Archive for the ‘Diocletian’ Tag

Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra (December 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Nicholas of Myra

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA (MARCH 15, 270-DECEMBER 6, 343)

Bishop of Myra

We know little about St. Nicholas of Myra.  Legends abound, but confirmed information is scarce.  We know the following, though:

  1. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, on the coast of what is now Turkey.
  2. He suffered incarceration and torture after Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305) launched an empire-wide persecution of Christianity in 303.

St. Nicholas may have attended the First Council of Nicaea (325), from which the first draft of the Nicene Creed emerged.  According to one story, he slapped Arius, founder of the Arian heresy.  (I do not know if the story is true, but I suppose that it is plausible.)

St. Nicholas apparently earned his reputation as a generous person, hence many stories of financial assistance to those in need.  His generosity to impoverished children eventually contributed to stories of Santa Claus.

The Roman Emperor Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565) revered the late Bishop of Myra as a saint.  The Church has followed that practice, wisely.

May kindness and love define our characters, communities, social institutions, societies, and governments.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea:

Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children,

the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt and grief;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 19:17, 20-23

Psalm 145:8-13

1 John 4:7-14

Mark 10:13-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 105

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Feast of Sts. Marcellus the Centurion and Cassian of Tangiers (October 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  Part of the Roman Province of Africa

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION

Also known as Saint Marcellus of Tangiers

His feast = October 30

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SAINT CASSIAN OF TANGIERS

His feast transferred from December 3

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MARTYRS AT TANGIERS, 298

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The Roman Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305) established the Tetrarchy in 293.  The Tetrarchy was his temporary solution to the persistent solution to the problem of Roman imperial succession, frequently accomplished via military coups d’état.  Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into two parts–east and west.  He established himself as the Augustus of the East and appointed Maximian as the Augustus of the West.  Diocletian was the senior Augustus; Maximian answered to him.  Each of the Augustii had a Caesar, or vice emperor, with the right of succession to the post of Augustus.  The Tetrarchy eventually devolved into civil wars, resolved when Constantine I “the Great” became the sole emperor in 325.

In 298, on the occasion of the birthday of one of the emperors (probably Diocletian), St. Marcellus, a centurion, refused to participate in a pagan offering at Tangiers (now in Morocco).  He made a profession of Christian faith instead.  At the end of the ensuing trial, he received the sentence of death.  The stenographer at the trial was St. Cassian, who made his public profession of faith then went to his martyrdom, also.

St. Marcellus is the patron of conscientious objectors.

St. Cassian is the patron saint of stenographers.

Stories of such martyrs have strengthened the faith of Christians for thousands of years.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, ABOLITIONIST AND FEMINIST; AND MARIA STEWART, ABOLITIONIST, FEMINIST, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF EGLANTYNE JEBB AND DOROTHY BUXTON, FOUNDERS OF SAVE THE CHILDREN

THE FEAST OF FRANK MASON NORTH, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF MARY CORNELIA BISHOP GATES, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED HYMN WRITER

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Jesus our Redeemer, you gave your life to ransom us;

you have also called us to drink your cup and undergo your baptism.

Thank you for the witness of Saints Marcellus the Centurion and Cassian of Tangiers;

may we have faith and resolution too.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21

Psalm 3 or 116

Hebrews 11:32-40

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), 680-681

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Feast of Sts. Maximilian of Antioch, Bonosus, and Maximianus the Soldier (August 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Empire, 330

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF ANTIOCH (DIED CIRCA 353)

SAINT BONOSUS (DIED IN 362)

SAINT MAXIMIANUS THE SOLIDER (DIED IN 362)

Roman Soldiers and Martyrs

These three saints were soldiers of the Herculean Legion of the imperial Roman Army.

The first to die was St. Maximilian of Antioch.  In 353 Constantius II (reigned 337-361) sat on the throne.  He was, for orthodox Christians, a troublesome figure, given his Arian sympathies and policy of exiling certain prominent orthodox bishops, including St. Athanasius of Alexandria.  St. Maximilian received an order to remove the monogram of Christ, the Chi-Ro, from the legion’s standard.  He refused, and became a martyr.

Above:  The Chi-Ro

Image in the Public Domain

A few years later, the pagan Julian the Apostate (reigned 361-363) launched an empire-wide persecution of Christianity.  It was not a full-scale persecution, such as that Diocletian had started in 303, but it was still persecution.  Julian did sent St. Athanasius of Alexandria into another exile and found ways to make life unduly difficult for Christians.  He, for example, ordered that Christians found guilty of crimes receive harsher sentences than non-Christians convicted of the same offenses.  Julian also forbade Christians to hold teaching jobs.  He sought to restore the empire to its religious state prior to the time his kinsman Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) had legalized Christianity, a growing religion.  Officially Christianity remained legal.  Officially Julian’s policy was religious toleration.  Actually, his policy was the opposite of toleration.  Julian, in his mind, had a mission from the gods to heal an ailing society.  In 362 Sts. Bonosus and Maximianus the Soldier received orders to replace the Labarum of Constantine, which included the Chi-Ro with a pagan banner.  They refused, became prisoners, endured tortures, and died.

Christianity outlived Constantius II and Julian the Apostate.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Maximilian of Antioch, Saint Bonosus, and Saint Maximianus the Soldier

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them 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), 714

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Feast of Sts. Camerinus, Cisellus, and Luxorius of Sardinia (August 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CAMERINUS OF SARDINIA

SAINT CISELLUS OF SARDINIA

SAINT LUXORIUS OF SARDINIA

Martyrs at Sardinia, 303

Most Roman persecution of Christians was local and on-and-off.  Some emperors launched empire-wide persecutions, however.  Christianity was, from a certain point of view, an existential threat to the well-being of the Roman Empire.  A common assumption held that, as long as enough people followed the gods, the gods would bless the empire, and it would be strong and prosperous.  There was allegedly a quid pro quo.  Thus making sacrifices to the gods on behalf of the empire was a patriotic duty, according to the imperial government.  Jews were exempt, but they had to pay a special tax instead.

The Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305), presiding over a shaky empire beset by internal woes and external invasions, launched the Great Persecution in 303.  He sought to eradicate Christianity.  In 303 and 304 he issued a series of edicts forbidding gatherings for worship, ordering the destruction of churches and sacred books, requiring all Christian clergy to sacrifice to the gods, and mandating that all Christians sacrifice to the gods.

Three casualties of this persecution died on the island of Sardinia in 303.  Sts. Camerinus and Cisellus were recently baptized youths sentenced to die via beheading.  Their comforter at the end was St. Luxorius, a Christian and a Roman soldier.  His life was also forfeit.

Christianity proved to have more durability than Diocletian had imagined.  Many Christians died, but the faith outlasted the Roman Empire.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants Saints Camerinus, Cisellus, and Luxorius of Sardinia

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of the world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of the Martyrs of Edessa (August 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Roman Macedonia, 330

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BASSA OF EDESSA

Also known as Saint Vassa of Edessa

mother of

SAINT AGAPIUS OF EDESSA

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SAINT FIDELIS OF EDESSA

Also known as Saint Pistus of Edessa

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SAINT THEOGONIUS OF EDESSA

Also known as Saint Theognis of Edessa

Martyrs at Edessa, Macedonia, Circa 304

Most Roman persecution of Christians was local and on-and-off.  Some emperors launched empire-wide persecutions, however.  Christianity was, from a certain point of view, an existential threat to the well-being of the Roman Empire.  A common assumption held that, as long as enough people followed the gods, the gods would bless the empire, and it would be strong and prosperous.  There was allegedly a quid pro quo.  Thus making sacrifices to the gods on behalf of the empire was a patriotic duty, according to the imperial government.  Jews were exempt, but they had to pay a special tax instead.

The Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305), presiding over a shaky empire beset by internal woes and external invasions, launched the Great Persecution in 303.  He sought to eradicate Christianity.  In 303 and 304 he issued a series of edicts forbidding gatherings for worship, ordering the destruction of churches and sacred books, requiring all Christian clergy to sacrifice to the gods, and mandating that all Christians sacrifice to the gods.

In Edessa, Macedonia, lived a particular family:  a pagan priest and his Christian wife and three sons.  The priest turned his family into the local authorities.  St. Bassa/Vassa prayed and encouraged her three sons to remain true to their faith as they refused to sacrifice to the gods and went to their deaths.  Then she suffered the same fate.

Christianity proved to have more durability than Diocletian had imagined.  Many Christians died, but the faith outlasted the Roman Empire.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF VERCELLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT; AND SAINT JOHN OF MATERA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMINGO HENARES DE ZAFIRA CUBERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHUNHAY, VIETNAM, AND MARTYR; SAINT PHANXICÔ DO VAN CHIEU, VIETNAMESE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT CLEMENTE IGNACIO DELGADO CEBRIÁN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants the Martyrs of Edessa

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of the world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of St. Acacius of Byzantium (May 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Balkans and Asia Minor in 120 C.E.

Scanned from Rand McNally World Atlas (1968)

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SAINT ACACIUS OF BYZANTIUM (DIED IN 303)

Martyr

Also known as Saint Agathius of Byzantium

Alternative feast days = January 16, April 17, and May 7

St. Acacius, raised a Christian in Cappadocia, died for his faith.  In 303, during the reign (284-305) of the Emperor Diocletian, he was a Roman centurion stationed in Thrace (in modern terms, eastern Bulgaria).  His only offense was to be a Christian.  Our saint, tortured at Pyrrinthus, Thrace (now in the European portion of Turkey), then transported to Byzantium (later Constantinople then Istanbul), suffered more tortures there then died by beheading with a sword.  Decades later, Emperor Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) dedicated a church in honor of St. Acacius, who was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (feast day = August 8) until the Roman Catholic Church abolished that feast in 1969.

St. Acacius, invoked against headaches, is also the patron saint of soldiers.

To ponder the lives of saints who lived long ago is to engage in a worthy activity.  Certainly this reminds one of the fact that one stands within an old faith tradition and therefore of the importance of the best of that tradition.  One also strengthens one’s sense of temporal perspective.  Yes, facts about these saints are frequently less numerous than those about more recent saints, but we can still learn from these saints from older times.  We should.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr

Saint Acacius of Byzantium 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. Maura and Timothy of Antinoe (May 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Sts. Maura and Timothy of Antinoe

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINTS MAURA AND TIMOTHY OF ANTINOE

Martyrs, 286

Alternative feast day = September 25

Sts. Maura and Timothy of Antinoe, Egypt, were Christians, newlyweds, and martyrs.  During the reign (284-305) of the Emperor Diocletian Roman authorities arrested or saints, married for 20 days.  The initial strategy was to convince St. Timothy, enduring torture, to talk by threatening to torture St. Maura, in prison, also.  St. Maura, who confessed her faith, had to endure unspeakable torture and mutilation anyway.  St. Timothy refused to satisfy his torturers.  The couple died via crucifixion, facing, each other, for ten days.

The blood of the martyrs waters the church.

That is an old and accurate saying.  One might wonder how much time must pass and how many people must die before tyrants realize that, although they have the power to kill people, they lack the capacity to kill ideas, even in the name of national security.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

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

THE FEAST OF KASPAR BIENEMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOSIAH IRONS, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS DAUGHTER, GENEVIEVE MARY IRONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs Saints Maura and Timothy of Antinoe

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them 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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