Archive for the ‘Eusebius of Caesarea’ Tag

Feast of St. Blandina and Her Companions, the Martyrs of Lyons (June 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Blandina

Image in the Public Domain

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THE 48 MARTYRS OF LYONS, 177

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote at length of these martyrs at the beginning of Book 5 of his Ecclesiastical History.

Empire-wide persecutions of Christians were rare in the Roman Empire.  Usually persecutions were regional and occasional.  For some period of time prior to 177 there was no persecution in Lyons.  Then it resumed.

The persecution of Christians in Lyons assumed several forms.  Initially public marginalization, such as exclusion from the marketplace, occurred.  Then pagan mobs attacked Christians and vandalized their homes.  The next stage entailed public interrogation, followed by incarceration and torture.  At this stage most of the martyrs, including St. Pothinus, the aged Bishop of Lyons, died.  By means of torture authorities extracted from some victims false confessions of sordid offenses, such as incest and cannibalism.  Under pressure some Christians, including St. Biblis, renounced the faith, only to reclaim it, then to die horribly.

At the end of the persecution crowds filled the amphitheater for six days to watch the martyrdoms of St. Sanctus (a deacon), St. Attalus (a longtime church member), St. Maturus (a recent convert), St. Ponticus (who was fifteen years old), and St. Blandina (a slave).  St. Blandina was the last one to die.  Eusebius concluded:

After they were exposed and insulted for six days, the martyrs’ bodies were burned to ash and swept by the wicked into the Rhone, which flows nearby, so that not even a trace of them would still appear on earth.  They did this as if to conquer God and defeat their rebirth so that, as they said, “they might not have any hope of resurrection, because of which they have introduced a strange new cult, ignored torture, and gone joyfully to death.  Now let’s see if they will rise again and if their god will save them.”

–Translated by Paul L. Maier (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel Publications, 1999), page 178

God and history have issued their verdicts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PACHOMIUS THE GREAT, FOUNDER OF CHRISTIAN COMMUNAL MONASTICISM

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERTO DE NOBOLI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY IN INDIA

THE FEAST OF GREVILLE PHILLIMORE, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MEUX BENSON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST; CHARLES CHAPMAN GRAFTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, COFOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST, AND BISHOP OF FOND DU LAC; AND CHARLES GORE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF WORCESTER, BIRMINGHAM, AND OXFORD; FOUNDER OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE RESURRECTION; THEOLOGIAN; AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND WORLD PEACE

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Grant, O Lord, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs

Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of you,

and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 12:1-3a

Psalm 34:1-8

1 Peter 1:3-9

Mark 8:34-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 403

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Feast of St. Quadratus the Apologist (May 26)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Roman Empire, 117 C.E.

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

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SAINT QUADRATUS THE APOLOGIST (SECOND CENTURY C.E.)

Early Christian Apologist

Eusebius of Caesarea (circa 260-339) mentioned one Quadratus in his Ecclesiastical History.  The great historian, without explaining who Quadratus was, wrote that Quadratus had written a defense of Christian faith and sent it to the Roman Emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138) because, as Eusebius explained,

certain wicked men were trying to get our people into trouble.

Eusebius–The Church History:  A New Translation with Commentary, translated by Paul L. Maier (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel Publications, 1999), page 136

Eusebius also wrote that copies of that document were commonplace among Christians then praised the intelligence and orthodoxy of Quadratus.  Next the great historian quoted that apologia:

Our Savior’s deeds were always there to see, for they were true:  those who were cured or those who rose from the dead were seen not only when they were cured or raised but were constantly there to see, not only while the Savior was living among us, but also for some time after his departure.  Some of them, in fact, survived right up to our time.

–Maier, page 136

Copies of the apologia of Quadratus were commonplace in the lifetime of Eusebius, but the document has not survived the ravages of time.  We would not have the opportunity to read any part of it except for the fact that Eusebius included an excerpt.

St. Jerome (347-419) understood the apologist to have been St. Quadratus of Athens, the Bishop of Athens, Greece, in the 120s.  Many subsequent scholars have disagreed with that conclusion, though.  On one hand, the apologia dated to 124 or 125, so the timeframe fit.  On the other hand, how many Quadratuses were contemporaries of each other?

Regardless of who St. Quadratus the Apologist was, we can be certain of one fact:  he was the earliest known Christian apologist.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PHILIP AND DANIEL BERRIGAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF ANNE ROSS COUSIN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD THOMAS NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER; BROTHER OF BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ENGLISH BAPTIST EVANGELIST, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS NIECE, CAROLINE MARIA NOEL, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARIA JOSEPHA ROSSELLO, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF PITY

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Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the example of your servant Saint Quadratus the Apologist,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and, at the last,

share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

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

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

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of Sts. Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Irenaeus of Lyons (February 23)   2 comments

ichthys

Above:  Ichthys

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (CIRCA 35-107/115)

Bishop of Antioch and Martyr

His feast transferred from October 17

met and wrote to

SAINT POLYCARP OF SMYRNA (69-FEBRUARY 23, 155/156)

Bishop of Smyrna and Martyr

His feast = February 23

met

SAINT IRENAEUS OF LYONS (CIRCA 130-CIRCA 202)

Bishop of Lyons and Martyr

His feast transferred from June 28

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So gird up your loins now and serve God in fear and sincerity.  No more of the vapid discourses and sophistries of the vulgar; put your trust in Him who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory and a seat at His own right hand.  All things in heaven and earth have been made subject to Him; everything that breathes pays Him homage; He comes to judge the living and the dead, and God will require His blood at the hands of any who refuse Him allegiance.  And He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also, if we do His will and live by His commandments, and cherish the things He cherished–if, that is to say, we keep ourselves from wrongdoing, overreaching, penny-pinching, tale-telling, and prevaricating, and bear in mind the words of our Lord in His teaching, Judge not, that you be not judged; forgive, and you will be forgiven; be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; for whatever you measure out to other people will be measured back again to yourselves.  And again, Happy are the poor and they who are persecuted because they are righteous, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

–St. Polycarp, the Epistle to the Philippians, Logion 2, in Early Christian Writings:  The Apostolic Fathers, translated by Maxwell Staniforth and Andrew Louth (New York, NY:  Penguin Books, 1987), page 119-120

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This post replaces three older posts and emphasizes the relationships and influences that bound these three saints in faithful witness.  After all, one of my goals during the ongoing renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.

ignatius-of-antioch

Above:  St. Ignatius of Antioch

Image in the Public Domain

We know little about the life of St. Ignatius of Antioch, whose other name was Theophorus, or “Bearer of God” or “Borne of God.”  He was either the second (if one takes the word of Origen) or the third (if one believes Eusebius of Caesarea) Bishop of Antioch.  In 107 or 115 (depending on the source one consults) ten Roman soldiers escorted St. Ignatius on a long route from Antioch to Rome, to die by becoming lion food.  The purpose of the extended parading of our saint was to humiliate him.  Nevertheless, St. Ignatius conducted himself with dignity and therefore converted many people to Christianity.  Along the way St. Ignatius met St. Polycarp of Smyrna and wrote seven epistles:

  1. To the Ephesians,
  2. To the Magnesians,
  3. To the Trallians,
  4. To the Romans,
  5. To the Philadelphians,
  6. To the Smyrnaeans, and
  7. To Polycarp.

As St. Ignatius wrestled with his anxieties he encouraged others in their faith.

Since I had been impressed by the godly qualities of your mind–anchored, as it seemed, to an unshakable rock–it gave me much pleasure to set eyes on your sainted countenance (may God give me joy of it).  But let me charge you to press on even more strenuously in your course, in all the grace with which you are clothed, and to call all your people to salvation.  You must do justice to your position, by showing the greatest diligence both in its temporal and spiritual duties.  Give thought especially to unity, for there is nothing more important than this.  Make yourself the support of all and sundry, as the Lord is to you, and continue to bear lovingly with them all, as you are doing at present.  Spend your time in constant prayer, and beg for ever larger gifts of wisdom.  Be watchful and unsleeping in spirit.  Address yourself to people personally, as is the way of God Himself, and carry the infirmities of them all on your shoulders, as a good champion of Christ out to do.  The heavier the labour, the richer the reward.

–St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Epistle to Polycarp, Logion 1, in Early Christian Writings (1987), page 109

St. Ignatius, no advocate of sola scriptura, encouraged the frequent celebration of the Eucharist and considered Christian factionalism to be “the beginning of all evils” (the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Logion 8).

polycarp-of-smyrna

Above:  St. Polycarp of Smyrna

Image in the Public Domain

We also know little about the life and much about the death of St. Polycarp of Smyrna (69-115/156), who studied under St. John the Apostle/Divine/Evangelist.  St. Polycarp, a native and the Bishop of Smyrna, in Asia Minor, was a link between the Apostles of Jesus and St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 130-circa 202), the first great Catholic theologian.  St. Polycarp defended Christian orthodoxy against heresies, especially Marcionism (which sought to remove Jewish influences from the canon of scripture) and Valentinianism (a variety of Gnosticism).

In 106 or 114 our saint traveled to Rome to meet with Pope St. Anacetus (reigned circa 155-circa 166).  They agreed to disagree regarding the issue of Quartodecimanism, the position (dominant in churches in Asia Minor) that the churches ought to celebrate Easter on the date of 14 Nisan (the date of the Passover), regardless of the day of the week upon which that date falls.  St. Polycarp favored Quartodecimanism; the Pope thought that the celebration of Easter should always fall on a Sunday.

In 107 or 115, shortly after returning to Smyrna from Rome, St. Polycarp became a martyr.  Authorities arrested him at a pagan festival and burned him at a stake.

St. Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians, perhaps a composite of two epistles (in the style of 2 Corinthians), has survived, fortunately.  (Many ancient documents have not survived, sadly.)  One Evarestus wrote The Martyrdom of Polycarp, which has also survived.  These two documents have provided much invaluable information about St. Polycarp.

Such then is the record of Polycarp the Blessed.  Including those from Philadelphia, he was the twelfth to meet a martyr’s death in Smyrna; though he is the only one to be singled out for universal remembrance and to be talked of everywhere, even in heathen circles.  Not only was he a famous Doctor, he was a martyr without a peer; and one whose martyrdom all aspire to imitate, so fully does it accord with the Gospel of Christ.  His steadfastness proved more than a match for the Governor’s injustice, and won him his immortal crown.  Now, in the fullness of joy among the Apostles  and all the hosts of heaven, he gives glory to the Almighty God and Father, and utters the praises of our Lord Jesus Christ–who is the Saviour of our souls, the Master of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church the wide world over.

–Evarestus, The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Logion 19, in Early Christian Writings (1987), page 131

irenaeus

Above:  St. Irenaeus of Lyons

Image in the Public Domain

St. Polycarp met a very young St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 130-circa 202).  We know little about the native of Asia Minor, who studied at Rome and became a priest and Lyons.  We do know, however, that St. Irenaeus was a tolerant man.  Even as he argued against certain heresies he contended for the lenient treatment of heretics.  In the case of the Montanists, apocalyptic ascetics in Asia Minor, St. Irenaeus, who argued against their theology and practices, carried to a letter on their behalf to Pope St. Eleutherius (reigned circa 174-189) in 177/178.  Our saint favored toleration fo the Montanists.  The Pope, who did not consider them to be threats, did not countenance any actions against them.

In our saint’s absence Pothinus, the Bishop of Lyons, became a martyr.  In 178, when St. Irenaeus returned to the city, he became the next bishop.  As the Bishop of Lyons our saint wrote to Pope St. Victor I (reigned 189-198) in support of Quartodecimanism.  St. Irenaeus, the first great Catholic theologian, also wrote against Gnosticism.  Whereas St. Clement of Alexandria (circa 150-circa 210/215) refuted Gnosticism with a Christian Gnosis, St. Irenaeus argued against that heresy by citing the goodness of creation and the resurrection of the dead, quoting scripture, and affirming Apostolic Succession.

Sts. Irenaeus seems to have become a martyr in 200, give or take a few years.

Sts. Ignatius, Polycarp, and Irenaeus were foundational figures in Christianity.  They were spiritual giants to whom we who follow Christ in the twenty-first century owe a great debt of gratitude.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Grant, almighty God, that following the teaching of

Sts. Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Irenaeus of Lyons,

we may know you as the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent,

that we may be counted worthy ever to be numbered among the sheep who hear his voice;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Nehemiah 8:1-8 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Matthew 13:51-52

–Adapted from The Church of South India, The Book of Common Worship (1963), page 67

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Feast of St. Pamphilus of Caesarea and His Companions (June 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruins of the Roman Aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima

SAINT PAMPHILUS OF CAESAREA (DIED 309)

Bible Scholar and Translator; Martyr

One of the pleasures of reading then writing about notable saints is feeding the intellectual side of my nature.  My blogging functions as a creative outlet.  Another associated pleasure is learning about long-dead people I would have liked to know.  Among these historical heroes was St. Pamphilus of Caesaria, born to a wealthy Beirut family in the late 200s.  The saint studied at the great catechetical school of Alexandria, Egypt.  There he came under the influence of Pierius, a follower of Origen, another person I admire greatly.  St. Pamphilus, who also taught at that school in time, became a priest at Caesarea Maritima.

St. Pamphilus was a great scholar.  During his lifetime the saint had a reputation for being well-informed and maintaining a large private library, one invaluable for research by himself and others.  Known as the leading Bible scholar of his time, St. Pamphilus taught, mentored, and befriended Eusebius of Caesarea, the great historian of early Christianity.  Eusebius described St. Pamphilus as

a most admirable man of our times and the glory of the church at Caesarea, whose illustrious deeds we have set forth….

Ecclesiastical History, Book 8, Chapter 13, (6), translated by C. F. Cruse

and as

that dearest of my friends and associates, a man who for every virtue was the most illustrious martyr of our times.

Ecclesiastical History, The Book of Martyrs, Chapter 7

St. Pamphilus, who lived simply and gave his wealth to the poor, also translated the Bible.  His library has long since ceased to exist, unfortunately, as has the biography Eusebius wrote about him.

On another note, the saint and Eusebius did collaborate on the Apology for Origen.  I approve of this, for Origen needed defenders; he had many detractors.

As Eusebius has informed us, the life of St. Pamphilus ended in martyrdom.  The scholarly saint refused to sacrifice to pagan gods at Caesarea Maritima in 308.  Imprisoned for over a year, he died by beheading in 309.  Also beheaded were St. Paul of Jamnia and St. Valens of Jerusalem, a deacon.  Their crime was to be a Christian.  The man who ordered their executions was Firmilian, the local Roman governor.  On that day he also oversaw the crucifixion of St. Theodolus of Caesarea, a former servant of his who was a Christian.  It was a bloody day at Caesarea Maritima.  One St. Porphyrius of Caesarea, a student of St. Pamphilius, requested the opportunity to bury his mentor’s body.  For this alleged offense Firmilian ordered him tortured then burned to death.  An on-looker named St. Seleucus of Cappadocia applauded the faith of St. Porphyrius.  So Firmilian had this man beheaded.

Such violence flows from fear.  One might wonder why Romans persecuted those Gentiles who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods and those who sympathized with such dissidents.  These violent acts flowed from the assumption that the gods, whose existence most Mediterranean people of the time affirmed, would bless the empire and cause it to prosper so long as people sacrificed to them.  The Romans, being relatively tolerant of religious differences, exempted Jews from this civic duty.  Yet this tolerance did not extend to dissident Gentiles, depending on who was governor in a particular region at a certain time.  Most persecutions were regional, and empire-wide persecutions were rare.  As the empire faced foreign and domestic turmoil, cracking down on these Gentiles who refused to sacrifice to imaginary deities seemed rational, from a certain point of view.  These Christians constituted a real threat to the health of the empire, persecutors thought.

May we know then remember that those who engage in persecution might not think of themselves as villains.  They can probably rationalize their actions to themselves and others.  That said, not every dispute in a church-state relationship indicates persecution; may we not “cry wolf.”  And may we not persecute either.

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Dear God of life, who has endured us with the blessings of the intellect,

we thank you for the scholarship of Saint Pamphilus of Caesarea,

whose output influenced his contemporaries and his successors in the Christian faith positively.

We thank you also for his faith and that of his fellow martyrs,

Saint Paul of Jamnia,

Saint Valens of Jerusalem,

Saint Theodolus of Caesarea,

Saint Porphyrius of Caesarea,

and Saint Seleucus of Cappadocia,

each of whom took up his cross and followed you.

We mourn the violence which leads to martyrdom

while rejoicing that such violence has failed to crush Christianity.

May such violence cease,

tolerance increase,

and love of you flourish.

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

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 22

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Mark 8:31-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN MARTYRS OF THE MELANESIAN BROTHERHOOD

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, TEACHER AND EVANGELIST