Archive for the ‘Saints of the 850s’ Category

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

Above:  St. Swithun

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SWITHUN (CIRCA 800-JULY 2, 863)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Winchester

Also known as Saint Swithin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-5

Psalm 115

1 Peter 5:1-11

Luke 6:43-45

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF DONALD COGGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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

Above:  Carolingian Imperial Partitions

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ATHANASIUS I OF NAPLES (CIRCA 832-872)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Naples

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF DONALD COGGAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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

including your servant Saint Athanasius I of Naples.

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

so that we may confess your name before the world,

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

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

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

Psalm 84

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

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of St. Methodius I of Constantinople and St. Joseph the Hymnographer (June 14)   1 comment

Above:  The Expansion of Islam, 700-900

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

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

Defender of Icons and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

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SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER (LATE 700S-886)

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

Alternative feast day = April 3

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

–Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées

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A DUAL BIOGRAPHY OF ALMOST CERTAINLY THREE MEN

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

FROM SICILY TO ROME

Above:  St. Methodius I of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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

Above:  St. Joseph the Hymnographer

Image in the Public Domain

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

IN ROME

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

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

BACK TO CONSTANTINOPLE

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

THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR THEOPHILUS (829-842)

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

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

EXIT SAINT METHODIUS I

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

St. Methodius I also wrote some hymns.

EXIT SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2018 COMMON ERA

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

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

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Saints Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer,

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius (February 14)   1 comment

cyril-and-methodius

Above:  Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CYRIL (CIRCA 826-869)

Missionary in Moravia

Born as Constantine

brother of 

SAINT METHODIUS (CIRCA 815-885)

Missionary in Moravia and Archbishop of Sirmium

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APOSTLES TO THE SLAVS

FATHERS OF SLAVONIC LITERATURE

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

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

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

He died in 885.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2016 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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

you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 96:1-7

Ephesians 2:13-22

Luke 10:1-9

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

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

anskar

Above:  St. Anskar

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANSKAR (801-FEBRUARY 3, 865)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen

Also known as Saint Ansgar

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SAINT RIMBERT (830-JUNE 11, 888)

Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen

Also known as Saint Rembert

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These two saints were pioneering figures in Scandinavian Christianity.

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH PIGNATELLI, RESTORER OF THE JESUITS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 2:2-4

Psalm 96:1-7

Ephesians 2:13-22

Luke 10:1-9

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

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Feast of Alfred the Great (October 26)   Leave a comment

England 878

Above:  Map of England in 878

Image in the Public Domain

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ALFRED THE GREAT (849-OCTOBER 26, 899)

King of the West Saxons

An old saying tells that power wears down those who do not have it.  That is certainly true in the Turkish Republic.  Even before the recent failed coup President (previously Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the judiciary to imprison journalists whose reporting was critical of him.  He thereby proved that he lacked respect for the freedom of the press.  Now, after the coup, he is targeting not only soldiers but journalists, judges, academics, and civil servants en masse.  It is a witch hunt.  The republic is really a dictatorship.  Erdogan’s power wears down those who do not have it.  Patriotism and law and order are the last refuges of a scoundrel, to paraphrase Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

Power need not wear down those who lack it, however.  If the right person uses power for proper purposes it builds up the nation–or, in the case, of King Alfred the Great, the only monarch in English history to be “the Great,” the kingdom as a whole.

Alfred the Great was the last King of the West Saxons (alternatively, the King of Wessex) and the first King of the Anglo-Saxons (from 878).  His mother was Osburh/Osburga (died in 854), a noblewoman.  Our saint’s father was King Aethelwulf (reigned 839-858).  Alfred, born in 849, was the youngest of five children who survived to adulthood.  Aethelwulf sent his four-year-old son to visit Rome, where Pope St. Leo IV (reigned April 10, 847-July 17, 855) sponsored the prince at his confirmation.  Two years later Alfred accompanied Aethelwulf on a pilgrimage to Rome.  The prince learned to read English prior to his twelfth birthday.  He did not learn to read Latin until 887, when he had been king for some time.  Aethelwulf’s three elder sons succeeded him, in order, prior to Alfred’s accession:

  1. Aethelbald (reigned 858-860),
  2. Aethelberht (reigned 860-865), and
  3. Aethelred I (reigned 865-871).

Alfred’s public life spanned 866-899.  That public life began with Alfred assisting his elder brother, Aethelred I, resist Danish invaders, a persistent threat for generations.  In 868 the prince married Ealhswith/Ealswitha (died 902), from the Mercian royal family.  Alfred succeeded Aethelred I in 871, becoming the King of the West Saxons (alternatively, the King of Wessex).  The fight against Danish invaders continued throughout his reign.  One phase of that struggle ended in 878, when Alfred took the title “King of the Anglo-Saxons.”  In that year Alfred did not kill Guthrum, the leader of the Danish invaders; no the monarch forced Guthrum to convert to Christianity and stood as his godfather.  Another stage of that struggle ended in 896.  Alfred left behind a military legacy, including a naval fleet and reorganized militias.  He was, in fact, the “Father of the English Navy.”

Alfred did more than maintain the independence of his realm and became one of the greatest early English monarchs.  He also built up his realm and improved the lives of his subjects.  The monarch, for example, issued a law code, joining the ranks of Hammurabi (reigned 1792-1750 B.C.E.) and Justinian I (reigned 527-565 C.E.).  He also encouraged art, architecture, education, and monasticism.  Alfred recruited experts from the continent of Europe to revitalize learning.  He also ordered that children in his court learn both English and Latin.  Furthermore, the king, in 892, began to translate major Latin texts in theology and philosophy.  Other also translated major Latin texts.  Over time confusion regarding which of these Alfred translated has developed.  The monarch also founded a convent and a monastery.  His attempt to revive monasticism failed, however, due to a lack of public interest.  Alfred was ahead of his time in that regard.

Alfred died on October 26, 899.  He was about 50 years old.  His son, Edward the Elder (reigned 899-924), succeeded him.

George P. Knapp, late Professor of English at Columbia University, wrote:

It should be borne in mind, however, that it is not the magnitude of Alfred’s military achievements, nor the extent of the country which he governed, that lift him into the ranks of the world’s great men, but the beauty and moral grandeur of his character.  In him were combined the virtues of the scholar and the patriot, the efficiency of the man of affairs with the wisdom of the philosopher and the piety of the true Christian.  His character, public and private, is without a stain, and his whole life was one of enlightened and magnanimous service to his country.

–Quoted in The Encyclopedia Americana (1962), Volume 1, page 380

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FLORA MACDONALD, CANADIAN STATESWOMAN AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF NANCY BYRD TURNER, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN EDITOR

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS, 1974 AND 1975

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O Sovereign Lord, you brought your servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might

establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people:

Awake in us also a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world,

and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Wisdom 6:1-3, 9-12, 24-25

Psalm 21

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Luke 6:43-49

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 653

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Feast of Sts. Roderic of Cabra and Solomon of Cordoba (March 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Spain in 910 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS RODERIC AND SOLOMON OF CABRA (DIED 857)

Roman Catholic Martyrs

857 was a time of persecution of Christianity in Cordoba, the Muslim-ruled part of the Iberian peninsula.  And apostasy is a death penalty offense under Islamic law.    St. Roderic was a priest at Cabra, in Cordoba.  One day St. Roderic witnesses an argument between two brothers, one a Muslim and the other an lapsed Roman Catholic.  The priest intervened to end the altercation, but the Muslim brother had St. Roderic arrested on the trumped-up charge of being an apostate.  The priest went to prison, where he remained faithful to Christ and met St. Solomon, also accused of apostasy.  Both men died of beheading on March 13, 857.

I have written and will continue to write of Christian martyrs.  Sometimes they die at the hands of adherents of other religions or no religion.  Frequently, however, they die by the orders and actions of other professing Christians:  Catholics vs. Orthodox, Orthodox vs Catholics, Iconoclasts vs. defenders of icons, Catholics vs. Protestants, Protestants vs. Catholics, Anglicans vs. Catholics, Catholics vs. Anglicans, Lutherans vs. Calvinists, Calvinists vs. Lutherans, and everybody else vs. the Anabaptists and the Quakers.  It is all wrong; we human beings ought not to martyr each other, regardless of how we justify our actions to ourselves.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

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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 Roderic of Cabra and Saint Solomon of Cordoba,

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), page 59

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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