Archive for the ‘St. Stephen’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Jason of Tarsus and Sosipater of Iconium (July 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Corfu, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951), 67, by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT JASON OF TARSUS

Bishop of Tarsus

Also known as St. Jason of Thessalonica

Alternative feast days = January 4 and April 28

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SAINT SOSIPATER OF ICONIUM

Bishop of Iconium

His feast transferred from April 28, April 29, and November 10

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EVANGELISTS OF CORFU

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Sometimes much information regarding the lives of certain saints proves to be useless to me, due to its legendary and over-the-top nature.  This is the case with aspects of accounts of Sts. Jason of Tarsus and Sosipater of Iconium.  Another problem is that elements of various stories are mutually contradictory.  One can be reasonably certain of some details, however.

Sts. Jason and Sosipater were associates of St. Paul the Apostle named in the New Testament.  In Acts 17 St. Jason, a resident of Thessalonica, hosted St. Paul and St. Silas, who were in trouble with hostile Jews.  (Sts. Paul, Silas, and Jason were also Jewish.  Such stories have long been fodder for anti-Semites, unfortunately.)  Sts. Paul and Silas were, according to their accusers,

turning the world upside down.

–Verse 6, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Since the crowd could not apprehend Sts. Paul and Silas, smuggled to safety, St. Jason and other Christians went to jail instead, until St. Jason bailed them out.  The offense of these Christians was allegedly violating Roman law by calling Jesus King, as opposed to the Roman Emperor.

If one accepts that St. Sosipater was Sopater (Acts 20:4), one affirms that St. Sosipater was the son of Pyrrhus from Berea, as well as a traveling companion of St. Paul the Apostle for a portion of a missionary journey.  Tradition tells us that St. Sosipater became the Bishop of Iconium (now in Turkey), just as St. Jason became the Bishop of Tarsus (also in modern Turkey).

In Romans 16:21 St. Paul identified St. Jason and Sosipater as relatives, that is, fellow Jews.

Sts. Jason and Sosipater brought the Gospel of Jesus to the island of Corfu, also known as Kerkyra, in the Ionian Sea, off the coast of Greece, across from Italy.  On Corfu, they founded at least one church, named for St. Stephen, and converted many people.

I do not trust the accounts after this point in the narrative.  I note, for example, that the name of the virgin daughter (canonized, by the way) of the hostile, murderous governor of Corfu was Kerkyra, another name for the island.  Also, the details of various martyrdoms, St. Kerkyra‘s initial survival of her father’s murderous rage, et cetera, strike me as being over-the-top, as does much of legendary hagiography.  Furthermore, different accounts disagree about how long Sts. Jason and Sosipater spent on Corfu and where they died.  Also, according to some stories, St. Jason died as a martyr.  Other accounts contradict that claim, however.  Such disagreements are par for the course in ancient hagiography much of the time, unfortunately.

That Sts. Jason and Sosipater brought the Gospel of Jesus to the people of Corfu suffices.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ENRICO RUBUSCHINI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SERVANT OF THE SICK; AND HIS MENTOR, SAINT LUIGI GUANELLA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF SAINT MARY OF PROVIDENCE, THE SERVANTS OF CHARITY, AND THE CONFRATERNITY OF SAINT JOSEPH

THE FEAST OF ANNA LAETITIA WARING, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER; AND HER UNCLE, SAMUEL MILLER WARING, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT IVAN MERZ, CROATIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC INTELLECTUAL

THE FEAST OF JOHN GOSS, ANGLICAN CHURCH COMPOSER AND ORGANIST; AND WILLIAM MERCER, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

St. Jason of Tarsus and St. Sosipater of Iconium,

who made the good news known on Corfu.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr (December 26)   3 comments

Above:  St. Stephen, by Luis de Morales

Image in the Public Domain

The First Christian Martyr

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The readings for the Feast of St. Stephen remind us of the grim reality that suffering for the sake of righteousness is frequently a risk.  We read of one of the many difficulties of the faithful prophet Jeremiah, a man who spoke truth to power when that power was dependent upon hostile foreigners.  The historical record tells us that the Pharaoh of Egypt chose both the King of Judah and his regnal name, Jehoiakim.  Matthew 23, set in the Passion Narrative, reminds us of some of the prophets and teachers, whom God had sent and authorities at Jerusalem had martyred.  Contrary to the wishes of the author of Psalm 31, God does not always deliver the faithful from enemy hands.

St. Stephen, one of the original seven deacons, was probably a Hellenized Jew.  As a deacon, his job in the Church was, in the words of Acts 6:2,

to wait on tables.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

The deacons were to provide social services while the Apostles preached and taught.  St. Stephen also debated and preached, however.  His speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:1-53) led to his execution (without a trial) by stoning.  St. Stephen, like Jesus before him, prayed for God to forgive his executioners (Acts 7:60), who, in their minds, were correct to execute him for blasphemy, a capital offense in the Law of Moses.  Saul of Tarsus, the future St. Paul the Apostle, was prominent in the killing of St. Stephen.  The Apostle recalled the death of St. Stephen and his role in it in Acts 22:20.

Religion, by itself, is generally morally neutral; one can be a moral atheist just as easily as one can be a moral or immoral adherent.  Good religion and bad religion certainly exist.  The test, in moral terms, yet not theological ones, is what kind of adherents they create and nurture.  Regardless of the name of a religion or the content of its tenets, does the reality of living it make one a loving, merciful human being or a judgmental person who might be quick to execute dissenters or consent to that?  This question is always a relevant one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATRICK, APOSTLE OF IRELAND

THE FEAST OF EBENEZER ELLIOTT, “THE CORN LAW RHYMER”

THE FEAST OF ELIZA SIBBALD ALDERSON, POET AND HYMN WRITER; AND JOHN BACCHUS DYKES, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND PRIEST

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We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen,

who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ,

who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15

Psalm 31 or 31:1-15

Acts 6:8-7:2a; 51c-60

Matthew 23:34-39

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 139

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/second-day-of-christmas-feast-of-st-stephen-deacon-and-martyr-december-26/

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