Archive for the ‘St. Laurence of Rome’ Tag

Feast of St. Zoticus of Constantinople (December 31)   1 comment

Above:  Roman Imperial Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZOTICUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED CIRCA 350)

Priest and Martyr, Circa 350

St. Zoticus of Constantinople comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in America.

St. Zoticus cared for the poor and the sick, and became a martyr.  He was a wealthy man in the service of Emperor Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337).  In 330, when Constantine I moved the imperial capital to Constantinople (the former Byzantium), St. Zoticus also moved to Constantinople.  He became a priest and began to take care of poor people and orphans in his home.  Thus began a homeless shelter, built and maintained at least partially with imperial funds.  St. Zoticus objected to the customary practice by which the military drowned lepers.  He rescued the lepers and cared for them at the shelter.

Emperor Constantius II (reigned 337-361), an Arian, crossed theological paths with the orthodox St. Zoticus.  The immediate cause of the martyrdom of St. Zoticus, however, was much like that of the martyrdom of St. Laurence of Rome about a century earlier.  When Constantius II, assuming that St. Zoticus had used imperial funds to purchase luxury items, tried to claw back the funds.  St. Zoticus presented sick and homeless people.  Constantius II ordered the execution of our saint, dragged over stones, behind wild mules.

St. Zoticus agreed with St. Laurence, who asserted that the poor are the treasures of the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN WYCLIFFE AND JAN HUS, REFORMERS OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR.; AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Sts. Cyriaca, Sixtus II and His Companions, and Laurence of Rome (August 10)   9 comments

Above:  Martyrdom of Sixtus II

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CYRIACA (DIED 249)

Roman Widow and Martyr

Her feast transferred from August 21

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SAINT SIXTUS II (DIED AUGUST 6, 258)

Bishop of Rome, and Martyr

His feast transferred from August 7

His former feast day = August 6

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SAINTS JANUARIUS, VINCENTIUS, MAGNUS, STEPHANUS, FELICISSIMUS, AND AGAPITIUS (DIED AUGUST 6, 258)

Deacons at Rome, and Martyrs

Their feast transferred from August 7

Their former feast day = August 6

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SAINT LAURENCE OF ROME (DIED AUGUST 10, 258)

Archdeacon of Rome, and Martyr

Also known as Saint Lawrence of Rome

His feast = August 10

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Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was off-and-on, usually local, and occasionally empire-wide.  Being a Christian could be risky.  And, to jump the chronology, after Emperor Constantine I “the Great” (reigned 306-337) made Christianity legal (alongside the other legal religions), being a type of Christian other than the type the Emperor was could be perilous.  But for now, back to the time prior to Constantine the Great…..

St. Cyriaca (d. 249) was a wealthy widow.  She gave shelter to persecuted Christians.  St. Laurence, Archdeacon of Rome, responsible for dispensing alms, distributed from her home until she became a martyr (via scourging).  St. Laurence was quite aware of the perils of being a Christian.

Emperor Valerian (reigned 253-260) presided over a troubled empire.  Plagues afflicted various provinces, civil strive existed, the Persian army invaded the empire on one part of the frontier, and Germanic tribes were invading elsewhere along the long border.  In 258-260 Valerian did what many potentates have done when woes have piled high; he distracted people.  He invited people to look over there, not over here.  Valerian persecuted Christians.  He seized church property (including cemeteries), forbade Christians to gather in cemeteries, and required Christians to participate in state pagan rituals.  One rationale for requiring people to participate in such rites was patriotic.  The idea was that the empire would thrive as long as the gods blessed it.  Therefore, the reasoning went, if more and more people ceased to bless the gods, the empire was doomed.  Thus Christians were allegedly threats to imperial security.  (How many violations of human rights have governments ordered in the name of national security since the beginning of the keeping of historical records?)

If such violations of human rights are indeed necessary for a state or empire to continue to exist, that state or empire should fall, for the good of the people.  The existence of such states and empires is morally repugnant.  States and/or empires that respect human rights should replace them.

The Bishop of Rome for slightly less than a year (August 30, 257-August 6, 258) was St. Sixtus II, properly Xystus.  He spent part of his pontificate dealing with the thorny issue of how to relate to holier-than-thou northern African Christians who were rebaptizing those originally baptized by heretics.  This matter predated his pontificate and continued afterward.  St. Sixtus II upheld the Roman Catholic orthodoxy that the validity of a baptism depended on the intentions of the baptized, not of the baptizer, so no rebaptism was necessary.  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, with the emphasis on “one.”

The hammer fell on August 6, 258.  (August 6 was not the Feast of the Transfiguration until 1457, by the way.)  St. Sixtus II, the seven deacons in Rome, and a congregation had gathered illegally in the cemetery of Praetextatus.  Imperial forces beheaded the Pope and four deacons.  By the end of the day two more deacons had become martyrs.  St. Laurence escaped–for a few days.

St. Laurence spent his final days giving all the Church’s money to poor people in Rome.  When he stood before a prefect on August 10, the prefect demanded that St. Laurence hand over the treasures of the Church.  According to St. Ambrose of Milan (337-397), St. Laurence presented the poor people to whom he had given money.  He said,

These are the treasures of the Church.

The prefect disapproved of that reply.  St. Laurence cooked to death on a gridiron.

Valerian’s persecution disrupted the Church for a few years.  However, his son, Gallienus (reigned 253-268), ceased the persecution of Christians and returned seized property.  The next Pope was St. Dionysius (in office July 22, 260-December 26, 268; feast day = December 26), who had to rebuild the Church and to contend with rebaptizers.

With this post I merge three feasts into one.  This makes sense, for each feast relates to the other in a narrative sense.  One of my goals in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, after all, is to emphasize relationships and influences.

I have written enough hagiographies to recognize religious persecution when I see it.  Sometimes it comes from within a tradition; one branch targets another.  On other occasions such persecution comes from adherents of another tradition.  Another option is atheists persecuting the devout.  Persecution takes various forms, including incarcerations and martyrdoms.  I think of the Gestapo hunting down Roman Catholic priests in Poland during World War II, for example.  Priests dying in German concentration camps was another example of persecution.  I am aware of examples of religious persecution in the United States, for I recall, for example, reading about the incarceration of Amish and Mennonite conscientious objectors during World War I.  “Persecution” is a strong word, which one should use cautiously.  I am not aware of any government-sponsored religious persecution in the United States in 2018, yet I hear of persecution fantasies among certain members of the so-called Religious Right in the U.S.A.  Nobody is forcing me to participate in pagan ceremonies.  No government agents are arresting priests for simply being priests.  Governments are not seizing control of churches.  None of this is happening in the U.S.A. in 2018.  I thank God for my religious freedom, which I use.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER 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

Saints Cyriaca, Sixtus II, Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus, Agapitus, and Laurence of Rome,

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), 59

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Feast of St. Suranus of Sora (January 24)   Leave a comment

533-600

Above:  Italy, 533-600

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SURANUS OF SORA (DIED CIRCA 580)

Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr

As St. Laurence of Rome (died in 258) understood, the poor are the treasures of the Church.  Roman imperial officials during the Valerian persecution (257-260) did not like that answer when they sought treasures to seize for the empire, so they roasted him alive on a gridiron.

St. Suranus of Sora came from the same theological cloth as St. Laurence.  St. Suranus was the abbot of the monastery at Sora, Italy.  The Lombards had invaded Italy and were seeking items to plunder.  Our saint gave away the physical treasures of the monastery to refugees, the real treasures of the Church.  When Lombards arrived at the monastery they found no loot, so they murdered the abbot out of spite.

Today the Roman Catholic Church remembers St. Suranus with honor.

Violent people, such as the Emperor Valerian’s forces in the time of St Laurence of Rome and the Lombards in the time of St. Suranus of Sora, have always been present.  The names, places, and timeframes vary, but sin and human nature remain constant.  The barbarians at the gate might be from the government or they might be non-state actors.  Regardless of their origin, they are agents of perfidy who might seem, in the short term, to have triumphed.  In reality, however, they are accountable to the God of Sts. Laurence and Suranus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN KENNETH PFOHL, SR., U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS WIFE, HARRIET ELIZABETH “BESSIE” WHITTINGTON PFOHL, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN; AND THEIR SON, JAMES CHRISTIAN PFOHL, SR., U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF CASPAR FRIEDRICH NACHTENHOFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MUSICIAN, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT OF ROME, BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT COLUMBAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

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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 St. Suranus of Sora,  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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Feast of Narayan Seshadri of Jalna (September 13)   Leave a comment

Part of India, 1945

Above:  The Germane Part of a Map of India, 1945

Image Source = Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNA (DIED JULY 21, 1891)

Indian Presbyterian Evangelist and “Apostle to the Mangs”

This saint’s name came to my attention via The Book of Worship of the Church of North India (1995), which lists his feast day as September 13.

The Free Church of Scotland emerged from the Great Disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843.  The new denomination’s first convert in India was Narayan Seshadri, a Brahmin, who became a Christian on September 13, 1843.  This happened despite strong opposition (including a court case) from his family.  Our saint, ordained in 1854, ministered in Bombay and Poona until 1862, when he departed for Jalna, in the Nizan territory of Hyderabad.  At Jalna he founded the Bethel Mission, through which he ministered to the poor, especially the Mangs, the outcaste poor of the region.  Our saint, who received a D.D. from the University of Montreal, traveled in Scotland and North America to raise funds for the Bethel Mission.  He died en route to Scotland on July 21, 1891.

The poor, as Narayan Seshadri of Jalna and St. Laurence of Rome understood, are the treasures of the Church.  The radical message to defend the poor from the onslaughts of exploitation and artificial scarcity is evident in the Law of Moses, the words of Hebrew prophets, and the ethics of the New Testament.  Yet it remains a radical message, one which some critics within the Church accuse readily and falsely of being dangerous, perhaps even communistic or (gasp!) socialistic.  Yet “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke.  The poor will always be with us for a number of reasons, especially unjust socio-economic-political systems, but the proportion of economic justice to economic injustice can increase.

May no agent of the Church ever scorn the poor.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMENEGILD, VISIGOTHIC PRINCE AND ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUGH OF ROUEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP, ABBOT, AND MONK

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN BISHOP OF TALLINN

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may do justice,

love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 736

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Feast of St. Giuseppe Moscati (November 16)   2 comments

Above:  Saint Guiseppe Moscati 

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI (JULY 25, 1860-APRIL 12, 1927)

Italian Roman Catholic Physician

St. Giuseppe Moscati came from a faithful Roman Catholic family in Benevento, Italy.  He studied medicine at the University of Naples, specializing in biochemistry, and embarked on a life-long vocation of conducing medical research and providing health care.  Not only did Moscati provide pro bono medical care, he gave money to patients who could not pay for the services they had received.  And he worked many nights in the slums of Naples, providing quality health care.

The good doctor, who became Chair of Physiology at the University of Naples in 1911, maintained personal piety.  He prayed often, kept up a devotion to St. Mary, Mother of God, attended Mass frequently, and perceived medicine as a vocation for the common good, not a road to wealth.  He had correct priorities and his life was prayer.

Pope John Paul II canonized St. Giuseppe Moscati in 1987.

Human history contains many disturbing patterns.  Among these is the fact that the most vulnerable suffer needlessly much of the time.  Those with sufficient wealth can escape the path of a devastating hurricane or afford proper health care or afford the most capable legal counsel or post bail, et cetera.  Yet the poor cannot do these, at least as easily.  This arrangement is sinful, for it constitutes economic injustice.  The ultimate solution is what the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called a “revolution of values,” in April 1967, in the speech in which he opposed the Vietnam War eloquently.  The United States needs to value people more than things, King said.  St. Giuseppe Moscati valued people more than all forms of wealth, and I honor him.  St. Laurence of Rome thought of the poor as the treasure of the Church.  The poor were the treasure of Naples, according to St. Giuseppe Moscati’s life.

Now, for a prayer and some Bible readings:

Lord of justice, you bestowed upon St. Giuseppe Moscati

great medical skills and the desire and ability to serve the poor of Naples.

We thank you for the example of his holy life,

devoted to serving you in private and public.

Following his example, may we recognize needs

and meet them as you empower us to do.

In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Great Physician,

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

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 38:1-8

Psalm 8

James 2:14-26

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NIKOLAI GRUNDTVIG