Archive for the ‘Saints of the 510s’ Category

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

Above:  The Roman Empire in 565

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HORMISDAS (DIED AUGUST 6, 523)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 6

father of

SAINT SILVERIUS (DIED DECEMBER 2, 537)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 537

Alternative feast day = June 20

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

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

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

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

The next Bishops of Rome were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tobit 3:1-6

Psalm 2

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2019 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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

Above:  Icon of St. Romanus the Melodist

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST (CIRCA 490-CIRCA 556)

Deacon and Hymnodist

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

Alternative feast day = October 14

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

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

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

St. Romanus died in Constantinople circa 556.

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

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

May we succeed in that goal also, by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAUL VI, BISHOP OF ROME

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

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

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

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

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

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

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

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

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

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

Image in the Public Domain

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

Roman Catholic Monk and Reformer of the Calendar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we thank you for your servant Saint Dionysius Exiguus,

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

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

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

Isaiah 43:14-21

Psalm 148

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 2:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

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

Above:  St. Equitius of Valeria

Image in the Public Domain

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

Benedictine Abbot and Founder of Monasteries

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

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

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

Grant that we also may walk before you as children of light;

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

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47

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

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

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

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Feast of St. John I (May 18)   1 comment

Above:  St. John I

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN I (DIED MAY 18, 526)

Bishop of Rome

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

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

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

Image in the Public Domain

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Arian heresy has continued, unfortunately.

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE, APOSTLES AND MARTYRS

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

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

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

witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

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

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Feast of Sts. Anna of Oxenhall, Wenna the Queen, Non, Samson of Dol, Cybi, and David of Wales (March 1)   Leave a comment

st-david-of-wales-and-family

Above:  A Family Tree

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT CYBI (CIRCA 483-NOVEMBER 8, 555)

Welsh Prince, Priest, Bishop, and Abbot

His feast transferred from August 13 and November 8

son of

SAINT WENNA THE QUEEN (CIRCA 472-OCTOBER 18, 544)

Queen of Cerniw

Also known as Saint Gwen

Her feast transferred from October 18

sister of 

SAINT NON (BORN CIRCA 475)

Welsh Nun

Also known as Saint Nonna, Nonita, and Nonnita

Her feast transferred from March 2, 3, and 5

mother of

SAINT DAVID OF WALES (DIED CIRCA 601)

Welsh Abbot and Primate

Also known as Saint Dewi

His feast = March 1

Half-Nephew of

SAINT SAMSON OF DOL (CIRCA 485-JULY 28, 565)

Welsh Priest, Abbot, Hermit, Bishop, and Missionary

son of

SAINT ANNA OF OXENHALL (BORN CIRCA 445)

Welsh Princess

Mother of Saints Samson of Dol, Wenna the Queen, and Non

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Work on this post began when I started taking notes on St. David of Wales, the patron saint of Wales.  His feast day is March 1.  Of that we can be certain; this is more than we can say about other portions of his official biography.  While taking notes on this saint I read references to many other Celtic saints, including five relatives.  I could have included many more saints than I did in this post, but I decided to keep it relatively simple and to focus on three generations of one family instead.  I, as one trained in history, have noticed discrepancies between dates in various sources.  I have done my best to honor chronology.  I have also done my best to recognize the difference between legend and objective reality.  King Arthur recurs in the hagiographies of some of these saints.  He was, of course, a composite figure and a legend–a fish story, if you will, O reader.  Instead of one big fish, fishes of various sizes existed.  By focusing on six members of one family I can be coherent while fulfilling one of my goals for the renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.    That goal is to emphasize relationships and influences.

The first of six saints was St. Anna of Oxenhall (born circa 445), mother of three other saints and grandmother of two more.  She, a daughter of Vortimer Fendigaidof, King of Gwertheflyrwig (now Gwent, Wales), married twice.  Her first husband was Cynyr the Fair-Bearded, Lord of Coer Goch.  According to legends, they were the foster parents of Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur.  St. Anna’s first marriage produced at least six children, including St. Wenna the Queen (born circa 472) and St. Non (born circa 475).  The widowed St. Anna married Amon Ddu, Prince of Brittany.  They had several children, including St. Samson of Dol (circa 485-565).  The other two children also entered religious life.  Amon ended his days as a monk.

St. Wenna the Queen married Salom, King of Cerniw (now Cornwall, England).   Among their children was St. Cybi (circa 483-555), heir to the throne.  He received a fine education and became a priest, a bishop, and the Abbot of Caer Gybi.  At the age of 27, upon returning from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, St. Cybi learned that his father was dead and that he was the new king.  Our saint declined royal authority and opted instead to serve God via the Church.  He founded congregations throughout the Celtic world as political circumstances forced him to relocate.  St. Cybi also interacted with his esteemed cousin, St. David of Wales.  Among St. Wenna’s pious deeds was the founding of a Christian congregation in Morval, in the Cornwall region of England.

St. Non became a nun.  Scandal affected her when Sant (a.k.a. Sanctus), Prince of Ceredigian, raped and impregnated her.  Thus she became the unwed mother of Dewi Sant, a.k.a. St. David of Wales.  Mother and son founded a convent at Hanon.  Late in life she moved to Cerniw, to be close to her sister, St. Wenna the Queen.

The hagiographies of St. David are legion.  Many of them contain contradictory information.  For example, was the year of his birth closer to 500 or to 544?  I conclude that the former option is probable, based on issues of chronology.  Also, did he died closer to 589 or 601?  And, while we are pondering different chronologies, did the Synod of Brefi occur closer to 520, 550, or 560?  550 or a few years prior seems like a probable year to me, based on relevant facts.  560 is too late, due to the death of St. Dubricius circa 550.  Furthermore, I reject obviously legendary stories out of hand.  For example, I refuse to accept that a hill once rose while he was speaking, so that the audience could hear him better.  Horatio, friend of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was correct that heaven and earth hold more than human philosophies attest, but even saints and land adjacent to them must obey the laws of nature.

St. David rose to become the primate of Wales.  As a young man he founded the first of a series of monasteries.  Our saint, an ascetic who survived on water and vegetables, required his monks to care for travelers, engage in study, and perform manual labor.  He was also a priest and, in time, a bishop–by whose hands, where, and when are matters of dispute.  An oft-repeated story tells us that St. David’s rebuttal of the Pelagian heresy (that people can save themselves from damnation by their free will alone) at the Synod of Brefi led to the installation as the primate of Wales.  Or perhaps that was not how he became the primate, becoming the handpicked successor of St. Dubricius.  Regardless of the reality of St. David’s life, he was an influential and respected figure in the Celtic Church.

St. David’s half-uncle (half-brother of Sts. Non and Wenna) was St. Samson of Dol (circa 485-565), a child of St. Anna of Oxenhall and her second husband, Prince Amon Ddu.  St. Samson studied at the Abbey of Llanilltud Fawr, Glamorganshire, Wales.  His teacher was St. Illtud (born circa 480), a former soldier and the founder of that monastery.  St. Samson had to depart that abbey because he had become unpopular with his teacher’s nephews.  St. Samson relocated to a monastery on Caldey Island, Wales.  Eventually he became the abbot there and reformed the abbey.  Next our saint spent time as a hermit before becoming a missionary bishop in the region of Cerniw.  Eventually St. Samson moved to Brittany, where he made Dol his see city.  He also founded monasteries at Dol and at Pental, Normandy.

People influence each other directly and indirectly.  Regardless of where reality ended and legends began with regard to the events of our six saints’ lives, a few concluding statements are certain:

  1. The faith that St. Anna of Oxenhall and her husbands instilled in their children took root;
  2. Those children passed that faith down to others; and
  3. The legacy of St. Anna of Oxenhall, her husbands, and their faithful descendants continues to influence Christian faith in people, frequently without them knowing it.

That is impressive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Cybi,

Saint Wenna the Queen,

Saint Non,

Saint David of Wales,

Saint Samson of Dol, and

Saint Anna of Oxenhall,

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

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

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

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

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Feast of St. Scholastica and St. Benedict of Nursia (February 10)   5 comments

central-italy

Above:  Central Italy, 1945

Scanned from the Post-World War II Atlas Supplement to Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

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SAINT SCHOLASTICA (CIRCA 480-543)

Abbess of Plombariola

sister of

SAINT BENEDICT OF NURSIA (CIRCA 480-CIRCA 550)

Abbot of Monte Cassino and Father of Western Monasticism

His feast transferred from July 11

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I created the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days in late July 2009.  At the time I was generally more likely than I am now to follow assigned feast days from official ecclesiastical authorities.  When I started the process of renovating the Ecumenical Calendar recently, I decided to combine certain feasts I had listed separately.  Thus I have merged the feasts of these two saints, a brother and a sister.

Sts. Scholastica and Benedict were foundational figures in Western Christian monasticism.  Unfortunately, few details of their lives have survived.  The twin siblings, natives of Nursia, came from a Christian family that was part of Roman nobility.  The parents dedicated St. Scholastica to God at an early age.  For a long time she lived at her parents’ home before becoming a nun.

St. Benedict became the Father of Western Monasticism.  He studied at Rome yet abandoned his studies to flee the immorality and amorality we encountered in the city.  At age 19 or 20 our saint, taking the elderly female servant who had raised him to Affile, joined a community of men attempting to lead a structured monastic life together.  Eventually he sent her home and spent the next three years as a hermit at Lake Subiaco.  During those years he contemplated rules for communal monastic life and developed a reputation for sanctity.  Then he became the central figure of a new monastic community.

Between 525 and 530 the community moved to Monte Cassino, between Rome and Naples.  Eventually St. Scholastica became the Abbess of Plombariola, a few miles from Monte Cassino.  Circa 540 St. Benedict completed the Rule of St. Benedict, which drew from extant monastic rules, directed life in thousands of abbeys, and influenced subsequent monastic rules.  St. Benedict provided a rigorous yet realistic set of guidelines; it combined work, prayer, and spiritual reading, as well as a balance between leadership by an abbot and the social equality of monastics.  Whereas some monks had mortified their flesh, denied themselves sufficient sleep, and ate too little, the Rule of St. Benedict prescribed enough food, eight hours of sleep, and a moderate variety of monasticism.  The influence of the Rule made Benedictine monasteries islands of learning and civilization during the Middle Ages.

Sts. Scholastica and Benedict met for a day each year for a number of years to discuss spiritual matters.  They did this until she died, in 543.  According to legend, St. Benedict, standing in his cell, saw a vision of his twin sister’s soul leading her body and rising to Heaven in the form of a dove.  He dispatched some monks to retrieve her corpse and bring it to Monte Cassino, where he buried her beneath the high altar.  A few years later St. Benedict’s body rested in the same tomb also.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 30, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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O God, by whose grace your servants St. Scholastica and St. Benedict of Nursia,

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

Grant that we may also 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

Philippians 3:7-15

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

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

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