 610.

St. Venantius left behind a fine literary legacy.  He composed biographies of St. Martin of Tours, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Germanus of Paris, St. Radegunda, and other figures.  Friend St. Gregory of Tours encouraged our saint to publish his poetry.  St. Venantius did, and blessed generations of Christians.  English translations of some of those texts have included the following:

  1. “Welcome, Happy Morning;”
  2. “The Royal Banners Forward Go;”
  3. “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle;”
  4. “See the Destined Day Arise;” and
  5. the Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost versions of “Hail Thee, Festival Day.”

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Loving God, who teaches us that we depend on you and each other,

we thank you for Sts. Radegunda and Venantius Honorius Clementi(an)us Fortunatus,

who helped each other and many others, and whose intertwined legacies have endured.

May their examples inspire us to support each other in holy living, for your glory and the common good.

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

Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11

Psalm 64

1 Corinthians 1:17-25

Luke 1:26-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN AND ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCHS; AND SAINTS AGATHO, LEO II, AND BENEDICT II, BISHOPS OF ROME; DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ALBERT DICKINSON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICIAN; HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, JACOB VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS SON, WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS BROTHER, CARL ANTON VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS DAUGHTER, LISETTE (LIZETTE) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG; AND HER SISTER, AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Feast of Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius (December 2)   8 comments

Above:  The Roman Empire in 565

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HORMISDAS (DIED AUGUST 6, 523)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 6

father of

SAINT SILVERIUS (DIED DECEMBER 2, 537)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 537

Alternative feast day = June 20

Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius, father and son, had to contend with imperial and international politics.  The Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, wanted to retake Italy.  The Ostrogothic kings of Italy disagreed.

St. Hormisdas was a reconciler.  He, a married layman prior to ordination, worked closely with Pope St. Symmachus (in office 498-514).  St. Symmachus had a rival, the antipope Lawrence (498-499, 501-506; died 507 or 508).  The schism led to years of violence in the streets of Rome.  St. Symmachus had permitted Lawrence to retire.  St. Hormisdas, elected to succeed St. Symmachus on July 20, 514, completed the healing by welcoming the remaining, hardcore supporters of Lawrence back into the fold.

St. Hormisdas also ended the Acacian Schism (484-519).  In 584, Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, had compromised regarding Chalcedonian Christology.  He had omitted the doctrine that Jesus had two natures–human and divine.  This was a way of assuaging Monophysites, who thought that Jesus had only a divine nature.  Pope St. Felix III (II) (in office 483-492) had excommunicated Acacius.  For decades the church was split, East and West.  The accession of Emperor Justin I (reigned 518-527), a Chalcedonian Christian, created the opportunity for reunion.  That reunion also had a political purpose; Justin I and his nephew, Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565), wanted Italy back.  Ecclesiastical reunification helped imperial reconquest.

St. Hormisdas, who commissioned St. Dionysius Exiguus (circa 500-circa 550) to translate the canons of the Greek Church into Latin, died on August 6, 523.

The next Bishops of Rome were:

  1. St. John I (August 13, 523-May 10, 526),
  2. St. Felix IV (III) (July 12, 526-September 22, 530),
  3. Boniface II (September 22, 530-October 17, 532),
  4. John II (January 2, 533-May 8, 535), and
  5. St. Agapitus I (May 13, 535-April 22, 536).

There was also an antipope, Dioscorus, briefly (September 22-October 14, 530).

St. Agapitus I died in Constantinople on April 22, 536.  He had displeased Empress Theodora, a Monophysite, by deposing Anthimus, the (Monophysite) Patriarch of Constantinople.  Theodora wanted Antimus restored to his office.  She offered a quid pro quo to the nuncio, deacon Vigilius; she would make him the Pope if he, as the Bishop of Rome, would restore Anthimus to office.  Vigilius agreed then returned to Rome.

Vigilius arrived too late.  Theodahad (reigned 534-536), the last Ostrogothic king of Italy, had already forced the election of subdeacon St. Silverius, son of St. Hormisdas, on June 8, 536.  The new Pope never had a chance, for he was a pawn of one leader and the target of another.

Imperial forces occupied Rome on December 10, 536.  St. Silverius and the Roman Senate, seeking to prevent bloodshed, urged the citizens to surrender to the Roman Army.  Meanwhile, the Ostrogothic Army beseiged the city.  St. Silverius, framed via forged documents, was, according to Imperial authorities, cooperating with the Ostrogoths.  Theodora orchestrated the removal of St. Silverius from office on March 11, 537.  Vigilius became the next Pope on March 29.

St. Silverius, a prisoner, became a monk and an exile at Patara, Lycia, Anatolia.  The local bishop interceded on his behalf with Justinian I, who ordered a fair trial and the return of St. Silverius to Rome.  The result of an acquittal would be restoration to the See of Rome; the result of a conviction would be reassignment to a different see.  None of that came to pass, however.  Vigilius sent agents to St. Silverius; they forced his abdication on November 11, 537.  Our saint, having never returned to Rome, died of starvation and other hardships on December 2, 537.

Vigilius engaged in political conflicts with Justinian I and Theodora during his tenure, which ended with death by natural causes (gall stones) on June 7, 555.  He had been unpopular in life.  He remained so in death.

Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius manifested reconciling spirits and concern for people.  St. Silverius did his best, but others had plans for him.  He was faithful to the end, starving in exile.

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God of shalom, we thank you for the reconciling spirit of St. Hormisdas

and the commitment unto death of St. Silverius, Bishops of Rome.

May we also lead conciliatory lives and be willing, if necessary,

to remain faithful unto persecution, ill treatment, and martyrdom,.

May the light of your love shine through us no matter what,

so that we may live and die as agents of divine grace.

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

Tobit 3:1-6

Psalm 2

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AUGUSTUS SEISS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES COFFIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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Feast of St. Romanus the Melodist (October 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of St. Romanus the Melodist

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST (CIRCA 490-CIRCA 556)

Deacon and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint Romanos the Melodist and Saint Roman the Melodist

Alternative feast day = October 14

St. Romanus the Melodist comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.  Many details of his life are lost to us in 2018, but enough are available.

St. Romanus, author of hymns, entered the world in Emesa, now in Syria, circa 490.  His parents were Jewish.  Whether they were also Christian has become lost in the ravages of time.  Our saint, baptized at an early age, grew up in the church; he loved God and the church.  St. Romanus, as a youth, lit lamps and prepared the censer at this parish.  Eventually our saint moved to Beirut, where he, ordained a deacon, served in the Church of the Resurrection.  Later the deacon relocated to Constantinople, the imperial capital, where he spent the rest of his life.

St. Romanus was a humble man and an ascetic with a devotion to the Mother of Our Lord and Savior.  He was, for many years, self-conscious about his singing voice and his public reading ability, both of which he considered substandard.  One Christmas Eve, however, after a vision of St. Mary of Nazareth, St. Romanus had a much improved singing voice and public reading ability.  He also began to write kontakia, or hymns for saints’ days and major feasts.  Our saint composed in excess of 1000 kontakia, about 80 of which have survived to 2018.

St. Romanus died in Constantinople circa 556.

The loss of 920 or so kontakia of St. Romanus has been a terrible one.  Those kontakia still extant have remained in use, however.

St. Romanus sought to honor God with his life.  He succeeded.

May we succeed in that goal also, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BRIGHT, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN BYROM, ANGLICAN THEN QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Saint Romanus the Melodist and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of St. Dionysius Exiguus (September 1)   1 comment

Above:  Roman Imperial Borders in the Balkans, 330 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS (CIRCA 470-544/550/560)

Roman Catholic Monk and Reformer of the Calendar

Also known as Saint Dionysius the Small, Little, Short, and Humble

The Romans calculated time according to the founding of the city of Rome–Ab Urbe Condita (A.U.C.), or “Since the Founding of the City” or “In the Year of the City.”  That system persisted in much of Europe into what we now call the late first millennium A.D./C.E.  That system went by the wayside because, in large part, of St. Dionysius Exiguus, born in Scythia Minor (modern-day Romania), in the Roman Empire, circa 1223 A.U.C. (470 A.D./C.E.)  He, a monk and apparently never an abbot, called himself Exiguus, Latin for humble, short, little, and small; it was not a reference to his stature.  Our saint lived in Rome starting circa 1253 A.U.C. (500 A.D./C.E.).

St. Dionysius Exiguus was a talented and respected man who took assignments from popes.  He was a mathematician, an astronomer, and a theologian.  He calculated tables for celebrating Easter, based on the lunar calendar.  He collection of 401 ecclesiastical canons spanned papal pronouncements and statements from pivotal ecumenical councils.  Our saint was historically important for those matters alone.

The major historical contribution of St. Dionysius Exiguus was changing the labels of years.  He considered the Incarnation to have been the dividing line in history.  (So far, so good.)  However, he miscalculated the date and year of the birth of Jesus as December 25, 753 A.U.C., which he renamed December 25, 1 Before Christ.  Therefore 754 A.U.C. retroactively became Anno Domini (“In the Year of Our Lord”) 1.  (Contrary to chronologies in many sources, there was no year 0, according to St. Dionysius Exiguus.)  This calculation, which he made in 1278 A.U.C./525 C.E., was in error.  Herod the Great, who, according to the Gospel of Matthew, ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, died in 749 A.U.C. (4 B.C./B.C.E)., therefore the birth of Jesus probably occurred in 747 A.U.C. (6 B.C./B.C.E.).

Some people have accused me of the alleged offense of political correctness or of being an atheist or agnostic when they have noticed my use of B.C.E. and C.E.  They have misunderstood me.  Certain ones have also had political and/or theological axes to grind, so to speak.

I am a practicing Christian.  I am also a historian.  I refuse to state that the birth of Jesus occurred “Before Christ”–not by a week (as St. Dionysius Exiguus intended) and certainly not by six years.   This is a matter of avoiding inaccuracy in the timing of a major event.  That is the sole reason I use “Before the Common Era” (B.C.E.) in lieu of “Before Christ” (B.C.) and “Common Era” (C.E.) in lieu of Anno Domini (A.D.).  “Common to what?” is a question one might ask legitimately.  But at least I am not placing the birth of Jesus “Before Christ.”

Anyone who criticizes me for this or wishes to do so needs to get a life.

The date of December 25 has much to do with theology.  Historians know about various festivals of sun gods set on and shortly before that day, about the time of the Winter Solstice, in the Roman period.  December 25 is also nine months to the day after March 25, a traditional date of the creation of the world and the Feast of the Annunciation (the conception of Jesus.)  I hold that Jesus would have been the incarnate form of the Second Person of the Trinity regardless of the date and manner of the conception and the length of the pregnancy.  We are in the purview of theology, not history, in this matter.

The new labeling system for years spread slowly throughout Europe.  The Synod of Whitby (664), in England, adopted it.  Some parts of Europe held onto the old system into what we now call the 800s C.E.

We know little about the life of St. Dionysius Exiguus, not even the year he died; sources disagree.  We know enough, however.

The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church canonized our saint on July 8, 2008.  It established his feast day as September 1, the first day of the church year in Eastern Orthodoxy.

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I wrote both the text above and the proper below, and selected the passages of scripture.

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Loving God, who stands outside time as we experience it,

we thank you for your servant Saint Dionysius Exiguus,

who grasped the importance of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth.

May we likewise revere you and make Christ central to our spiritual lives, to your glory.

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

Isaiah 43:14-21

Psalm 148

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 2:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Feast of St. Equitius of Valeria (August 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Equitius of Valeria

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT EQUITIUS OF VALERIA (BETWEEN 480 AND 490-CIRCA 570)

Benedictine Abbot and Founder of Monasteries

St. Equitius of Valeria was a protégé of St. Benedict of Nursia (circa 480-circa 550).

St. Equitius, born in the area of Valria Suburbicarla (now L’Aquila-Rieti-Tivoli, near Abruzzi, Italy) between 480 and 490, was a Benedictine monk and a famous preacher.  He founded many monasteries on the Italian peninsula and served as the Abbot of San Lorenzo di Pizzoli, Valeria Suburbicarla.  He died there circa 570.

Sts. Benedict and Equitius were crucial to Western civilization.  Monasticism preserved knowledge and provided social services.  Monasteries were also orphanages, homes for abandoned children, hospitals, and centers of learning, as well as hubs for missionary activity.  The indirect legacy of St. Benedict and Equitius has long been staggering.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, by whose grace your servant Saint Equitius of Valeria,

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

Grant that we also may 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 forever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47

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 St. John I (May 18)   1 comment

Above:  St. John I

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN I (DIED MAY 18, 526)

Bishop of Rome

St. John I had a difficult pontificate.  Our saint had been a deacon and a supporter of Antipope Lawrence (in opposition 498-499 and 501-506), but had transferred his loyalty to Pope St. Symmachus (in office 498-506) in 506.  St. John I was a senior, elderly, and infirm deacon on August 13, 523, when he became the placeholder pontiff.  The native of Populonia, Tuscany, had to contend with international politics and the Arian heresy during his brief pontificate.

In one corner, so to speak, was the Roman Emperor Justin I (reigned 518-527), based in Constantinople.  He, an opponent of Arianism, the heresy that the Second Person of the Trinity is a created being, was forcing Arians to recant.  Justin I had also seized Arian churches and excluded Arians from public offices.  The Roman Emperor also wanted to retake Italy, lost to the Roman Empire the previous century.

Above:  The Kingdom of the Ostrogoths and the Roman Empire in 526 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

In the other corner was Theodoric the Great (reigned 475-526), the King of the Ostrogoths, and therefore of Italy.  Theodoric, an Arian, forced St. John I to lead a delegation consisting of bishops and senators to Constantinople, to demand that Justin I reverse his anti-Arian policies.  The Pope did refuse, however, to request that the Emperor permit Arians required to convert to Chalcedonian Christianity to revert.  St. John I led the delegation out of fear of what Theodoric would do if he refused to go.  The Supreme Pontiff had good reasons to be afraid, for he recalled the fate of his friend Boethius (St. Severinus Boethius, lived circa 480-524; feast day – October 23), statesman and philosopher.  Theodoric had ordered the execution of Boethius for allegedly treasonous correspondence with Justin I.  The Papal delegation arrived at Constantinople with great fanfare on April 19, 526, shortly before Easter.  Justin agreed to Theodoric’s demands except the right of former Arians to revert.

Theodoric was a violent and suspicious man who thought that the Pope and the Roman Emperor had conspired against him.  St. John I, back at Ravenna, Italy, Theodoric’s capital city, learned firsthand of the monarch’s wrath.  The Ostrogothic king imprisoned the Pope, who died of thirst and starvation on May 18, 526.

The Pontiff’s burial at Rome occurred nine days later.

Above:  Lombard Italy and the Roman Empire, 600 C.E.

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

The Roman Emperor, under Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565), conquered Italy in 535-554.  Taking proved easier than keeping, however.  Within a few decades the Lombard invasion took its toll.  The empire controlled portions of Italy until 1071.

The Arian heresy has continued, unfortunately.

St. John I was a pious man who did the best he could in the interests of the common good, at great risk to himself.  He was, for all intents and purposes, a martyr.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Saint John I

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our

witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him 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), page 714

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Feast of St. Vitalis of Gaza (April 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Vitalis of Gaza

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT VITALIS OF GAZA (DIED CIRCA 625)

Monk, Hermit, and Martyr

Alternative feast day = January 11

April 22 is the feast day of St. Vitalis of Gaza in the Eastern Orthodox churches.  In the Roman Catholic Church his feast day is January 11.  St. Vitalis is the patron saint of day-laborers and prostitutes.  The story of the final years of his life explains why.

Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.

–St. Vitalis of Gaza

In the sixtieth year of his life St. Vitalis left his monastery in Gaza for Alexandria, Egypt.  There he ministered to prostitutes, at the risk of his reputation and his life.  He worked as a day-laborer and, most nights, hired a prostitute–so she would not sin sexually that night.  He ministered to those prostitutes who listened to him, prayed with them, and led many of them out of that life.  Pimps did not approve of this.  Circa 625 one pimp hit St. Vitalis over the head then stabbed him.  Our saint returned to his hut, where he began to pray then died.  Many former prostitutes honored him.

In the Gospels our Lord and Savior came under scrutiny for socializing with notorious sinners, including prostitutes.  The sick, he said, were the ones who needed to visit a doctor.  St. Vitalis followed the example of Jesus in Alexandria.  Because he died for his faith, St. Vitalis was a martyr.

The challenge of the life of St. Vitalis of Gaza and the teaching of Jesus germane to this post is to point out the extent to which we shun those to whom God sends us as agents of grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 10:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALEN POSTEL, FOUNDER OF THE POOR DAUGHTERS OF MERCY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ALFRED TAYLOR RYGH, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN MOORE WALKER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of St. Vitalis of Gaza,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross, and give us courage

to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

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

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

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

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Feast of Sts. Sylvia of Rome, Emiliana of Rome, Trasilla, and Gregory the Great (March 12)   5 comments

st-gregory-the-great

Above:  St. Gregory the Great

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SYLVIA OF ROME (CIRCA 515-CIRCA 592)

Ascetic

Also known as Saint Silvia of Rome

Her feast transferred from November 3

mother of

SAINT GREGORY I “THE GREAT” (CIRCA 540-MARCH 12, 604)

Bishop of Rome

His feast day = March 12

Alternative feast day = September 3

nephew of

SAINT EMILIANA OF ROME

Ascetic

Her feast transferred from September 3

sister of

SAINT TRASILLA 

Ascetic

Her feast transferred from December 24

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Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” was a pious man and a major saint whose vocation overlapped with difficult times in Italy.  His piety, which served him and many others well, grew out of his family.

His great-grandfather (through his father’s side of the family tree) was Pope St. Felix II (sometimes listed as St. Felix III), who reigned from 483 to 492.  St. Felix had to contend with the monophysite heresy (that Jesus had only a divine nature), intertwined with the politics of the (Eastern) Roman Empire shortly after the gradual demise of the Western Roman Empire, complete in 476.  According to J. N. D. Kelly, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986), St. Felix was intransient, harsh, and authoritarian (page 47).

565

Above:  The Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 565

Image Source = Florida Center for Educational Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida

Image used in accordance with licensing rules at the website of FCIT, which requests that I include this link

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St. Gregory I’s father was Gordianus, a Roman senator.  (Emperor Justinian I “the Great” had presided over the temporary reconquest of portions of the former Western Roman Empire.)  St. Gregory I’s mother was St. Sylvia of Rome (circa 515-circa 592).  The family resided in a mansion in Rome.  Then household included the future Pope’s aunts–sisters of Gordianus–St. Trasilla, and St. Emiliana of Rome at least.  According to some sources, there was a third sister, Gordiana.  The holy sisters/aunts had devoted their lives to God and chosen to live as ascetics in their brother’s household.  St. Gregory I also had a brother, whose name has not survived.  St. Sylvia, as a widow, joined her sisters-in-law in the ascetic life at the estate.

St. Gregory I, who served as the Prefect of Rome in 573 and 574, sold his property, donated the proceeds to the poor, lived ascetically, and became a monk at the estate in 574.  He also founded seven monasteries.  Pope Pelagius II removed St. Gregory I from the monastery in 578 and ordained him to the diaconate.  The following year the Supreme Pontiff dispatched him to Constantinople, the imperial capital, to request military aid in defending against incursions of the Lombards, who were building a kingdom in Italy.  Emperor Tiberius II (reigned 574-582) offered little help in defending his own territory in Italy, for he had other borders to defend too.  He recommended that the Italians seek help from the Franks and bribe the Lombards.  Our saint knew that he could not expect much help from Constantinople in the present time and in the future.  He returned to Rome and his monastery/estate in 585.  There he served as abbot while functioning as an advisor to Pope Pelagius II.

Pope Pelagius II died on February 7, 590.  Much to his chagrin St. Gregory I won election–unanimously, too–to the papal office.  The deacon would have preferred to continue as an abbot.  Despite all his attempts to evade the papacy, St. Gregory I became the Bishop of Rome on September 3, 590.  The 50-year-old saint, who was not in the best of health for much of the ensuing nearly 14 years, tended to his duties.  He, for example, enforced the celibacy of priests, established new rules for electing bishops, upheld papal supremacy, encouraged the veneration of authentic relics, established a school for singers, resisted Donatism in northern Africa, and wrote sermons and biblical commentaries.  Also, in 596, he sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and his retinue to England.  St. Gregory also found himself forced to perform civil functions, due to the breakdown of government and the negligence of imperial officials.  He, for example, negotiated treaties, appointed generals, paid soldiers, and coordinated the feeding of starving masses in war zones.  He was the de facto ruler of much of Italy.  St. Gregory I, unable to walk at the end of his life, died on March 12, 604, during a siege of Rome.  His canonization was immediate and a matter of public acclamation.

What might St. Gregory I have been without the influence of his family?  And, had he not accepted his responsibilities, how might the lives of many others been worse?  Perhaps another person would have stepped forward and acted at least as capably.  Perhaps not.

Sometimes one’s duty includes dealing with a bad situation and improving it, without making it good.  That description certainly applies to the circumstances with which St. Gregory I had to contend.  May we, like this great saint, rise to the occasion whenever presents itself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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Almighty and merciful God, you raised up Gregory the Great to be a servant of the servants of God,

and inspired him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people:

Preserve in your Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught,

that your people, being fruitful in every good work,

may receive the crown of glory that never fades away;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

1 Chronicles 25:1a, 6-8

Psalm 57:6-11

Colossians 1:28-2:3

Mark 10:42-45

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 269

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