Archive for the ‘Saints of the 400s’ Category

Feast of St. Leo the Great (November 10)   3 comments

Above:  St. Leo I “the Great”

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT LEO I “THE GREAT” (LATE 300S-NOVEMBER 10, 461)

Bishop of Rome

Former Western feast day = April 11

Eastern feast day = February 11

The number of Roman Catholic Supreme Pontiffs called “the Great” is short.  St. Leo I is deservedly on that list.

St. Leo I, of Tuscan parentage, was a deacon immediately prior to becoming the Pope.  Under his two immediate predecessors, St. Celestine I (in office September 10, 422-July 27, 432) and St. Sixtus III (in office July 31, 432-August 19, 440), St. Leo I had been an influential advisor.  St. Leo I had been an influential advisor.  He was on a diplomatic mission in Gaul in August 440, during the Papal election.  St. Leo I, back in Rome, assumed the office on September 29, 440.

As the Pope, St. Leo I dealt with challenges, theological and political.  He defended Papal authority via words and deeds.  Our saint resisted heresies, such as Manichaeism (dualistic), Arianism (Christ is a created being), Pelagianism (we can save ourselves via free will), and Priscillianism (the human body is evil).  St. Leo I’s theology vis-à-vis Christology defined the Definition of Chalcedon (451):  Jesus, one person, had two natures (human and divine).  Our saint also corrected ecclesiastical abuses, resolved disputes, and insisted on the uniformity of liturgical practice.

The Western Roman Empire was crumbling during the lifetime of St. Leo I.  This reality led to circumstances in which our saint rose to the occasion.  In 452 he met with Atilla the Hun near Mantua and persuaded Atilla to withdraw.  Three years later, St. Leo I spoke with Gaiseric, the King of the Vandals, outside the walls of Rome.  Our saint persuaded the Vandal king not to burn the city and massacre the inhabitants.

St. Leo I died on November 10, 461.  Pope Benedict XIV declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1754.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANSKAR AND RIMBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF ALFRED DELP, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O Lord our God, grant that your Church, following the teaching of yours servant Leo of Rome,

may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption,

and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man,

neither divided from our human nature and not separate from your divine Being;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Lamentations 3:22-33

Psalm 77:11-15

2 Timothy 1:6-14

Matthew 5:13-19

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 673

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Feast of St. Pambo of Nitria, His Proteges and Their Associates, St. Melania the Elder, and Her Family (November 8)   2 comments

Above:  The Eastern Roman Empire

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT PAMBO OF NITRIA (DIED CIRCA 375)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Pambo of the Nitrian Desert

His feast transferred from July 18

mentor of

SAINT AMMONIUS OF SKETE (DIED CIRCA 403)

Desert Father

His feast = November 8

teacher of

EVAGRIUS OF PONTUS (345-399)

Monk, Theologian, and Deacon

Also known as Evagrius Ponticus and Evagrius the Solitary

teacher of

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

Monk, and Bishop of Helenopolis

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT DIDYMUS THE BLIND (CIRCA 313-398)

Biblical Scholar

His feast transferred from October 18

teacher of 

SAINT RUFINUS OF AQUILEIA (344/345-411)

Monk and Priest

His feast transferred from October 1

ordained by

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

Bishop of Jerusalem

His feast transferred from January 10

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT MACARIUS OF EGYPT (CIRCA 300-391)

Desert Father

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

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT MACARIUS OF ALEXANDRIA (CIRCA 300-395)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Younger

His feast transferred from January 19 and May 1

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT PISHOY (320-JULY 15, 417)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Bishoy

His feast transferred from June 19

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT MELANIA THE ELDER (325-410/417)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from June 8

grandmother of

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

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from December 31

wife of

SAINT PINIAN (DIED IN 420)

Monk

His feast transferred from December 31

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

St. Pambo of Nitria

Above:  St. Pambo of Nitria

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Macarius of Egypt

Above:  St. Macarius of Egypt

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

St. Macarius the Elder died in 391.

St. Macarius the Younger in 395.

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

St. Melania the Elder

Above:  St. Melania the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

St. Melania the Younger

Above:  St. Melania the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

She died in that city on December 31, 439.

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, by whose grace your servants

Saint Pambo of Nitria,

Saint Ammonius of Skete,

Evagrius of Pontus,

Palladius of Galatia,

Saint Didymus the Blind,

Saint Rufinus of Aquileia,

Saint John II of Jerusalem,

Saint Macarius the Elder,

Saint Macarius the Younger,

Saint Pishoy,

Saint Melania the Elder,

Saint Melania the Younger,

and Saint Pinian,

became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light, through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Feast of Sts. Euphrosyne and Paphnutius of Alexandria (September 25)   1 comment

Above:  Sts. Euphrosyne and Paphnutius of Alexandria

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT PAPHNUTIUS OF ALEXANDRIA (DIED IN 480)

Monk

Feast day = September 25

father of

SAINT EUPHROSYNE OF ALEXANDRIA (400S)

Monk

Also known as Smaragdus of Alexandria

Alternative feast days = January 1, January 16, February 11, February 15, March 8, and September 24

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sts. Paphnutius and Euphrosyne came to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church, mainly.  This is an ancient story, one which many scholars consider to be a work of fiction.  That is frequently a risk when pondering ancient hagiographies.  I conclude, however, that this story is, at a minimum, plausible.

The Episcopal Church, at its General Convention of 2018, added St. Euphrosyne (yet not her father) to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.

St. Euphrosyne was an only child.  Her mother died when our saint was quite young, so St. Paphnutius raised his daughter alone.  The family was pious; father and daughter even visited monasteries.  St. Paphnutius arranged for St. Euphrosyne to marry a handsome and wealthy young man from a prominent Alexandrian family.  This was not what our saint wanted, though.  She, angry, left home immediately.  She cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothing, and called herself Smaragdus.

“Smaragdus” became a monk at one of the monasteries outside Alexandria.  Years passed.  “He” grew spiritually.  Eventually St. Paphnutius, still mourning the daughter he presumed dead, sought consolation at that monastery.  The abbot sent St. Paphnutius to visit “Smaragdus,” who provided spiritual guidance for years, during weekly visits.  He did not recognize the monk as his daughter until “Smaragdus” was dying.  St. Paphnutius tended to his dying daughter.  After she died, he became a monk and lived in her cell.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF ANNE HOULDITCH SHEPHERD, ANGLICAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN STAINER AND WALTER GALPIN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANISTS AND COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Merciful God, who places all of your children in families,

we confess that those whom we love the most are often strangers to us.

Give to all parents and children, we pray,

the grace to see one another as they truly are and as you have called them to be.

All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 1:20-31

Psalm 19

Luke 14:25-33

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Sixtus III (August 19)   1 comment

Above:  St. Sixtus III

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT SIXTUS III (DIED AUGUST 19, 440)

Bishop of Rome

Alternative feast day = March 28

Five Supreme Pontiffs of the Roman Catholic Church have borne the name “Sixtus.”  Extant information about St. Sixtus I (in office circa 116-circa 125) has proven to be unreliable.  St. Sixtus II (in office 257-258) died as a martyr.  Sixtus IV (in office 1471-1484) founded the Spanish Inquisition and practiced simony.  Sixtus V (in office 1585-1590) admired Sixtus IV, encouraged King Philip II of Spain to invade England in 1588, and presided over a repressive regime in the Papal States.

St. Sixtus III is therefore the second of two Sixtuses I choose to add to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Xystus, son of Xystus, was a Roman by birth.  Our saint had been a Pelagian, but had changed his mind in 418.

Pelagianism was the heresy named after Pelagius, an English or Irish monk who had moved to Rome circa 400.  He was optimistic about human nature, arguing that it was inherently good.  People could therefore save themselves via free will from damnation, the monk asserted.  His propositions aroused a great controversy in the Church.  St. Augustine of Hippo, for example, replied to those propositions in writing for years.  Eventually the Church declared Semi-Pelagianism (salvation results from the combination of divine grace and human free will) orthodox teaching, but Pope St. Celestine I (in office 422-432) preferred the answer of St. Augustine of Hippo:  we mere mortals are powerless to save ourselves, for Original Sin has corrupted our natures.

St. Sixtus III also opposed NestorianismNestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople from 428 to 431, made  a distinction between Christ and the Logos.  St. Mary of Nazareth, he argued in his sermon for Easter 428, was the mother of Jesus, but not of God; she was not the Theotokos.  The Patriarch thought that the Logos dwelt within Jesus, as in a temple.  St. Sixtus III, at the Council of Ephesus (431), helped to draft the Formula of Reunion, which asserted the doctrine that, in Christ, there was the union of God and man in one person; that Christ was fully human and fully divine.

St. Sixtus III, elected Pope on July 31, 432, succeeding the late St. Celestine I, contended with the Pelagian and Nestorian heresies as the Supreme Pontiff.  St. Cyril of Alexandria had been engaged in a dispute with John of Antioch (d. 441), a Nestorian.  St. Sixtus III ordered John of Antioch to renounce Nestorianism; he did, and reconciled with St. Cyril.  In 439, with the influence of deacon Leo (the next pope, as St. Leo I “the Great,” in office 440-461), St. Sixtus III refused to permit the Pelagian bishop Julian of Eclanum (d. 454), exiled from the see of Apulia since 418, return.  As St. Sixtus III oversaw rebuilding projects in Rome, to repair damage from and replace structures destroyed in the Visigothic sack of Rome in 410, he had anti-Pelagian and anti-Nestorian inscriptions added to churches and baptistries.

St. Sixtus III asserted his authority against encroachment by St. Proclus of Constantinople, the Archbishop of Constantinople from 434 to 446.  In 434 St. Proclus tried to pry the dioceses in eastern Illyricum (in the Balkans) away from the Bishop of Rome.  St. Sixtus III resolved the situation with a carrot and a stick.  As the Pope requested that St. Proculus not receive any bishops disloyal to Rome, St. Sixtus III ordered all bishops in eastern Illyricum to remain loyal.

St. Sixtus III also founded the oldest known monastery at St. Sebastiano on the Appian Way.

St. Sixtus III died on August 19, 440.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Saint Sixtus III,

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

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

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Above:  St. Equitius of Valeria

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Peter Chrysologus (July 30)   2 comments

Above:  The Roman Empire in 450 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS (406-DECEMBER 2, 450)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Ravenna and Defender of Orthodoxy

Alternative feast day = July 31

Former feast day = December 4

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Anyone who wishes to dance with the devil cannot rejoice with Christ.

–St. Peter Chrysologus

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

St. Peter Chrysologus, or the “Golden-Worded,” was a renowned preacher and an opponent of the Arian and Monophysite heresies.  He, born in Imola, Italy, in 406, was a protégé of Cornelius, Bishop of Imola, who baptized, educated, and ordained him.  St. Peter became the Bishop of Ravenna in 433.  (Ravenna was the capital of the Roman Empire at the time.)  Immediately he won the favor and patronage of the Empress Aelia Galla Placidia (c. 390-450), half-sister of Emperor Honorius (reigned 395-423), wife of the Emperor Constantius III (reigned 421), and the mother of the Emperor Valentinian III (reigned 425-455), and the Regent from 425 to 437.  The Empress Regent financed the construction of several beautiful churches in Ravenna.  St. Peter, known for his piety, defended the doctrine of the Incarnation against Arians and Monophysites.  He died on December 2, 450.

Many of the homilies bearing our saint’s name came from other people.

Pope Benedict XIII declared St. Peter a Doctor of the Church in 1729.  Thus our saint joined the elite club among Roman Catholic saints, receiving recognition as a great theologian defined by sanctity.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BARNABAS THE APOSTLE, COWORKER OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Saint Peter Chrysologus,

and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge

of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus,

our Savior and Lord, who lies and reigns with you and

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++