Archive for the ‘Gregory III of Naples’ Tag

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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