Archive for the ‘Marcus Aurelius’ Tag

Feast of Saint Glyceria of Heraclea (May 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thrace in the Roman Empire

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GLYCERIA OF HERACLEA (156-CIRCA 177)

Martyr, Circa 177

Also known as Saint Glyceria of Trajanopolis

St. Glyceria is a saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.  Given the antiquity of her hagiography, one may reasonable expect that hagiographers can and do consult a list of Roman Emperors, in her case, and correctly identify the emperor during whose reign she died.  Various accounts place her death from 171 to 177, but always in the 170s.  Nevertheless, some of these accounts identify the emperor at the time of St. Glyceria’s martyrdom as Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161).  No, the emperor was Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161-180).

Offering to the gods on behalf of the Roman Empire was a patriotic and civic duty of Gentiles.  (The empire exempted the Jews.)  The rationale for the offering was that the gods would continue to bless and prosper the Roman Empire as long as its subjects honored the gods–a divine quid pro quo.  The growth of Christianity, therefore, constituted a perceived threat to the empire.

National and imperial security have long provided excuses for a host of sins.  To quote Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), the British linguist and “Great Moralist,”

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

St. Glyceria (literally, “Sweetness”) came from a prominent family.  Her father, Macarius, was a governor, in modern political terms.  The family moved to Trajanopolis, Thrace, when our saint was quite young.  Her parents died when she was a minor.  The orphan met Christians and eventually converted.  St. Glyceria was a secret disciple until she had to risk her life to avoid betraying her faith.  St. Glyceria was at Heraclea (near Propontius, the modern-day Sea of Marmara) when she disobeyed the imperial order to sacrifice to the gods on behalf of the Roman Empire.  She died of torture.  Then wild animals consumed her corpse.

The last vestiges of the Roman Empire collapsed in 1453.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 327

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Saint Glyceria of Heraclea

triumphed over suffering and was faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember her in thanksgiving,

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

that we may receive with her 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 St. Justin Martyr (June 1)   1 comment

Above:  St. Justin Martyr

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JUSTIN MARTYR (100/110-166/167)

Christian Apologist and Martyr

St. Justin Martyr was a major figure in early Christian history.  He, a student of Greek philosophy, pioneered the project of reconciling faith and reason.

St. Justin grew up a pagan.  He, born at Flavia Neopolis (formerly Shechem, Samaria; subsequently Nablus, in the West Bank of the River Jordan), spent years studying and mastering various schools of Greek philosophy.  Our saint sought meaning.  Circa 130 St. Justin found that meaning after a meeting with a Christian on the beach at Ephesus.  Our saint, while acknowledging the wisdom and truth present in Greek philosophy, came to regard Christianity as the sole rational religion and the only

safe and profitable philosophy.

One of the people he debated was one Trypho, a Jew, who argued that the New Testament distorts the Hebrew Bible.  St. Justin replied that the latter actually foreshadows the former.

Circa 150 St. Justin moved to Rome, where he founded a school and where he spent the rest of his life.  Our saint wrote influential texts, some of which have survived.  St. Justin addressed the First Apology (circa 155) to the Emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161) and his adopted sons, Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161-180) and Lucius Verus.  Our saint refuted allegations of immorality against the Church, argued for the reasonableness of Christianity, and described contemporary Baptismal and Eucharistic rites and theology.  The bases of the Dialogue with Trypho were encounters at Ephesus.  The audience for the Second Apology (161) was the Roman Senate.

St. Justin, orthodox according to the standards of the time, became something of a heretic post mortem, as did other Ante-Nicene Fathers, notably Origen and St. Clement of Alexandria.  St. Justin, for example, concluded that God the Son is subordinate to God the Father, a position antithetical to subsequent orthodox developments in Trinitarian theology.

Circa 165 St. Justin debated the Cynic philosopher Crescens publicly; this led to the demise of our saint and six of his pupils.  Apparently Crescens was an unsavory character; St. Justin accused him of being immoral and ignorant.  The revenge of Crescens proved St. Justin’s first point.  The Cynic philosopher denounced St. Justin and six of his pupils as Christians.  (The authorities could have arrested St. Justin for years, if they had been of a mind to do; he was living openly and writing apologia to imperial officials, after all.)  When St. Justin and the others refused to sacrifice to the gods, they endured scourging then met their martyrdom via beheading.

These martyrs had the courage of their convictions.

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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O God, who has given your Church wisdom and revealed deep and secret things:

Grant that we, like your servant Justin and in union with his prayers,

may find your truth an abiding refuge all the days of our lives;

through Jesus Christ, who with the Holy Spirit lives and reigns

with you, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

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

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Almighty and everlasting God, you found your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher,

seeking the true God, and you revealed to him the sublime wisdom of your eternal Word:

Grant that all who seek you, or a deeper knowledge of you, may find and be found by you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Deuteronomy 7:7-9

Psalm 16:5-11

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

John 12:44-50

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 401

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Feast of Sts. Victor the Martyr and Corona of Damascus (May 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Victor the Martyr

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT VICTOR THE MARTYR

Roman Soldier and Christian Martyr, 165

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SAINT CORONA OF DAMASCUS

Christian Martyr, 165

Also known as Saint Stephanida and Saint Corona the Martyr

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Alternative feast days = November 11 and November 24

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Emperor Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161-180 C.E.), in the words of classical historian Michael Grant, considered Christians to be

self-dramatizing martyrs who perversely refused to participate in the common life of the Roman Empire which, for all its imperfections, seemed to him the most complete earthly expression of the ideal Stoic cosmopolis that he always held before his eyes.

The Roman Emperors:  A Biographical Guide to the Rulers of Imperial Rome, 31 BC-AD 476 (1985), pages 92-93

In other words, Christians were allegedly menaces to society because they refused to conform.  And, if one assumed that the gods would continue to bless the Roman Empire as long as the populace honored the deities, one thought of the Christian gospel as an existential threat to the empire.  From that perspective persecuting Christians was an essential policy, in the name of imperial security.

St. Victor was a Roman soldier stationed in Syria.  He, being a Christian, refused to perform his civic duty–to offer a sacrifice to the gods.  For this offense St. Victor became a prisoner and suffered tortures.  Before his jailers beheaded him, they blinded him.  St. Corona/Stephanida, from our perspective in 2017 the teenage wife of one of the soldiers torturing St. Victor in Damascus, was also a Christian.  She nursed St. Victor while he was in prison.  For that she also went to martyrdom.

Although certain governments are inherently bad–evil, even–others are not.  Even when a government is not necessarily bad (at least not mostly or entirely), certain actions one might take in service to the state are inherently immoral, even when one performs them in the name of national security.  One might not seek to engage in perfidy, but one might perform perfidious acts anyway.  One might not know what one is really doing.  May God forgive one.

May one also honor the faith of Sts. Victor and Corona.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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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 Sts. Victor the Martyr and Corona of Damascus,

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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