Archive for the ‘Saints of 600-699’ Category

Feast of St. Birinus of Dorchester (September 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  England in 700

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BIRINUS OF DORCHESTER (600-DECEMBER 3, 650)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Dorchester, and the “Apostle of Wessex”

Roman Catholic Feast Day = December 3

Church of England Feast Day = September 4

St. Birinus of Dorchester comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.    September 4, our saint’s feast day in The Church of England, commemorates the translation of his relics to Winchester, circa 690.

St. Birinus was a Frankish saint born in 600.  He, ordained in Rome, served as the Bishop of Genoa.  Pope Honorius I (reigned October 27, 625-October 12, 638) took great interest in the Roman Catholic (Gregorian) mission to England.  That mission, dating to 597, was facing challenges.  Pope Honorius I reinforced that mission with more missionaries.  He sent St. Birinius to England in 634.

St. Birinus met with much success in England.  Arriving in Wessex, our saint met King Cynegils of Wessex.  The King of Wessex had a diplomatic difficulty.  His “neighbor,” King St. Oswald of Northumbria (reigned 634-641/642), refused to enter into an alliance (sealed by marriage to Kyneburga, Cynegils’s daughter) unless the King of Wessex converted to Christianity.  St. Birinus baptized King Cynegils in the Thames River, with King St. Oswald functioning as the godfather.  King Cynegils gave our saint Dorchester as a see city.  St. Birinus was such a successful evangelist that he became known as the “Apostle of Wessex.”  He also founded many churches and had a devotion to the Eucharist.

St. Birinus, aged about 50 years, died in Dorchester on December 3, 650.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO, PROPHET OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF ELLEN GATES STARR, U.S. EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEFA SANCHO DE GUERRA, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL RODIGAST, GERMAN LUTHERAN ACADEMIC AND HYMN WRITER

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God of grace and might, we praise you for your servant Saint Birinus of Dorchester,

to whom you gave gifts to make the good news known in Wessex.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of your kingdom,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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This is post #2200 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of St. Honorius of Canterbury (September 30)   Leave a comment

Above:   England Circa 600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HONORIUS OF CANTERBURY (DIED SEPTEMBER 30, 653)

Archbishop of Canterbury

Also known as Saint Honoratus of Canterbury

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

St. Honorius, a Roman by birth, was one of the members of the Gregorian mission (dispatched by Pope St. Gregory I “the Great” and led by St. Augustine of Canterbury).  The first wave of that mission arrived in 597.  They found the Celtic Church, centuries old, present.  The Celtic Church had bishops, monasteries, and a different method for calculating the date of Easter.  At the Synod of Whitby (664), after the death of our saint, the Celtic Church folded into the Roman Catholic Church.

Sources disagree about whether St. Honorius arrived with the first wave (597) or the second wave (601) of missionaries in the Gregorian Mission.

After decades of laboring faithfully for God in England, St. Honorius became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 627.  St. Paulinus of York (d. 644), the Archbishop of York, consecrated him.  St. Honorius understood that English people were more amenable to preaching by other English people than by foreigners.  Therefore, he raised up English priests and bishops.  Our saint, for example, consecrated St. Ithamar, the first Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Rochester, in 644.  Yet St. Honorius harbored no antipathy for the Celtic Church.  In fact, he admired St. Aidan of Lindisfarne (circa 590-651), a great and prominent missionary bishop of the Celtic Church.

St. Honorius died on September 30, 653.  He was the last surviving member of the Gregorian Mission.  The next Archbishop of Canterbury was St. Deusdedit of Canterbury (d. 664), an Anglo-Saxon.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 19, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF NAZARETH, HUSBAND OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Saint Honorius of Canterbury,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of 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 Theodore I (May 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  Pope Theodore I

Image in the Public Domain

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THEODORE I (DIED MAY 14, 649)

Bishop of Rome

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is one of my hobbies.  It is an extension of my Great Man and Woman understanding of history, as well as a long-running course in ecclesiastical history.  Many of the saints I have listed here come with “Venerable,” “Blessed,” or “Saint” formally preceding their names.  Others, however, do not, regardless of whether an official calendar (usually Anglican or Lutheran) lists them.  Many saints I have listed on my Ecumenical Calendar are people I insist belong on formal calendars, although they are absent from any such calendar.

Consider Pope Theodore I, for example, O reader.

The heresy of Monothelitism (that Christ had only one will–divine) was a major controversy in the Byzantine Empire.  Church and state were one in the Byzantine Empire; no line separated theological dispute from imperial policy.  Emperor Heraclius (reigned 610-641) issued the Ecthesis in 638.  This document affirmed Monothelitism.  Pope Severinus (May 28, 640-August 2, 640) and his immediate successor, John IV (December 24, 640-October 12, 642), opposed the heresy and the Ecthesis.  Shortly prior to his death in 641, Heraclius disavowed Monothelitism.  Yet the Ecthesis remained in effect as the reign of Constans II (641-668) began.

Above:  600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

The Byzantine Empire was unstable.  The recent war with the Persians had resulted in a pyrrhic victory; the Byzantine Empire was almost bankrupt.  Two emperors reigned Between the death of Heraclius and the accession of Constans II.  Heraclius had designated his two sons, Constantine III and Heraklonas, as his successors.  Constantine III was dying of tuberculosis when he began his reign, which lasted for three months.  Heraklonas was fifteen years old and under the political domination of his mother, Martina.  After six months, General Valentine and a mob deposed Heraklonas and Martina.  Valentine installed Constans II, the eleven-year-old son of Constantine III, as the next emperor.  Valentine married his daughter to the the young emperor and ruled as the regent for two years.  Then a mob lynched the regent.  Constans II began to rule at the tender age of thirteen years.  Meanwhile, Arab conquests and internal rebellions continued.

Above:  750 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

Theodore I was the next Bishop of Rome.  He, born in Jerusalem, was a Greek, a son of a bishop, and a refugee from Arab invasions.  Theodore I was also an associate of St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (died circa 638), the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and an opponent of monothelitism.  St. Maximus the Confessor (circa 580-662), another opponent of Monothelitism, was another one of Theodore I’s associates.  Theodore I became the Pope on November 24, 642.

Almost immediately upon assuming office, Theodore I addressed the Monothelite heresy.  He wrote Constans II and Paul II, the Patriarch of Constantinople (reigned 641-643), to inquire why the Ecthesis remained in effect.  The new pope also refused to recognize Paul II as the legitimate Patriarch of Constantinople until after a synod at which the Holy See had a representative deposed the previous Patriarch, Pyrrhus I (reigned 638-641).  Furthermore, Theodore I demanded that Paul II repudiate Monothelitism and remove all publicly-posted copies of the Ecthesis.

Theodore I recognized Pyrrhus I as the rightful Patriarch of Constantinople in 645.  Pyrrhus I had renounced Monothelitism after a public debate with St. Maximus the Confessor that year.  The Pope also excommunicated Paul II, who had affirmed Monothelitism and the Ecthesis.  Then Pyrrhus I made peace with Constans II and Paul II by reaffirming Monothelitism.

Constans II understood that the Ecthesis of his grandfather had become a threat to imperial stability.  Therefore, he issued the Typos, a gag order regarding Monothelitism, in 648.  Theodore I on May 14, 649, before he could formulate a response.

One may assume safely, however, that Theodore I would have refused to obey the Typos.

The next Bishop of Rome was St. Martin I (died in 655), whom Constans II martyred for refusing to be quiet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX, MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Theodore I of Rome.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Hunna of Alsace (April 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hunna of Alsace

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE (DIED IN 679)

“The Holy Washerwoman”

St. Hunna of Alsace, from nobility, had nobility of character.

Our saint led a holy life.  She, a daughter of a Duke of Alsace, married Huno of Hummaweyer, a nobleman.  The couple had one son, named Deodatus, after the saint who baptized him.  (St. Deodatus of Nevers was the Bishop of Nevers from 655 to 664.  After he resigned his see, St. Deodatus became a hermit and devoted his life to prayer.)  Deodatus, son of Huno and St. Hunna, became a monk.  (Sources indicate that this Deodatus also became a canonized saint.  I wonder, however, if traditions about the two Deodatuses have become confused.  I can find no information about when the feast day of Deodatus, the son, may be.)  St. Hunna gave land to monasteries and financed the construction of churches.  She also became deeply involved in helping the poor.  She even volunteered to wash their laundry.

St. Hunna died in Hunawir, Alsace, in 679.

Pope Leo X canonized her in 1520.

Otherwise mundane tasks can become acts of prayer when one performs them in the proper spiritual frame of mind.  Helping the less fortunate with practical matters, including laundry, qualifies.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 27, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON AND FOUNDER OF LITTLE GIDDING; GEORGE HERBERT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND METAPHYSICAL POET; AND ALL SAINTLY PARISH PRIESTS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE LINE AND ROGER FILCOCK, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1601

THE FEAST OF SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PENITENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS DE LEON, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT RAPHAEL OF BROOKLYN, SYRIAN-AMERICAN RUSSIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP OF BROOKLYN

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Sts. Martin I and Maximus the Confessor (April 13)   2 comments

Above:  Agony in the Garden, by El Greco

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARTIN I (DIED SEPTEMBER 16, 655)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 655

Alternative feast days = April 14 and November 12

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SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR (CIRCA 580-AUGUST 13, 662)

Monk, Abbot, and Martyr, 662

His feast transferred from January 21 and August 13

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.

The separation of church and state would have spared the lives of St. Martin I and St. Maximus the Confessor.

The heresy du jour was monothelitism, which taught that Jesus had only one will–divine.  Emperor Constans II (reigned 641-668), seeking to preserve the Roman (Byzantine) Empire against rising Arab/Islamic threats, did not content himself with sending military personnel to fight invaders.  In 648, he issued a decree banning the discussion of monothelitism.  Theology was political.

Think about monothelitism this way, O reader:  Consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Did he act as if he had only a divine will?

St. Martin I, a native of Todi, Tuscany, had been a deacon and a papal legate in Constantinople.  After Pope Theodore I (in office November 24, 642-May 14, 649) died, our saint won election to succeed him.

The newly-minted pope never received imperial approval.  Constans II always treated him an errant deacon.  St. Martin I immediately convened the Lateran synod of 649, in defiance of the imperial gag order, to condemn monothelitism as a heresy.  Then St. Martin I excommunicated Bishop Paul of Thessalonica for rejecting the decision of the Lateran synod.  The pope also sent a copy of the Lateran synod’s decision to Constans II and invited him to denounce monothelism.

St. Maximus the Confessor attended the Lateran synod of 649.  He, born circa 580, had been a public servant before entering monastic life at Phillippicus, across from Constantinople, in Asia Minor.  He had risen to the rank of abbot.  The Persian conquest of Anatolia had forced St. Maximus to flee to Carthage, where he studied under St. Sophronius (died circa 638), later the Patriarch of Jerusalem.  St. Maximus traveled widely.  He also wrote and spoke at length about theology and spirituality.  Monothelitism became one of his targets.

Constans II chose to order the arrest of St. Martin I, not to denounce monothelitism.  Olympius, the new exarch, carried orders to apprehend the pope then to send him to Constantinople.  The exarch became St. Martin I’s ally instead.  The pope and Olympius rebelled against the emperor; they felt pushed into committing insurrection.

The freedom of Sts. Martin I and Maximus the Confessor ended in the summer of 653.  Imperial forces arrested them in Rome on June 17.  Both men spent the rest of their lives as prisoners.

St. Martin I, accused of treason, received a death sentence in December 653.  Patriarch Paul II of Constantinople, near death, persuaded Constans II to reduce the sentence to exile.  St. Martin I’s health had been failing prior to his arrest.  It had deteriorated further in prison.  The combination of starvation and the cold weather in Crimea caused his death on September 16, 655.

St. Eugene I (in office August 10, 654-June 2, 657; feast day = June 2) was a conciliatory man who, for reasons I do not need to explain, did not want to alienate Constans II.  The new pope was ready to accept a vague statement that implied that Jesus had three wills, all for the purpose of conciliation.  On Pentecost 655, at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, outraged clergy and lay people prevented St. Eugene I from completing the Mass until he had promised to reject the compromise.  This angered Constans II, who threatened to treat St. Eugene I the same way he had treated St. Martin I.  However, border conflicts kept the emperor too busy to act on that threat before St. Eugene I died of natural causes.

The next pope, St. Vitalian (in office July 30, 657-January 27, 672), eventually found a diplomatic and political opening to insist that Jesus had only two wills and to get away with doing so.

St. Maximus spent 653-658 in prison and 658-662 in exile.  He insisted on his innocence on the charge of treason (insurrection) at his three trials (654, 658, and 662).  Our saint insisted that he played no part in the Islamic conquest of northern Africa.  He died in what is now Georgia in 662.  Constans II had ordered his tongue cut out and his right hand amputated so that the troublesome monk could no longer speak and write.

The situation improved in 668.  That year, after the murder of Constans II in Sicily, his son succeeded him as Constantine IV (reigned 668-685).  The new emperor permitted discussion of monothelitism.  The Third Council of Constantinople (681) declared monothelitism a heresy and proclaimed that Jesus had two wills.

National or imperial security does not justify treating people so badly over theological differences. One may rebut, however, that when St. Martin I came to trial, the formal charge was treason (insurrection), not any matter concerning doctrine.  I reply that Constans II had ordered the pope’s arrest before St. Martin I felt pushed into committing insurrection.  I insist that the emperor’s order to arrest the pope pushed St. Martin I into insurrection.  I accuse Constans II of having made the situation worse by issuing then trying to enforce the gag order.

Besides, insurrection against some potentates has been justifiable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER, SAINT NONNA, AND THEIR CHILDREN:  SAINTS GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER, CAESARIUS OF NAZIANZUS, AND GORGONIA OF NAZIANZUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FELIX VARELA, CUBAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND PATRIOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY TO THE SHOSHONE AND ARAPAHOE

THE FEAST OF KARL FRIEDRICH LOCHNER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THEODOR FLIEDNER, RENEWER OF THE FEMALE DIACONATE; AND ELIZABETH FEDDE, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN DEACONESS

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Martin I of Rome and Saint Maximus the Confessor

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/Ecclesiaticus 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 74

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Feast of St. John the Almsgiver (January 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint John the Almoner, by Titian

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER (CIRCA 550-616/620)

Patriarch of Alexandria

Also known as Saint John the Almoner, Saint John the Merciful, and Saint John V of Alexandria

Eastern Orthodox feast day = November 12

St. John the Almsgiver served God faithfully, especially as God was present in the poor of Alexandria, Egypt.

St. John, from Roman imperial nobility, initially pursued a secular life.  His father was Epiphanus, governor of Cyprus.  Our saint, born in Amathus, Cyprus, circa 550, married and a had a family.  After St. John’s wife and children died, he entered religious life.

St. John became the Patriarch of Alexandria, succeeding Theodore I, in 610.  Our saint gave money to needy people, whom he called his

lords and masters.

He also opposed simony, as well as corruption in secular life.  For example, St. John, aware of the habitual and frequent exploitation of the poor, lobbied for uniform weights and measures.  The Patriarch also advocated for improved religious education as a means of counteracting heresies. St. John also increased the number of churches in Alexandria from seven to seventy.

After the Persian occupation of Alexandria began, St. John went into exile on Cyprus.  He died there no earlier than 616 and no later than 620.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Saint John the Almsgiver,

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

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

that they may minister in your household as true servants 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 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 St. Hilda of Whitby (November 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hilda of Whitby

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY (614-680)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Roman Catholic and New Zealand Anglican feast day = November 17

Episcopal feast day = November 18

Church of England feast day = November 19

St. Hilda of Whitby, born in Northumbria, England, in 614, crossed paths with a number of other canonized saints.  Her sister, St. Hereswitha (d. 690), was a princess.  Our saint’s grand-uncle was St. Edwin (reigned 616-633), the first Christian King of Northumbria.  Her grand aunt was St. Ethelburga, Queen of Northumbria.  Bishop St. Paulinus of York (584-644) baptized St. Hilda at age 13, in 627.  Our saint, a single lay woman until the age of 33 years, became a Benedictine nun at Challes, France.  Later, she became the abbess of Hartepool.  Then, in 657, she became the founding abbess of Whitby.  St. Caedmon (d. circa 670), a foundational English poet, was one of her monks and a recipient of her mentoring.  St. Hilda was also the abbess to future bishops St. Wilfrid of York (d. circa 744) and St. John of Beverley (d. 721).

St. Hilda was a reconciling figure.  She had made sure that her monastic houses followed the Celtic liturgy.  The Synod of Whitby (664), at which the Roman Catholic Church took over the Celtic Church, met at her abbey at Whitby.  After that synod, St. Hilda followed the Latin Rite instead.

St. Hilda died in 680.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength

to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household,

and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church:

Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women,

that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 6:20-23

Psalm 113

Ephesians 4:1-6

Matthew 19:27-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 687

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Feast of Sts. Magnus and Agricola of Avignon (August 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Gaul in 628

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAGNUS OF AVIGNON (DIED IN 660)

father of

SAINT AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON (CIRCA 625-CIRCA 700)

His feast transferred from September 2

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Roman Catholic Bishops of Avignon

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Writing about some saints from antiquity can prove challenging, given the dearth of information available much of the time.  Nevertheless, gathering the proverbial crumbs and analyzing them can be useful.

St. Magnus of Avignon (d. 660) was a husband, a father, and a public official.  During the post-Roman times in Gaul, when members of the Merovingian Dynasty kept drawing lines on maps and fighting each other, chaos was routine.  St. Magnus was the governor of the region of Avignon.  After his wife died, he became a Benedictine monk at Lérins Abbey.  In 646 he began to serve as the Bishop of Avignon.

St. Magnus’s son was St. Agricola of Avignon (circa 625-circa 700).  The 16-year-old St. Agricola entered monastic life at Lérins Abbey.  St. Magnus, toward the end of his episcopate and life, appointed his son, then in his early thirties, the Bishop Coadjutor of Avignon.  When St. Magnus died in 660, St. Agricola became the Bishop of Avignon.  St. Agricola, a holy man, was a famous preacher and a defender of the poor against civil authority figures.  He also oversaw the construction of a church (staffed by monks) and a Benedictine monastery at Avignon.

St. Agricola is the patron saint of the city of Avignon and the Archdiocese of Avignon.

We have more information about St. Agricola than we do about his father–and certainly about his mother.  Yet we might learn about the parents by pondering their son.  If we accept the axiom that the apple does not fall far from the tree as being useful in considering this family, we must also arrive at positive conclusions regarding St. Magnus of Avignon and his wife.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF BERNARD ADAM GRUBE, GERMAN-AMERICAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, COMPOSER, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servants

Saint Magnus of Avignon and Saint Agricola of Avignon

to be bishops and pastors in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors 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 Sts. Flavian and Anatolius of Constantiople, St. Agatho, St. Leo II, and St. Benedict II (July 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT FLAVIAN OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED AUGUST 449)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast transferred from February 17

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SAINT ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 300S-458)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast = July 3

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SAINT AGATHO (DIED JANUARY 10, 681)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT LEO II (DIED JULY 3, 683)

Bishop of Rome

His feast = July 3

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SAINT BENEDICT II (DIED MAY 8, 685)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from May 7

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DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

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INTRODUCTION

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Sometimes the most effective way to tell the story of a saint’s life or a portion thereof is to include other saints.  This generalization applies to St. Anatolius of Constantinople and St. Leo II, who have separate feasts on this day, according to the Roman Catholic calendar.

These five saints lived in times when theological debates were political.  Christological disputes were matters of imperial policy, frequently with negative consequences for those who opposed the Emperor at Constantinople.

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PATRIARCHS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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St. Flavian of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople from 446 to 449, opposed monophysitism, the heresy that Jesus had just one nature–divine.  The Patriarch excommunicated Eutyches, the founder of that heresy.  Eutyches had political allies, though.  He managed to turn Dioscorus, the Bishop of Alexandria, to his side.  Thus Dioscorus presided over the “Robber Council,” which acquitted Eutyches, condemned St. Flavian, and ended with Dioscorus and monks physically abusing St. Flavian, binding him in chains, and sending him into exile.  St. Flavian died in August 449.

St. Anatolius of Constantinople presided over the posthumous exoneration of St. Flavian.  St. Anatolius, born in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 300s, was a man who lived simply and aided the poor.  He also stood on the side of Christological orthodoxy.  In 431 he and his mentor, St. Cyril of Alexandria, who had ordained him to the diaconate, attended the Council of Ephesus, which affirmed that Christ had two natures, called St. Mary of Nazareth the Mother of God (not just the Mother of Christ), and therefore condemned the Nestorian heresy.  As the Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458) St. Anatolius attended the Council of Chalcedon (451), convened by Pope St. Leo I “the Great” (in office 440-461), which refuted the monophysite heresy.  That council also canonized St. Flavian of Constantinople.  St. Anatolius, who also composed liturgical hymns, experienced much political difficulty due to his orthodoxy.  He might even have been a martyr at the hands of heretics.

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BISHOPS OF ROME

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The monothysite heresy remained an issue into the seventh century.  Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV (reigned 668-685) had used the monothelitist heresy (that Jesus had just one will–divine) to maintain peace with the monophysites in his realm.  He decided to abandon that strategy.

Pope Donus (in office November 2, 676-April 11, 678) died.  His successor was St. Agatho, in office from June 27, 678, to January 10, 681.  St. Agatho, once a monk, was a Sicilian who knew Latin and Greek well.  In 678 St. Agatho received a letter (addressed to Donus) proposing a conference to discuss how many wills Jesus had and whether the churches should reunite.  The Pope agreed to the conference, but held synods in the West prior to the Third Council Constantinople (680-681).  The papal delegation carried a condemnation of monothelitism signed by 150 bishops, as well as a document affirming Rome as the custodian of the Christian faith.  The Third Council of Constantinople, with Constantine IV presiding, affirmed that Jesus had two wills and anathematized monothelitist leaders.

St. Agatho, a kind and cheerful man, died on January 10, 681, while the council was in progress.  His successor was St. Leo II, elected in January 681 yet not installed until August 17, 682, due to imperial politics.  Emperor Constantine IV delayed the ratification of St. Leo II’s election due to the process of ratifying the decrees of the council.  St. Leo II, during his brief papacy, ratified the decrees of the council and ordered their translation from Greek into Latin.  He also readmitted repentant former monothelitists to the Church.

St. Leo II, also a Sicilian, like his predecessor, was a cultured and eloquent man with a fine singing voice.  He, a patron of the poor, asserted papal control over the bishops of Ravenna, autonomous since 666.  St. Leo II died on July 3, 683, after less than a year as the Pope.

St. Benedict II was a gentle and humble man who cared for the poor also.  He, elected Pope in July 683, did not enter into that office until June 26, 684, due to Constantine IV delaying the ratification of the election.  St. Benedict II, a Roman, not a Sicilian, secured an agreement by which the Exarch of Ravenna ratified papal elections, thereby preventing such long delays between papal elections and installations.  The Pope died on May 8, 685, after less than a year in office.

The spirit of cooperation with Constantinople broke down during the reign of Emperor Justinian II (reigned 685-695, 705-711).

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CONCLUSION

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The challenges faithful Christians face vary, depending on who, when, and where one is.  One can study the lives of one’s ancient predecessors in the faith, ponder the challenges they confronted, and take comfort in the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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Almighty God, you have raise up faithful bishops of your church, including

Saint Flavian of Constantinople,

Saint Anatolius of Constantinople,

Saint Agatho,

Saint Leo II, and

Saint Benedict II,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their example and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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