Archive for the ‘St. Dionysius Exiguus’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius (December 2)   8 comments

Above:  The Roman Empire in 565

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HORMISDAS (DIED AUGUST 6, 523)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from August 6

father of

SAINT SILVERIUS (DIED DECEMBER 2, 537)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 537

Alternative feast day = June 20

Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius, father and son, had to contend with imperial and international politics.  The Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, wanted to retake Italy.  The Ostrogothic kings of Italy disagreed.

St. Hormisdas was a reconciler.  He, a married layman prior to ordination, worked closely with Pope St. Symmachus (in office 498-514).  St. Symmachus had a rival, the antipope Lawrence (498-499, 501-506; died 507 or 508).  The schism led to years of violence in the streets of Rome.  St. Symmachus had permitted Lawrence to retire.  St. Hormisdas, elected to succeed St. Symmachus on July 20, 514, completed the healing by welcoming the remaining, hardcore supporters of Lawrence back into the fold.

St. Hormisdas also ended the Acacian Schism (484-519).  In 584, Acacius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, had compromised regarding Chalcedonian Christology.  He had omitted the doctrine that Jesus had two natures–human and divine.  This was a way of assuaging Monophysites, who thought that Jesus had only a divine nature.  Pope St. Felix III (II) (in office 483-492) had excommunicated Acacius.  For decades the church was split, East and West.  The accession of Emperor Justin I (reigned 518-527), a Chalcedonian Christian, created the opportunity for reunion.  That reunion also had a political purpose; Justin I and his nephew, Justinian I “the Great” (reigned 527-565), wanted Italy back.  Ecclesiastical reunification helped imperial reconquest.

St. Hormisdas, who commissioned St. Dionysius Exiguus (circa 500-circa 550) to translate the canons of the Greek Church into Latin, died on August 6, 523.

The next Bishops of Rome were:

  1. St. John I (August 13, 523-May 10, 526),
  2. St. Felix IV (III) (July 12, 526-September 22, 530),
  3. Boniface II (September 22, 530-October 17, 532),
  4. John II (January 2, 533-May 8, 535), and
  5. St. Agapitus I (May 13, 535-April 22, 536).

There was also an antipope, Dioscorus, briefly (September 22-October 14, 530).

St. Agapitus I died in Constantinople on April 22, 536.  He had displeased Empress Theodora, a Monophysite, by deposing Anthimus, the (Monophysite) Patriarch of Constantinople.  Theodora wanted Antimus restored to his office.  She offered a quid pro quo to the nuncio, deacon Vigilius; she would make him the Pope if he, as the Bishop of Rome, would restore Anthimus to office.  Vigilius agreed then returned to Rome.

Vigilius arrived too late.  Theodahad (reigned 534-536), the last Ostrogothic king of Italy, had already forced the election of subdeacon St. Silverius, son of St. Hormisdas, on June 8, 536.  The new Pope never had a chance, for he was a pawn of one leader and the target of another.

Imperial forces occupied Rome on December 10, 536.  St. Silverius and the Roman Senate, seeking to prevent bloodshed, urged the citizens to surrender to the Roman Army.  Meanwhile, the Ostrogothic Army beseiged the city.  St. Silverius, framed via forged documents, was, according to Imperial authorities, cooperating with the Ostrogoths.  Theodora orchestrated the removal of St. Silverius from office on March 11, 537.  Vigilius became the next Pope on March 29.

St. Silverius, a prisoner, became a monk and an exile at Patara, Lycia, Anatolia.  The local bishop interceded on his behalf with Justinian I, who ordered a fair trial and the return of St. Silverius to Rome.  The result of an acquittal would be restoration to the See of Rome; the result of a conviction would be reassignment to a different see.  None of that came to pass, however.  Vigilius sent agents to St. Silverius; they forced his abdication on November 11, 537.  Our saint, having never returned to Rome, died of starvation and other hardships on December 2, 537.

Vigilius engaged in political conflicts with Justinian I and Theodora during his tenure, which ended with death by natural causes (gall stones) on June 7, 555.  He had been unpopular in life.  He remained so in death.

Sts. Hormisdas and Silverius manifested reconciling spirits and concern for people.  St. Silverius did his best, but others had plans for him.  He was faithful to the end, starving in exile.

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God of shalom, we thank you for the reconciling spirit of St. Hormisdas

and the commitment unto death of St. Silverius, Bishops of Rome.

May we also lead conciliatory lives and be willing, if necessary,

to remain faithful unto persecution, ill treatment, and martyrdom,.

May the light of your love shine through us no matter what,

so that we may live and die as agents of divine grace.

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

Tobit 3:1-6

Psalm 2

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 20, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH AUGUSTUS SEISS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES COFFIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HANS ADOLF BRORSON, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRIEDRICH HERTZOG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

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Feast of St. Dionysius Exiguus (September 1)   1 comment

Above:  Roman Imperial Borders in the Balkans, 330 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS (CIRCA 470-544/550/560)

Roman Catholic Monk and Reformer of the Calendar

Also known as Saint Dionysius the Small, Little, Short, and Humble

The Romans calculated time according to the founding of the city of Rome–Ab Urbe Condita (A.U.C.), or “Since the Founding of the City” or “In the Year of the City.”  That system persisted in much of Europe into what we now call the late first millennium A.D./C.E.  That system went by the wayside because, in large part, of St. Dionysius Exiguus, born in Scythia Minor (modern-day Romania), in the Roman Empire, circa 1223 A.U.C. (470 A.D./C.E.)  He, a monk and apparently never an abbot, called himself Exiguus, Latin for humble, short, little, and small; it was not a reference to his stature.  Our saint lived in Rome starting circa 1253 A.U.C. (500 A.D./C.E.).

St. Dionysius Exiguus was a talented and respected man who took assignments from popes.  He was a mathematician, an astronomer, and a theologian.  He calculated tables for celebrating Easter, based on the lunar calendar.  He collection of 401 ecclesiastical canons spanned papal pronouncements and statements from pivotal ecumenical councils.  Our saint was historically important for those matters alone.

The major historical contribution of St. Dionysius Exiguus was changing the labels of years.  He considered the Incarnation to have been the dividing line in history.  (So far, so good.)  However, he miscalculated the date and year of the birth of Jesus as December 25, 753 A.U.C., which he renamed December 25, 1 Before Christ.  Therefore 754 A.U.C. retroactively became Anno Domini (“In the Year of Our Lord”) 1.  (Contrary to chronologies in many sources, there was no year 0, according to St. Dionysius Exiguus.)  This calculation, which he made in 1278 A.U.C./525 C.E., was in error.  Herod the Great, who, according to the Gospel of Matthew, ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, died in 749 A.U.C. (4 B.C./B.C.E)., therefore the birth of Jesus probably occurred in 747 A.U.C. (6 B.C./B.C.E.).

Some people have accused me of the alleged offense of political correctness or of being an atheist or agnostic when they have noticed my use of B.C.E. and C.E.  They have misunderstood me.  Certain ones have also had political and/or theological axes to grind, so to speak.

I am a practicing Christian.  I am also a historian.  I refuse to state that the birth of Jesus occurred “Before Christ”–not by a week (as St. Dionysius Exiguus intended) and certainly not by six years.   This is a matter of avoiding inaccuracy in the timing of a major event.  That is the sole reason I use “Before the Common Era” (B.C.E.) in lieu of “Before Christ” (B.C.) and “Common Era” (C.E.) in lieu of Anno Domini (A.D.).  “Common to what?” is a question one might ask legitimately.  But at least I am not placing the birth of Jesus “Before Christ.”

Anyone who criticizes me for this or wishes to do so needs to get a life.

The date of December 25 has much to do with theology.  Historians know about various festivals of sun gods set on and shortly before that day, about the time of the Winter Solstice, in the Roman period.  December 25 is also nine months to the day after March 25, a traditional date of the creation of the world and the Feast of the Annunciation (the conception of Jesus.)  I hold that Jesus would have been the incarnate form of the Second Person of the Trinity regardless of the date and manner of the conception and the length of the pregnancy.  We are in the purview of theology, not history, in this matter.

The new labeling system for years spread slowly throughout Europe.  The Synod of Whitby (664), in England, adopted it.  Some parts of Europe held onto the old system into what we now call the 800s C.E.

We know little about the life of St. Dionysius Exiguus, not even the year he died; sources disagree.  We know enough, however.

The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church canonized our saint on July 8, 2008.  It established his feast day as September 1, the first day of the church year in Eastern Orthodoxy.

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I wrote both the text above and the proper below, and selected the passages of scripture.

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Loving God, who stands outside time as we experience it,

we thank you for your servant Saint Dionysius Exiguus,

who grasped the importance of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth.

May we likewise revere you and make Christ central to our spiritual lives, to your glory.

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

Isaiah 43:14-21

Psalm 148

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Matthew 2:1-18

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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