God the Father, Unbegotten; God the Son, Onlybegotten;
and God the Holy Spirit from the Father Proceeding:
Celtic Orthodox Christian Monthly
"If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." [Galatians 1:10]
Each year we commemorate the preparations God made for the birth in
the flesh and into the world of His eternal coessential Son, Our
God, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We remember the prophecies of
Saint John the Baptist, the last Old Testament Prophet, concerning
the coming of Christ. Christ came to save the world and not
to judge it. Yet during the last week of Pentecost, we remember that He
will come again in judgement. We do not know the time nor the hour, but
let us ask our loving God's help to live in a manner that glorifies Him
and aids others to salvation so that we may be received into eternal joy
when the day of Judgement comes.
Abbot-Bishop +Maelruain, Cele De
Since the early 1990's the Patriarchate of Antioch has been an embarrassment to the Christian Church. Their advocacy for Arab causes eventually grew into support for Islam and intercommunion with monophysites and monotheletes.
Islam has persecuted Christians throughout the Middle east. In supporting Islam, Antioch has supported those who would destroy the Church of Christ. Some Islamic countries have already forbidden any Christian expression even in private homes.
In admitting monophysites and monothelites to the Eucharist in the name of Charity, Antioch has denied the teachings of the Holy Spirit through three of the seven Ecumenical Councils.
Now Antioch embraces something worse, as if that were possible. In a letter to his North American Exarch, Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch stated that "Terrorism stems from oppressed people and their extreme poverty as well as the scorn and pride which such humiliated people suffer from certain nations."
This is the same Marist, Liberation Theology, rubbish we hear from the terrorists. He is saying that those who were killed as "Cross Followers" deserved the horror visited upon them because they were of "certain nations". That is a declaration of belief in sin of nations. That is a denial of the doctrine of free will and the consequences of its abuse. Not only has the current Patriarch of Antioch embraced error again, but he has stated here that human sacrifice to demonic hatred is a justified act of righteous anger. That is an attempt to justify the murder of over 4,000 human beings created in the image and likeness of God!
As a Bishops of the Church we call that and those who proclaim such Anathema!
Abbot-Bishop +Maelruain, Cele De
Bishop +Timothy, Cele De
Bishop +Photius, Cara nCele De
There are several very important Saints in November, whose histories shall be given in depth rather than providing a longer, more complete calendar. This year, these Saints are especially appropriate to celebrate. St. Gregory the Wonderworker and St. Martin of Tours ought to be remembered both on their "new" and "old" calendar dates. Both World War I and a great plague of a very contagious and deadly hemorrhagic influenza were stopped on the new calendar date of November 11th, because at that time, in 1918, people associated the new calendar date with St. Martin of Tours. The cease fire at the Armistice in 1918 was a great miracle in itself, although an historian might say that people were just tired of fighting, but stopping the plague of influenza which had killed millions has no natural or scientific explanation other than one of the greatest miracles in history. A major Church festival in the Celtic Rite is also celebrated on the Feast date of St. Martin, and it is one of the few Saints' days with its own Propers.
Any date that is the seventeenth is associated with St. Gregory Thaumaturgis (Wonderworker), because he converted a large city that had only seventeen Christians into a city that had only seventeen pagans remaining. He also reposed on November 17th. The number seventeen is considered a number of "bad luck" to a superstitious religion outside of Christianity, and the same religion will begin their month of fasting on the new calendar November 17th this year, so St. Gregory ought to be remembered on both the new and old dates. The news of St. Gregory's Christian wonderworking should be spread, especially that he is the one who "moved mountains," not somebody outside the Christian faith. St. Gregory "moved the mountain" to prove that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God and also came among us in the flesh.
St. Andrew's Martyrdom (November 30th) includes the Apostle's sermon about the holiness of the Cross. Considering that Christians have been accused of being "Cross followers," the words of St. Andrew are especially important to consider. Every Christian takes up their Cross and follows Jesus Christ; many Saints were crucified, but continued to have their prayers answered by God. St. Andrew is at the end of the month, but his festival is so important that some delayed the beginning of Advent until after his feast day, although his feast is very appropriate for celebration during the fast.
St. Columbanus of Luxeuil and Bobbio (November 23rd)
brought the Orthodox faith back to France and Italy, after some had turned
away from Christ. St. John Chrysostom (November 25th) kept the
faith at Constantinople during a time when politics were considered more
important than faith, and he died during a forced march, banished from
his city for upholding True Christianity. Nobody should be complacent in
the faith, because even the fourth century Constantinople and sixth century
France needed renewal of their faith by such great teachers as St. John
Chrysostom, St. Gregory Nazianzus, and St. Columbanus. At this time, every
individual Christian and every church needs to remember the Divinity of
our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Clement of Rome is also included November 23rd,
because he is one of the important early wonderworking Saints, and a favorite
of the glossator of Oengus. A friend of St. Basil who fought heresy, St.
Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium, is also on that date. The history of St.
John Cassian also in November, and the desert fathers of Egypt have already
been given during the newsletter for the month of July, 2001.
Every Christian who has reposed: whether they are remembered
in the Canon of the Saints, whether they were Christian neophytes, or whether
they were only Martyred for being "Cross followers" on September 11th
2001, should be remembered on All Saints day, November 1st/
14th. A special Requiem Mass for the dead should be done. In
the Celtic tradition, "Saints" and "Souls" are not divided, but are honored
together. There is another "All Saints Day" on the Celtic calendar one
week after Pentecost, and again, "Saints" and "Souls" are both remembered
together. If one has no family members to remember, then one still has
all the Saints in the family of the Church to remember. The great hymn
by St. Colum Cille, Altus Prosator, is sung during Church consecrations
and on All Saints' days. This hymn is the history of the universe, from
the creation to the Last Judgement, and from the verse beginning with the
letter "R," was plagiarized in the later Medieval hymn "Dies Irae." There
are some prophetic lines. In verse "R" we are warned that the day of wrath
and vengeance "shall cease the love and desire of women..." Certainly,
the kinds of intolerance towards women displayed recently by some in other
religions is a warning. In verses "U" and "X" we are reminded about the
stars falling to earth. For those who love to look at the stars as a hobby,
remember that there is a meteor shower this November 17th and
18th. This event occurs often, but it is a reminder that the
"stars" may fall to earth at any time.
Advent begins, according to the ancient tradition of the
undivided Church both East and West, six weeks before Christmas, on November
13th/ 26th. Two extra candles may be added to an
already-existing Advent wreath. The first Sunday of Advent begins with
Psalm 1, "Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the
ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence."
We remember the preparations of St. John the Baptist during Advent, who
reminded us not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly on his feast date
of his Beheading which took place August 29th/ September 11th.
We also remember the end of the world during Advent. There is no date or
year given for this event, but we are ordered to keep watch and always
prepare with faith, prayers, and good works. November 13th /
26th is a Monday on the old calendar this year, so Christmas,
December 25th / January 7th will also be a Monday.
The American holiday of "Thanksgiving" was originally moved from mid-October.
Those wishing to break the fast for a day can freeze "left-overs." It is
a secular holiday, but one that gives thanks to God, so it should not be
[Note: There are no entries from the Martyrology of
Tallaght for the month of November. Since November was the first month
on the Celtic calendar, November 1st being the Celtic New Year,
it is also possible that the first pages of that book were destroyed due
to dampness or other destruction. When Oengus listed the Irish Saints on
his calendar, he had a source available in Tallaght, so it is probable
that the pages for the month of November were later lost or destroyed.
Notes for the month of November do exist in the Martyrology of Tallaght,
Oengus's notes exist, so these are included.]
["TSI" is The Saints of Ireland by Mary
Ryan D'Arcy, a valuable book which includes many early Irish Saints. Another
great resource on the lives of the Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the Prophets,
and women Saints is the Holy Apostles Convent, P.O. Box 3118, Buena Vista,
CO 81211 U.S.A. These nuns have provided extensive translations with many
notes. They have also published new and accurate translations of the Greek
New Testament into English, with extensive notes from Orthodox sources;
the best study Bible available. There are many resources available in their
original Latin or Greek, but translators are needed. Those who are providing
accurate Orthodox translations are very much appreciated. Please contact
this website if you have the skill, the will or interest, and some background
in Orthodox Christian writings of the fathers.]
11 Nov /24 Nov - St. Martin of Tours (France), a major ancient Celtic festival.
Carbre of Cúil Rathin - royal grace over the great sea!
Saint Martin - a noble simile - the mount of gold of the western world.
St. Martin of Tours (November 11th / 24th)
Cairbre of Cui raithin in the north of Dalaradia, a Bishop.
Saint Martin, i.e. holy Martin Bishop of Tours in Frankland (France or Gaul): of Gallia Lugdunensis was he. Saint Martin of Tours, of Gaul was he.
Martin a soldier, honor not slight, of Gallia Lugdunensis, a fully-gentle son of the race of the kings, son of Manualt and Abrasin.
Famous for his resemblance to gold propter claritatem auiri & his virtue. Martin out of Tours in the south of Frankland: of the Gauls was he, as is said: Martin a soldier, honor without prohibition etc. Gold is he because of his well known virtue. Bishop Cairbre of Cuil Rathin in Dalaradia on the same day.
(See November 23rd, St. Columbanus of Luxeuil
and Bobbio, who in the late sixth century brought monasticism back to Gaul.
The Irish claimed monastic lineage through St. Martin of Tours, and they
returned the gift later when barbarians had all but destroyed religion
in France. The Feasts of Ss. Martin and Columbanus are two great celebrations
in November of keeping the Orthodox faith in France, and these great Saints
are an example of holiness and great intercessors for all the world.)
There are many accounts of the miracles of St. Martin of Tours, both during his lifetime and many more at his tomb after his repose. Also, places which venerated St. Martin were often the areas that rejected the popular heresy of Arianism, and embraced a full Orthodox Christianity. (See July 25th, the history of St. James the Greater, about Arianism, and the part of Spain that was Celtic and venerated St. Martin of Tours. That part of Spain is the pilgrimage site of St. James the Greater. The veneration of St. Martin of Tours in Galicia, the Celtic area, was promoted by the local Bishop Martin of Braga before his death in 580.)
The main history of St. Martin was written by his student, Sulpitius Severus (see January 13th), in his work, Sulpitius Severus on the Life of St. Martin, as well as in letters and dialogues about St. Martin. After apologizing for his inadequate style; telling us that it is better to contemplate the life of St. Martin than Hector or Socrates; and emphatically asserting the truth of everything he writes, Sulpitius Severus begins the history of St. Martin in chapter 2. Sulpitius Severus says in the end of Chapter 1, "...I cannot hope to set forth all that he was or did... And even of those which had become known to us, we have omitted a great number, because we have judged it enough if only the more striking and eminent should be recorded... But I implore those who are to read what follows to give full faith to the things narrated, and to believe that I have written nothing of which I had not certain knowledge and evidence. I should, in fact, have preferred to e silent rather than to narrate things which are false."
St. Martin was born at Sabaria (Sarwar) in Pannonia, far to the east, but his family moved. He was raised in Ticinum (Pavia) in Italy. His father was a soldier, and then a military tribune, a very high rank. As a youth, Martin was in the imperial guard under Constantine and then Julian Caesar (Julian the Apostate). In spite of family ties to the military, Martin actually wanted to be in the service of God. At age ten, against his parents' wishes, he begged to be a catechumen in the Church. At age twelve he desired to be a hermit, but his young age prevented this. When he was fifteen, the ruling powers of the state issued an edict that sons of veterans should be enrolled for military service, and he was seized and put in chains, and forced to take the military oath. He only took one servant, and instead of acting as a master, he cleaned his servant's boots, ate meals with him, and usually acted the part of the servant. He had not been Baptized yet, and for three years kept himself from the usual soldier's vices. He was not yet a new creature in Christ, but he fervently prepared himself for Baptism. He practiced self-denial, kindness, patience, humility, aided those in trouble, clothed the naked, and kept nothing for himself from his military pay but the bare necessities of food. He saved no money for the next day, but following the holy Gospels, gave his money to the poor.
Carrying only his arms and military dress, in an unusually severe winter that had killed many with the cold, he saw a poor man without clothing at the gate of the city of Amiens (Ambianensium civitas, or Samarobriva). Although the poor man asked everybody who passed him for help, Martin stopped. Martin had already given away most of his clothing, except for the cloak which was his only warmth. So, he took his sword, and cut the cloak in two equal parts, giving one to the poor man, and wrapping the rest around himself. The bystanders laughed, because he looked only partly dressed, but many also felt guilty, knowing that they should have also done something similar, especially as they had more clothing layers. The next night, St. Martin had a vision of Christ, and the Lord was wearing the part of the cloak that Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say, "Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe." This was taken from Scripture, "Forasmuch as ye have done these things to one of the least of these, ye have done them unto me." St. Matthew 25:40. Martin did not use this incident to build dangerous spiritual pride, but remained humble, and as he was now twenty years old, he received holy Baptism. He did not retire from his military service at once, because his military tribune who had become his tent companion told him that when his office expired, he too would retire from the world. So St. Martin delayed leaving the military for two years, although he participated only in name. [Monks were allowed to skip military service much later in Ireland, and although the Litany of St. Martin in the Lorrha-Stowe Missal does pray for the military, there is an understanding that it is better for a Christian to serve God. The incident of St. Martin giving half his cloak to the poor man, and seeing Christ in a vision, are the most famous incidents in his life. However, St. Martin also raised the dead, kept the Orthodox Faith in the face of heresy, and did many more things which should also be remembered.]
Many barbarians were coming into the two divisions of Gaul. Julian Caesar (the Apostate) brought an army together at the city of Borbetomagus (Vaugiones, or Worms). The emperor distributed a "donative" to each soldier, one by one, as was the custom. St. Martin did not think it would be proper to receive the gift and then leave the service, so he thought this would be a good opportunity to seek discharge. He told Julian, "Hitherto I have served you as a soldier: allow me now to become a soldier to God: let the man who is to serve thee receive thy donative: I am the soldier of Christ: it is not lawful for me to fight." Julian was very angry, and thought Martin was afraid of the battle on the next day. St. Martin replied, "If this conduct of mine is ascribed to cowardice, and not to faith, I will take my stand unarmed before the line of battle tomorrow, and in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, protected by the Sign of the Cross, and not by shield or helmet, I will safely penetrate the ranks of the enemy." Martin was put into prison, but on the next day, ambassadors were sent by the enemy to ask for peace, and surrendered both themselves and all their possessions. Sulpitius Severus comments that Christ prevented anyone from suffering death. (The emperor Julian the Apostate had been known to St. Basil the Great, see January 1st.)
After that, Martin sought St. Hilarius, Bishop of Poitiers (Pictava, the city of the Pictones or Pictavi, see January 13th, November 3rd, and possibly also May 5th). St. Hilarius ordained St. Martin to the Diaconate, however, St. Martin said he was unworthy to perform the required actions of a Deacon in the Divine Service. Therefore, St. Hilary realized that Martin would accept a position of danger to himself, and made him an exorcist (a position of lower rank than Subdeacon). St. Martin did not refuse. Soon afterwards he had a dream telling him to visit his native land, especially to convert his parents who were heathens. St. Hilary with tears told him to return. Martin predicted sufferings on the journey, which came true. Martin fell into the hands of robbers in the Alps, and was almost killed by an axe. A robber took him to a private place and asked him who he was, and he replied that he was a Christian. When asked if he was afraid, he said that he never felt so safe, because he knew that the Lord would be with him in trials. Instead, he was in grief for the man who was holding him, because by leading a life of robbery he was showing that he was unworthy of the mercy of Christ. After speaking the truth to the robber, the robber converted to Christ, and told others about his conversion by St. Martin.
After passing Milan, the devil took the form of a man and met St. Martin on the road. The devil asked St. Martin where he was going, and he said he was going where ever the Lord called him. The devil said that the devil would resist him. Martin quoted Psalm 117:6 (Greek numbering): "The Lord is my helper: I will not fear what man can do unto me." The devil then vanished from sight. St. Martin's mother was set free from heathenism, but his father continued to practice his errors. But many others were saved by his example.
The Arian heresy then was spreading rapidly, especially in Illyria, and St. Martin almost alone fought the Priests who were traitors. He was publically scourged and forced to leave the city. Then he went to Italy. Martin learned that the Church in the two divisions of Gaul was troubled because St. Hilary had been exiled by the heretics. Therefore, Martin stayed in Milan, and established a monastery for himself there. In Milan, Auxentius, the originator and leaders of the Arians (in Milan) persecuted St. Martin, and finally expelled him from Milan. St. Martin then went to the island of Gallinaria (near Albium Ingaunum, now Allenga, on the Gulf of Genoa. The island was named because of birds that were half-tame, and still is called Gallinaria). He took with him to the island a good Priest. On the island, he survived by eating plant roots, and by mistake ate hellebore, a poisonous grass. When he felt the strength of the poison increase inside him and he was near death, he prayed, and his pains went away. Soon after that, he learned that the king had been penitent, and had granted permission for Bishop Hilarius to return. Therefore, St. Martin set out for Rome to meet St. Hilarius.
St. Hilarius already had departed from Rome, so St. Martin followed him, and then founded a monastery close to the town. A catechumen seeking instruction joined him, but he caught a fever and weakness. St. Martin went away for three days, and when he returned found the catechumen dead, before he had received holy Baptism. The body was laid out in public, and honored by the brethren, but St. Martin was in tears. Then he told the others to leave the cell (room) where the body lay, and he bolted the door and lay down on top of the departed catechumen. "...But then, laying hold, as it were, of the Holy Spirit, with the whole powers of his mind..." He prayed for a while, and then perceived by means of the Spirit of God that the power (virtue) was present, he rose and looked at the face of the dead man, and waited for the mercy of God. After two hours, the dead man began to move a little, trembling, and his eyes opened "for the practice of sight." Then, turning to the Lord [an icon?] he gave thanks with a loud voice, filling the cell with exclamations. Those who had waited outside rushed in [after the door had been opened], and saw the man, who was given holy Baptism immediately. He lived for many years after that, and witnessed to the powers (virtues) of St. Martin. He also told how, when he had left his body, he was taken to the tribunal of the Judge, and was in gloomy places in the common crowd, and received a severe sentence. However, two angels told the Judge that he was the man that Martin was praying for, and then he was ordered to be led back by those angels and given to Martin, and received back his life. After this St. Martin had the reputation of an Apostle. [An infant who dies before receiving holy Baptism is not considered condemned. But, an adult catechumen who had probably listened to many worldly philosophies, and had many opportunities to sin, with the consenting reason of an adult, would need not only an association with other Christians, but also the Sacrament of holy Baptism, or it would be very difficult to receive salvation. There were some exceptions among the early Martyrs, but usually Baptism was considered a requirement, or at least something that should be sought after with great urgency. God is merciful, but we do not judge the mercy of God: see Psalm 50, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy... To Thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before Thee: that thou mayest be justified in Thy words, and mayest overcome when Thou art judged."]
Again, St. Martin saved another man, a slave of a wealthy man named Lupicinus, who had tried to hang himself. The man was able to rise up and walk without any apparent brain damage after St. Martin did the same things he had done in praying for his catechumen.
St. Martin was also called to be Bishop of Tours around that time. The area of Tours was on both sides of the Loire river, and the town of Tours had been called Caesarodunum. However, St. Martin did not want to leave his monastery. One of the citizens of Tours named Ruricius pretended his wife was ill, and asked St. Martin to come out. Many citizens lined the roads, forcing St. Martin to come to the city. The people of Tours and also neighboring cities gave their votes for St. Martin. [Early Bishops were approved by the people.] They all said that St. Martin was the most worthy. A few persons, even among the Bishops, thought St. Martin was unworthy, his clothing mean, and his hair disgusting. Most of the people said that the character of St. Martin was the most important thing to consider. A Bishop named Defensor gave the most opposition. He was rebuked by something that seemed to be chance, because the reader who was to read did not appear, and a person who was standing by grabbed the Psalter and read the first verse he opened to: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise because of thine enemies, that thou mightest destroy the enemy and the avenger." (In the Latin Vulgate, the word "avenger" is "defensor." Psalm 8:3. The people shouted their agreement, and St. Martin was officially elected Bishop.
As Bishop, St. Martin did not give up his humble clothing, but remained as a monk, although he took up all the duties of a Bishop. He stayed at a cell near the church, but so many people came that he moved to a monastery two miles from the city in a secret spot. "For, on one side, it was surrounded by a precipitous rock of a lofty mountain, while the river Loire had shut in the rest of the plain by a bay extending back for a little distance; and the place could be approached only by one, and that a very narrow passage." St. Martin made a cell of wood for himself, and his eighty disciples also made small retreats for themselves at that place. They all prayed together, ate together after the hour of fasting, no one drank wine except in illness, and they wore rough clothing. Many had been nobles, but all shared everything, with no possessions. Many of these monks became Bishops of other cities. The Irish monasteries claimed direct descent from these monks, and also the monks of Egypt in Scetis which had learned their ascetic practices from St. Mark the Evangelist. St. Patrick (March 17th) had been trained by St. Germanus of Auxerre (May 28th), who was trained through these monks. (The Germanus who accompanied St. John Cassian, see November 25th, was not the same person as St. Germanus of Auxerre, even though they lived around the same time. St. John Cassian traveled to Palestine, Egypt, Constantinople, and then lived in Marseilles in southern France.)
The power of prayer is very useful for a Bishop. St. Martin heard about an altar that had been put over a tomb that was supposed to be of a Christian Martyr, but without any history. He visited the tomb and prayed, and the shade of a robber told him that the people had made a mistake in venerating him, he was beheaded due to his crimes, not faith. The people heard the voice of the ghost, although they could not see him, and they helped take the altar down that they had built there. On another occasion, a passing funeral rite seemed to resemble a pagan ceremony, because sometimes the pagans would carry statues of demons covered in white cloths about the countryside. St. Martin held the Cross up before the crowd, and commanded them to stop and put down their burden. Then they could not move, even though they tried, and they were forced to put the body down. St. Martin came toward them, and realized that it was only a funeral procession, and then raising his hand, he gave them back the power to go on their way.
St. Martin managed to bring Christ to regions that had not accepted the Lord before. "Certainly, before the times of Martin, very few, nay, almost none, in those regions had received the Name of Christ; but through his virtues and example that Name has prevailed to such an extent, that now there is no place thereabouts which is not filled either with very crowded churches of monasteries. For wherever he destroyed heathen temples, there he used immediately to build either churches or monasteries." In one case, a temple he destroyed had a pine tree next to it that had been dedicated to a demon. Martin had kept the people quiet while the temple was destroyed, but they strongly protested when he began to cut down the tree. One of the pagans proposed that they cut the tree down, and St. Martin should stand under it, and if the tree did not crush him, they would believe. The tree leaned in one direction, so the pagan crowd stood at the opposite side. As the tree fell, Martin made the Sign of the Cross, and the tree swung "like a spinning top" to the opposite side, almost crushing the crowd that was standing there. After that, almost all of the pagans standing there desired to take the Name of Christ in holy Baptism. In another place, Martin set fire to an ancient and celebrated temple, but the fire spread to a connected house. St. Martin climbed on the roof of the house, and stopped the flames from spreading to it. Another town called Leprosum resisted his wish to destroy their temple, and injured him. He went outside the town, and spent three days in sackcloth and ashes, fasting and praying the entire time. Two angels with spears and shields came to him, saying they were sent to make the rustics go away, and also protect St. Martin. Martin returned to the village, and he razed the temple to the foundations, reducing the altar and images to dust, as the crowd quietly looked on. The people realized that they were standing still through the power of the God of St. Martin, and they all shouted that the Lord God should be worshiped. Once, while overthrowing a temple at Aedui, a man drew his sword to cut off Martin's head, but St. Martin offered his bare neck, and as the sword swung, the man collapsed backwards. Then seeing the power of God, asked for pardon. [See St. John, May 6th, and all the other Apostles. Although today we would try to preserve ancient art work in museums, at that time the people thought those images had power, so the only way to show the people that the statues were only rock and metal was to destroy them. Because of the habit of former pagans of keeping statuary, the Orthodox Church in the East prefers painted flat icons, but in the early Church there were statues of Jesus Christ as well, such as the one in front of the house of "Veronica," a woman who had been cured by Jesus Himself. Some small very early Christian statues are in the Cleveland Museum of Art, for example: Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and also Jonah and the whale, etc. Icons themselves are not gods, but they only remind us of those they portray, creating a visual story.]
St. Martin also had the gift of healing, and he healed almost all the sick that came to him. He healed a paralyzed girl from Treves whose muscles would not move, making it almost impossible for her to breathe. When she was about to die, St. Martin came to visit the town, and her father ran to the church and grabbed St. Martin by the knees, asking over and over again if Martin could come and save the man's daughter. In spite of saying that he was not worthy to be the instrument of the Lord's power, St. Martin was finally convinced to at least visit the girl. After arriving, St. Martin prostrated himself and prayed. Then he requested oil to be given to him, and he blessed the oil, and poured it into her mouth. This restored her ability to speak. Gradually, as he stayed with her, her limbs began to be restored one by one, and finally she rose up and took firm steps. All the people from the church had followed, and saw what happened.
St. Martin also cast out demons. A servant of a man named Tetradius who was possessed could not be made to come to St. Martin, so St. Martin went to him, even though he was not yet converted to Christianity. (At first, St. Martin said he could not come because the house of the possessed man was pagan, but the family pledged they would convert.) Martin put his hand on the boy, and the demon came out, and Tetradius became a catechumen and was Baptized. Another household had a demon in the courtyard, and when St. Martin ordered it to depart, it went into the household into a family member, who then bit everyone else. St. Martin stood in front of the possessed person, and commanded him to be still, but he wouldn't. So, St. Martin put his fingers into the mouth of the possessed, and said, "if you possess any power, devour these." The possessed person opened his mouth as if red-hot iron had been put in, and kept the teeth away from the fingers. Sulpicius Severus says that the demon was driven out by tortures, and could not leave by the mouth, so left by a "defluxion" of the belly which left disgusting traces behind him.
A report that barbarians were coming to the town turned out to be the work of sixteen demons, who had caused fear in the people so that St. Martin would have to leave. This was told to St. Martin when a possessed person was ordered to tell the truth about the rumors. The city then calmed down. St. Martin cleansed a leper by kissing him at the gate into Paris, and the crowd was very upset at this. But the next day, the man came to the church with healthy skin and gave thanks. Threads from the sackcloth of St. Martin also did miracles for the sick. These were tied around the fingers or placed around the neck, and drove disease away. (Probably the source of the modern idea of tieing a string around a finger to remind a person of something. We are supposed to be reminded of God, and pray without ceasing.) A man named Arborius, an ex-prefect, and very holy and faithful, had a daughter with a very high fever. Arborius received a letter from St. Martin, and placed it over her bosom, and immediately the fever left. At once Arborius brought her to St. Martin and had her consecrated to God as a perpetual virgin, and asked St. Martin to place on her the dress of virginity. A saintly man, Paulinus (of Nola?) had cataracts, "a pretty thick cloud having grown over [the eye] had already covered up its pupil." St. Martin touched the eye with a painter's brush, and the pain went away, restoring the health of the eye. Sulpicius Severus does not say whether Paulinus or St. Martin himself suffered a fall down some uneven stairs, but an angel washed his wounds, applied healing ointment, and the next day he was restored to health. Then Sulpicious Severus says, "But because it would be tedious to go through everything of this kind, let these examples suffice, as a few out of a multitude..."
St. Martin alone did not flatter the emperor Maximus after the civil wars, although other Bishops did. "Even if he had to make suit to the sovereign for some things, he commanded rather than entreated him; and although often invited, he kept away from his entertainments..." St. Martin did not want to go to the banquet because the war had killed many soldiers, and of the other two emperors, one had been killed and the other had his kingdom taken away. Finally the king convinced him that soldiers had only been killed on an open field of battle, and that the position of emperor was taken only in defense. When St. Martin came to the banquet, he was given a place of honor, and a chalice which the king expected to be blessed and handed back to him. But St. Martin had brought a Priest with him, and after blessing and drinking, he handed the chalice to his Priest instead. This impressed the emperor that St. Martin was not trying to flatter him. St. Martin had previously warned the emperor that if he went into Italy to wage war against the emperor Valentinianus, then Maximus would have a victory after the first attack, but die soon afterwards. After the first attack, Valentinianus was put to flight, but he regained his strength the next year, and Maximus was taken and slain in the walls of Aquileia.
St. Martin often talked with angels. He also perceived the devil in his many disguises. St. Martin was not fooled by the disguises, so the devil did not bother with the disguises after a while, but began with foul curses. Once the devil rushed into his cell with a bloody horn, and claimed to have slain one of St. Martin's people. After this St. Martin called the brethren together and had them search all the cells, but the brethren were unharmed, but one peasant hired to bring wood from the forest was missing. It was then learned that one of his oxen had thrown his head free of the thongs, and while the peasant was tightening them, had been gored in the groin. The peasant told this just before he died. The man was not healed after that. [Sulpicius Severus states, "You see with what judgment of the Lord this power was given to the devil." This paraphrases Christ, who told Pontius Pilate that he had no power to arrest the Lord Jesus Christ, but only if God had given Pilate that power. This does not mean that God allows evil, but that sometimes it is a person's time to repose and meet the Lord, or it is time for a terrible circumstance in life, and then often, as in the case of the righteous Job of the Old Testament, or our Lord Himself, the devil is surprised to find the person snatched into heaven or given a just reward in this life.]
The devil tried in many ways to injure, confuse, or send St. Martin away. The devil disguised himself as Jupiter, Mercury, or Minerva, all Roman pagan gods. Crowds of demons also accused St. Martin of many crimes. St. Martin, knowing these were lies, was not affected. Other brethren heard these abuses towards St. Martin. The devils also accused the brethren who had sinned after Baptism, saying that pardon was not possible. St. Martin replied, "If thou, thyself, wretched being, wouldst but desist from attacking mankind, and even, at this period, when the day of judgment is at hand, wouldst only repent of your deeds, I, with a true confidence in the Lord, would promise you the mercy of Christ." [St. Martin was confident in the Lord, and even though we would not presume to say that the Lord would be merciful in such a case, or any human, even a Saint such as St. Martin, would have the authority to predict the Lord's judgment, still, St. Martin certainly would have pleaded on behalf of a repentant devil continuously for eternity.]
Another incident related by Sulpucius Severus about the deception of the devil, is included in the history of St. Martin. A Priest named Clarus, who had been a noble youth, now reposed and numbered among the Saints, became a disciple of St. Martin and was one of the monks in his monastery. Another youth named Anatolius pretended to have piety, and he said that angels talked with him. No brethren believed him, so he showed them signs, and said that angels passed between him and God, and that he should be treated as a prophet. Clarus did not believe him even then. Then he threatened Clarus, saying that God was angry, and would present him (Anatolius) with a white robe that night. Many brethren watched the commotion, as, in the middle of the night, there were lights and voices in the cell of Anatolius, and he emerged wearing the white robe, showing the robe to a brother named Sabatius. All the brothers approached, including Clarus, and they inspected the robe, which was white and soft, and very bright, of purple cloth. No one could tell what kind of fleece made the garment, but the eyes and fingers felt it to be only a garment. Clarus urged all of them to pray to the Lord to reveal what it was, so all the brethren spent the rest of the night in singing hymns and psalms. At daybreak, Clarus asked to take the man by the hand and show him to St. Martin, who could not be deceived, in case it was an art of the devil. The man refused, saying he was not allowed to show himself to St. Martin. When all the brethren made the young man go, the garment vanished in their hands as they went.
A young man in Spain had many signs, gaining authority among the people, and with pride said that he was Elias. The multitudes believed him, so the man said he was really Christ, and this deception fooled a bishop named Rufus, who worshiped him. At a later date this Bishop was deposed. The brethren also told Sulpicius that in the East another man claimed to be John. These two men were practicing the arts of the devil, because of course they were not the Lord and John. Sulpicius said this is a sign of the Antichrist when false prophets come. [We are not told the hour of the Lord's coming, but at any time we must be prepared.] Around this time, after prayer was offered, the devil appeared beside St. Martin in his cell. The devil was surrounded by a purple light, clothed in a royal robe, with a crown of precious stones around his head, shoes inlaid with gold, with a peaceful face full of joy, so that he would not appear evil at all. Saint Martin at first was amazed, but stood silently. The devil broke the silence, saying, "Acknowledge, Martin, who it is that you behold. I am Christ; and being just about to descend to earth, I wished first to manifest myself to thee." However, St. Martin still kept silent. The devil said, "Martin, why do you hesitate to believe, when you see? I am Christ." Then the Spirit revealed the truth to St. Martin, and he said, "The Lord Jesus did not predict that He would come clothed in purple; and with a glittering crown upon His head. I will not believe that Christ has come, unless he appears with that appearance and form in which He suffered, and openly displaying the marks of His wounds upon the Cross." After this, the devil vanished like smoke, and left a disgusting smell. St. Martin, who was not superstitious, told the others about this, and Sulpicius Severus, believing in the honesty and sincerity of so great a wonder worker as St. Martin, believed him in this.
[Similar incidents occurred to Irish monks and earlier Christians. June 17th: Moling is tempted in the same way by the devil who appeared in purple, and Moling also answers that the Lord would appear with the same humility that He came on earth; the devil also pretends that he cannot worship God because his knees are backwards and he cannot kneel. Some other incidents concerning the devil: February 15th: the devil flees from Christ. Every holy Apostle and Evangelist faced temptations and attempted injuries by the devil or demons, which are recorded in their histories: see their Feast days. Also: February 16th: a virgin from Rome named Juliana has a visit from the devil who appears in pleasant shape, but another angel warns her; she binds the devil and he tells all his wiles from the beginning of the world. February 24th: Lucianus, a Priest who crucified devils. May 11th: the triumph of the righteous Job of the Old Testament over the devil. On the same day, May 11th: the Priest Cormac, who the devil instructed in the good behavior of clerics, of course expecting perfection out of them while he allowed himself lies, insults, and harm to humans. August 15th: concerning Clochar, an example of idol worship among the pagans in the north, similar to devil worship in other places.]
Sulpicius then tells how he met and studied with St. Martin. Sulpicius had heard of the great virtues of St. Martin, and wanted to meet him and write his life. St. Martin received Sulpicius with great humility, which amazed Sulpicius; St. Martin even drawing water to wash the hands and feet of Sulpicius. "...nor had I sufficient courage to resist or oppose his doing so. In fact, I felt so overcome by the authority he unconsciously exerted, that I deemed it unlawful to do anything but acquiesce in his arrangements." St. Martin told him to give up the secular life so that we might follow the Lord Jesus, and held up as an example Paulinus (of Nola), who gave up everything and followed Christ. "What power and dignity there were in Martin's words and conversation! How active he was, how practical, and how prompt and ready in solving questions connected with Scripture!..." Sulpicius then swears by Jesus Himself as witness that he never heard anybody with such knowledge and genius, good and pure speech, great virtues, and still St. Martin did not claim to be called learned. "...all excellences surpass in Martin the possibility of being embodied in language." "Never did a single hour or moment pass in which he was not either actually engaged in prayer; or, if it happened that he was occupied with something else, still he never let his mind loose from prayer." "No one ever saw him enraged, or excited, or lamenting, or laughing; he was always one and the same: displaying a kind of heavenly happiness..." When Sulpicius wrote the life of St. Martin, Sulpicius said that some incidents were told by St. Martin, and others by the brethren in his monastery. He finishes by saying that some, even among Bishops, were envious of St. Martin, and were interested in slandering Sulpicius Severus because of this, but he wrote the Life of St. Martin because of his love of Christ.
In one of his letters, Sulpicius Severus tells about "How
St. Martin passed from this Life to Life Eternal." St. Martin knew his
end was near, but the clerics in a neighboring town were having an argument.
Even though he knew his health was failing, he traveled to the other town
with some monks. On the way he saw some waterfowl rapidly eating fish in
a lake. St. Martin commanded them to stop and go to a desert place, because
they reminded him of the demons that devour souls. The birds immediately
stopped eating and took flight together. [The Irish have many images of
birds. See December 29th, the notes about St. Victor, and also
March 17th, about the angel Victor who visited St. Patrick in
the form of a bird. St. Brendan of Clonfert, the Navigator May 16th,
also spoke of the ambivalence of birds; that either they could be good
or evil. St. Brendan heard the daytime Psalms sung by birds on his voyage.
In the vision of Adamnan, the Cherubim in heaven are described as birds.
St. Adamnan is in September; his vision is described in the October 2001
newsletter.] St. Martin and his monks helped the monks in the town they
were visiting to work out their disagreements, but then St. Martin told
them that his health was failing. The monks pleaded with him to continue
to live and help them. St. Sulpicius Severus describes the conflict between
desire for heaven and love for his monks that St. Martin faced. He was
willing to continue vigils and fastings with his monks, but it was his
time to repose. He refused even the comfort of a straw bed at the end,
and reposed on his usual sackcloth and ashes. A heavenly light illumined
the ashes at the end. The monks were also in conflict: in grief for losing
their loving guide, and also in joy for his going to heaven.
The history of the Church in Gaul (France) did not begin with St. Martin. St. Gregory of Tours tells of seven holy Bishops who were consecrated and sent there in the middle of the third century. These were: Catianus (or Gatianus) of Tours; Trophimus of Arles; Paulus of Narbonne; Saturninus of Toulouse; Dionysius of Paris (see October 9th); Stremonius of Clermont; and Martialis of Limoges. According to Gregory of Tours, St. Martin was the third Bishop of Tours, and was Consecrated in 371 A.D. Gregory said that the See of Tours was vacant for thirty seven years after the episcopacy of Catianus. St. Martin visited the tomb of Catianus, and it is said that those present heard Catianus and Martin blessing each other, Catianus requesting the blessing. St. Martin also blessed a virgin, Vitalina, at her tomb.
At Neuille-le-Lierre in the region of Tours, a tree fell across a road, and St. Martin raised it through his prayers. In the time of St. Gregory, the tree still stood there beside the road, although it was dead because people scraped its bark off for healing medicine. (This was the account of St. Gregory of Tours, who does not always get his facts straight: it might be a changed version of the story of the pine tree cut down next to a pagan temple, told by Sulpicious Severus.)
It was said that a mystical fire often appeared over the relics of Saints. The Abbot Brachio told Gregory of Tours that at night vigils in the Church of St. Martin, relics of Saints were placed on the altar by pilgrims. A ball of fire rose from the relics to the top of the church, but the fire appeared to only a few people who were just men. Gregory says, "I think that this fire contains a mystical sacrament, but the darkness of my senses cannot understand how as it becomes visible it produces such light but does not burn anyone." He compared this fire to the fire of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2).
An oratory at Martigny which was used by St. Martin was venerated. A horse faced the oratory and would not let its rider pass until the place had been venerated. At the tomb of St. Martin, oil from the lamps healed the blind, healed infection and swelling, unknown pains in the abdomen, and also demons. Wax from candles from the tomb of St. Martin also had healing power, curing a woman who was deaf and dumb. An oratory built at Tonnerre, where a priest had been cured of a crippled foot by St. Martin, also healed many people.
A monastery in Spain dedicated to St. Martin was located between Sagunto and Cartegena, and an army of Spanish heretics: Goths under king Leovigild, were marching across the countryside, destroying Christian shrines. The monks there fled to an island in the Mediterranean, leaving their old Abbot. The army destroyed the monastery, and then found the abbot. The Abbot fell over backward and died before they could cut off his head. The army fled, terrified. The news was told the king, and he made a public order to return all that had been stolen to the monastery. (Leovigild was the Visigoth king of Spain from 571 or 573 to 586. His son Hermenegild married a daughter of king Sigibert of the Franks in 579, and Hermenegild converted from Arianism to catholic Orthodox Christianity. However, the conversion caused a civil war, father against son. In 583 the father defeated the son at Seville, and in 584 took the son captive and sent him into exile, where he was killed a year later. Some say that the civil war was over Leovigild imposing a centralized monarchy, but much like Henry II of England, Leovigild also sought to overcome those who followed the true faith. Leovigild may have returned the stolen items to the monastery of St. Martin because he was trying to gain support from the Galicians. He brought Galicia, the northern Celtic region, into his kingdom in 585, four years before the entire country of Spain rejected Arianism through Reccared, another son of Leovigild, although to combat Arianism they changed the Creed. (See below.)
St. Martin's Day was the last major feast before Advent,
occurring November 11th, two days before the beginning of the
fast. Therefore, much celebrating took place, because soon a period of
fasting would begin. The modern holiday in the United States, "Thanksgiving,"
the last Thursday of November, often takes place near the Old Calendar
feast of St. Martin (November 11th/ 24th). Although
this modern festival is secular, it is acceptable as a "thanksgiving" to
God, as long as the "left-overs" are not eaten after the beginning of Advent.
The extra food may be frozen, or given to those in need. (See November
(Arians were in the majority for a while in Spain and
parts of France. The Arians believed that Jesus Christ was only a human
prophet, not the divine Son of God, an idea which was politically correct
to pagans and later to Moslems. Arianism had started in Alexandria, and
spread through northern Africa, Spain, part of France, the city of Constantinople,
and much of the territory of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Many Saints had
fought the Arian heresy, especially St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory
Nazianzus. The northern area of Spain that was Celtic was Orthodox and
not Arian. They venerated St. Martin of Tours, and believed that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God, and great miracles occurred in the Orthodox churches.
Relics of St. James the Greater (see July 25th) arrived at Compostela,
for example, and were venerated by pilgrims from many countries. Orthodox
Christians often did great miracles because God would grant His true church
mercy, but those who were heretics often did the opposite. It was not unusual
for Arian clergy in Spain or Pelagian clergy in Britain to try to fake
a miracle, such as having person who would pretend to be blind say that
they now could see, but it was common that such a person would then would
have his eyes truly shut by God and would become blind for the rest of
his life. This happened in front of the Spanish king Leovigild, at the
hand of the heretical bishop Cyrila, who was the Arian bishop in the kingdom
of the Vandals in North Africa in the early 480s. See Germanus of Auxerre,
May 28th, who overthrew the Pelagians in Britain with St. Patrick,
through miracles, while the Pelagians tried to fake their miracles. In
Spain, the Arians called themselves "catholic," while they called those
who believed the Nicene Creed, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, were
called "Roman," because the Orthodox Christians followed the beliefs of
the closest Christian Patriarchate which was in Rome. Eventually, because
of miracles and the conversion of Reccared, the son of Leovigild, in 587,
Spain as a whole rejected the Arian heresy at the Council of Toledo in
589 A.D. But, at the Council of Toledo, they confused the Creed to say
the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father "and the Son," "Filoque" to bolster
the idea that Christ is Divine, instead of saying that the Holy Spirit
proceeded from the Father, and together with the Father and the Son is
worshiped and glorified, as the Nicene Creed states. Those who had always
been Orthodox Christians in the north of Spain did not need to make erroneous
additions to the Creed, but those from the middle and south of Spain who
had rejected a full Christianity made the addition. The heretical addition
to the Creed eventually spread to the countries controlled by Charlemagne,
who became king of the Germans and French in 800 A.D., and then to the
rest of the Roman Patriarchate. Although the Spanish added the Filioque
to the Creed to reject a heresy against the divinity of Christ, they put
the Holy Spirit into a lesser position, almost not a Person, and this divided
the entire Christian Church, causing the Great Schism between the Roman
Patriarchate and all the other Patriarchates: the Patriarchates of Jerusalem,
Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and later Moscow. The Arian heresy
had been firmly rejected in Alexandria and the other Patriarchates, but
they had made no addition to the original Nicene Creed. See St. Basil the
Great (January 1st), and St. Gregory Nazianzus (March 29th),
who fought this heresy. St. Gregory Nazianzus converted the city of Constantinople
away from this heresy. Also see the Bishop St. Amphilochius, November 23rd,
who convinced the eastern Roman emperor Theodosius I that the Arians should
not be allowed to hold their assemblies. The Irish had been taken over
by the English under Henry II in 1170, and they were forced to follow the
new Roman teachings after that, but the Creed in the Lorrha-Stowe Missal
does not contain the "Filoque." Today the Arian heresy survives in some
forms, such as the beliefs of Isaac Newton and others who had a great influence
upon the "age of reason." Miracles do not fall within the bounds of human
logic, and as the earliest Church fathers compared the Logos, the Word
of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the truth from heaven or true Reason,
such an idea would be in conflict with those who, as the early Arians or
Pelagians, thought that human reason alone could reach to the stars. The
Byzantine Christmas hymn reminds us that we do not worship the stars as
the magi, but the Sun of Justice, our Lord Jesus Christ.)
Old Testament Reading: Jer. 17:7-14 (The man who trusts
in the Lord.)
Epistle Reading: II Timothy 3:16-4:8 (Teach the Scripture
inspired of God.)
Gradual and Alleluia are Psalm 145, entire, done as a Sequence:
Praise the Lord, O my soul: in my life I will praise the Lord: I will sing to my God as long as I shall be. Put not your trust in princes: in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return into his earth: in that day all their thoughts shall perish.
Blessed is he who hath the God of Jacob for his helper, whose hope is in the Lord his God: Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all things that are in them. Who keepeth truth for ever: who executeth judgment for them that suffer wrong: who giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth them that are fettered: the Lord enlighteneth the blind. The Lord lifteth up them that are cast down: the Lord loveth the just. The Lord keepeth the strangers; He will support the fatherless and the widow: and the ways of sinners He will destroy.
The Lord shall reign for ever: Thy God, O Sion, unto generation
Gospel: St. Matthew 25:14-21 (The Parable of the Talents: the man who had received much and gained more.)
17 Nov /30 Nov - St. Gregory Thaumaturgis (the Wonderworker) of Neocaesaria in Cappadocia
Celebrate Thecla's feast: 'tis after a triumph she has fallen:
Búaidbeó, a lasting, strong, city, with beautiful Duilech of Clochar.
Thecla, virgin and Martyr. (Note: a different date on the Byzantine calendar. Other Celtic dates for St. Thecla are February 22nd with St. Peter at Antioch, not St. Paul, and June 1st. The Byzantines celebrate her in September, on the 24th or 26th, and there is a dispute over two different St. Theclas who were Martyrs. See St. Paul, January 25th for the discussion, as well as St. Luke, October 1st. The Celtic Rite, as well as the Byzantine Rite, remembers St. Thecla as a very important Saint. In the Celtic "Office of Commending the Soul When it Goes Forth from the Body" one of the verses says, "Free, O Lord, the soul of Thy servant, as Thou didst free Thecla from the three torments." St. Thecla is one of the few mentioned in this Litany.)
Buaid beo, i.e. Duaid-beo son of Lugaid, son of Liathchu, son of Araide, a quo Dal Araidi, i.e. of Cell more Airthir fine, i.e. he is at the end of Mag n-elta i Gaill (the Plain of Clontarf).
Duilech, i.e. from Clochar Duilig to the south of Faeldruim
St. Gregory Thaumaturgis (Wonderworker) Bishop of Neocaesarea in Cappadocia. Although not on the Irish calendar, he is not only important as a local Saint who converted a city, but also as an Orthodox teacher who influenced the Church throughout the world, and whose miracles were similar to the Apostles and earliest Bishops such as St. Clement of Rome. The Irish may not have mentioned those such as St. Gregory the Wonderworker who studied with Origen, but St. Gregory Thaumaturgis had none of the unorthodox teachings of Origen. One of the miracles of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, that of moving a great rock, was expanded in the much later writings of St. Gregory Pope of Rome to moving a mountain. Later, a non-Christian religion claimed that they did miracles such as moving mountains, and also plagiarized the sayings of the Christian desert fathers. Christians did miracles similar to Old Testament Prophets, but the Christians quoted the Old Testament as well, and never said that certain Old Testament miracles did not occur. It must be remembered that the moving of a great rock by St. Gregory the Wonderworker was part of his teaching about Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of our heavenly Father, Who came to us in the flesh to save sinners. Jesus Christ died on the Cross, and is Resurrected from the dead. November 17th stands as a testimony of the Christian St. Gregory who began his mission in a city having only 17 Christians, and ended his mission with only 17 pagans left in that city. Non-Christians who superstitiously fear the number seventeen ought to hear about this greatest miracle of St. Gregory. On both the new and old calendar dates, he should be remembered, and his miracles and teachings should be announced to those who pay little attention to our Christian heros of the Church.
The land of Cappadocia has become Turkey today. Caesarea in Palestine and Caesarea in Cappadocia were two different cities in two different lands. Caesarea in Cappadocia was the capital of Cappadocia. Neocaesarea in Cappadocia was yet another city, also in Cappadocia in the area called Pontus. A century after St. Gregory the Wonderworker, in the time of St. Basil the Great, the heretical Arian Roman emperor Valens divided Cappadocia into two regions, which placed Caesarea of Cappadocia and Neocaesarea of Cappadocia into the two different provinces, and may have weakened the entire region against future invasion.
The line of Christian learning at Alexandria is important in understanding the lineage of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis. The school in Alexandria was founded by St. Mark (see April 25th), who was the first of the Apostles and Evangelists to establish a Christian school of higher learning. The followers of St. Mark also followed an ascetic life, which led many to found monasteries in the deserts and swamps in Egypt (see the sayings of the desert fathers collected by St. John Cassian, November 25th). Therefore, in theology and doctrine, Christian life and morals, the See of Alexandria was considered very ancient and important. The Christian school in Alexandria was first led by Pantaenus. St. Clement of Alexandria was a student of Pantaenus. Origen was a student of St. Clement. Although Origen was considered a heretic because some of his doctrines are flights of fantasy not grounded in Holy Scripture or Tradition, his better writings were admired for their Christian logic and truth, and he was known as a very good teacher. Orthodox writers such as Methodius later refuted the unorthodox writings of Origen, but St. Basil the Great gathered the better Orthodox teachings of Origen into the "Philokalia" a century after Origen. One of the students of Origen was St. Gregory Thaumaturgis (the Wonderworker). St. Catherine the Great of Alexandria, whose relics are in the monastery named after her at Mt. Sinai, was also from Alexandria and taught there. St. Athanasius the Great also came from the Christian school and taught there.
The miracles of a man named "Thaumaturgis" (Wonderworker)
must be listed, although they are not respected by those of a non-Orthodox
mindset, as seen in some 19th century translators who managed
to exclude thelife and miracles of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis by St. Gregory
of Nyssa in either their "Ante-Nicene" or "Post-Nicene" series published
by Eerdmans. St. Macrina, the grandmother of St. Basil the Great and St.
Gregory of Nyssa, was born in Neocaesarea to a Christian family about the
time of the death of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis (about 265 - 270). St. Macrina
passed eye-witness experience that she gathered from the many Christians
of Neocaesarea to her grandchildren, including St. Gregory of Nyssa. The
account of the miracles of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis by St. Gregory of Nyssa
is reliable, especially evidence of the miracles of the river and lake
which were still present in the day of St. Gregory of Nyssa. Luckily, there
is a current translation of these writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa, "On
the Life and Wonders of our Father among the Saints, Gregory the Wonderworker"
in the new series, The Fathers of the Church, Volume 98, St. Gregory
Thaumaturgus translated by Michael Slusser of Duqesne University, Catholic
University of America Press, Washington D.C., 1998. However, this
volume is also frustrating, because it attributes some writings to St.
Gregory Thaumaturgis which are elsewhere attributed to St. Gregory Nazianzus,
and also leaves out the "Twelve Topics of the Faith," probably because
this is a prophetic treatise defending the Incarnation of Christ against
heresies which became more general problems one or two centuries later.
These "Twelve Topics" are assigned to St. Gregory of Nyssa by Slusser.
I would trust that if St. Gregory of Nyssa said these "Twelve Topics" were
written by St. Gregory the Wonderworker, that they were indeed. St. Basil
says, "through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, Gregory had a formidable
power over evil spirits; he altered the course of rivers in the name of
Christ; he dried up a lake that was a cause of dissension between two brothers;
and his foretelling of the future made him equal with the other prophets...
Such were his signs and wonders that both friends and enemies of the truth
looked on him as another Moses." The prophecy in the "Twelve Topics on
the Faith" is being used by some scholars to cast doubt on the authenticity
of these documents, instead of to prove the foresight of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis.
When St. Gregory Thaumaturgis became Bishop in Neocaesarea in Cappadocia in 240 A.D., there were 17 Christians in that city. At the end of his life, the entire city was Orthodox Christian, leaving only 17 pagans. He did miracles constantly, through God's grace. His writings predicted the major heresies of the church in later centuries, and his short explanation of the Christian faith was the foundation of the Nicean Creed. The eastern Saints, especially those from Cappadocia such as St. Basil the Great (January 1st), St. Gregory Nazianzus the Theologian (March 29th), and St. Gregory of Nyssa the brother of St. Basil, called him "Gregory the Great," or "the Teacher." (St. Gregory Nazianzus did not think of himself as a very good speaker, and looked to his father, also named Gregory, or the earlier St. Gregory the Wonderworker. There is some confusion, between writings of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, St. Gregory Nazianzus, and St. Gregory of Nyssa. The later Saints Gregory may have tried to copy the style of the earlier Saint. St. Gregory Nazianzus and St. Gregory of Nyssa lived near Neocaesarea a century later than St. Gregory Thaumaturgis.)
Several ancient writers wrote on the life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, and also St. Gregory himself wrote on his early life in his panegyric to Origen written about 238. The ancient writers include Eusebius, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Jerome, Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, Evagrius Scholasticus, Suidas, and later St. Gregory, Pope ("the Dialogist" - also called "the Great") and others. St. Gregory Thaumaturgis' birth can only be deduced from the time of his Consecration as Bishop, which he says was very early in life. We know he was Consecrated in 240 A.D. The time of his death is not certain, but according to Suidas he lived to the time of Julian, which he probably means Aurelian, which would be in about 270 A.D. If he was Consecrated as Bishop as early as thirty five years old, he would have been born around 205 A.D. Some childhood events such as the schools he studied in also show his age. St. Gregory was known to not cover his head in prayer, and that he usually did not say more than "yea" or "nay." He avoided anger or bitterness, and never told a lie.
St. Gregory was from Neocaesarea, in Pontus of Cappadocia, where Turkey now lies in Asia Minor. His family was educated, and of some wealth. After his father died, when he was fourteen, his pagan mother had him and his brother Athenodorus tutored by a teacher of rhetoric, grammar which meant the classification of all things, Latin, and law. He felt a calling toward Christianity, but he did not follow his calling for many years. He traveled to Alexandria, with the purpose of studying the Neo-Platonist philosophy (although St. Gregory of Nyssa said that St. Gregory Thaumaturgis did study Christianity in Alexandria, but was not yet Baptized). Then he traveled to Greece, and he studied at Athens. Then he traveled to Berytus (Beirut in Lebanon). A Latin teacher of law at that time in Berytus became famous for formulating the basis of Roman law later called the Pandects of Justinian. (See the Irish Saint and poet Sedulius, February 12th, who wrote the Carmen Paschale and taught poetics in the Latin language in Athens over a century later. There were some Latin teachers in Athens and other Eastern cities, usually teachers of the law, and many Greeks spoke Latin, just as many in the west studied Greek under Greek teachers.) However, St. Gregory Thaumaturgis did not stay long in Berytus, some said he did not stay there at all, because around that time, Origen went to the Palestinian Caesarea in 233 A.D., and St. Gregory and his brother Athenodorus traveled to Palestine and met Origen. Origen had been a teacher in the Christian school at Alexandria. (It is not certain if St. Gregory had attended this school at Alexandria.)
St. Gregory of Nyssa follows the life of St. Gregory the Wonderworker, telling of his virtue even before his conversion to Christianity. After both his parents died, St. Gregory Thaumaturgis tried to acquire wisdom, not only studying the teachings of the Greek philosophers, but "knowing by experience the weakness and incoherence of their doctrines" came to study and be a disciple of the Gospel. Before his Baptism, in Alexandria some intemperate students tried to discredit him by bribing a prostitute to make false accusations, saying she was cheated in her pay. Friends of Gregory were angry, but St. Gregory gave her the money he did not owe, and she fell down in an epileptic fit. The demon choking her did not stop until St. Gregory called on God to help her. On returning home, he met a young man named Firmilian from Caesarea in Cappadocia, who proposed they study with Origen. After some years, St. Gregory returned home to Neocaesarea in Cappadocia, but many wanted him to teach, and he fled to a remote place. St. Gregory of Nyssa compares him to Moses going off by himself, although "Moses had a wife along with philosophy, while Gregory made virtue his only consort."
After St. Gregory met Origen, he continued his studies, and he also converted to Christianity. Origen taught him logic, geometry, physics, ethics, philosophy, ancient literature, Biblical science, and the truth of the Christian faith. He stayed with Origen for five years, returning to Neocaesarea in Cappadocia. St. Gregory wrote the Panegyric to Origen in 238 A.D., and soon after that Origen wrote him a letter urging him to give his gifts to the service of God and the ministry of the Church of Christ in the role of Bishop, so that he could use his education in the teaching of the Scriptures. St. Gregory received this letter, and went into the wilderness to pray about it, but also to escape Holy Orders.
Phaedimus, or Phaidimos, the Bishop of Amasea, sought to make St. Gregory a Bishop of Neocaesarea, but St. Gregory fled from one retreat to another. Finally, Phaidimos said that both were present in the sight of God, and Ordained St. Gregory even though he was not present bodily. This is impossible in the Church. (This never was done before or since. It is probable that Phaidimos only said he was Ordaining St. Gregory so that St. Gregory would come out of hiding and not reject the Sacramental nature of Holy Orders.) St. Gregory came out of hiding so that the Church would not have such a precedent, and was Consecrated Bishop with the proper Liturgics in 240 A.D. in the physical presence of Phaidimos.
Asking God that he be given visible teaching about the truth, St. Gregory had a vision of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, "elderly looking, very dignified in garb, displaying every virtue in the grace of his countenance and the calmness of his appearance," and the most holy Blessed Virgin Mary, "larger than human size." They were too bright to look at. St. John taught him about the most Holy Trinity, called "A Declaration of Faith". Notice in St. Gregory's Creed, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity are divine, although he does not say as much as the Nicene Creed. The Holy Spirit, according to St. Gregory Nazianzus (March 29th) and St. Basil (January 1st) does not proceed from the Father "and the Son," a phrase which was added much later in Spain, but rather from the Father. The reasons are listed in the history of St. Basil on January 1st, and St. Gregory Nazianzus goes into much more detail in his Five Theological Orations and other writings (which there is not room to quote). Both St. Gregory Nazianzus and St. Basil are concerned with the Nature or Essence of the Trinity, stating that the Holy Spirit must proceed from the Father. As St. Gregory Thaumaturgis states, the Holy Spirit has His "subsistence from God," and is "manifest" by the Son, and by the Holy Spirit the Father and the Son are both seen. The "Declaration of Faith:"
"There is one God, the Father of the living Word, who is His subsistent Wisdom and Power and Eternal Image: perfect Begetter of the perfect Begotten, Father of the only-begotten Son. There is one Lord, Only of the Only, God of God, Image and Likeness of Deity, Efficient Word, Wisdom comprehensive of the constitution of all things, and Power formative of the whole creation, true Son of true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal, and Eternal of Eternal. And there is One Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, and being made manifest by the Son, to wit to men: Image of the Son, Perfect Image of the Perfect; Life, the Cause of the living; Holy Fount; Sanctity, the Supplier, or Leader, of Sanctification; in Whom is manifested God the Father, who is above all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all. There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abideth ever."
Returning to Neocaesarea from his retreat, St. Gregory Thaumaturgis spent the night in a pagan temple. The demons retreated at the invocation of Christ, the sign of the Cross, and the prayers and hymns of the all night vigil. The temple custodian was angry that the demons had retreated and the air had been purified of the "stench of sacrifices." The temple custodian made all kinds of threats to take him to authorities as an enemy of the gods, and demanded that the demons return. St. Gregory said that the One God could drive demons away and make them go where ever He willed, so he gave the temple custodian a piece of paper saying, "Gregory to Satan: Enter!" and when the temple custodian placed this on the altar, the demons returned. The temple custodian saw that St. Gregory had more power than the demons, and followed after him, meeting him before the city, and asking St. Gregory about the God to Whom demons were subject. After explaining to the temple custodian about the true God, the temple custodian still did not believe that God could appear to human beings in the flesh as our Lord Jesus Christ. The temple custodian asked that St. Gregory move a great rock too heavy for a human to move. St. Gregory commanded the rock move to another place, and it moved without waiting, "as if it were a living thing." [This rock became a mountain in the "Dialogues" of the later St. Gregory "the Great," Pope of Rome. When considering moving the feast day of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, the Romans said that a man who could move mountains should not have his feast day moved.] At this point, the temple custodian left everything, "people, home, wife, children, friends, priesthood, shrine, possessions" to follow St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, and later the temple custodian was Ordained as a Deacon. (St. Gregory of Nyssa said, "A stone cuases people who served stones to forsake stones... What kind of hearing does a stone have? What sense does it have of the authority of the one commanding it? What locomotory power is in it? With what members and joints is it equipped? But the power of the one commanding serves all these kinds of functions for the stone...")
At the city of Neocaesarea, many had heard about the miracle of the rock, and his command of the demons, and came to hear St. Gregory. However, he did not look at the people, but looked down as he entered the city, not impressed with the numbers, nor interested in receiving praise. This impressed the people more. Many people asked him to stay with them, but he said that he was never outside the shelter of God, but a house might conceal the shame of secret deeds. "But for those whose life has been set right through virtue, walls have nothing around which to throw a veil." The first person to invite him into their homes was Musonius, and St. Gregory stayed with Musonius, starting a church at the house of Musonius that same day. The next morning sick persons were at his door, and he healed them and converted them. Many new converts contributed to a new church building. St. Gregory of Nyssa, writing a century later, says, "This is the temple which is pointed out to this day, which that Great One, halting as soon as he arrived, laid as a kind of foundation and groundwork for his priesthood, completing the work by some sort of divine impulse and higher aid as is evidenced at a later time. For when there was a very severe earthquake in the city in our own times, and almost everything was completely destroyed, all public and private buildings ruined, that temple alone remained unshattered and unshaken, so that through even this it is manifest with what sort of power that Great One undertook his affairs."
St. Gregory settled an argument over the ownership of a marshy lake by two brothers, who were willing to go to war over it. (The lake may have provided fish, and would have been considered more valuable at that time than farmland.) They took their argument to St. Gregory and when the brothers could not be convinced of the wisdom of sharing the property, St. Gregory went to pray all night by the lakeside. In the morning the land was completely dry: enough water to "float a boat" dried up permanently. St. Gregory compares this to the wisdom of Solomon, but also to the miracle of Joshua (Joshua 3:14 - 4:18) where the Jordan was temporarily stopped, and the miracle of Moses (Exodus 14:21-29) where the Red sea became dry long enough for the Hebrews to cross. However, in the case of this lake, the effect was not temporary, and although St. Gregory said there was evidence of the former water line at the shore in his own time, the lake bottom had become a plain that was then plowed and farmed.
In another miracle, the river Lycus (the Wolf) flooded and destroyed homes and farms. People of the area appealed to St. Gregory, and he went to the place where the river overflowed at times of floods. The ground was moist there; he spoke with a loud voice, asking Christ to come to his assistance, and then he stuck his staff deep into the ground. Soon, the staff took root and became a tree, and the tree prevented further floods. In the time of St. Gregory of Nyssa, the tree was still thriving, and was called "The Staff," and still calmed the waters, again not a temporary but permanent command of waters. The tree lived at the highest point of the flood, and during later winter storms the river would flow "around the trunk of the tree ... attains its highest point of flood, it again piles higher in the middle and reduces its flow, and as if fearing to approach the tree it passes the area by with arched crest." St. Gregory of Nyssa gives further comparisons to Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:6:14).
The town of Comana could not choose a Bishop, and proposed several men of good families. St. Gregory reminded them that virtue, not family, should be considered in the choice of Bishop. Alexander the Charcoal-burner was chosen Bishop of Comana (his feast according to Roman usage is August 11th), due to the help of St. Gregory. St. Gregory discovered that Alexander had studied philosophy, and was a charcoal burner so that he could hide his physical beauty and live a life of humility. Alexander's first sermon as Bishop showed his insight and study. One youth said that Alexander did not speak with enough flowery poetry, but everybody then saw a vision of a beautiful flock of doves, which they called "Alexander's doves," his words which were full of truth. After that, the city of Comana was very satisfied with Alexander as Bishop.
At another time, two con men along a road tried to trick St. Gregory. One pretended to be dead, and the other to mourn, and the mourner asked for the cloak of St. Gregory so that he could prepare his friend for burial. St. Gregory immediately threw his double-woven cloak over the man lying on the roadside. When St. Gregory passed out of sight, the man lying on the ground did not move, and it was found that he was indeed dead. (St. Gregory of Nyssa said this miracle seemed to be repulsive, but quoted Acts 5:1-11 about St. Peter's condemnation of Ananias.) St. Gregory Thaumaturgis could not tell a lie, and if he gave charity to a dead man, the man would have to be dead. St. Gregory of Nyssa attributed this incident to two Jews who practiced deception, but any persons who tried to change the truth into a lie in the presence of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis were risking grave consequences. According to the life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, the city of Neocaesarea was pagan, not Jewish, before St. Gregory Thaumaturgis began to teach there.
St. Gregory the Wonderworker also was known to heal those who were possessed. St. Gregory of Nyssa gives an example of the healing of a possessed boy, and then says, "To go through in order all the marvels worked by him would require a long book and a discourse exceeding the time we have now, but since I have been reminded of one or two more things told about h im I shall close the discourse with these."
In 250 A.D. Neocaesarea suffered under the Decian persecution. St. Gregory of Nyssa says, "Anger and envy entered the man in charge of the Roman Empire at that time because the ancestral cults of error were falling into neglect, while the mystery of the Christians was growing and the church was swelling to a multitude everywhere in the civilized world... [The emperor] sent the governors of the provinces an edict decreeing a fearful threat of punishment against them if they could not mutilate with manifold tortures those who worship the Name of Christ, and lead them by fear and the coercion of tortures back to their ancestral worship of demons." (Modern copies of these decrees to the governors are lost; it is possible that the governors were told to persecute Christians, and a punishment of governors who would not do such a persecution was not described, but they told others that this was required of them as an excuse, just as Nazi prison guards used the excuse of orders to justify their crimes.) The persecution divided families, pagan children turned in their Christian parents; pagan parents turned in their Christian children. Women and children were tortured and killed as well as men. St. Gregory was forced to flee into the wilderness, and he told the people to also flee to avoid persecution. Although he prayed for the Martyrs, St. Gregory felt that the Church should have as many people survive the persecution as possible, and felt that he should stay alive at that time. (St. Polycarp fled Martyrdom at first, although he submitted when arrested. Dionysius of Alexandria and Cyprian of Carthage also fled during persecution, but were criticized for it.)
In the desert, only a Deacon was with him, the former temple custodian who had been converted from pagan priesthood. Persecutors were told that St. Gregory was in a mountain, and sent soldiers to arrest him. The soldiers circled the hill so that he could not escape, and sent others up to look for them in every possible hiding place. Meanwhile, St. Gregory told his Deacon to lift his hands in prayer and not lose confidence in God, and both of them prayed in this way with arms and hands lifted to heaven. (This was the ancient way of prayer. See the Irish "Shrine of Piety," and also the method of prayer used by Moses to defeat enemies. The same pose is found in ancient icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary called "Our Lady of the Sign," with her hands lifted to heaven in prayer.) The soldiers returned saying that they had only seen two trees standing a short distance apart. The informer went to the place and found St. Gregory and his Deacon in prayer, and realizing they had escaped miraculously, he fell down before them and became a Christian.
Although most Christians had fled the city, some remained, and these filled the prisons. During the persecution, St. Gregory also was in prayer during the Martyrdom of one of the faithful, and prayed, "Blessed be God, who has not given us as prey to their teeth." St. Gregory was able to name the man, Troadios, and the manner in which he had died, and the miraculous way he had kept the faith through his trial and torture. The Deacon who had been the pagan temple custodian wished to go to the city to hear about the wonders of Troadios. When he arrived, he was dirty, and went to a bath after dark. The keeper did not want to admit him, because a demon came at nightfall and killed any who were there. The Deacon was the first to come out of the bath unharmed, and after that he learned the truth of the Martyrdom of many people who St. Gregory had witnessed through his God-given sight in the wilderness. St. Gregory honored the Martyrs when the persecution ended, celebrating each of them with a feast day and enjoyable activities. This attracted more pagans to the church, who were attracted to festivals. St. Gregory was also the only early Church leader who allowed secular entertainment and recreation at the annual Christian feasts of the Martyrs.
Even so, not all the pagans realized the power of God. After this persecution a plague followed. Many pagans had gone to a festival for a demon, and in the theatre the crowd was so great that the entire assembly called out, "Zeus, give us space!" St. Gregory heard this, and told a bystander outside the theatre that the people would be given even more space than they prayed for. Soon after, the city was swept with fever and death. Water was too weak to stop the fever. The pagans finally came to St. Gregory asking for help, and they prayed in each house to drive out the disease. The entire city abandoned its idols and came to Christ. In 260 the city was invaded by Goths, who were northern barbarians.
St. Gregory took part in the council which met in Antioch in 265 A.D. to try Paul of Samosata. It is not known what year St. Gregory died; perhaps 270 according to Suidas, if the name Julian is actually Aurelian. He asked that he not be given any special place of burial. St. Gregory was not happy that there were still some pagans in Neocaesarea, saying, "This is very sad, that there should be something lacking to the full number of the saved." However, these were only seventeen pagans. He reposed on November 17th. Although some non-Christians such as the Moslems think that the number seventeen is unlucky, Christians are reminded of St. Gregory the Great Wonderworker when they encounter this number; beginning with seventeen Christians, and leaving only seventeen pagans, so that his successor would have some work left. (In 2001, the Moslems begin their month-long fast on the new calendar date of November 17th. St. Gregory, pray for us!)
It is said that the body of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis was transferred to a Byzantine monastery in Calabria Italy. There is a large local cultus of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis in southern Italy and Sicily, and he is asked for intercessions especially in times of earthquakes and floods because of his stopping the flooding of the River Lycus in Cappadocia.
St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzus both studied Christianity in Cappadocia and outside it; St. Basil said in a letter (Epistle 207) that the teachings and liturgics of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis had mostly been lost, with only a century between the Ordination of St. Basil and the death of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis. When St. Basil composed his Divine Liturgy which is used in the Byzantine Rite, he sought to keep the spirit of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis who loved prayer and litanies, although the Liturgy used by St. Gregory Thaumaturgis had been lost since then due to persecutions and heresies. St. Basil re-wrote the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, because the powerful heretics in that area had made changes, and he wanted to make certain that every word would be Orthodox. (See St. Basil, January 1st and below, and notes in the Celtic Missal, which may be derived from older sources.)
Neocaesarea was converted to Christianity through the
efforts of St. Gregory, converting the population which had 17 Christians
before 240 A.D. into a city of Christians, leaving only 17 pagans. The
miracles of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis were used as reminders to the Christians
in Cappadocia to keep the faith during times of persecutions by both pagans
and heretics, emperors and barbarian invaders, at times when the rest of
the world, including Constantinople and Rome, had fallen to the Arian heresy
(see St. Gregory Nazianzus, March 29th and St. Basil, January
1st, and also St. Martin of Tours, November 11th).
Cappadocia kept the faith in the third century, and sent its Fathers to
Constantinople in the fourth century, defending the doctrines of Orthodox
faith in the Church. The Church studied the writings of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis,
and although the Nicene Creed is more complete in its doctrine, the First
Ecumenical Council referred to these earlier writings. Other Saints such
as St. Nicholas, St. Martin (November 11th), and St. Cuthbert
of Lindisfarne (March 20th) who were called "Wonderworkers"
during and after their life were known to uphold the true Incarnation of
Christ. St. Nicholas kept the faith in the First Ecumenical Council (325
A.D.), and his bones still give a milky substance. Although St. Gregory
Thaumaturgis wrote on Theological subjects (that is, on the nature of God),
St. Gregory Nazianzus mostly wrote on these to defend the faith against
the Arians and Sabellians. However, St. Gregory Thaumaturgis defended the
Incarnation of Christ in his "Twelve Topics on the Faith," just as St.
Nicholas defended the Incarnation of Christ in the First Ecumenical Council,
and he was given the grace of doing miracles continuously.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgis wrote the "Declaration of Faith," and also other important works. In his sectional Confession of Faith, St. Gregory Thaumaturgis explains the Holy Trinity in twenty three sections, with some of the same insights as St. Gregory Nazianzus. The 19th century Anglicans in the Eerdmans volumes of Ante and Post Nicene fathers protest this work, because they do not understand the Greek explanations of the Holy Trinity, as explained by St. Basil and St. Gregory Naziansus. The "Twelve Topics of the Faith" is long, but a few quotes give some idea of his understanding. In part V, "...He, therefore, who supposes some beginning of times in the life of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, therewith also cuts off any possibility of numbering the Son and the Spirit with the Father. For as we acknowledge the glory to be one, so ought we also to acknowledge the substance in the Godhead to be one, and one also the eternity of the Trinity." In Part III: "And whether, then, one discerns God through creation, or is taught to know Him by the Holy Scriptures, it is impossible either to apprehend Him or to learn of Him apart from His wisdom. And he who calls upon God rightly, calls on Him through the Son; and he who approaches Him in a true fellowship, comes to Him through Christ..."
"On the Trinity," he states, "...But the Divine Persons are names indeed: and the names are still the persons; and the persons then signify that which is and subsists, - which is the essence of God." (St. John of Damascus also wrote on the Persons of the Holy Trinity as essence, a slightly different explanation than St. Gregory Nazianzus' and later writers.)
On the liturgics of his time, St. Gregory wrote Canonical Epistles concerning those who have repented their cowardly giving up of the faith which had been done because of barbarian invasions, and the five classes of penitents in paragraph XI. This paragraph has been thought to have been written after his time, but Litanies or prayers are at the beginning of St. Basil's Divine Liturgy, and therefore the description of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis refers to a different form of liturgics than the Liturgics written by St. Basil a century later. (See St. Basil's Epistle 207: St. Basil's Liturgy was different than earlier Liturgies, and had added Litanies. The Greek Old Calendrists consider hearing the Holy Gospel itself to be a form of prayer, as these are the holy words of our Lord God Jesus Christ. Women in some Old Calendrist Greek churches grab the stole of the Priest and Deacon, prostrate themselves, and weep on the stole during the reading of the Holy Gospels.) In the Liturgy of the Celtic Rite, the prayers of the Psalms in the Gradual and the Litany of St. Martin follow the Epistle. The Gradual and Litany of St. Martin are just before the censing and reading of the Holy Gospel. Of course, the Litany of St. Martin in the Celtic Rite which is similar to the great Litany of St. Basil was added during or after the life of St. Martin of Tours, see November 11th. The original form of the Celtic Liturgy may have been very ancient, as it is the same as the form found in the Liturgy of Milan. The rules for penitents of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis:
"Weeping takes place without the gate of the oratory, and the offender standing there ought to implore the faithful as they enter to offer up prayer on his behalf. [Then:] Waiting on the word, again, takes place within the gate in the porch, where the offender ought to stand until the catechumens depart, and thereafter he should go forth. For let him hear the Scriptures and doctrine, it is said, and then be put forth, and reckoned unfit for the privilege of prayer. [Then:] Submission, again, is that one stand within the gate of the temple, and go forth along with the catechumens. [Then:] Restoration is that one be associated with the faithful, and go not forth with the catechumens; and [then:] last of all comes the participation in the holy ordinances."
St. Gregory also writes about the soul, four homilies: three on the Annunciation to the holy Virgin Mary and one on the Holy Theophany, that is, on Christ's Baptism; on all the Saints; and on the Gospel of St. Matthew 6:22-23. Some of these writings may have been added to by later Greek copiers, but they are beautiful. It is said that the use of the term "Theotokos" was later than the time of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, but it is possible that he coined the term. "Theotokos" ("Birthgiver of God") referring to the Blessed Virgin Mary was later used by the followers of St. John Chrysostom such as St. John Cassian, who inherited the information about St. Gregory from those who taught in Cappadocia.
St. Gregory the Wonderworker wrote "Twelve Topics on the
Faith" against heresies of his day and predicting heresies in later times.
Some say that he could not have written these, as they point to some heresies
that had not yet occurred by 270 A.D. The heresies that St. Irenaeus fought
(see August 26th) were already overcome, but the new heresies
against the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ were
contemporary with St. Gregory Thaumaturgis, although not every form of
them was yet widely publicized. St. Gregory Nazianzen, see March 29th,
also predicted heresies, and at the end of his life after retiring from
the Patriarchate of Constantinople, he wrote against heresies that would
become a problem a century later. Most of the Ecumenical Councils were
against the heresies of the Incarnation of Christ. In the 19th
century "elucidation" following the translation of the Twelve Topics of
St. Gregory Thaumaturgis found in the Eerdmans volume, the Rev. S.D.F.
Salmond lists seven Ecumenical Councils, but begins with the Apostolic
Council, and calls the first Ecumenical Council the Second, etc. Salmond
then uses the term "Seventh" to mean another council, confusing the issue
further. Salmond omits the Orthodox Seventh Ecumenical Council of 787 A.D.
in which the icons were restored due to the efforts of St. John of Damascus.
St. John of Damascus and St. Theodore the Studite proved that Jesus Christ
truly came among us in the flesh, and therefore it is acceptable for us
to show Him in icons. We do not worship the image, but the Lord. The topic
XII of St. Gregory Thaumaturgis which predicted the Orthodox Seventh Ecumenical
Council of 787 A.D. is later than Salmond's list. Topic XII shows that
these "Twelve Topics" were prophecy, not forgery, an ancient writing certainly
written centuries before the time of the Orthodox Seventh Ecumenical Council.
Topic I. "If any one says that the body of Christ is uncreated, and refuses to acknowledge that He, being the uncreated Word (God) of God, took the flesh of created humanity and appeared incarnate, even as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could the body be said to be uncreated? For the uncreated is the passionless, invulnerable, intangible. But Christ, on rising from the dead, showed His disciples the print of the nails and the wound made by the spear, and a body that could be handled, although He also had entered among them when the doors were shut, with the view of showing them at once the energy of the divinity and the reality of the body." [The Gospel of St. John, 20:19-21, 27]
"Yet, while being God, He was recognized as man in a natural manner; and while subsisting truly as man, He was also manifested as God by His works." [St. Matthew 8:20; St. Matthew 11:19; St. Matthew 11:1-6, 20; St. John 10:38]
Topic II. "If any one affirms that the flesh of Christ is consubstantial with the divinity, and refuses to acknowledge that He, subsisting Himself in the form of God as God before all ages, emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, evan as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could the flesh, which is conditioned by time, be said to be consubstantial (of the essence) with the timeless divinity? For that is designated consubstantial which is the same in nature and in eternal duration without variableness." [Further explanation in the Five Theological Orations of St. Gregory Nazianzus.]
Topic III. "If any one affirms that Christ, just like one of the prophets, assumed the perfect man, and refuses to acknowledge that, being begotten in the flesh of the Virgin, He became man and was born in Bethlehem, and was brought up in Nazareth, and advanced in age, and on completing the set number of years (appeared in public and) was Baptized in the Jordan, and received this testimony from the Father, 'This is my beloved Son,' [St. Matthew 3:17] even as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could it be said that Christ (the Lord) assumed the perfect man just like one of the prophets, when He, being the Lord Himself, became man by the incarnation effected through the Virgin? Wherefore it is written, that 'the first man was of the earth, earthy.' [I Cor. 15:47] But whereas he that was formed of the earth returned tot he earth, He that became the second man returned to heaven. And so we read of the 'first Adam and the last Adam.' [I Cor. 15:45]. And as it is admitted that the second came by the first according to the flesh, for which reason also Christ is called man and the Son of man; so is the witness given that the second is the Savior of the first, for whose sake He came down from heaven. And as the Word came down from heaven, and was made man, and ascended again to heaven, He is on that account said to be the second Adam from heaven."
Topic IV. "If any one affirms that Christ was born of the seed of man by the Virgin, in the same manner as all men are born, and refuses to acknowledge that He was made flesh by the Holy Spirit and the holy Virgin Mary, and became man of the seed of David, even as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could one say that Christ was born of the seed of man by the Virgin, when the holy Gospel and the angel, in proclaiming the good tidings, testify of Mary the Virgin that she said, 'How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?' [St. Luke 1:34]. Wherefore he says, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Highest.' [St. Luke 1:35]. And to Joseph he says, 'Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.' [St. Matthew 1:20-21]."
Topic V. "If any one affirms that the Son of God who is before the ages is one, and He who has appeared in these last times is another, and refuses to acknowledge that He who is before the ages is the same with Him who appeared in these last times, even as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could it be said that the Son of God Who is before the ages is one, and He who has appeared in these last times, are different, when the Lord Himself says, 'Before Abraham was, I am;' [St. John 8:58] and, 'I came forth from God, and I come, and again I go to my Father?' [St. John chapters 8 and 16]."
Topic VI. "If any one affirms that He who suffered is one, and that He who suffered not is another, and refuses to acknowledge that the Word, who is Himself the impassible and unchangeable God, suffered in the flesh which He had assumed really, yet without mutation, even as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could it be said that He who suffered is one, and He who suffered not another, when the Lord Himself said, 'The Son of man must suffer many things, and be killed, and be raised again the third day from the dead;' [St. Matthew 16:21] and again, 'When ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the Father;' [St. Matthew 26:64; St. Mart 14:62] and again, 'When the Son of man cometh in the glory of His Father?' [St. Matthew 16:27]."
Topic VII. "If any one affirms that Christ is saved, and refuses to acknowledge that He is the Savior of the world, and the Light of the world, even as it is written, let him be anathema." [Isaiah chapter 9; St. Matthew chapter 4; St. John chapters 1, 3, 8, 9, 12.]
Explanation. "How could one say that Christ is saved, when the Lord Himself says, 'I am the life;' [St. John 11:25, St. John 14:6] and, 'I am come that they might have life;' [St. John 10:10] and, 'He that believeth on me shall not see death, but he shall behold the life eternal?' [St. John 8:51]"
Topic VIII. "If any one affirms that Christ is perfect man and also God the Word in the way of separation, and refuses to acknowledge the one Lord Jesus Christ, even as it is written, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could one say that Christ is perfect man and also God the Word in the way of separation, when the Lord Himself says, 'Why seek ye to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God?' [St. John 8:40]. For God the Word did not give a man for us, but He gave Himself for us, having been made man for our sake. Wherefore He says: 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But He spake of the temple of His body.' [St. John 2:19, 21]."
Topic IX. "If any one says that Christ suffers change or alteration, and refuses to acknowledge that He is unchangeable in the Spirit, though corruptible in the flesh, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could one say that Christ suffers change or alteration, when the Lord Himself says, 'I am, and I change not;' [Mal. 3:6] and again, 'His soul shall not be left in Hades, neither shall His flesh see corruption?' [Psalm 15 Greek numbering, or 16 Hebrew numbering; Acts 2:31]." [Note: The change or alteration referred to is Christ's Birth, which did not change His Spirit, just as at His birth, He was not given a different kind of body from ours. This does not refer to the Holy Eucharist, which is given to us by Christ in the church, as He said, St. Matthew 26:26-29. Although His flesh is like ours and was wounded and died at the Crucifixion, He is risen from the dead without decay, keeping His wounds, but not with the decay of death. The controversy that some thought Christ changed at birth was answered at the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, against the "Monophysites," who said that Christ's body and Divinity were not divided, and that He did not really take on our flesh, suffer on the Cross, or save us through His death and Resurrection.]
Topic X. "If any one affirms that Christ assumed the man only in part, and refuses to acknowledge that He was made in all things like us, apart from sin, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could one say that Christ assumed the man only in part, when the Lord Himself says, 'I lay down my life, that I might take it again, for the sheep;' [St. John 10:17] and, 'My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;' [St. John 6:55] and, ' He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life?' [St. John 6:56]."
Topic XI. "If any one affirms that the body of Christ is void of soul and understanding, and refuses to acknowledge that He is perfect man, one and the same in all things (with us), let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could one say that the body of the Lord (Christ) is void of soul and understanding? For perturbation, and grief, and distress, are not the properties either of a flesh void of soul, or of a soul void of understanding; nor are they the sign of the immutable Divinity, nor the index of a mere phantasm, nor do they mark the defect of human weakness; but the Word exhibited in Himself the exercise of the affections and susceptibilities proper to us, having endued Himself with our passions, even as it is written, that 'He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' [Isaiah 53:4] For perturbation, and grief, and distress, are disorders of soul; and toil, and sleep, and the body's liability to wounding, are infirmities of the flesh."
Topic XII, "If any one says that Christ was manifested in the world only in semblance, and refuses to acknowledge that He came actually in the flesh, let him be anathema."
Explanation. "How could one say that Christ was manifested only in semplance in the world, born as He was in Bethlehem, and made to submit to the circumcising of the flesh, and lifted up by Simeon, and brought up on the His twelfth year (at home), and made subject to His parents, and Baptized in Jordan, andnailed to the Cross,and raised again from the dead?
"Wherefore, when it is said that He was 'troubled in spirit,' [St. John 11:33, 12:27, 13:21] that 'He was sorrowful in soul,' [St. Matthew 26:38] that 'He was wounded in body, ' [Isaiah 53:5] He places before us designations of susceptibilities proper to our constitution, in order to show that He was made man in the world, and had His conversation with men, [Baruch 3:38] yet without sin. For He was born in Bethlehem according tot he flesh, in a manner meet for Deity, the angels of heaven recognizing Him as their Lord, and hymning as their God Him who was then wrapped in swaddling-clothes in a manger, and exclaiming, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will among men.' [Luke 2:14] He was brought up in Nazareth; but in divine fashion He sat among the doctors, and astonished them by a wisdom beyond His years, in respect of the capacities of His bodily life, as is recorded in the Gospel narrative. He was Baptized in Jordan, not as receiving any sanctification for Himself, bur as gifting a participation in sanctification to others. He was tempted in the wilderness, not as giving way, however, to temptation, but as putting our temptations before Himself on the challenge of the tempter, in order to show the powerlessness of the tempter.
"Wherefore He says, 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.' [St. John 16:33] And this He said, not as holding before us any contest proper only to a God, but as showing our own flesh in its capacity to overcome suffering, and death, and corruption, in order that, as sin entered into the world by flesh, and death came to reign by sin over all men, the sin in the flesh might also be condemned through the selfsame flesh in the likeness thereof; [Romans 5:12, 8:3] and that that overseer of sin, the tempter, might be overcome, and death be cast down from its sovereignty, and the corruption in the burying of the body be done away, and the first-fruits of the Resurrection be shown, and the principle of righteousness begin its course in the world through faith, and the kingdom of heaven be preached to men, and fellowship be established between God and men.
"In behalf of this grace let us glorify the Father, who has given His only begotten Son for the life of the world. Let us glorify the Holy Spirit that worketh in us, and quickeneth us, and furnisheth the gifts meet for the fellowship of God,; and let us not intermeddle with the world of the Gospel by lifeless disputations, scattering about endless questionings and logomachies, and making a hard thing of the gentle and simple word of faith; but rather let us work the work of faith, let us love peace, let us exhibit concord, let us preserve unity, let us cultivate love, with which God is well pleased.
"As it is not for us to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power [Acts 1:7] but ony to believe that there will come an end to time, and that there will be a manifestation of a future world, and a revelation of judgment, and an advent of the Son of God, and a recompense of works, and an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, so it is not for us to know how the Son of God became man; for this is a great mystery, as it is written, 'Who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.' [Isaiah 53:8] But is is for us to believe that the Son of God became man, according to the Scriptures; and that He was seen on the earth, and had His conversation with man, according to the Scriptures, in their likeness, yet without sin; and that He died for us, and rose again from the dead, as it is written; and that He was taken up to heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father, whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead, as it is written; lest, while we war against each other with words, any should be led to blaspheme the word of faith, and that should come to pass which is written, 'By reason of you is my Name continually blasphemed among the nations.' [Isaiah 52:5]."
23 Nov /6 Dec - St. Columbanus of Luxeuil and Bobbio, and St. Clement of Rome
The fair suffering of Clement among the sea's waves:
his city is adored under the waves of the wide main.
Of Clement, i.e. Clement, i.e. Bishop and Abbot of Rome. There is a splendid convent of Clement's under the sea in which he was drowned, and every year, on Clement's feast day, the sea ebbs so that the convent is clear among waves, i.e. among the noises of the waves of the sea; and men go thither to fast; and a certain woman once forgetfully left her child there and it was whole at the end of a year (and came) to meet her again through God's grace and Clement's, the third Pope after Peter, and by emperor Traianus he was drowned in the Mediterranian near the city of Cersona.
(See also July 19th, November 14th, and November 21st.)
The Romans list St. Clement today also, Pope and Martyr, who died in A.D. 99 or 100. See January 18th, St. Peter, and also January 25th, St. Paul. The Byzantine sources say this Clement had been born in Rome of royal ancestry, but had been caught in a storm at sea in his youth with his mother and two brothers and driven off course. His father went to search for them, but he also disappeared. At twenty-four years old, Clement went to search for his lost family. He went to Alexandria, met the Apostle Barnabus and then became friend of the Apostle Peter. There they discovered his two missing brothers, Faustinus and Faustinian, who were already St. Peter's followers. Clement also found his elderly mother, who lived as a beggar, and also his father. The reunited family returned to Rome. St. Peter arrived in Rome for a third time in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero. St. Clement was then Consecrated Bishop to help in the administration of the Church, but he only did so because the Apostle Peter asked him to. St. Irenaeus of Lyons (June 28th in the Roman Rite, August 23rd in the Byzantine Rite) also spoke of this Clement.
St Clement was said to be at Philippi with St. Paul in A.D. 57, as recorded in Philippians 4:3. St. Clement was familiar with the Septuagint, probably through St. Luke who traveled with him. His writings reveal that the Septuagint in the possession of Clement was not the same as the "Received Text." Clement succeeded Linus and Cletus as Pope of Rome. The Epistle of Clement may have been written at the end of his life.
(The Romans forged a second Epistle from Clement much later to support Papal claims of "infallibility," but the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians is very early and has no such overtones. In his First Epistle, Clement does admonish Christians to be obedient, for example in Chapter IX, but that is not unusual in any of the earliest Epistles. A better case for obedience to Bishops was made by St. Ignatius of Antioch whose Feast is December 20th, although he was not a Roman Patriarch but the Patriarch of Antioch, and therefore could not possibly have been said to be supporting claims of a solely Roman church.)
The acts of Clement recorded in the fourth century state
that Clement converted Theodora and her husband Sisinnius with four hundred
twenty three others. See Sisennius, July 19th, who was Baptized
by Clement. The people protested these conversions, and he was banished
by emperor Trajan to the Crimea where he worked in the quarries. The nearest
drinking water was six miles away, and he found a spring for the Christians
much closer. His preaching in the Crimea led to the building of seventy
five churches, and this caused him to be Martyred by an anchor being tied
to his neck and thrown into the sea. The angels built him a tomb beneath
the waves, which appeared once a year at an ebb tide much greater than
the usual low tide. The glossator of Oengus says, "There is a splendid
convent of Clement's under the sea in which he was drowned, and every year,
on Clement's feast day, the sea ebbs so that the convent is clear among
waves, i.e. among the noises of the waves of the sea; and men go thither
to fast; and a certain woman once forgetfully left her child there and
it was whole at the end of a year (and came) to meet her again through
God's grace and Clement's, the third Pope after Peter, and by emperor
Traianus he was drowned in the Mediterranian near the city of Cersona."
The Celtic Rite celebrates his day November 21st and November
23rd, while the Byzantines celebrate it November 24th.
(Another St. Clement, of Alexandria +217 A.D., celebrated on the Roman
calendar December 4th, is not the same person, but died over
one hundred years later.) Another Clement, thought to be an Abbot of Rome,
is commemorated in the Celtic Rite on November 14th. The relics
of St. Clement were thought to have been brought to Rome in the ninth century
by St. Cyril, and brought to the church of San Clemente on the Coelian,
although it is possible that there might be some confusion with the Clement
of Okhrida who was a disciple of Ss. Cyril and Methodius. There are other
St. Clements such as Clement of Okhrida, one of the Apostles to Bulgaria
who helped convert the Slavic peoples in the ninth and tenth centuries
(see July 17th). (For Clement Bishop of Rome, see July 19th,
November 14th, November 21st, and November 23rd.)
Also listed today is St. Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium
(A.D. 400), a friend and cousin of St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil,
both of whom wrote letters to him. He was born in Cappadocia, and was a
rhetor at Constantinople. He soon retired near Nazianzus to care for his
father, and traded vegetables from his garden for grain from St. Gregory
Nazianzus (see March 29th). In 374, when he was thirty five,
St. Amphilochius was elevated to Bishop of Iconium. He did not want to
take the office, and his father also complained that he needed the care.
St. Gregory said he would also miss St. Amphilochius, but St. Basil congratulated
him. Visiting St. Basil at Caesarea (see January 1st) after
his appointment, his sermons were popular among the people. He questioned
St. Basil on doctrine and discipline, and requested St. Basil to write
his treatise on the Holy Spirit. Amphilochius gave the eulogy at St. Basil's
funeral. A council was held by Amphilochius at Iconium against some Macedonian
heretics who did not believe in the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and on
the same subject at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in
381. He met St. Jerome, and read his work on the Holy Spirit. Amphilochius
asked the emperor Theodosius I to forbid the Arians to hold their assemblies,
but the emperor refused to do so. (See St. Martin of Tours, November 11th:
Arianism was a problem everywhere.) When Theodosius I named his son Arcadius
as the emperor, Amphilochius visited the palace and took no notice of the
son's new status, only patting him on the cheek. Theodosius became angry,
but Bishop Amphilochius said, "You cannot bear a slight to your son. How,
then, can you allow those who dishonor the Son of God?" The emperor realized
his error, and made a law forbidding the Arian heretics to hold meetings
in public or private. St. Amphilochius also opposed the Messalians, a Manichean
sect which emphasized prayer alone in religion, and denounced them in a
synod at Sida or Side in Pamphylia, where he presided over a Council in
390 A.D. (Such sects later gave rise to non-Christian heresies.) St. Amphilochius
is called by St. Gregory Nazianzen a Bishop without reproach, and an angel
and herald of truth. St. Amphilochius was also known to heal the sick by
his prayers. St. Amphilocius is also celebrated today according to the
Byzantine Rite calendar, listed in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by
Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky. (St. Gregory Nazianzen, who died in
390 A.D., and is celebrated in the Celtic Rite March 29th, in
the Byzantine Rite January 25th and at the feast of the Three
Hierarchs January 30th, and in the Roman Rite May 9th,
is considered one of the highest authorities in the Church, and is one
of the few Saints honored among the Byzantines as a "Theologian;" see the
notes on the term "Theologian" under St. John the Apostle and St. Peter.)
TSI lists Columbanus, also called Columban or Columba of Luxeuil and Bobbio today. Much of the Lections and Propers of the Celtic Rite are drawn from the libraries of Luxeuil and Bobbio, so we are especially grateful to the work of St. Columbanus, one of the most major of the Irish Saints. He died A.D. 615. (The popular name Columba means "dove.") St. Columbanus brought monasticism back to Gaul, which much earlier had been a great center of monasticism under St. Martin of Tours (see November 11th) and St. Gregory of Tours. As the training of St. Patrick had come from the earlier monastic tradition in Gaul, the Irish gift back to the area was a continuation of their own tradition given back to them. (See St. Germanus of Auxerre, May 28th.)
Columban came to the continent of Europe before 575 A.D. at a time when continuous wars caused by territorial disputes between the barbarian tribes who had moved into Europe had either destroyed much of religion, or caused many heresies to take hold. According to Montalembert the Frankish kings were generous to the church but at the same time continued in the ways of barbarian conquest. They also preferred the Arian heresy which said that Christ was only human, not divine, because then they did not have to take Christianity particularly seriously. Germany had become pagan when overrun by Teutonic tribes. (The Teutonic knights much later were famous for their defeat by St. Alexander Nevsky over the ice in Russia, and at that time many settled in Russia yielding many German names among the Russians, and an admixture of their theology in a few places.) Anglo-Saxon England was also still pagan in 575, not receiving the mission of St. Augustine of Canterbury sent by Pope St. Gregory the Great until 597, and the Irish mission at Lindisfarne by St. Aidan at the invitation of king Oswald in 635. Boniface did not come into Germany until 716, long after several Irish monks had missionized there and set up churches and monasteries. Italy itself was overrun by Lombards who were Arians (see Ursus of Aosta February 1st and Fridian March 18th both who tried to overcome Arianism). At that time, Ireland was not only the center of monastic zeal, but also of education and Orthodox Christianity.
Columbanus was born in Leinster, studied in childhood under Sinnel at Lough Erne one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland (see November 12th). Sinnell had been one of the Saints who had been students of St. Finian of Clonard. Columbanus completed his education at Bangor under St. Comgall (see May 10th). Columbanus decided to preach the Gospel in foreign lands where God would direct him, and St. Comgall gave him twelve monks from Bangor to go with Columbanus. They went through England, landed at St. Malo in Gaul and traveled there from west to east. They were invited by Sigibert who died in 575 to settle in his territory at the ruins of the old Roman fort at Annegray on the border between Austrasia and Burgundy. Immediately their domain was the place of miracles, and a wonder of Irish austerity in their monastic rule, attracting attention in both kingdoms. They expanded in 590 due to the numbers of novices, visitors, sick and poor who came to them. At that time Luxeuil was built, and two years after that Fontaines, all a few miles from eachother. Monks continuously sang there, and endowments came from the wealthy.
This created uneasiness among those who were made nervous by such discipline, who were afraid that a display of true Christianity would mean that they themselves would be required to take the religion seriously. Also, there were minor disputes between Pope St. Gregory the Great and the Irish, including the date of Easter, in a letter dated 600, and Gregory asked them to be obedient to local Bishops in Gaul. (See Finan February 17th: the Irish date of Easter was the earlier Roman date observed by St. Patrick and the earlier Roman Patriarchate, but the calculation of the Vernal Equinox had been changed in Alexandria, and was a matter of dispute for quite awhile throughout the Christian church.) Gregory also wrote to Chonon of Lerins asking him to reform observances and speaking of "our son Columbus the presbyter." Chonon visited Luxeuil as a result of that letter. The Bishops summoned Columbanus to discuss his Celtic Easter, but he begged not to go "lest he contend in words." (See the monastery of Lerins, May 24th.) Columbanus in return drew attention to scandals of young king Thierry whose behavior was ignored by Bishops who frequented the court. This caused the anger of the old queen Brunehaut, who earlier had caused the murder of Desiderius Bishop of Vienne. Because of her, Columbanus was banished from Thierry's kingdom in A.D. 610. Although the entire community of Luxeuil wished to go with him, the place had become so important in the region that only Irish monks were allowed to leave. (This became a mistake from the point of view of those trying to stop their mission, as the monks then founded centers in many other areas.)
Royal armed guards escorted them to Nantes and on ship to Ireland. A storm came out of a clear sky, driving them back to land. They were aground for three days. The captain of the ship blamed the religious, and left them and their belongings on the shore. Then the ship departed without any weather problems. Columban went to the court of two other kings: Clothaire of Neustria and Theodebert of Austrasia. Clothaire at Soissons asked Columbanus' advice concerning envoys asking for support sent from two warring kings: Theodebert and Thierry. Columbanus told him, "Remain neutral, within three years both of their kingdoms will be yours." and this came true. (Unfortunately for Theodebert, Thierry caused terrible trouble first.)
The Irish monks who left Luxeuil with Columbanus did not all stay on the road with him, but a few left him along the road and founded other monasteries which later became famous centers. The old monk Deicuil left a few miles from Luxeuil, founding the Abbey of Lure (see January 18th). Another companion of Columbanus: Roding, Rodingus, or Rouin (September 17th) was the Abbot and founder of Beaulieu in the Argonne. Two monks including Potentin had to be sent into the city of Orleans to beg. The Irish monk Potentin had come with Columbanus from Bangor, and he left and founded a monastery at Coutances in Normandy. (Although that monastery does not remain, there is a record of work of Saints of Gaul and Ireland preaching in Brittany at that time.) Blessings given by Columbanus also led to new foundations of monasteries. A monk at Luxeuil named Chagnoald had a father, Chagneric who lived near Meaux. As he was traveling, Columbanus came there and blessed the younger children: the boy Faron who later became Bishop of Meaux and his sister Fara who founded the convent of Faremoutiers. On blessing the sons of the noble Autharius, his sons Ado became the founder of Jouarre, Dadon or Ouen became the founder of Rebais and Archbishop of Rouen, and Radon who did not become a monk still founded and endowed the Abbey of Reuil. The son of the Duke of Besancon who was given to Columbanus at his Baptism was Donatus, who became Abbot-Bishop of Besancon.
Theodebert asked Columbanus to stay with him at Metz. Disciples who had escaped from Luxeuil waited there for him, including Athala and Eustace. Although Athala had spent time at Lerins, the famous ancient monastery, he wanted a place more secure. In a letter from Nantes Columbanus had named Athala as his successor at Luxeuil, but since Athala had come to him in Metz, Columbanus sent Eustace back to govern Luxeuil. Athala stayed with Columbanus to the end. (The Celtic Orthodox Christian Church does not commemorate Eustace because he changed the practices in Luxeuil during his Abbacy, including the Rule of Columbanus and the Lectionary. However, the Luxeuil Library retained the information about the older Columban practices, which fit the Missal of the Celtic Rite.) Columbanus then decided to preach the faith to pagan nations along the Rhine. (See Fridolin March 6th who missionized along the Rhine, and also Wendel October 21st.) He and his monks traveled along the Mozelle and Rhine to the present Switzerland. On the way other monks left him: Ursicinus at Basle (see December 20th) who stayed as a hermit at a place that grew into the Monastery of Ursanne.
Two monasteries did not do well: Tuggen ran into difficulty because of fierce pagan idolators, and Bregenz ended after a year and a half when word came that king Theodebert and his kingdom had fallen to Thierry. Columban earlier had asked Theodebert to put aside pride, leave his kingdom of Thierry and take religious vows, but Theodebert had only laughed. Columbanus prophesied that, "If you do not become a monk by choice, you will be one by force." When Thierry defeated Theodebert, he mocked Theodebert by sending him to Brunehaut, who was Theirry's murderous mother, and she had Theodebert's head shaved, put him in a monk's robe and put him to death.
Columbanus left Bregenz to go into the high Alps to be as far away from Thierry as possible. Then St. Gall (see October 16th) became ill on the journey, and where he stayed became the monastery and city of St. Gall in Switzerland, now one of the greatest libraries of old Irish manuscripts. (St. Gall's illness did not last long, and then he missionized. St. Gall had come from the monastery of Bangor with Columbanus from the beginning of his mission.) The monk Sigisbert also left at Chur (see July 11th) and where he stayed later became the Abbey of Dissentis.
Luxeuil continued in its influence. At least sixty three disciples of Columbanus, either who came with him from Ireland or who were trained at Luxeuil became Apostles to France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, and founded over a hundred monasteries before the year 700. Cities sought Bishops trained there. In twenty years Luxeuil trained twenty one men later Canonized as Saints.
Columbanus passed from the Alps into Italy, and founded the great monastery of Bobbio in the Appenines between Piacenza and Genoa, most famous for its library. (The novel "The Name of the Rose" by Eco was set in a monastery with a library in northern Italy, which could only have been Bobbio.) Bobbio became the leading center of culture in Italy. That monastery became a fort against the Arian heresy, defeating the Lombards through education rather than war. In the area there are 34 parishes dedicated to Columbanus, and the name Columbus is popular in Italy. After Columbanus founded the monastery at Bobbio, Eustace of Luxeuil came to Columbanus with an escort of some nobles to announce that the king Thierry had died suddenly after his defeat and murder of Theodebert. The nobles who had answered to both Thierry and Theodebert now aligned with Clothaire who became the king of three kingdoms as Columbanus had predicted. Clothaire asked Columbanus to return to Luxeuil, but Columbanus decided to stay at Bobbio. Columbanus sent a letter to Clothaire asking him to continue to support Luxeuil. When St. Columbanus died, November 23, 615, Athala succeeded him at Bobbio.
The books of the library at Bobbio are now found throughout Europe. Turin, for example, has 70 volumes including a copy of the Book of the Gospels St. Columbanus brought to Italy on his shoulders. Milan has 73 Bobbio books, and the Vatican has 28 Bobbio books. Also, the cities of Naples, Vienna, Wolfenbuttel and Escorial took books from Bobbio. Often Bobbio books are identified by a fifteenth century book plate which says "Liber Sancti Columbani." The contents of the library not only included religious works, but every area of knowledge, copied from many languages, according to a tenth century catalogue of it contents. Greek classics were preserved there. Also, manuscripts were later added by Irish pilgrims who had fled Viking invasions in Ireland. In the 9th century the Irish Dungal brought 40 volumes to Bobbio.
Letters of St. Columbanus are of great interest, including a calculation of the Irish date of Pascha (see February 17th, Finan, and November 12th Cummian of Clonfert). He also wrote great poetry, which some have compared to the human feeling of the Italian Renaissance, which is actually the Irish style, as seen in the great epic Paschal poem of the heavenly Sedulius who taught poetry in Athens (see February 12th). Poetry of the Irish tradition, through the heavenly Sedulius and much later St. Columbanus was the model for the later Italians, who only had to copy the superior meter and insights of Sedulius and Columbanus. (The poetry of the fifth century Sedulius was widely copied, and was superior to Virgil and the much later Milton.)
Many Italians were named after Columba. Christopher Columbus'
family name was unfortunate because Columbus enslaved Africans and "Indians"
in the Carribean, the very people that St. Brendan of Clonfert had educated
and converted to Christianity. However, other missions named after Columbanus
of Luxeuil and Bobbio had nothing to do with Christopher Columbus and sought
to do charity wherever they could.
25 Nov /8 Dec - St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople (the same day as St. John Cassian)
With John Cassian whose crown is very fair,
out of Croch, a fair territory, went Findchu, from Brí gobann.
John Cassian, i.e. a Bishop of Constantinople. [Note: This is really St. John Chrysostom, who was the Bishop in Constantinople. See below.]
Into Croich, i.e. Croich is the name of a river, it is in Mugdoirn, and Cluain Crocha in Cairbre is the name of the church out of which he went.
Findchu from Bri gobann, i.e. in fir Maige in Munster.
Now this was Findchu's custom: every corpse that was brought to the church, to lie with it the first night. And this was the guerdon he asked therefor, that the Devil should not vanquish any person who should beseech him at death, and that such person should not go to hell.
And this is the prison in which he sat, namely, a flagstone over his head and a sickle of iron in each of his armpits (by which he was suspended), so that his head would not touch the stone above nor his feet the floor (below). And Comgall of Bennchor [Bangor] chanced to visit him and said, "Come down," quoth he. Then said Findchu:
"This is the one prayer that I pray on my parting from the engine (of torture),
that no one be a dweller in hell, who shall beseech me at (his) death."
Comgall said: "That shalt thou have from God."
The Celtic calendar confuses St. John Chrysostom with St. John Cassian, probably because St. John Cassian was Ordained by St. John Chrysostom in Constantinople, and also because John Cassian fought for the cause of St. John Chrysostom, who had been persecuted, banished, and in a forced march into exile, died a Confessor if not a Martyr. St. John Cassian wrote against the heretics who caused the death of St. John Chrysostom. The only possible "Bishop of Constantinople" would be St. John Chrysostom, because St. John Cassian was only Ordained to the Deaconate in Constantinople, and Ordained only to the Priesthood in Rome, and did not hold a higher rank; see St. John Cassian below. (It is good to read about both Saints on the same day, but their combined Feast day is confused, and might be better celebrated separately.) Often the Celtic calendar is a few days different from another calendar: in this case, the Byzantine Rite celebrates the feast of St. John Chrysostom on November 13th (which happens to be the first day of Advent on the Celtic calendar, perhaps the reason his feast day is different on the Celtic calendar). On January 27th is the celebration of the translation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom to Constantinople in 438 A.D., together with the emperor of Constantinople Theodosius II and his sister St. Pulcheria begging for forgiveness for the deeds of Theodosius II's father for having banished and caused the death of St. John Chrysostom in exile. This is the main date of the Roman Rite celebration of the feast of St. John Chrysostom, and is also celebrated by the Byzantine Rite as a lesser date. St. John Chrysostom reposed during his forced march in 407 A.D., on September 14th, a Feast of the Holy Cross, and of the Dedication. St. John Chrysostom was persecuted by the supporters of the heretic Nestorius whose erroneous doctrine was rejected by the Ecumenical Council at Ephesus. St. John Cassian wrote On the Incarnation against Nestorius in support of St. John Chrysostom and the truth Christian Faith.
St. John Chrysostom, "Golden - Mouth," Bishop of Constantinople, and one of the "Three Hierarchs," or Fathers of the Church most remembered for their teachings. He was called "Golden - Mouth" almost a hundred years after his death, when his volumes of writings were better appreciated. (The Three Hierarchs or "Cappadocian Fathers" are St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, and St. Gregory Nazianzus. The Romans add a fourth great Eastern Hierarch: St. Athanasius. These are considered guides for the content of the ancient and complete Christian faith, and are considered much more important than writers such as Augustine of Hippo. See the controversy under St. John Cassian, below. Even the modern Roman Church considers St. John Chrysostom the Patron of all those who give sermons, according to Butler's Lives of the Saints. Therefore, his sermons on many subjects such as the Beatitudes are considered most important.) (On January 30th is the Byzantine celebration of the Feast of the Three Hierarchs. Each of these Saints are also celebrated on other dates as well.)
In comparing several sources, Eastern and Western, it seems that some people still have a hostility towards St. John the "Golden- Mouth." It is also very interesting to see a comparison of St. John Chrysostom to Bd. Augustine (see August 28th) by Philip Schaff, D.D. from Union Theological Seminary, writing in 1889 as the editor of the Eerdman's translations of St. John Chrysostom, because this editor was not Orthodox in understanding or theology, but rather showed a modernist Calvinist leaning which went against Orthodox understanding of salvation. While Schaff said that St. John Chrysostom's truthfulness does not compare to Augustine, at the same time he fails to mention that Augustine was from Africa (Hippo), and the Africans through the Alexandrians were the chief opponents to St. John, not because of anything St. John did or said, but because the See of Alexandria was in a struggle with the See of Constantinople at the time for the dignity of being second to Rome in Primacy of Sees. While Schaff said that St. John Chyrsostom tricking St. Basil the Great into his election to the Episcopate was a fault of St. John Chrysostom's, at the same time Schaff found nothing wrong with the reductions and changes of the Holy Faith and the persecution of others who were faithful Christians which Augustine later caused. (St. John Cassian supported St. John Chrysostom at Constantinople in the face of terrible persecution by Nestorians, and then St. John Cassian went west where he was later given trouble by Augustine and his followers. See below. See the note about the different kinds of monks by Abbot Piamun below. St. John Cassian was one of the main supporters of St. John Chrysostom, and there was a close relationship between the monks in Egypt and Constantinople.) Also, although Schaff did quote passages where St. John Chrysostom states that it is the slain Christ on the Altar; Schaff did not understand Chrysostom's use of the term Remembrance, which in Greek does not mean a memory of something in the past, but keeping in mind a present reality. (Schaff showed himself to be a heretical "representationalist" with no respect for the Sacraments of our Lord Jesus Christ or Orthodox Saints; even Blessed Augustine would roll over in his grave at such "representationalist" views.) Luckily, if one skips the "Prolegomena" in Eerdmans by Schaff, and reads the much more sympathetic view of the translator of St. John Chrysostom's works in the introduction to the treatise "On the Priesthood," that is, Rev. W.R. W. Stephens, who was the "Prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and Rector of Woolbeding, Sussex"(England); one has a much better understanding of why certain events, including the "pious deception" of the election of Basil, and the late Baptism of St. John Chrysostom, occurred. One can also gain an understanding by reading the text of Chrysostom himself, and other Orthodox writers about him.
St. John Chrysostom was born in 347 A.D. He was taught the best oratory skills of the Greeks, which included putting one's words into poetry. His father Secundus died when St. John was an infant, but his mother Anthusa, widowed at twenty and never remarrying, raised him. His mother was Christian, although she paid for an education of St. John which was by pagan tutors, because they would include the best in knowledge and speaking skills. His teachers were Androgathius who taught philosophy, and Libanius who taught rhetoric, which included speaking, logical argument, and poetics. It was said by Gibbon about the writings of Libanius that they were, "for the most part the vain and idle composition of an orator who cultivated the science of world." The best student of Libanius was St. John Chrysostom, who later turned to Christianity. On the deathbed of Libanius, he said his successor would have been John, "if the Christians had not stolen him from us." Often in his later years, St. John was able to quote Homer, Plato, and other Greek writers of the tragedies, and used this knowledge to help convert pagans to Christianity.
St. John Chrysostom was not Baptized as an infant. Christianity had been legal to practice since the emperor Constantine's edict, but there were other influences. Rev. Stephens' introduction states that the city of Antioch where St. John lived had Arian bishops around the date of St. John Chrysostom's birth in about 345 A.D. These heretical bishops ruled until the Orthodox Bishop Meletius was appointed in 361 A.D., when St. John would have been 16 years old, too old to be taken squalling to the font by his mother. At that point he would need an adult convert's catechetical training before Baptism. While the sins of a Bishop do not affect the Sacraments he administers, in the case of a heresy such as Arianism which did not believe in the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, those taken in by such heretical leaders would not be considered Christian until they had been Baptized by Orthodox clergy. (This belief in the need for re-Baptism of heretics who gave up heresy and now sought the Orthodox faith was promoted by St. Cyprian of Carthage.) St. John's mother Anthusa also would have known about the dangers in the state's attitudes and commitments towards the Christian faith. The emperor Constantine had made Christianity legal in 312 A.D. when he took power as emperor, but shortly before that emperor Diocletian who ruled in the east from 286 to 305 A.D. had killed countless Christians, and after Christianity was legal, the emperor Julian the apostate turned back to paganism and again persecuted and killed Christians. (See St. Martin of Tours, November 11th, who had to face the emperor Julian who was an apostate to Christ and caused the death of many Christians. Julian himself was killed by a strange occurrence by St. Mercurius who came back from death in ancient armor to dispatch the apostate emperor. The emperor Julian ruled from 360 to 363 A.D., around the time St. John Chrysostom was about 16 years old. See St. Basil the Great, January 1st, who had met Julian when they were both students.) When St. John was a Bishop much later, he argued against delaying Baptism of children, perhaps regretting the years in his own life that he was not a Christian.
As a young man before his Baptism, St. John Chrysostom used his skill at speaking and arguing, being employed as a lawyer. He grew to dislike this profession, saying that one could argue any opinion, whether right or wrong. His close friend Basil, who had also been trained by Libanius, left the practice of law first, retiring to pray and study Christian books, which Chrysostom and other Christian converts from paganism called the "true philosophy." Basil and a few friends welcomed St. John when he decided to withdraw from the world and join them in prayer and study. Therefore, St. John Chrysostom was Baptized in 370 A.D. when he was 23 years old, and immediately he lived as an ascetic. His mother, who had been widowed as a very young woman, asked that he stay for awhile in her house, and St. John stayed, but practiced great asceticism there. He and his friends were directed in their study by Diodorus and Carterius who were Priests in two principal monastic communities near Antioch. They were also guided by Meletius, Bishop of Antioch. Diodorus was well educated, and preferred clear and practical explanations of Holy Scripture rather than obscure mystical or allegorical interpretations which might disguise the meaning. When St. John's mother passed to her rest, he went to live in a monastery, where he lived until he was Ordained as a Deacon in 381 and a Priest in 386 A.D.
Probably around 374, the two friends John and Basil were threatened with election as Bishops. St. John talks about this incident in his treatise, "On the Priesthood." At that time, any man who had studied Scripture could be elected against their own will, and taken by force to a church for Consecration. (See St. Martin of Tours and St. Ambrose of Milan, who were Consecrated against their will.) St. John, however, felt that his friend St. Basil was much more worthy, having turned from worldly activities without the influence of friends. St. Basil therefore had also studied Scripture for some years more than St. John. St. John proposed that they either together accept or escape from the holy Office, but secretly he contrived to entrap his friend. St. John felt that, in spite of his own weaknesses, the Church should not be deprived of the skills of St. Basil. When the electors came for St. Basil, he made a violent resistance, until they lied and said that the usually meek Basil was more violent in his resistance than the usually hot tempered John. Basil was taken and Consecrated Bishop, while John escaped. Basil came to visit John in tears, and asked why he had been deceived. The arguments of St. John seem to show that he was indeed still a little weak, and prone to the arguments of the law in support of a pious fraud, but he did have some good points. One thing he said was that a physician, not an enemy but a friend of a patient, sometimes tricks a patient into drinking water instead of wine when the patient has a fever. Then, he pointed out that our Lord said to St. Peter, "if you love me, feed my sheep." St. John felt that the love Basil had for the Lord should be offered to God as his service as a Hierarch of the Church. This indicates that St. John had a great respect for Bishops, but did not feel worthy himself of the rank. In later years, St. John did not practice more frauds of this kind, and he was very honest in his interpretations of Scripture. It could be said that St. John was the inventor of the idea that "the ends justifies the means," but St. John may also have felt that his association with Basil was hindering rather than helping them, as they had both spent their youth in philosophical arguments and may have been to prone to thinking about ill-spent youth. St. Basil had wanted to retire to a monastery with St. John Chrysostom, but this never actually happened. (St. John Cassian had a similar association with St. Germanus, and the two Saints traveled to Bethlehem together, through Scetis, and then to Constantinople, Rome, and Gaul. However, perhaps because of their travels, neither St. John Cassian nor St. Germanus were threatened or honored with the Episcopate early in their careers. This was a different Germanus than Germanus of Auxerre.) St. Basil the great of Caesarea in Cappadocia was fifteen years older than St. John Chrysostom, and Bishop Basil of Seleucia was many years younger. Although it is said that St. John was friends with St. Basil of Caesarea in Cappadocia (January 1st), it is possible that Bishop Basil of Raphnea in Syria, not far from Antioch, who attended the Council of Constantinople in 381, was his friend. However, the "Three Hierarchs" include St. Basil the Great, who was said to be the friend of St. John Chrysostom. St. John Chrysostom had studied with Libanius as a teen in Antioch, but by that time St. Basil the Great of Caesarea had finished his studies in Constantinople and Athens, retired from the world to Caesarea and lived as a monk, and had been Ordained a Priest. Still, early historians Socrates and Sozomen say that St. Basil studied at Antioch with Libanius. Libanius was in Constantinople in 347, around the time that St. Basil was there. Libanius himself thought that John would have been the best successor for himself, and this indicated that the teaching profession was also not limited in age. If the Basil who was a friend of St. John Chrysostom was St. Basil the Great of Caesarea, an age difference might account for the fact that this Saintly Basil was less hot-tempered, retired to study Christianity sooner, and St. John thought him to be ready for the Episcopate sooner than himself. St. John states that Basil and he were equally educated and from a similar background. St. John does not give his mother as an excuse, so she may have passed to her rest around then.
St. John Chrysostom spent six years, from 374 to 381, in a monastery in the hills south of Antioch, as a coenobite, under the direction of an Abbot. He wrote to his friend Theodore to convince him to return to monastic life. Also, he wrote against a decree of the emperor Valens which required the breaking up of monasteries and enforced military service. (The Irish later excused both women and monastics from military service.) Valens was a heretic who supported the Arians, who were also called Anomoeans, which means those who believed that Christ was dissimilar to God the Father. Later in Antioch, St. John Chrysostom preached sermons on the Gospel of St. John which were directed against the Arians. Because of his self-mortification, his health deteriorated at the monastery, and he returned to Antioch around 380 A.D. St. John was always a short and thin man, although he had a large head, and was bald in later years.
St. John Chrysostom was famous as a Priest in Antioch, where he gave wonderful sermons. He was made a Deacon on his return to Antioch by Bishop Meletius in 381 A.D., and Ordained as Priest by Bishop Flavian in 386 A.D. He stayed in Antioch until 398 A.D. His sermons were often recorded, especially in Antioch, and are considered the greatest sermons in the Church. Many of these were written down by shorthand by those who were present during the sermons. His explanations of the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John were given in Antioch. He also gave sermons on many other Scriptural Books, including the Epistles of St. Paul, Acts, Genesis, and Psalms. Although a few seemed to be given in haste, most were carefully constructed, and all gave direct Scriptural references, were practical and not allegorical, and directed the congregations towards love of God in the greatest poetic style. A sermon still given at Easter in the Byzantine Rite emphasized that even a sinner who comes to God in the eleventh hour is still given the penny of salvation. (Hearing this in the Greek of St. John Chrysostom, even if one does not speak the language, one can hear the repeated rhythmic phrases asking again if the person may be saved by working for the Lord from the first hour, etc. Some Greek congregations know this sermon by heart, and by the end shout the responses. A mere translation misses the fact that these words were written in poetry in the best speaking style, while also using a very strong reference to Scripture. See the Irish poet heavenly Sedulius February 12th, who taught Christian poetry stylistics in Athens just after the time of St. John Chrysostom.) During one season of Lent in 387 A.D., he preached repentance among the people of Antioch for throwing down the statues of the emperor Theodosius who charged high taxes. He not only obtained forgiveness of the people from the emperor, he also managed to gain more pagan converts. It is interesting that later in Constantinople, he was sent into exile into a controversy of his own about a statue of the empress. The skill of his speaking about Christ earned St. John Chrysostom a great reputation, and he was kidnaped to Constantinople to become Patriarch there when he was only 49 years old.
Some background is needed about the city of Constantinople. Constantinople had been built over the former Byzantium by the emperor Constantine the Great in 330 A.D., and it was established as the capital of Rome in the east, while the city of Rome on the Italian peninsula remained the capital of the west. Therefore, Constantinople was a relatively new city, and when the emperor in the east suggested it should have second place to Rome in the Church as well as the state, the older and formerly more powerful city of Alexandria was furious. What made matters worse was that the worst heresy of the early church: the heresy of Arianism, had come out of Alexandria, perhaps in reaction to the growing power of Constantinople. Just around the time that St. John Chrysostom was Ordained to the Deaconate in Antioch, the second Ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople in 381 A.D. during the reign of emperor Theodosius I. This great Council of all the Body of Christ put down Arianism but at the same time gave the Patriarch of Constantinople a place of importance in the Church second only to the position of the Roman Pope. The Roman Pope was not considered infallible with the powers given him only after the Great Schism of 1054, but only holding a primacy of honor, and a final arbiter of disputes. In writing to the Pope Innocent of Rome, St. John Chrysostom also appealed to the Bishops of Milan and Aquileia for support. A few centuries later, Pope St. Gregory the Great complained about the title of the Patriarch of Constantinople, saying that "Ecumenical Patriarch" gave him a title of infallibility, which no Bishop should have. Generally, a Bishop's power only extended to the limits of his city; each city had its own Bishop. Arcadius was the emperor of the east only, from 395 to 408 A.D., while in the west at the same time Honorius was emperor from 395 to 423 A.D. Just before them Theodosius I was emperor of both east and west.
St. John Chrysostom succeeded Nectarius who was the successor of St. Gregory Nazianzen (the Theologian, who had written against Arianism, see March 29th). St. John was Consecrated as Bishop and Patriarch of Constantinople on February 26, 398 A.D. by his enemy, Theophilus Bishop of Alexandria. Bishop Theophilus had been commanded by the Byzantine emperor Arcadius and his prime minister, the eunuch Eutropius, to perform the Consecration. Theophilos of Alexandria stayed at the court in Constantinople plotting to overthrow St. John. However, at first everybody at court and in the city loved him. He recognized that many Goths lived in Constantinople, translated some of the Bible for them, and sent missionaries into Gothic and Scythian lands near the Danube, which he continued even during his exile. He turned the Patriarchate into a monastery, attending no banquets, giving no dinner parties, and eating only the simplest food in his chamber. He gave his large income to the poor and hospitals, and sold the plates and furniture to benefit them. He persuaded many of the rich to participate in almsgiving, however, some were offended by his ascetic ways and his comments against vices, including unmarried clergy living with "spiritual sisters." St. John got himself into trouble by pointing out the excesses of wealth and privilege of the empress Eudoxia.
St. John also stopped the practice of applauding in the Church, which to this day is not done in any Orthodox Christian Church, and allows for unbroken meditation. It is not as though applause was allowed prior to St. John, and then discontinued, but that the pagan converts brought their habits of applause after theatre performances into the church, and St. John wanted to stop this habit before it became too ingrained. (Recently applauding was introduced in Roman churches, and seems strange, as though the congregation is acknowledging a performance rather than the work of God. Applause after worship is not allowed in Orthodox Churches.)
St. John was requested by the clergy in the neighboring city of Ephesus to visit, and in January of 401, he held a Synod and deposed six Bishops in Ephesus who were accused of simony (receiving bribes in exchange for Holy Orders). St. John was immediately accused of meddling outside of his jurisdiction and using Episcopal power without authorization or the sanction of an Ecumenical Council. He was also absent from Constantinople for several months during this visit to Ephesus, and in his absence he left Constantinople to Bishop Severian of Gabala who betrayed him. Severian allied himself with empress Eudoxia and her court ladies. On the return of St. John Chrysostom, St. John gave a sermon on Elijah and Jezebel which the empress took as a personal insult. The clergy of Constantinople also were eager to rid themselves of a Bishop who criticized their lax morals. At the same time, monks who were disciples of Origen in Egypt fled to Constantinople in 401 A.D.. They were known as the "Tall Brethren." Although St. John had no sympathy with the speculations of Origen, these errors were not considered as dangerous as those of the Arian heresy, and St. John gave sanctuary to these monks who he considered persecuted for ignorance more than willful heresy. Bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, who had continued to plot against St. John, accused St. John of treason. First Theophilus sent a very old monk, Epiphanius of Salamis, to Constantinople, but on the return voyage he died. Then Theophilus himself traveled to Constantinople in 403 A.D., and held a secret council of thirty-six Bishops, all Egyptians except seven. This took place in a suburb of Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, and was called the Synod of the Oak. This Synod called for the doposition and banishment of St. John, and included charges of immorality and high treason. It included twenty-nine charges, including that St. John had called Epiphanius a fool and demon, had abused clergy, received females without witnesses (which was untrue, but was true of the clergy who accused him), ate very well and bathed alone, and had compared the empress to Jezebel. Although St. John refused to appear at this Synod, and called for a General Council, he was banished. He surrendered quietly and was put on a ship for Hieron at the mouth of the Pontus. Bishop Theophilus entered Constantinople as though he were a victorious warrior, and proceeded to persecute any friends of St. John Chrysostom. However, the people set siege to the palace and demanded their Bishop be restored. The next night the city had a great earthquake which shook the bedroom of the empress Eudoxia, frightening her so much that she pleaded with the emperor to beg forgiveness of God and restore St. John Chrysostom.
St. John re-entered the city, greeted by barks, the Bosphorus lit by torchlight and song. The people carried their Bishop to the church, seated him in his Episcopal chair and demanded a sermon. Theophilus left Constantinople during the night by ship for Alexandria. St. John had commented to Bishop Cyriacus about his two exiles, "When I was driven from the city, I felt no anxiety, but said to myself: If the empress withes to banish me, let her do so; 'the earth is the Lord's.' If she wants to have me sawn asunder, I have Isaiah for an example. If she wants me to be drowned in the ocean, I think of Jonah. If I am to be thrown into the fire, the three men in the furnace suffered the same. If cast before wild beasts, I remember Daniel in the lion's den. If she wants me to be stoned, I have before me Stephen, the first Martyr. If she demands my head, let her do so; John the Baptist shines before me. Naked I came from my mother's womb, naked shall I leave this world. Paul reminds me, 'If I still pleased men, I would not be the servant of Christ.'"
For two months the emperor and empress seemed to be restored to their friendship of St. John. However, in August or September of 403 A.D., the empress had a silver statue place on a column of porhyry for public adoration, as a semi-divine pagan empress. This was placed in the forum before the church of St. Sophia (holy Wisdom), and dedicated with great noise and revelry, disturbing the divine services inside the Church. St. John did not oppose the statues of the emperor in Antioch, but this time the disturbance of the divine worship caused him to speak out. On the commemoration of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (August 29th), he had to shout above the sounds of the entertainment outside, and he said, "Again Herodias is raging, again she is dancing, again she demands the head of John on a platter." This was a much worse insult than the possible comparison of empress Eudoxia to Jezebel, and she demanded that the emperor do something about it. Action was not taken immediately, but a plot developed. Theophilus was also involved at a distance in the new plot to remove St. John. In 404 A.D., on the Vigil of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, during the Baptism of hundreds of catechumens, St. John was dragged from the church by armed imperial guards. Palladius said, "The waters of regeneration were stained with blood." Female candidates for Baptism were driven into the streets half naked by soldiers who wished to violate them, and pagans touched the holy Sacraments of the Eucharist of Holy Easter. The vested clergy were chased through the city. During the entire Bright week, homes were invaded and anybody accused of being a "Joannite," a follower of St. John, was thrown into prison, whipped and tortured. St. John Chrysostom was not killed then, but was shut in the Episcopal palace and was almost killed twice. On June 5, 404 A.D., which was Thursday after Pentecost, Arcadius signed the edict of banishment of Chrysostom. No longer at all hot-tempered, St. John calmly submitted, and prayed with some faithful Bishops and the Deaconess Olympias with her attendant Deaconesses in the cathedral, and then went at night with the guards to the shore. Just after he left the city, the cathedral of St. Sophia and the senate were consumed by fire (see St. John Cassian below, who was one of his friends remaining in the city). Although his friends were accused of arson, they did not confess guilt under torture or threats of mutilation. St. John Chrysostom arrived at Nicaea on June 20, 404. He refused to acknowledge Arsacius and Atticus as his successors in the church, and for this he was also fined, imprisoned, and humiliated more.
Any clergy who had remained faithful to him were deposed and banished as well. St. John Cassian with his friend St. Germanus brought letters from St. John to Pope Innocent of Rome to appeal on behalf of St. John Chrysostom. The Pope called the "Synod of the Oak" and any new edict irregular, annulled the deposition, wrote a letter of sympathy, and sent five Bishops to determine what could be done, especially that a General Council should be convened. The western emperor Honorius also stated his disapproval of the actions of the eastern emperor Arcadius. However, the five Bishops from Rome were put into prison in Thrace, and emperor Arcadius became more vehement in his position. The empress Eudoxia died in childbed in October of 404, and Theophilus of Alexandria felt that if a General Council were held, he would be condemned.
Most of the time of his banishment was spent on the tiny mountain village of Cucusus on the border of Cilicia and Armenia. The climate was stormy and severe, especially the winters, and St. John suffered from fevers and headache. Still, he was hopeful that he could return to his diocese. The Bishop of Cucusus was kind, and St. John was able to receive visitors and letters. He also wrote many letters; 242 survive. He wrote to Eastern and Western Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Deaconesses, Monks, and missionaries. He also wrote to the Roman Pope Innocent I. To the Deaconesses Olympias he wrote some of his best treatises, including, "No one is really injured except by himself."
Perhaps because of the dangers of St. John causing more trouble by his letters, he was ordered not to write by Arcadius. Fearing retribution from the west, Arcadius sent St. John further into exile, to Arabissus and then to Pityus at the far end of the Black Sea, the most inhospitable spots in the empire because they were the farthest from government and also had the worst weather. Two officers, one very brutal, accompanied him in this forced march. They traveled in very hot weather, and in wet weather they also forced him to travel, never resting. Reaching Comana in Cappadocia, St. John was very ill, but they forced him to march another five or six miles to the chapel of St. Basiliscus. The Martyr appeared to St. John and said, "Courage, brother! Tomorrow we shall be together." St. John was very ill, and asked if he could stay at the chapel a little longer. The soldiers made him march about four miles, but they saw that he seemed to be dying, and brought him back to the chapel. The clergy changed his clothes and put white garments on him, and he received the Holy Mysteries. He lingered for a few hours, finally saying, "Glory to God for all things," and gave his soul to God. This was on the eastern date of the feast of the Holy Cross, September 14th, 407. He was buried beside St. Basiliscus in the chapel by the monks and nuns there. Thirty-one years afterwards, January 27th, 438, his body was translated to Constantinople and buried beneath the Altar of the church of the Holy Apostles. The emperor Theodosius II with his sister St. Pulcheria met the procession at Chalcedon, knelt before the coffin, and begged forgiveness of heaven done by their parents to the greatest and most Saintly man to hold the office of Bishop at Constantinople.
(Later in his life, Theophilos of Alexandria became Patriarch,
and changed his name to Cyril, and later was Canonized as St. Cyril because
of his opposition to the Nestorians. However, unlike St. John Cassian who
On the Incarnation against Nestorius, the arguments of Cyril
were to lead to the other extreme of the Monophysites. In any case, the
political intrigue of Theophilos-Cyril led eventually to the death of St.
30 Nov /13 Dec - St. Andrew, the First-Called Apostle of the Twelve
Andrew who is boldest, against a cross - step most perfect,-
puts a top, which I declare, on November's hosts.
Andrias, brother of the Apostle Peter, who first was
a disciple of John the Baptist, and later of Christ. Apostle and Martyr.
See March 30th, a note about St. Andrew's relics, which were brought to St. Andrews in Scotland, later the last place where the Cele De were forced to live in a concentration camp by the Protestants until the Cele De died out. Now that place of the last stand of the Cele De is the most famous golf course, but has no tribute to either St. Andrew or the Faithful who died there. See October 11th: St. Cainnech (Kenneth) had a monastery at Kill-Rigmonaig in Alba, which is Rigmond, the name given to that place before St. Andrew's. The Greeks claim that the relics of St. Andrew were taken to Constantinople by the Martyr Artemius at the command of the Emperor Constantine the Great, and enshrined with the relics of the Evangelist Luke and St. Timothy the disciple of the Apostle Paul in the Church in the Apostles within the Altar table. But the Celtic tradition is that the relics came north, perhaps a century or two after that. A relic of the head of St. Andrew was translated to a Pope and back again to the Greeks, but no mention is made of the other relics in that telling. It is interesting that the Spanish, who received the relics of St. James the Greater, built a huge cathedral which is one of the major pilgrimage sites, but poor St. Andrew's golf course in Scotland is a monument to a suppression of Orthodox faith and the Rule of the Cele De that continues to this day. Although St. Andrew's golf course is a memorial to Cele de Christians who died for the faith of the pre-schism Church, there is never a mention of this when tournaments are held there. In the United States of America, the Irish missionaries before and after St. Brendan wrote Ogham script on rock walls in the state of West Virginia, and also may have contributed to huge earthworks in the southern part of the state of Ohio. One such earthwork, called the Newark "octagon" near Columbus, Ohio, is also coincidently leased by a golf course, and a garage for the golf course grounds-keepers has been built between these mounds. In the same town a larger earthwork has a great earth wall with an opening at one end, encircling twenty acres of land featuring a huge earthwork eagle in the center, that also appears to be an equal-armed Cross. That earthwork is maintained by the state parks, and a small museum on the grounds shows some very Irish-looking copper bells which were found near there. (At the museum, no mention of Ogham alphabets on objects found near there is made.) There are many such sites in southern Ohio and West Virginia, although some of the sites have been destroyed due to land development and strip mining.
At this time, there are those in the world who call Christians
"Cross followers," because we believe that our Lord Jesus Christ truly
died on the Cross, is Resurrected from the dead, is risen to heaven, and
will come again to judge the living and the dead. Those who mock the Holy
Cross and the Christian faith should remember that many Christian Saints,
such as St. Andrew, were crucified for the faith as well. Even though these
Saints were known to die, miracles continued to be granted by their prayers.
Therefore, the Cross stands for more than our Lord Jesus Christ, it stands
for our entire religion and all those who believe in the one true God,
taking up our Cross and following Him. St. Andrew is remembered in many
lands, and he is always associated with the Cross. In the words of the
Martyrdom of St. Andrew, the Apostle explains the significance of the Holy
Cross, a sermon that is needed today.
A short history of St. Andrew
St. Andrew is called the first-called Apostle of Jesus Christ. He was the brother of the Apostle Peter, and the son of a Jew named Jonah, and was born in Bethsaida on the shore of Galilee. Andrew remained celibate, and became a disciple of St. John the Baptist by the Jordan river (Matthew chapter 3). According to the Gospel of St. John, Andrew left John the Baptist when he pointed out the Messiah saying, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" Andrew followed Jesus after that, first asking him "Rabbi! Where dwellest Thou?" and Christ replied, "Come and see." Although Andrew is known as the first called among the Apostles in the Gospels of Ss. Matthew, Mark, and John, St. Peter was the first called of the Apostles according to the Gospel of St. Luke; but some traditions say that the calling of the "fishers of men" occurred after St. John the Baptist was put into prison by Herod, and after the brothers, beginning with Andrew, had met Jesus. [St. Matthew 4:18-20, St. Mark 1:16-18, St. Luke 5:8-11, 6:14, St. John 1:38-42]. (There is more detail recorded in the history of St. Peter.) The reason that St. Peter was still fishing at that time, and not following Jesus from the moment that St. Andrew pointed Jesus out to him, is that he had the responsibility of feeding his wife, children, mother-in-law, and elderly father Jonah, but St. Peter also left everything to follow Jesus when Jesus needed him to do that, probably leaving his family with enough extra fish to dry and keep them fed for a long while.
The Apostle Andrew received the Holy Spirit in the tongues of fire as the other Apostles at Pentecost, and the lot fell on him to spread the Gospel in Bithynia, the Propontis, Chalcedon, Byzantium, Thrae, Macedonia, to the Black Sea and the River Danube, as well as Thessaly, Hellas, Achaia, Amisus, Traezus, Heraclea,, and Amastris. St. Andrew went to each of these areas and cities, suffering much pain, but everywhere preaching the Christian Faith with the help of Almighty God, joyfully bearing any pain for Christ's sake.
In Amisus, a city east of the Black Sea, more than 76 miles from Sinope, had many Jews of the Diaspora, but who were impious and spiritually ignorant at that time. Even so, the people of Amisus were very hospitable to all strangers, taking all travelers into their homes. The Apostle Andrew went to the synagogue the morning after he arrived, and the people there asked him who he was, why he had come to them, and what was his preaching. The Apostle Andrew told them about Jesus, and also Moses and the Prophets, and showed how Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the Prophets, and He would save mankind. All who heard St. Andrew repented, believed, and were Baptized, becoming Christian. They also brought the Apostle their sick, and he healed all of them. Andrew built a Church there and Ordained one of them to the Priesthood.
After this, Andrew left for Trapezus, where he also taught and Baptized, an Ordained Priests. He also traveled to Laziki, bringing a multitude of Greeks and Jews to Christ. He then decided to go to Jerusalem for the Passover and also to see his brother Peter, and the Apostle Paul who he heard was to be the Apostle to the gentiles. He returned to Ephesus with St. John the Theologian, but when he reached Ephesus he had a vision from God to go and preach in Bithynia. St. Andrew therefore departed and entered the city of Nicaea, and he taught many Greeks and Jews and did miracles there, and many believed in Christ. He had an iron staff with a Cross on it, and with this many sicknesses were healed instantly, and wild beasts were driven away by it or slain. St. Andrew also destroyed the foundations of the pagan temples there of the false gods Aphrodite and Artemis.
The Greeks who refused to believe the teachings of the holy Apostle Andrew became possessed by evil spirit, which tormented them until they began to gnaw at their own bodies. But Andrew had pity on them, expelled the demons from them, and without compulsion many believed in Christ after that and were Baptized. St. Andrew stayed for two years in Nicaea and Ordained a Priest for Nicaea. Then he went to Nicomedia, a city with a large population at that time, and he Baptized Greeks there. Then he went to Chalcedon near the Propontus, Scoutari near Byzantium, and then Neocastra, where many were converted and Baptized. Then he went to Pontoheraclea, and then to Amastrida in the province of Bithynia, and he Ordained Priests there.
Then he went to Sinope, a city of Pontus, and there his brother Peter came to see him. (The Christians of Sinope show two marble thrones which they say were seats of these two Apostles, and also an ancient wonder-working Icon of the holy Apostle Andrew.) The Apostle Matthias had also come to Sinope before St. Andrew arrived. (St. Matthias was one of the Twelve, but selected after the impious Judas Iscariot left the Twelve by reason of betrayal, Acts 1:15-26.) However, St. Matthias had been thrown into prison as soon as he began preaching in the city. St. Andrew found this out, and began to pray for St. Matthias, and instantly the chains were released from him, and the door opened, and St. Matthias left the prison, free. When the fierce people of Sinope saw what St. Andrew had done, they surrounded him, and some talked about burning down the house where he stayed, and others planned how to take him. Finally they took the Apostle Andrew's hands and feet, and pulled him through the dirt of the town, beating him at the same time. They left the city, and threw his body on a dung-heap, certain he was dead. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to St. Andrew, healing him and telling him to be of good cheer. Even through his teeth were broken and his fingers cut, the Lord restored him to wholeness, blessed him, and told him to continue to teach and convert the ungodly. Then the Lord ascended into the heavens. The next morning very early the Apostle Andrew entered the city of Sinope, full of good health, unmarked by wounds or bruises, with great joy. The people of the city marvelled, and fell at his feet begging forgiveness. He then taught them the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, seeing that they believed with their bodies and souls, he Baptized them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He also raised up from the dead a child of a woman who believed; the child had been slain by an enemy. This miracle helped many more to believe, so that the entire city became of the Christian Faith. After that, the Apostle Andrew Ordained Priests, and traveled to visit Amisus and Trapezus a second time, Baptizing more people in those cities, the few remaining who now renounced their delusion.
Then he went on to Neocaesaria and then to Samosata, a colony of Greek philosophers. Even so, the All-Wise preaching of the Apostle overcame the Hellenic reasoning as a spider's web, and they were persuaded by both his words and miracles, and the entire group became of the Christain Faith and were Baptized. (All of the Twelve Apostles are called "All-Wise," see the description in the histories of St. Peter and St. John the Evangelist and Theologian. The term "Theologian" is a traditional Orthodox Church term reserved to very few Saints, not even all of the Twelve Apostles, although the words of St. Andrew at his Martyrdom show a great depth of understanding, greater than is seen in people who falsely call themselves "theologians" today.)
Afterwards St. Andrew went to Jerusalem to meet with other Christians and finally celebrate the Passover with them, as he had intended before. (This "Passover" is the Pascha of the Lord: they celebrated the death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the earliest beginnings of the Church.) They convened a Synod, as stated in the Acts of the Apostles "And the Apostles and elders came together to consider this matter" Acts 15:6, about the circumcision of converts. They decided that the gentiles who joined the Christian Church needed to put away their sins, but they did not need a physical sign such as circumcision. They were guided in this decision by the Holy Spirit.
After the Pascha, the holy Apostle Andrew, with the Apostles Matthias and Thaddaeus, went to the city of Chorassan in the lands bordering Mesopotamia. St. Andrew stayed with them only a few days, leaving them to preach in that area while he returned to the area east of the Black Sea, this time to the Alani and Abasgians. He drew multitudes to the Christian Faith in these cities. He then went to the peoples of Zygi, the Bosporians and the straits of Kafa, where he traveled for a long time, preaching Christ, and many came to believe and were Baptized. Then he went to the city of Byzantium, where he performed many miracles and instructed many in the knowledge of God. The people in Byzantium came to the Light, and they built a Church in honor of the Birthgiver of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Andrew Consecrated Stachys, one of the Seventy Apostles of Christ, to be their Bishop. St. Paul mentions Stachys in his Epistle to the Romans 16:9. (Although Byzantium became a Patriarchate a few centuries later, the Greeks love to point to the holy Apostle Andrew as the first to preach in that area. In the same way, the Russians point to him as well, although the Rus of the modern Ukraine did not become Baptized as a country until the year 988 A.D. Prior to 988 A.D., most of the people worshiped a false god of fire.) St. Andrew then went west to Heraclea of Thrace, converted many, and Consecrated Apelles Bishop for them. Andrew also passed on to Pontus on the Black Sea to Scythia and the Chersonese. St. Andrew reached the River Dnieper in the land of the Rus, and stopped to rest on the shore beneath the hills of Kiev. When he awoke the next morning, he said to his disciples, "Believe me: on these hills the grace of God will shine forth. There will be a great city here, and the Lord will raise many churches in this place and enlighten all of the Russian land with holy Baptism." [This quote is from a Russian source.] And St. Andrew climbed the hills, blessed them, and set a Cross on the hills, saying that the people there would receive the Faith from the Apostolic See he had established in Byzantium. [This, before any such "Apostolic See" existed in Byzantium, but the good intentions of the historian are similar to those where St. Joseph of Arimathaea brought the Light of Christ to Britain, even though Britain would suffer much tribulation in the centuries that followed. This is also similar to the good intentions of St. Brendan the Navigator who brought the Light of Christ to the Americas, long before they were called the Americas, but 1000 years after that in the 1500ds, a great plague killed so many millions of "natives" of both South and North America that the teachings were only faint memory left in old Irish ogham script on some rocks, and some Irish style churches. Some of the people of the Rus may have received their faith from Celtic sources, and the famous missionaries Ss. Cyril and Methodios were Macedonian, but with the authorization from Byzantium.] St. Andrew then passed through lands to the north, where Novgorod now stands, and then went to visit Rome. Then St. Andrew went to the Greek land of Epirus and came to Thrace, making steadfast converts and Consecrating Bishops and Ordaining Priests for them.
He passed through many other lands, finally reaching the Peloponnese, and in the Achaian city of Patras, he stayed with a respected man named Sosius. St. Andrew healed Sosius from sickness, and eventually converted the entire city of Patras to Christ. The wife of the proconsul Aegeates named Maximilla became very ill with an infection of her eyes. She visited every doctor, but they could not help her, and she spent nearly everything on their fees and medicines. Aegeates saw his wife's decline, and began to despair. [At that time, before the wide modern use of antibiotics, although molds and certain herbs were used in some African cultures, they were not generally known throughout the world, and it was easy to die of an infection that could start in any part of the body.] No amount of money could buy a cure for Maximilla. When she was near death, Aegeates considered suicide. A servant in the household remembered the Apostle, because he had been healed before, and brought St. Andrew to the house. St. Andrew put his hand on her, and her health was restored, and she rose from her couch. Aegeates saw this miracle, and brought a great deal of money and put it at St. Andrew's feet, and kneeling, begged that St. Andrew accept this offering in gratitude for the healing, but the Apostle refused the money, wanting only the repentance of the people in that city. The Apostle Andrew taught Aegeates many things before he departed, and said, "Our Teacher hath said: 'Freely ye have received, freely give." (St. Matthew 10:8).
St. Andrew also healed a paralytic who had nobody to care for him. The Apostle put his right hand on him, and the man rose up and walked. St. Andrew's name became known then throughout the city. Many sick people went to him, and he healed them, including those who were blind, had leprosy, and other diseases. St. Andrew cleansed and cured them. Many people came to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and he Baptized them in the Name of the all-holy Trinity in the sea. St. Andrew also healed lepers who lived on the sands of the shore, and hearing about St. Andrew, when they believed in Christ, they were healed. One of these named Job was Baptized immediately, and after that followed St. Andrew everywhere, shouting about the power of St. Andrew and the Christian Faith as a herald. St. Andrew continually glorified God for all the good that occurred.
The Christains demolished temples of idols and smashed images in them. Some collected a great treasure which they laid at the Apostle's feet, and he refused all of it, but praised them for their good will. Then he told them to distribute all the funds among the poor and beggers, but to keep a portion to build a Church in which Christians could glorify God. They began work on a large Church, and when it was finished the Apostle Andrew taught, explained the Scriptures and Prophecies, showing how Christ is the one True God, incarnate of the holy Birthgiver and Ever-virgin Mary, to save all people.
The proconsul Aegeates went to Rome to appear before Caesar to make a report of his administration and to receive further orders. Stratocles, his brother, was an educated man from Athens, skilled in mathematics and philosophy. He was appointed in the absence of Aegeates to act as administrator for the city of Patras. A servant who traveled with him from Athens became ill with a violent epileptic seizure, caused by demons. Stratocles also could find no physician to heal the man, and he began to weep. Then his sister-in-law Maximilla heard of this, and told Stratocles, "Brother-in-law, it is impossible to heal thy servant, even with the ministrations of all the physicians, and the prescriptions of all the medicines, in the world. Truly, thou art wasting thy substance in vain. Yet we have here in this city a foreign doctor, by the name of Andrew, who healeth every sickness, and chargeth no fee. If thou wilt go to him, I am confident that he will cure thy servant of this grievous ailment forthwith. I myself was gravely ill, and neither a myriad of sacrifices to the gods, nor any physician or medicine, could save me; yet this foreign doctor healed me instantly by his word alone!" Then Stratocles summoned St. Andrew, and as soon as the Apostle entered the house the demon departed, and the servant was made whole. Even though Maximilla had been previously healed by Saint Andrew, she had not yet become a Christian, but now both she and Stratocles turned from their former ways and became Christians. They were both Baptized by St. Andrew and stayed with him at all times, wanting to hear every teaching about Christ.
Aegeates was probably influenced against the Christians by the emperor in Rome, but certainly when he returned from Rome, he was enraged that his wife Maximilla did not wish to associate with him. The eunuchs in his household told him that she kept a strict fast, saying blasphemies against the pagan dieties, preferring to worship the Christ preached by the stranger, Andrew, and her mind and heart were fixed upon Christ and Christ alone! At first he was perplexed, but, forgetting that his wife had also been healed by St. Andrew, the demons surrounded Aegeates, and he acted as if he had lost his mind, saying all kinds of insults and threats against the holy St. Andrew, because it was now impossible to share living quarters with his wife Maximilla. Aegeates ordered the arrest of St. Andrew so that he could consider what kind of death Andrew should have.
At midnight Stratocles took Maximilla, and they went quickly to the prison where St. Andrew was kept guarded by the sentries of Aegeates. However, when they tapped lightly on the door of St. Andrew's cell, it opened to them. Stratocles and Maximilla fell at the Saint's feet, asking him to strengthen them in the Faith of Christ. St. Andrew spoke to them a long while, and then Consecrated Stratocles Bishop of Old Patras. Then the Apostle blessed them and sent them away in peace. When they departed, St. Andrew prayed, and the door to his cell shut as though locked. Then he sat down, and waited patiently for the judgment of Aegeates, who was determined to put St. Andrew to death.
The Martyrdom of St. Andrew was written in detail by the witnesses of it, because the teachings of St. Andrew on the holy and life-giving Cross help us to realize how the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ are both gifts to us. The source of the words of St. Andrew is contemporary with him, written by the Priests and Deacons of the Achaian land whom St. Andrew had Ordained. It is long, but not abridged, because of the excellent teaching which is similar to the Hymns in the Divine Liturgy of the Vigil of Pascha according to the Celtic Rite. The Cross of St. Andrew was in the shape of an X, and although a few of the Apostles were Martyred on Crosses, the Cross of St. Andrew is especially remembered. Notice that the Priests and Deacons of St. Andrew have the same form of greeting common among the Saints of Ireland, especially St. Maelruain.
"All of us, the Priests and Deacons of the Church of Achaia, are writing of the suffering of the holy Apostle Andrew (which we beheld with our own eyes) to all the Churches in the East and the West, in the South and in the North. Peace be to you and to all who believe in the one God, perfect in Trinity: the true, unbegotten Father, the true begotten Son, the true Holy Spirit Who proceedeth from the Father and resteth in the Son! This Faith we learned of the holy Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, whose suffering, which we witnessed firsthand, we are describing.
"Aegeates Antipater, arriving in the city of Patras, sought to force those who believe in Christ to offer sacrifices to the idols. But the holy Andrew, appearing before him on the way, said: 'It behooveth thee, who art a judge of men, to recognize thy Judge Who is in the heavens, and, in recognizing Him, to worship Him; and, having worshiped the true God, to turn away from false deities.' Aegeates said to him: 'Art thou that Andrew who destroyeth the temples of the gods and lureth the people into that sorcerous religion which appeared but recently and which the emperors of Rome have ordered extirpated?'
"To this the holy Andrew replied: 'Of a truth, the emperors of Rome have not acknowledged what the Son of God, Who came down to earth for the sake of man's salvation, hath told us: these idols not only are not gods, but are unclean demons, filled with malice for the human race, who teach men to anger God and cause Him to turn away from them, that He not hearken unto them. When God turneth from men in anger, the demons hold them in thrall to themselves and deceive them, until their souls issue forth naked from their bodies, possessed of nought save their own sins.'
"Aegeates said: 'When your Jesus preached these fables and empty words, the Jews nailed him to the Cross.' But Andrew replied, 'O, if thou couldst but recognize the mystery of the Cross: how the Creator of the human race, in His love for us, voluntarily endured sufferings on the Cross, because He foreknew the time of His suffering, and prophesied His Resurrection on the third day, and, sitting with us at the Mystical Supper, announced His betrayal, speaking of both the future and the past; and went of His own will to the place where He would be given over into the hands of the Jews!'
"I am astonished,' exclaimed Aegeates, 'that thou, an intelligent man, followest One Whom thou dost admit was crucified on a cross - it is all the same, whether it was voluntarily or involuntarily.' The Apostle answered: 'Great is the mystery of the Cross; and if thou wouldst deign to listen, I will tell thee of it.' Aegeates retorted: 'This is no mystery, but the execution of a malefactor.' But the holy Andrew responded: 'This execution is the mystery of man's renewal; only deign to listen patiently to me.' 'I will listen to thee patiently,' said the judge; 'but if thou dost not do what I order thee, thou shalt bring upon thyself the selfsame mystery of the cross.' To this the Apostle answered: 'Were I afraid of crucifixion, I would never glorify the Cross.' Then Aegeates said: 'As thou dost praise the cross in thine insanity, so in thine audacity thou dost not fear death.' The Apostle replied: 'I fear not death, not out of audacity, but because of my faith; for precious is the death of the saints, but grievous is the death of sinners. I desire thee to hear what I have to say of the mystery of the Cross, that, recognizing the truth, thou wilt believe; and believing, thou mayest gain thy soul.' But Aegeates said: 'Thou seekest for a lost soul. Hath my soul really been lost, that thou dost order it found by faith, I know not how?'
"The holy Andrew answered: 'This is what thou mayest learn of me: I will show thee wherein lieth the loss of men's souls, that thou mayest recognize the salvation thereof, which hath been accomplished through the Cross. The first man brought death into the world through the tree of disobedience, and it was necessary for the human race that death be abolished through the tree of suffering. And as the first man, who brought death into the world through the tree of disobedience, was fashioned of pure and virgin earth, so it was fitting that Christ, the perfect Man, Who is at the same time the Son of God Who fashioned the first man, be born of the pure Virgin, that He might restore the everlasting life which was lost by all men; and as the first man sinned, stretching forth is hands toward the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so was it fitting for the salvation of man that the Son of God stretch forth His hands upon the Cross because of the incontinence of men's hands, and that for the sweet fruit of the forbidden tree He eat bitter gall.'
"Aegeates responded to this, saying: 'Say these things to those who would listen to thee. But if thou dost not obey my command, and if thou dost refuse to offer sacrifice to the gods, then, after having thee beaten with staves, I will order thee crucified on the cross which thou dost glorify.' Andrew answered, saying: 'Every day I offer to the one, true and omnipotent God not the smoke of incense, not the flesh of bullocks, nor the blood of goats, but the unblemished Lamb Who was offered as a sacrifice on the Altar of the Cross. All the faithful believers commune of His All-pure Body and partake of His Blood, though this Lamb remaineth whole and alive, even though He is truly sacrificed; they all truly eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, eve though, as I say, He ever remaineth whole, unblemished and alive.'
"Then Aegeates said: 'How can such a thing be?' Andrew answered: 'If thou desirest to learn, become a disciple, that thou mayest learn what thou askest.' Aegeates replied: 'I will extort this teaching from thee by torture!' The Apostle answered: 'I am amazed that thou, an educated man, speakest so thoughtlessly. Canst thou learn the mysteries of God from me by dragging them from me by torture? Thou hast heard of the mystery of the Cross; thou hast heard also of the mystery of the Sacrifice. If thou wilt believe that Christ, the Son of God Who was crucified by the Jews, is the true God, I will disclose to thee how He, having died, liveth, and how, being offered as a sacrifice and eaten, He remaineth whole in His kingdom.'
"Then Aegeates, enragged, ordered the Apostle cast into prison. When the holy one was thrown into a dungeon, many people from throughout those parts came to his defense and would have slain Aegeates and released Andrew from confinement. But the holy Andrew forbade them, admonishing them and saying: 'Turn not the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ into ta diabolic tumult; for our Lord, when He was given over to death, showed great patience. He did not contradict; He did not cry out; His voice was not heard in the streets. Wherefore, do ye also keep silence and be calm. I forbid you to offer any hindrance to my martyrdom, but do ye yourselves, as good athletes and warriors of Christ, prepare yourselves to endure patiently all manner of wounds and tortures on your bodies. And if ye must needs fear torments, fear only those which are endless and know that the terrors and threats of men are like smoke: once they appear, they vanish suddenly. If ye must needs fear sufferings, fear those which begin, never to end. But transitory sufferings, if they are insignificant, are easily borne; and if they are great, they come quickly to an end, releasing the soul from the body. But terrible are those sufferings which are everlasting. Wherefore, be ye ready, that, through transitory sufferings ye may pass over to eternal joy, where ye will rejoice and ever flourish and reign with Christ.'
"Thus the holy Andrew spent the whole night teaching the people. In the morning, Aegeates Antipater seated himself in his tribunal; and, sending for the holy Andrew, he had him brought before him and said; 'Hast thou resolved to abandon this foolishness and cease to preach Christ, that thou mayest share our happiness in this life? For great insanity is it to go to torture and fire voluntarily.' But the holy one replied: 'I would rather share thy happiness when thou wilt believe in Christ and reject the idols; for Christ hath sent me to this land, in which I have acquired not a few people for Him.'
"Aegeates then said: 'I will compel thee to sacrifice, that those who have been deluded by thee may abandon the vanity of thy teaching and offer sacrifices pleasing to the gods; for there is no city in Achaia in which they have not deserted the temples of the gods; hence it hath now become necessary that the honor accorded them be restored through thee, that the deities who have been angered by thee may by thee be mollified, that thou mayest abide with us in fraternal love. And if not, then, for dishonoring them, thou shalt be subjected to divers tortures and shall be suspended upon a cross, such as thou dost glorify.'
"To this the holy Andrew replied: 'Hearken, O offspring of death, doomed to everlasting torments! Listen to me, the servant o the Lord, the Apostle of Jesus Christ! Hitherto I have conversed with thee meekly, desiring to teach thee the holy Faith, that thou, as a man of intellect, might recognize the truth and, rejecting the idols, might worship God Who liveth in the heavens. But since thou remainest obdurate and dost imagine that I am afraid of thy tortures, devise for me the most terrible of tortures thou knowest; for I will become all the more pleasing to my King, the more grievous the torments I endure for Him.'
"Then Aegeates commanded that the Saint be stretched out and beaten. And when those who beat him, three at a time, had alternated seven times, the holy one was set on his feet and brought before the judge. And the judge said to him: 'Listen to me, O Andrew, and shed not thy blood in vain; for if thou wilt not obey me, I will crucify thee on a cross.'
"To this the holy Andrew answered: 'I am a slave of the Cross of Christ, and I desire death on a cross. Thou canst escape everlasting torment if, having tested mine endurance, thou wilt believe in Christ; for I grieve over thy damnation more than mine own sufferings. My sufferings will end in a day, or two days at best; but thy sufferings will not come to an end even after a thousand years. Wherefore, do not increase thy torments; kindle not for thyself everlasting fire.'
"Enraged, Aegeates ordered the holy Andrew crucified on a cross, his hands and feet bound. He did not wish him affixed by nails, lest he die in but a short time; for he thought that by hanging him bound, he might subject him to greater tortures.
"When the servants of the tyrant brought him to the place of crucifixion, the people assembled, crying out: 'Wherein hath this righteous man and friend of God sinned? Why are they leading him to crucifixion?' But Andrew besought the people not to hinder his suffering, and he walked to his torment with gladness, never pausing in his teaching. When he reached the place where he was to be crucified, espying at some distance the cross being prepared for him, he cried with a loud voice: 'Hail, O Cross sanctified by the flesh of Christ and adorned by His members as with pearls! Until the Lord was crucified upon thee, thou was a thing abhorrent to men; but now they love thee and embrace thee with yearning, for the faithful know what joy thou containest, and what reward is prepared for enduring thee. With boldness and joy I come to thee. Accept me with gladness, for I am a disciple of Him Who was lifted up on thee! Receive me, for I have always loved and desired to embrace thee, O precious cross which received from the members of the Lord beauty and glorious adornmment, a beauty long desired, ardently loved, which I have unceasingly sought. Take me from among men and give me to my Teacher, that, through thee, He Who redeemed me through thee may receive me.'
"Thus saying, he removed his clothing and gave it to the torturers. They lifted him up on the cross, binding his hands and feet with cords; and thus they crucified him head-downwards and suspended him. Around him stood a multitude of the people, about twenty thousand of them; and among them was also Stratocles, the brother of Aegeates, who cried out with the people: 'Unjustly doth this holy man suffer thus!' But Andrew strengthened those who believed in Christ and exhorted them to endure transitory sufferings, teaching that no torment can compare with the reward earned by it.
"Afterwards, the people went to the home of Aegeates, crying out and saying: 'This honorable, holy man, this kind, good-natured, meek and all-wise teacher, should not suffer, but should be taken down from the cross; for, though this is already the second day on which he is on the cross, he still teacheth the truth.'
"Then Aegeates, fearing the people, went straightway with them to take Andrew down from the cross. But Andrew, seeing Aegeates, said: 'Wherefore hast thou come hither, Aegeates? If thou wishest to believe in Christ, the portal of grace will be opened to thee as I have promised. But if thou hast come only to take me down from the cross, I do not wish to be taken from the cross alive; for I already see my King; I already worship Him; I already stand before Him. Yet I suffer for thee, because the everlasting perdition prepared for thee awaiteth thee. Take care of thyself while thou mayest, lest thou desire to begin when thou art no longer able to do so.'
"When the servants went to untie him from the cross, they were unable to touch him; and a great many other people, one after another, tried to untie him, but were unable, because their hands became numb. Thereafter, the holy Andrew cried with a loud voice: 'O Lord Jesus Christ, do not allow me to be taken down from the cross on which I have been suspended for Thy Name; but receive me, O my Teacher, Whom I have loved, Whom I have known, Whom I confess, Whom I desire to see, through Whom I have become what I am! O Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit in peace, for the time hath come for me to go to Thee and look upon Thee Whom I have so ardently desired! Receive me, O good Teacher, and do not permit me to be taken down over-soon from the cross, before Thou receivest my spirit!'
"When he said this, a light like lightning from heaven illumined him in the sight of all, and shone round about him, so that the eye of corrupt man was unable to look upon him. This heavenly light shone round him for the space of half an hour, and when the light departed, amid brilliant light, to stand before the Lord.
"Maximilla, a woman of noble lineage and virtuous and holy life, when Andrew had departed to the Lord, took down his body with great honor and, having embalmed it with costly ointments, laid it in the tomb in which she herself had intended to be interred.
"Aegeates, angered with the people, bethought himself how to wreak vengeance upon them and to castigate those who had openly challenged him. And Maximilla he wished to denounce before the emperor. But while he was thus planning, a demon fell upon him suddenly and, tormented thereby, Aegeates died in the midst of the city. When they informed his brother Stratocles of this, he ordered him buried, but he himself would not seek any of his property, saying: 'O my Lord Jesus Christ, grant not that I touch any of my brother's treasures, lest I be defiled by his sin; for, loving vain possessions, he dared to slay the Apostle of the Lord!' Therefore, he distributed all of his brother's wealth to the poor and indigent, and with the same money he had a diocesan house constructed on the site where the Saint's relics lay. In time, he reposed as a good shepherd of the wise flock. Likewise, Maximilla distributed her gold to the poor, and in a place apart from him she founded two monasteries: one for men, and one for women. And having lived a good and God-pleasing life, she, too, departed to the mansions of heaven.
"This took place on the last day of the month of November,
in the city of Patras, in Achaia, where, ever since, through the prayers
of the Apostle, many benefactions are bestowed upon the people. The fear
of God was upon all, and there was no one who did not believe in our God
and Savior, Who desireth to save all men and lead them to a knowledge of
the truth, to Whom be glory for ever. Amen."
St. Andrew, Apostle, brother of St. Peter (November 30th
/December 13th) - He was the first called of the Apostles according
to the Gospel of St. John, and is first with his brother St. Peter according
to the other Gospels. [St. Matthew 4:18-20, St. Mark 1:16-18, St. Luke
5:8-11, 6:14, St. John 1:40-42]. From the Bobbio Apostle's Creed, he said,
'He suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified and buried.' Celtic Rite
date: Nov 30. Roman date of celebration: Nov. 30. Epistle: I Corinthians
4: 9 - Psalm for St. Andrew:
Epistle: I Corinthians 4: 9 - (Specific reading for St. Andrew.) (God setting forth Apostles.)
Gradual Canticle, 125.
When the Lord brought back
the captivity of Sion: we became like men comforted. Then was our mouth
filled with gladness: and our tongue with joy. Then shall they say among
the Gentiles: The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done
great things for us: we are become joyful. Turn again our captivity, O
Lord, as a stream in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
Going, they went and wept, casting their seeds. But coming, they shall
come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves.
Gospel: Matthew 4:18-20; John 21:15-19 or Luke 6:6-19 (Calling of Saint Andrew; telling the Apostles to feed my lambs; or healing the sick and choosing the Apostles.)
--Deaconess Elizabeth, Cele De
Nov 4 Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost [P](Matins Gospel II, Sunday IV)
Nov 11Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost [P](Matins
Gospel III, Sunday V)
Nov 1/14 Feast of All Saints [P] (General Requiem for the Departed)
Nov 18 Twenty-Fourth Sundayafter Pentecost [P](Matins
Gospel IV, SundayVI)
Nov 11/24 Saint Martin of Tours [W]
Nov 25 Last Sunday after Pentecost [P](Matins Gospel V, Sunday VII)
Nov 13/26 Advent (Moses') Fast Begins[P]Dec 2 First Sunday in Advent [P]
Nov 21/Dec 4 Entry into theTemple of the Birthgiver of God [W]
Dec 9 Second Sunday in Advent [P]
Nov 30/Dec 13 - Apostle Andrew [W]
Dec 16 Third Sunday in Advent [P]
Dec 6/19 Nicholas of Myra [W]
Dec 23 Fourth Sunday inAdvent [P]
Dec 30 Fifth Sunday in Advent [P]