a priest's musings on the journey
Friday, May 25, 2007
Saints for 26 May
Today we celebrate the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury. The figure of St. Augustine, the great Wonderworker and Apostle of the English people, is somewhat controversial. He represented the Orthodox Patriarch of the West, the Pope of Rome, whereas the Celtic Christians were without a Patriarch and were, indeed, hostile to the concept of being placed under a Patriarch! St. Augustine moreover committed a great faux-pas when in meeting with a delegation of the anti-Patriarchal Bishops he remained seated when they approached him, rather than rising to greet them or even prostrating himself humbly before them. Due to his conduct, springing either from a protocol the Celts misinterpreted or from carelessness, he alienated them--and on this account the integration of the non-English Christians of Britain into the Patriarchate was delayed for many centuries. In the meantime, an uneasy situation prevailed. The decision of St. Theodore of Tarsus, the Greek-bred Archbishop of Canterbury who brought a comprehensive canonical structure to the English Church, and of several Church Synods, was that the Celtics could only be received after Chrismation and renunciation of error. It was felt that their Baptism rite was incomplete, their method of tonsure unsatisfactory, and their dating of Pascha, which had been superseded elsewhere in Orthodox Christendom by the pan-Orthodox method still used today in the Eastern Church, was faulty. Despite these difficulties, certain Hierarchs accepted the Holy Mysteries of the Celtics. St. Bede, in his History, proves himself to be a moderate in his ecclesiology, both accepting their essential character as Orthodox Christians and criticising their "uncanonical" mores.
Interestingly, the Celtic Ordo Kalendar included three other saints associated with the evangelization of the British Isles. Today is the feast day of St Eleutherius, a Greek deacon who was elected to be Pope in 174- apparantly without benefit of oridnation to the priestohood. He was martyred in 189 after, according to Holy Tradition, he sent missionaries to Britain. Those two missionaries, Fagan and Damian, are also celebrated on this day.
Among the many saints who appear on various calendars today, the following caught my attention:
St Alphaeus, also known as Cleophas, the father of St James the less
St. Mary Ann of Jesus de Paredes y Flores of Quito, an Ecuadoran Franciscan tertiary who educated Native American children (d. 1645)
Bl. Matthew Nguyen Van Phuong of Ke-Lay, a Vietnamese catechist who was martyred by beheading in 1861
and my favorite:
St Zachary of Vienne, the second bishop of Vienne, who was martyred under Trajan.
Alas, there are no images of these obscure saints that I can find. But here's a pic of my St Zachary
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 6:31 PM
Lovely icon and thanks for telling us about the deacon who became Pope - never heard of him before!