Archive for the ‘Saints of the 750s’ Category

Feast of St. Wastrada and Her Family (July 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 714 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT WASTRADA (DIED CIRCA 760)

mother of

SAINT GREGORY OF UTRECHT (703-776)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Utrecht

His feast transferred from August 25

uncle of 

SAINT ALBERIC OF UTRECHT (DIED AUGUST 21, 784)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Utrecht

His feast transferred from November 14 and August 21

One of my goals is renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That emphasis is consistent with telling family stories, such as this one.

This family was nobility related to the Carolingian Dynasty.  Alberic and St. Wastrada (d. 760) were a married couple.  After Alberic died St. Wastrada became a nun.  Their son was St. Gregory of Utrecht, born in Trier in 703.  He, educated at the monastery at Pfalzel, met his mentor, the visiting St. Boniface of Mainz (675-754), there in 722.  St. Gregory became the Abbot of St. Martin’s Abbey, Utrecht, a center of missionary activities.  In 754 St. Eoban (feast day = July 7), Bishop of Utrecht for about a year, died, having become a martyr with St. Boniface.  St. Gregory, without formal consecration, served as the Bishop of Utrecht from 754 to 775, until failing health forced him to step down.  He died in 776.  St. Gregory, habitually quick to forgive, served as a mentor to many saints, including St. Ludger (742-809).

The next Bishop of Utrecht was St. Alberic of Utrecht, St. Gregory’s nephew.  St. Alberic, renowned for his great intellect, deep piety, and evangelistic zeal, had been a Benedictine monk in Utrecht and the Prior of the cathedral in that city.  He reorganized the school, evangelized pagan Teutons, and directed the missionary work of St. Ludger in Ostergau.  (St. Ludger had been a student of St. Alcuin of York, a friend of St. Alberic.)  St. Alberic died on August 2, 784.

We know little about St. Wastrada, but we can learn something about her faith by pondering her son and his nephew.  We can know that the direct and indirect influences of St. Wastrada were profound, surviving her for many generations.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF NISIBIS, BISHOP; AND SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA, “THE HARP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GETULIUS, AMANTIUS, CAERAELIS, AND PRIMITIVUS, MARTYRS AT TIVOLI, 12O; AND SAINT SYMPHOROSA OF TIVOLI, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THOR MARTIN JOHNSON, U.S. MORAVIAN CONDUCTOR AND MUSIC DIRECTOR

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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 Wastrada,

Saint Gregory of Utrecht, and

Saint Alberic of Utrecht,

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

until at last we may attain with them 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), 724

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Feast of St. Megingaud of Wurzburg (March 16)   Leave a comment

megingaudus

Above:  St. Megingaud of Wurzburg

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZBURG (710-783)

Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop

St. Megingaud, born in Franconia in 710, was a student of St. Boniface of Mainz (675-754), the Apostle to the Germans and the founder of Fritzlar Abbey.  St. Megingaud became a monk there in 738.  He also taught at the abbey school.  In 754 St. Megingaud became the second Bishop of Wurzburg, in Germany.  In that capacity he was active in the affairs of state of the Frankish Empire.  Fifteen years later he founded Neustadt Abbey and retired there.  He spent the rest of his life as a monk devoted to prayer.  St. Megingaud died, aged 72 or 73 years, in 783.

I have heard certain Protestants, regardless of where they fall on the liberal-conservative spectrum, speak of monastics as being useless people.  This has not made sense to me, for, I have reasoned, if one truly affirms the power of prayer, one should not speak of men and women who devote their lives to it as being useless.  St. Megingaud of Wurzburg, whether in or out of a monastery, was a useful man.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT SAINT GALLEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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O God, by whose grace your servant St. Megingaud of Wurzburg,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a bright 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 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

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

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Feast of St. Alto of Altomunster (February 9)   Leave a comment

alto

Above:  St. Alto of Altomunster

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALTO OF ALTOMUNSTER (DIED CIRCA 760)

Roman Catholic Hermit

Also known as Saint Alto of Ireland

Alternative feast day = September 5

St. Alto, a native of Ireland, became a hermit in the forest outside Augsburg and Munich.  He, like many a hermit with a reputation for holiness, was frequently not alone, for a plethora of people flocked to learn from him.  To accommodate them St. Alto founded a monastery circa 750.  Eventually that abbey became known as Altomunster, around which a town of the same name developed.  St. Alto died of natural causes circa 760.  The monastery closed in 1803.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 29, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

THE FEAST OF JENNETTE THRELFALL, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER

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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 servant St. Alto of Altomunster,

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 Luke 9:57-62

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

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Feast of Sts. John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma (December 4)   1 comment

st-john-of-damascus

Above:  St. John of Damascus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS (675 or 676-December 4, 749 or 754 or 780)

Theologian and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint John Damascene

Also known as Saint John Chrysorrhoas (or “Gold-Streaming”)

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SAINT COSMAS OF MAIUMA (DIED 760 OR 773 OR 794)

Theologian and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint Cosmas the Melodist

His feast transferred from October 14 (Julian Calendar) and October 27 (Gregorian Calendar)

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The Feast of St. John of Damascus is December 4 in the Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, among other denominations.  In Holy Mother Church his feast has fallen on December 4 since 1969; prior to that it was March 27.  (The Book of Catholic Worship, from 1966, confirms this date, which I found on several websites.  I prefer to confirm information via primary sources as much as possible.)  The transfer of the Feast of St. Cosmas of Maiuma from October to December is due to the overlap of his life and that of St. John, who were brothers in all but genetics and partners in various literary and theological projects.

Sergius Mansur, the biological father of St. John of Damascus and the adoptive father of St. Cosmas of Maiuma, held a prominent post in the Caliphate.  (Aside:  Sources have proven contradictory regarding his position.  The two main versions are tax collector and chief representative to the Christians.)  Sergius, a Christian, raised our two saints in the faith.  He also liberated one Cosmas the Monk from slavery and had the monk instruct young John and Cosmas in theology and philosophy.  St. John succeeded his father in government and exercised authority for years.

St. John’s destiny lay elsewhere, however.  Circa 716 he resigned his post, sold his possessions, sold his possessions, and donated the proceeds to the poor.  Then he and St. Cosmas became monks at the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified, near Jerusalem, in 726.  That year Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (reigned 717-741) decreed Iconoclasm.  Our two saints wrote treatises condemning that heresy.  They also worked together on defenses of Christianity against Manichaeism.  St. John’s The Feast of Knowledge, containing “On the Orthodox Faith,” has proven especially influential.  Perhaps their longest-lasting legacies have been hymn texts and tunes for chants.  Due primarily to John Mason Neale (1818-1866) and John Brownlie (1859-1925) some of these texts have entered into English-language hymnody.  Neale translated the texts in various editions of Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862).  Brownlie’s volumes of translations included Hymns of the Greek Church (1900) and Hymns of the Early Church (1896).  Although one of our saints received credit for a particular poem, chant, or treatise, both of them worked so closely that one may assume reasonably that both were partially responsible, until the death of St. John.

St. Cosmas left the monastery in 743 and became the Bishop of Maiuma, a port city in Gaza.  He held that post for the rest of his long life and outlived St. John.  According to tradition, St. Cosmas lived to the age of 100 years, give or take a few years.

The three main greatest hits of St. John of Damascus in Episcopal Church hymnody are Easter texts:

  1. Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain;”
  2. Thou Hallowed Chosen Morn of Praise;” and
  3. The Day of Resurrection.”

These are present in The English Hymnal (1906).  So is a fourth text, “What Sweet of Life Endureth,” a funeral hymn.

These two saints left fine legacies, for the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CAMPBELL SHAIRP, SCOTTISH POET AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JUSTUS FALCKNER, LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILANDER CHASE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS OF VILLANOVA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF VALENCIA

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Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power

by your servants Saints John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma;

that we, with them, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man,

and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection,

attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

Psalm 29

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

John 5:24-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 101

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Feast of Sts. Willibrord and Boniface (November 7)   3 comments

Francia Map

Above:  Map of Francia

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT WILLIBRORD (658-NOVEMBER 7, 739)

Apostle to the Frisians

Also known as Clement of Echternach

His feast day = November 7

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SAINT BONIFACE OF MAINZ (675-JUNE 5, 754)

Apostle to the Germans

Also known as Winfrid, Wynfrith, and Wynfryth

His feast transferred from June 5

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INTRODUCTION

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Sts. Willibrord and Boniface were missionaries whose stories I can recount most effectively in one post, not two.

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SAINT WILLIBRORD (658-739)

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St. Willibrord, born Clement,  was the Apostle to the Frisians and a relative of St. Alcuin of York (735-804).  St. Willibrord, a Northumbrian native, was son of St. Wilgils/Hilgis of Ripon (feast day = January 31), a convert to Christianity.  St. Wilgils/Hilgis entrusted his son to the Church and became a holy hermit.  Young Clement studied at Ripon Abbey under the tutelage of his mentor, St. Wilfrid of Ripon (634-709), then abbot there and later the Bishop of York, Lichfield, and Hexham, in that order.  Clement became a Benedictine monk and spent twelve years at Rathmalsigi Abbey (in Ireland).  The abbot was St. Egbert of Lindisfarne (639-739).

Frisia was coming under the influence of Francia.  Pepin II, Mayor of the Palace from 680 to 714, requested that St. Egbert send missionaries to Frisia.  The abbot sent twelve monks, including Clement.  Early efforts, headquartered at the court of Pepin II, proved unsuccessful most of the time.  Nevertheless, Clement established a base of operations at Utrecht.  On November 21, 695, Pope St. Sergius I (reigned 687-701) consecrated Clement a bishop and named him Willibrord.

[Aside:  Many of the sources I consulted identified the pontiff erroneously as Sergius III.  J. N. D. Kelly makes clear, however, in The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986) that it was Sergius I and that Sergius III reigned from 904 to 911.]

The first stage of the Frisian mission spanned 695-716 and met with much success.  St. Willibrord presided over the building of both a monastery and a cathedral at Utrecht, plus the founding of many congregations.  This frightened chieftain Rabdod, who conquered Frisia in 716 and spent the remaining three years of his life undoing the work of St. Willibrord and his missionaries by destroying all ecclesiastical structures and killing missionaries.  Meanwhile, St. Willibrord and companions attempted (without much success) to evangelize in Denmark.

The Frisian mission resumed in 719.  St. Willibrord and companions, including St. Boniface, who had evangelized in Frisia as early as 716, rebuilt the Church in the region.  St. Willibrord retired to Echternach Abbey, Echternach (now in Luxembourg), which he had founded.  He died at the abbey on November 7, 739.  Veneration of him as a saint began immediately.

St. Willibrord is the patron of convulsions, epilepsy, epileptics, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and the Archdiocese of Utrecht.  According to a Medieval legend, an epidemic caused the cattle around Echternach Abbey to tremble then die.  Peasants in the region, the legend tells us, invoked St. Willibrord.  As they processed to his shrine, the story states, some of the peasants danced in a manner resembling the convulsions of the cattle, hence some of those patronages.

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SAINT BONIFACE OF MAINZ (675-754)

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St. Boniface of Mainz, born Winfrid and also known as Wynfrith and Wynfryth, assisted St. Willibrord in Frisia before becoming the “Apostle to the Germans.”  Winfrid/Wynfrith/Wynfryth was a native Exeter, in the Kingdom of Wessex, in England.  He, born in 675 and educated at monasteries, faced early opposition from his father to his plan to become a monk.  His father changed his mind eventually, however.  Our saint taught at the school attached to Nursling Abbey.  At the age of 30 years he became a priest.  He also wrote a Latin grammar, a series of riddles, and a treatise on poetry, participated in the Frisian mission, first in 716 then again in 719-722.  In 722 Pope St. Gregory II (reigned 715-731) appointed him to be a missionary bishop (without a diocese) in Germany and named him Boniface.  Ten years later our saint became a missionary archbishop.  He did not receive an appointment to a diocese until 743, when he became the Archbishop of Mainz.  The “Apostle to the Germans” led a successful missionary venture sponsored by Frankish rulers.  His immediate legacy included congregations, abbeys, and three dioceses.

St. Boniface and 52 others became martyrs near Dokkum, Frisia, on June 5, 754, prior to a planned confirmation service.  A band of violent pagans attacked them yet did not kill the Church there.

Our saint is the patron of brewers, Germany, file cutters, tailors, the Diocese of Fulda (in Germany), and the Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface (in Manitoba, Canada).

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CONCLUSION

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We of the Church in 2016 stand on the broad shoulders of saints such as Willibrord and Boniface, who risked much to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and influenced civilization positively long after their lifespans ended.  We do not know how long-lasting our influences (direct and indirect, as well as positive and negative) will be.  May we strive, by grace, to be the most effective ministers of grace possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 3, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOANNA, MARY, AND SALOME, WITNESSES TO THE RESURRECTION

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servants

St. Willibrord, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Frisia; and

St. Boniface of Mainz, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Frisia and Germany.

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

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

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

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

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Feast of St. Alcuin of York (May 20)   4 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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Feast of St. Stephen the Younger (November 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Triumph of Orthodoxy

SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 714-NOVEMBER 28, 764)

Defender of Icons

Yesterday, in a post about St. Nicholas Tavelic and His Companions, I wrote of non-Christians killing Christians.  In that post I stated the following:

I am a Christian.  Here I stand; I will do no other.  My understanding of God is that “God is love.”  And love does not condone killing people over religious differences.  Unfortunately, many previous adherents of my own tradition have condoned and/or committed such violence toward Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others.  I condemn those deeds and those who condoned or committed them.  Likewise, I condemn such deeds and those who condone or commit them when non-Christians commit them.  Religious differences ought to lead to civilized dialogue in the best cases and to agreements to disagree in the worst cases, but never violence.

Today’s post reinforces those words.

St. Stephen the Younger (circa 714-764), born at Constantinople, became a monk at the Monastery of St. Auxentius (in Bithynia, in modern-day Turkey) when he was fifteen years old.  He served as abbot there from 744 to 756, when he retired to become a hermit. The Council of Hieria (754) and Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos (reigned 741-775) insisted upon iconoclasm.  The hermit opposed this policy.  So, beginning in 760, he suffered persecution, including imprisonment then banishment.  The saint, recalled before the Emperor in 764 made the point about respecting images with a powerful gesture:  He stomped on a coin bearing the imperial visage.  For this the saint died violently.

Iconoclasm (of the religious variety) confuses me.  We humans are visual beings.  God might be invisible, but we still need to see something, such as an artist’s depiction of Jesus.  I admit that most of these paintings are wildly inaccurate and many of them are kitschy; almost all depict our Lord and Savior as if he had been a northern European Protestant, not a Palestinian Jew.  But we so need to see something.  Imprisoning, banishing, and executing people for that is inexcusable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 3, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RICHARD HOOKER, ANGLICAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF DANIEL PAYNE, AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF PAKISTAN, 1970

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Gracious God,

in every age you have sent men and women

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

Inspire us with the memory of

Saint Stephen the Younger,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59