Archive for the ‘Saints of 800-849’ Category

Feast of St. Kassiani the Hymnographer (September 7)   2 comments

Above: Icon of St. Kassiani the Hymnographer

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT KASSIANI THE HYMNOGRAPHER (805/810-865)

Byzantine Abbess, Poet, Composer, Hymn Writer, and Defender of Icons

Also known as Saint Kassia and Saint Cassia

St. Kassiani the Hymnographer comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and The Episcopal Church.  As of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, St. Kassiani’s feast graces the calendar of The Episcopal Church.

An inescapable fact influences this, my Ecumenical Calendar:  most saints on it come from patriarchal societies.  This means that I have more sources for male saints than for female ones.  And I cannot write based on sources that do not exist.  I am sufficiently liberal to affirm the legal and social equality of men and women.  I also affirm that, as a cliché tells me,

Variety is the spice of life.

Ergo, I welcome the opportunity to diversify this Ecumenical Calendar–in this case, regarding chromosomes.

The Byzantine Empire was patriarchal.  In that context, St. Kassiani was only one of two female authors known by her name.  The other one was Anna Comnenus (1083-1153/1154), a daughter of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (reigned 1081-1118), a sister of Emperor John II Comnenus (reigned 1118-1143), a sister-in-law of Blessed Irene of Hungary (1088-1134), and an aunt of Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (reigned 1143-1180).  Anna, a capable scholar, composed the Alexiad, about her father’s reign.  According to Paul Magdalino, the Alexiad was:

unique not only as a piece of Byzantine women’s literature, but also as an expression of frustrated ambition by a woman who felt that she had been born to imperial power.

–Quoted in Cyril Mango, editor, The Oxford History of Byzantium (2002), 206

St. Kassiani, born in Constantinople, between 805 and 810, came from a wealthy family.  She, according to ancient sources were well-educated, highly intelligent, and beautiful.  Her appearance attracted male attention, but her mind sometimes repelled such attention.  The dowager Empress Euphrosyne orchestrated a bride show–a beauty pageant–for her son, the bachelor Emperor Theophilus (reigned 829-842).  The Emperor selected St. Kassiani to become the Empress.  Then he told her:

Through a woman [came forth] the baser [things],

referring to Eve and the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  St. Kassiani replied:

And through woman [came forth] the better [things],

a reference to St. Mary of Nazareth giving birth to Jesus.  With that, Theophilus chose another woman–Theodora–to be the Empress instead.

St. Kassiani was better off not being the Empress to Emperor Theophilus.  He was an Iconclast.  He was also

an arrogant, theologizing fanatic who promulgated a new edict againt idolaters (832) and pushed persecution to the limit.

–Peter N. Stearns, General Editor, The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth Edition (2001), 187

St. Kassiani had always been an astute person and a bright bulb.  When she was a young girl, her erudition had impressed St. Theodore Studites (759-826), the abbot of Studion Monastery, Constantinople.  He had liked her literary style, too.

St. Kassiani, rejected by the Emperor, turned to what she would have done anyway–enter monastic life.  By 843, our saint had founded and become the abbess of a convent on Xerólophos, the seventh hill of Constantinople.  This convent had a close relationship with the Studion Monastery.  Like the monks of Studion, our saint defended icons against the Iconoclasts.  Emperor Theophilus had her scourged with a lash for this.  Nevertheless, St. Kassiani wrote a short line of poetry, translated into English as:

I hate silence, when it is time to speak.

Empress Theodora, as the regent for her son, Emperor Michael III (reigned 842-867), ended official Byzantine Iconoclasm permanently, in 843.

St. Kassiani eventually moved to the island of Kasos, where she died in 865.

She left a rich legacy.  Hundreds of poems, fifty hymns, and many musical contributions survived.  She became the only woman whose works the Eastern Orthodox liturgy includes.  Twenty-three of her hymns have long graced the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

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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O God of boundless mercy, whose handmaiden Kassiani brought forth poetry and song:

Inspire in your church a new song,

that following her most excellent example,

we may boldly proclaim the truth of your Word,

even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Deliverer.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 44:1-15

Psalm 150

Luke 24:44-53

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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Feast of Sts. Adelard of Corbie and Paschasius Radbertus (April 26)   2 comments

Above:  Europe in 814

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE (CIRCA 752-JANUARY 2, 827)

Frankish Roman Catholic Monk and Abbot

Also known as Saint Adalard of Corbie, Saint Adalhard of Corbie, and Saint Adelhard of Corbie

His feast transferred from January 2

mentor of

SAINT PASCHASIUS RADBERTUS (CIRCA 790-CIRCA 860)

Frankish Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Theologian

His feast = April 26

One of my critiques of ecclesiastical saints is that they frequently make understanding a particular saint’s life unduly difficult by not combining commemorations.  I understand that some choppiness is a virtue in ecclesiastical calendars of saints.  Consider these two saints, however, O reader.  Merging the Feast of St. Paschasius Radbertus with that of his mentor, St. Adelard of Corbie, improves comprehension of the former and the latter.  Observing two saints together is rarely excessive.

These two men were Frankish saints.  Monarchs of the Carolingian Dynasty influenced their lives greatly and defined their times and political realities.

St. Adelard of Corbie, born circa 752, came from a prominent family.  His grandfather was Charles Martel (circa 688-741) and his uncle was King Pepin III “the Short” (714-768; reigned 751-768).  Our saint grew up in the royal court in Aachen, mostly during the reign of Charles I/Charlemagne, King of the Franks (768-814) and Holy Roman Emperor (800-814).  St. Adelard left the royal court in 773, to become a Benedictine monk at Corbie Abbey in Picardy.  He, a student of St. Alcuin of York/Tours (circa 730-804), eventually became the Abbot of Corbie.  St. Adelard advised his kinsmen, Charlemagne and Louis the Pious/Fair/Debonair (reigned 813-840), and tutored another kinsman, Bernard (d. 818), nephew of Louis.  Bernard was the King of Italy (810-817) under Charlemagne and Louis.

Imperial politics led to St. Adelard’s brief exile.  Bernard, King of Italy, rebelled against his uncle.  The rebellion failed in 817, and Louis was directly responsible for Bernard’s death the following year.  Louis also sent St. Adelard, allegedly a supporter of the rebellion, into exile in 817.  More likely, St. Adelard was solely guilty to having been Bernard’s tutor.  Our saint found peace during his exile at Hére (now Noirmoutier-en-l’Île); the isolation provided solitude.  Eventually, Louis permitted St. Adelard to return to Corbie Abbey.

St. Paschasius Radbertus, born circa 790, grew up in the Church, literally.  Monks at Soissons raised him, left as a foundling, after nuns found him.  Our saint was an undisciplined youth, despite the best efforts of the monks.  He calmed down eventually, though.  By 822, St. Adelard had returned to Corbie Abbey.  That year, St. Paschasius Radbertus became a monk at Corbie Abbey.  Our two saints and Wala, who had become the Abbot of Corbie after St. Adelard had gone into exile, founded New Corvey Abbey in Saxony in 822.  St. Adelard taught and mentored St. Paschasius Radbertus for years.

St. Adelard died at Corbie Abbey on January 2, 827.  Pope John XIX canonized him in 1026.

St. Paschasius Radbertus made his mark on Corbie Abbey.  He transformed the abbey school into one of the best and most famous educational institutions in Europe.  Our saint also served as the novice master.  He, a deacon, succeeded to the abbotcy against his will in 844.  Seven years later, as part of the resolution of a dispute, our saint resigned.  He had already become a respected and famous peacemaker, traveling across Europe and resolving political and religious disputes.

While at Corbie Abbey, St. Paschasius Radbertus taught and mentored another eventually canonized saint, St. Ansgar/Anskar (801-865), Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen.

The former abbot happily became a hermit at St. Riquiet Monastery, Cenula.  He wrote then wrote then wrote some more.  St. Paschasius Radbertus wrote historical, theological, and philosophical works.  He wrote commentaries on Matthew, Lamentations, and Psalm 44.  Our saint composed a biography of St. Adelard of Corbie.  St. Paschasius Radbertus also wrote in defense of the perpetual virginity of St. Mary of Nazareth.

Most importantly, St. Paschasius Radbertus wrote The Body and Blood of Christ (831), about Transubstantiation.  He wrote it for a student, Placidus Varinus, Abbot of New Corvey, and for the monks there.  This text sparked a controversy that started in 844 and lasted for centuries.  Our saint stood in line with the Church Fathers regarding Transubstantiation; he was orthodox.  However, he chose some words poorly, hence the controversy.  Pope Sylvester II (circa 945-1003; in office 999-1003) defended St. Paschasius Radbertus.  The controversy eventually resulted in a precise definition of Transubstantiation.

St. Paschasius Radbertus died circa 860.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 12, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TRASILLA AND EMILIANA; THEIR SISTER-IN-LAW, SAINT SYLVIA OF ROME; AND HER SON, SAINT GREGORY I “THE GREAT,” BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF JOHN H. CALDWELL, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILLIAN OF TREVESTE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 295

THE FEAST OF RUTILIO GRANDE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1977

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANES THE CHRONICLER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

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O God, by whose grace your servants

Saints Adelard of Corbie and Paschasius Radbertus,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became a burning and a shining light 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 34:108 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. Paulinus II of Aquileia (January 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Paulinus II of Aquileia

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PAULINUS II OF AQUILEIA (CIRCA 726-JANUARY 11, 802/804)

Roman Catholic Patriarch of Aquileia

Also known as Saint Paulinus of Aquileia

Alternative feast days = January 28, February 9, and March 2

I include “II” in this saint’s name for the sake of accuracy.  The historical record tells of Paulinus I of Aquileia, who served as the first Patriarch of Aquileia from 557 to 571.

St. Paulinus II of Aquileia was a bishop, a scholar, a poet, a missionary, and a defender of theological orthodoxy.  He, born circa 726 in Cividale, when the Lombards ruled that part of the Italian peninsula, received a fine education in pagan and Christian classics.  During the lifetime of St. Paulinus II, the Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, survived in the East.  The dominant power in the West was the Frankish Kingdom/Carolingian Empire, the most famous ruler of which was Charles the Great (Charlemagne, in Latin), who reigned from 768 to 814.  His realm was an antecedent to modern-day nation-states such as France and Germany; his territory ranged from northern Spain into central Europe and into northern Italy.

The patronage of Charlemagne made the career of St. Paulinus II possible.  St. Paulinus II, a priest, was also a scholar of the Bible, theology, and patristics.  He was the kind of man Charlemagne wanted to hire to participate in the Carolingian Renaissance.  From 776 to 786 St. Paulinus II was the Master of Grammar in the court at Aix-en-Chapelle.  Our saint mentored other key figures of the Carolingian Renaissance.  One of these, St. Alcuin of York (c. 735-804), a friend of our saint, guided the rebirth of education in much of the Carolingian Empire.

The final job title of St. Paulinus II was Patriarch of Aquileia.  Charlemagne secured that position for him in 787, after the previous Patriarch had died.  Aquileia was a village on the Adriatic coast of Italy, but the basilica was there and the patriarchate was prestigious.  St. Paulinus II established his headquarters in Cividale instead.  Our saint was active in arguing against Adoptionism, which originated in Spain in the 700s.  The Adoptionist heresy stated that Jesus was the Son of God only because God had adopted him. (Adoptionism has persisted, unfortunately.  I have heard someone affirm it.)  St. Paulinus II also helped Charlemagne’s son, Pepin, King of the Lombards (reigned 781-810).  The Patriarch supported Pepin’s military campaign against the Avars, nomads of Eurasian ancestry who fought both the Carolingian and Roman (Byzantine) Empires.  After Pepin’s forces won, St. Paulinus II oversaw the peaceful conversion of the Avars and many Slavs in what has become Slovenia.  St, Paulinus II also represented Charlemagne to Pope Leo III (in office 795-816).

St. Paulinus II died on January 11, 802 or 804.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNADINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [St. Paulinus II and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of St. Swithun (July 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Swithun

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SWITHUN (CIRCA 800-JULY 2, 863)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Winchester

Also known as Saint Swithin

The two feast days of St. Swithun are July 2 and 15.  July 2 is the anniversary of his death.  July 15, his feast in The Church of England, is also the commemoration of the transfer of his relics to Canterbury in 1006 by St. Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury.

More legends than historical facts about St. Swithun exist.  Some of the legends might even be accurate.  But what can state with objective plausibility?

St. Swithun, born in Winchester, Kingdom of Wessex, circa 800, was a humble and influential man.  He was a counselor to King Egbert of Wessex (r. 802-839) and teacher of Egbert’s son, King Ethelwulf (r. 839-858).  In 853 King Ethelwulf appointed St. Swithun the Bishop of Winchester.  Our saint held that post for the rest of his life, until July 2, 863.

St. Swithun remained obscure in death (as he probably would have preferred, given his humility in life) until circa 964.  The cult of St. Swithun started then and kept going until the destruction of the final shrine in 1538.  Portmortem St. Swithun had a reputation as a miracle worker; pilgrims hoped for healing at his shrine.  There were, in fact, successive shrines, each one more elaborate than the previous one.

May we remember St. Swithun as the man he was–a royal advisor and tutor, a bishop, and a man who requested a humble grave, not an elaborate shrine.

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Holy God, in whom the first are last and the last are first:

we praise and thank you for the example you have given us in your faithful servant,

Saint Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, who built a shrine to you in his inner being.

May we likewise exalt Christ in our public and private lives, to the glory of your Name;

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

Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-5

Psalm 115

1 Peter 5:1-11

Luke 6:43-45

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRADBURY CHANDLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST; HIS SON-IN-LAW, JOHN HENRY HOBART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW YORK; AND HIS GRANDSON, WILLIAM HOBART HARE, APOSTLE TO THE SIOUX AND EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP OF NIOBRARA THEN SOUTH DAKOTA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATERINA VOLPICELLI, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE SACRED HEART; SAINT LUDOVICO DA CASORIA, FOUNDER OF THE GRAY FRIARS OF CHARITY AND COFOUNDER OF THE GRAY SISTERS OF SAINT ELIZABETH; AND SAINT GIULIA SALZANO, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE CATECHETICAL SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HAMILTON HOUSTON AND THURGOOD MARSHALL, ATTORNEYS AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF DONALD COGGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Feast of St. Athanasius I of Naples (July 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Carolingian Imperial Partitions

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ATHANASIUS I OF NAPLES (CIRCA 832-872)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Naples

The political realities of the time and place of St. Athanasius of Naples were different from the circumstances of those reading this post.  Greek colonists had founded the city of Naples, then called Neopolis (“new city”), in the southern part of the Italian peninsula, circa 600 B.C.E.  The area came under the control of the Roman Republic then folded into the Roman Empire.  After the demise of the Western Roman Empire (476 C.E.), Naples changed hands more than once, eventually coming under Byzantine (Eastern Roman) control in 552.  The independent Duchy of Naples existed from 763 to 1139, when it became part of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily.  After the loss of Sicily in 1266 the Kingdom of Sicily became the Kingdom of Naples.  The merger of the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, both of which shared the same monarch, in 1816 created the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, with Naples as the capital.  Then, in 1860, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies gave way to the new Kingdom of Italy.

Church and state overlapped in the Duchy of Naples and the life of St. Athanasius I.  His father was Duke Sergius I (r. 840-864), founder of the Sergian Dynasty.  Our saint’s brother was Duke Gregory III (r. 850-870) and one of his nephews was Duke Sergius II (r. 870-877).  Dukes of Naples had to contend with various emirs and caliphs; Neopolitan foreign policy entailed both warfare and diplomacy, at different times.  Frequently the latter was the preferred policy of dukes.  St. Athanasius, aged 18 years, became the Bishop of Naples in 850, at the same time his brother Gregory III became co-ruler with Sergius I.  St. Athanasius I oversaw the rebuilding of the Church of St. Januarius, which Saracens had destroyed.  He also opposed simony, build a hospice for religious pilgrims, served as a papal legate, and advised the Carolingian Emperors Lothair I (r. 817-855) and Louis II (r. 855-875).

Sergius II was a bad character.  He incarcerated two uncles–St. Athanasius I and Admiral Caesar.  Both men had opposed Sergius II’s alliance with the Aghlabid Dynasty, based in northern Africa, and which controlled Sicily.  The Duke of Naples, instead of behaving decently, criminalized their dissent and permitted Caesar to die in prison.  Public pressure forced the release of St. Athanasius I, exiled by his nephew.  Louis II sent a rescue fleet, however.  St. Athanasius, en route to Rome, died at Veroli in 872.  Sergius II met his grisly fate.  His brother, Athanasius II, from 875/876 the Bishop of Naples, overthrew him and blinded him.  Athanasius II, still the Bishop of Naples, doubled as the Duke of Naples.  He died in 898.

How might one be a faithful Christian and leader in a cut-throat environment?  St. Athanasius I worked on that project.  Two nephews did not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRADBURY CHANDLER, ANGLICAN PRIEST; HIS SON-IN-LAW, JOHN HENRY HOBART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW YORK; AND HIS GRANDSON, WILLIAM HOBART HARE, APOSTLE TO THE SIOUX AND EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP OF NIOBRARA THEN SOUTH DAKOTA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATERINA VOLPICELLI, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE SACRED HEART; SAINT LUDOVICO DA CASORIA, FOUNDER OF THE GRAY FRIARS OF CHARITY AND COFOUNDER OF THE GRAY SISTERS OF SAINT ELIZABETH; AND SAINT GIULIA SALZANO, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE CATECHETICAL SISTERS OF THE SACRED HEART

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HAMILTON HOUSTON AND THURGOOD MARSHALL, ATTORNEYS AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF DONALD COGGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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

including your servant Saint Athanasius I of Naples.

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

so that we may 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. Methodius I of Constantinople and St. Joseph the Hymnographer (June 14)   1 comment

Above:  The Expansion of Islam, 700-900

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (Philadelphia, PA:  The Publishers Agency, Inc., 1957), H-11

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SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 700S-847)

Defender of Icons and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

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SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER (LATE 700S-886)

Defender of Icons and the “Sweet-Voiced Nightingale of the Church”

Alternative feast day = April 3

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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

–Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées

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A DUAL BIOGRAPHY OF ALMOST CERTAINLY THREE MEN

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On the Roman Catholic calendar Sts. Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer, contemporaries, share a feast day yet not a feast.  My process of preparing this post reveals that the fact they their stories contain many of the same background characters, however, so merging the feasts is efficient and feasible.

FROM SICILY TO ROME

Above:  St. Methodius I of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

St. Methodius I, born in Syracuse, Sicily, in the late 700s, came from a wealthy family.  He, educated in Syracuse, traveled to Constantinople for the purpose of seeking a position in the Byzantine imperial court.  He founded a monastery on the island of Chinos and supervised construction of that monastery instead.  St. Methodius I left Chinos soon after the the completion of the construction of that monastery, for St. Nicephorus I, from 806 to 815 the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, summoned him to the imperial capital and appointed him the apokrisiares, or church advocate, during the reign (813-820) of the Iconoclastic Emperor Leo V the Armenian.

Above:  St. Joseph the Hymnographer

Image in the Public Domain

St. Joseph the Hymnographer, frequently and perhaps hopelessly confused by many hagiographers with St. Joseph of Thessalonica, brother of St. Theodore Studites, also made his way to Constantinople.  St. Joseph the Hymnographer, born on the island of Sicily in the late 700s, came from a Christian family.  His parents were Plotinos and Agatha.  He moved to Thessalonica, where he became a monk.  There St. Gregory the Dekapolite, also a defender of icons, met our saint, whom he took to the imperial capital during the reign (813-820) of Leo V the Armenian.

IN ROME

St. Nicephorus I sent St. Methodius I on a mission to Rome.  During that time Leo the Armenian dismissed the Ecumenical Patriarch and exiled the absent St. Methodius I.

St. Gregory also sent St. Joseph to Rome, to deliver a message to Pope Leo III (in office 795-816).  St. Joseph remained in Rome for years.

BACK TO CONSTANTINOPLE

Both of our featured saints returned to Constantinople after Leo the Armenian died in 820 and during the reign (820-829) of Emperor Michael II the Stammerer.  Although Michael II initially halted the Iconclastic persecution and freed the political prisoners, he eventually resumed the persecution and imprisoned St. Methodius I, who had continued to resist Iconoclasm.  St. Joseph, a priest by this time, was back in the imperial capital also.  There he founded a church and an associated monastery.  In his absence St. Gregory had died.  St. Joseph transferred relics of his mentor to the new church.

THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR THEOPHILUS (829-842)

The next ruler was Theophilus (reigned 829-842), an Iconclast.  The Emperor freed St. Methodius I, who persisted in resisting Iconoclasm.  Theophilus tolerated this until he became convinced that leniency toward St. Methodius I angered God, who supposedly punished the empire with defeats to Arab armies.  So, in 835, the Emperor ordered the arrest and torture of St. Methodius I, who had retorted that God was angry not over the veneration of icons but the destruction of them.  Byzantine guards broke St. Methodius I’s jaw and permanently scarred his face.  They also kept him incarcerated with two robbers in a cave on the island of Antigonus for seven years.

St. Joseph also resisted the Iconclastic policy of Theophilus.  Our saint therefore spent eleven years in exile in the Cheronese, in Crimea.

EXIT SAINT METHODIUS I

The reign of Emperor Michael III the Drunkard spanned from 842 to 867.  Until 856, however, the regent was his mother, the Empress Theodora.  She ordered defenders of icons freed.  The Empress also elevated St. Methodius I to the office of Ecumenical Patriarch.  In that capacity he presided over the church council that restored the veneration of icons.  He lived peacefully during his final years, dying in 847.

St. Methodius I also wrote some hymns.

EXIT SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER

St. Joseph’s fortunes under Theodora were mixed.  In 842 she made him the keeper of the sacred vessels at the Church of Hagia Sophia, Constantinople.  He had to go into exiles again, however, due to the political consequences of his condemnation of the cohabitation of Bardas, brother of Theodora.  St. Joseph returned from exile in 867, after the death of Bardas.

St. Joseph, back in Constantinople, ended his days as the Father-confessor for all priests in the city.  He died in 886.

St. Joseph wrote about 1000 hymns and liturgical poems of the Orthodox Church.  Some of them have come to exist in English-language translations, in hymnals of various denominations, usually Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, and Presbyterian.

THE MATTER OF CHRONOLOGY; OR, PEOPLE LEAD THEIR LIVES FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD

I have endeavored to write as accurately as possible.  As I have mentioned, hagiographers have long confused St. Joseph the Hymnographer with St. Joseph of Thessalonica.  This fact has complicated my task.  Even Orthodox Church resources I have consulted have offered untrustworthy information.  I have discerned some of this via simple mathematics.  According to some sources, the birth of St. Joseph the Hymnographer occurred in 816 and his family fled Sicily when he was 15 years old (in 831), due to the Arab invasion.  Also according to these sources, some years later St. Joseph arrived in Constantinople and carried a message to the Pope during the reign of Emperor Leo V the Armenian.  The reign of Leo the Armenian was 813-820, however.  ST. JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER DID NOT MOVE BACKWARD IN TIME.  I have also read of mutually exclusive exiles of St. Joseph during the reign of the Emperor Theophilus.  I have utilized Ockham’s Razor when making decisions about what to write.

I acknowledge readily, O reader, that my biography of St. Joseph the Hymnographer almost certainly contains elements of the life of St. Joseph of Thessalonica instead, due to the sources available to me.

CONCLUSION

Sts. Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer were faithful servants of God who suffered for their faith, due to imperial politics.  Their legacies have survived, fortunately.  The Orthodox Church has continued to venerate icons.  Also, many Christians, in their successive generations, to the present day, have sung hymns by St. Joseph.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIACH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CASPAR NEUMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Saints Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our won day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Sts. Aengus the Culdee and Maelruan (March 11)   Leave a comment

aengus

Above:  St. Aengus the Culdee

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT AENGUS THE CULDEE (DIED MARCH 11, 824)

Hermit and Monk

Also known as Saint Angus the Culdee, Oengus the Culdee, Oengus the Culdee, Oengus of Clonenagh, Dengus, et cetera

His feast day = March 11

co-author with

SAINT MAELRUAN (DIED IN 791)

Abbot

His feast transferred from July 7

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St. Aengus, born near Clonenagh, Ireland, became a culdee, or hermit, near the River Nore.  There he allegedly communed with angels.  Eventually St. Aengus became a monk at his home town.  He attracted so many disciples that he decided to transfer to Tallaght Abbey, near Dublin.  The founder and abbot of that monastery was St. Maelruan.  The two saints wrote the Rule of the Celidhe De (a monastic rule for hermits) and the Martyrology of Tallaght.  St. Aengus also composed the Feilire, a version of the martyrology in verse.  After St. Maelruan died in 791 St. Aengus left Tallaght Abbey and returned to life as a hermit.  Eventually he became a bishop.  St. Aengus died on March 11, 824.

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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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servants Saints Aengus the Culdee and Maelruan,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

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Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (February 14)   2 comments

cyril-and-methodius

Above:  Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CYRIL (CIRCA 826-869)

Missionary in Moravia

Born as Constantine

brother of 

SAINT METHODIUS (CIRCA 815-885)

Missionary in Moravia and Archbishop of Sirmium

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APOSTLES TO THE SLAVS

FATHERS OF SLAVONIC LITERATURE

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Sts. Cyril (born as Constantine) and Methodius were brothers, influential missionaries, the Fathers of Slavonic Literature, and the Apostles to the Slavs.  The brothers were natives of Thessalonica, where their family was prominent.  Constantine taught philosophy at the Byzantine imperial university at Constantinople while St. Methodius was a provincial governor.  Sometime prior to 863 both saints became priests.  Circa 863, at the request of Duke St. Ratislav of Moravia (reigned 846-870), Emperor Michael III the Drunkard (reigned 842-867) dispatched the brothers to that duchy as missionaries.  They succeeded, due in large part to their linguistic skills, for which Michael III selected them.  Sts. Constantine/Cyril and Methodius preached in the vernacular language and developed the Cyrillic alphabet.  They also had to contend with the strong opposition of certain German missionaries.  The brothers returned to Rome by 868.  That year Constantine became a monk and took the name “Cyril,”  He died in the Eternal City the following year.

St. Methodius, the new Archbishop of Sirmium, with jurisdiction over Moravia, returned to that kingdom and resumed his missionary work.  Certain German bishops opposed him, of course.  Some of them went so far as to arrange for his incarceration for more than two years.  Eventually Pope John VIII (reigned 872-882) secured our saint’s release in exchange for withdrawing permission to use Slavonic as the main liturgical language.  Later some German bishops in Moravia arranged for Rome to recall St. Methodius on false allegations of heresy.  That matter resolved, our saint returned to that duchy, where he spent the rest of his life.  When St. Methodius returned he took with him papal permission to use the Slavonic language in the liturgy.

St. Methodius also translated the Bible and canon and civil law into Slavonic.

He died in 885.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE FREEMAN PALMER, U.S. EDUCATOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty and everlasting God, by the power of the Holy Spirit

you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius

to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people:

Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ,

and make us one unified family under the banner of the Prince of Peace;

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

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 96:1-7

Ephesians 2:13-22

Luke 10:1-9

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

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Feast of Sts. Anskar and Rimbert (February 3)   1 comment

anskar

Above:  St. Anskar

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANSKAR (801-FEBRUARY 3, 865)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen

Also known as Saint Ansgar

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SAINT RIMBERT (830-JUNE 11, 888)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen

Also known as Saint Rembert

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These two saints were pioneering figures in Scandinavian Christianity.

St. Anskar, born at Amiens, Picardy, in 801, came from Gallic nobility.  Eventually he became a Benedictine monk in Picardy then (in 1822) at New Corbie, Westphalia.  Later St. Anskar became the first Archbishop of Hamburg (in 831), and therefore chief missionary to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.  In 832 he founded the first Christian church in Sweden.  As archbishop St. Anskar founded churches and schools, opposed slavery, and cared for the poor and the sick.  He also doubled as the Abbot of New Corbie (starting in 834) and as the Bishop of Bremen (from 848 to 865).  His episcopal title as leader of the two sees was Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen.  In his missionary work St. Anskar had the support of Danish kings Horik I (reigned 827-854) and Horik II (reigned 854-860s).  He also secured royal recognition of Christianity as a legal religion in Denmark.

St. Anskar died at Bremen on February 3, 865.

Among his fellow missionaries in Scandinavia was St. Rimbert (830-888), a monk, his friend, and immediate successor (865-888) as Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen.  St. Rimbert, St. Anskar’s biographer, helped to fight off Vikings.  In 884 the monk-archbishop led an army that drove Vikings out of East Frisia.

Sts. Anskar and Rimbert laid the foundations of the Church in Scandinavia.  Unfortunately, resurgent paganism reversed most of their accomplishments.  However, growth in Scandinavian Christianity finally began to take root a century after these saints’ efforts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK COOK ATKINSON, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAII

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Almighty and everlasting God, you sent your servants Anskar and Rimbert

to sow the seeds of faith among  the people of Scandinavia:

Keep your Church from discouragement in the day of small things,

knowing that when you have begun a good work you will bring it to a fruitful conclusion;

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

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

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 96:1-7

Ephesians 2:13-22

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Feast of St. Alcuin of York (May 20)   6 comments

Carolingian Empire 843

Above:  The Carolingian Empire, 843

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK (CIRCA 735-MAY 19, 804)

Abbot of Tours

Stating that one stands on the shoulders of giants is accurate is many contexts, including the life and legacy of St. Alcuin of York, a scholar, educator, and theologian.

St. Alcuin, a native of York, Northumbria, entered the world in the 730s.  Sources have proven to be inconsistent regarding the year, with some offering 732 and others stating 735, always with the caveat “circa.”  He attended the cathedral school at York, the most renowned institution of learning in England.  Our saint taught there form 766 to 778, became a Roman Catholic deacon in 770, and served as the headmaster from 778 to 782.

St. Alcuin made his greatest contribution in the Frankish Kingdom/Carolingian Empire.  In 781 he was returning from a visit to Rome when he met King Charles I “the Great,” a.k.a. Charlemagne (reigned 768-814; Holy Roman Emperor, 800-814) at Parma, Italy.  Our saint accepted the monarch’s offer to lead the Palace School at Aix-en-Chapelle.  St. Alcuin made that school the center of learning in the kingdom and organized schools throughout the realm.  He also encouraged the study of secular liberal arts as means of spiritual edification, taught members of the nobility and the royal family, wrote works on education and grammar, and played a crucial role in preserving knowledge and reviving education in Western Europe after the demise of the Western Roman Empire.

St. Alcuin was also an important liturgist.  He revised the liturgy of the Frankish Church, basing his revision on the Georgian and Gelasian sacramentaries.  Our saint also introduced the sung creed into the Frankish liturgy and arranged notive masses for each day of the week.  St. Alcuin’s work led the the Roman Missal and to liturgical uniformity in Roman Catholicism.  He was also responsible for preserving many prayers, including the Collect of Purity:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 355

Many of St. Alcuin’s written works have survived.  There were, for example, 310 Latin letters, a treasure trove for historians who study the 700s.  He also left theological works (often refutations of heresies), hagiographies, and commentaries on the Bible.  His revision of the Vulgate has not survived, however.

St. Alcuin served as the Abbot of Tours, presiding over Marmoutier Abbey in Alsace, from 796 to 804.  The roles (if any) he played in politics during his final years have been unclear for a long time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NEW MARTYRS OF LIBYA, 2015

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER VIETS GRISWOLD, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS HAROLD ROWLEY, NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRAY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Almighty God, in a rude and barbarous age you raised up

your deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning:

Illumine our minds, we pray, that amid the uncertainties and confusions

of our own time we may show forth your eternal truth;

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

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 39:1-9

Psalm 37:3-6, 32-33

Titus 2:1-3

Matthew 13:10-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 379

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