medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
Today, March 21, is the feast day of:
Beryllus of Catania (pre-4th century?) Beryllus is the traditionally
recognized protobishop of Catania. His first surviving mention comes in the
eighth-century, romance-like Bios of St. Pancras of Taormina (BHG 1410),
which rather unbelievably has him ordained and sent as an evangelist by St.
Peter himself after Birillus accompanied Peter from Antioch to Italy.
Byzantine synaxary accounts similarly have him sent from Antioch by St.
Peter; these also say that after he had successfully converted many he was
honored with gift of miracles, one being the changing the water of a spring
from bitter to sweet. If Beryllus really did exist, a third-century date
seems more probable. He is listed as having died of natural causes at a very
advanced age. Beryllus was dropped from the RM in the latter's revision of
2001. He is celebrated liturgically on this day in the archdiocese of
Catania, of which he is a secondary patron.
Martyrs of Alexandria (d. 339) This commemoration of martyrs of Alexandria
(there are several groups of saints so designated)recalls those who suffered
under Constans I (337-350), when Arians and pagans invaded the churches of
Christians loyal to Nicene orthodoxy. The RM's wording here points to the
persecution instigated by the city's newly appointed Arian bishop Gregory
the Cappadocian (d. 345) immediately after his entry into the city in March
339. A mixed pagan/Arian mob took advantage of the holiday (and the fact
that Emperor Constantius was an Arian and looked the other way at such
things) to sack a number of catholic churches in Alexandria. Athanasius
reported the event after he escaped, telling that many catholic worshippers
were killed in the process. For selective and rhetorically charged details,
see St. Athanasius of Alexandria (our only source for these events),
Historia Arianorum, 10 and 13 and Epistula encyclica, 3-5.
Serapion (d. c. 370) Serapion was head of the catechetical school at
Alexandria, but gave it all up to become a hermit. He was brought from his
hermitage to become bishop of Thmuis in Lower Egypt. Both St. Anthony and
St. Athanasius were his friends. He was famed for his authorship of
treatises and letters, with the nickname "scholasticus." He is said to have
led a delegation of Egyptian bishops to Constantinus II on behalf of St.
Athanasius of Alexandria. Serapion was a vigorous opponent of Arianism and
Manichaeism; he was exiled by Constantius II for his anti-Arian stand and
probably died in exile.
Also commemorated today is a more shadowy Serapion, Serapion of Arsinoe,
who was a desert father and abbot of a large monastic community sometime in
the fourth century.
Enda (in Latin: Endeus, Gaillic: Einne) (d. c542) is considered the founder
of the first true monastery in Ireland. According to his largely legendary
Vita, he was a hereditary chieftain who was converted to religion by his
sister, the abbess St. Fanchea and spent time at St. Ninian’s monastery
Candida Casa in Scotland. After a pilgrimage to Rome, where he is said to
have been ordained priest and to have become head of a major monastery, Enda
returned to Ireland, received from king Aengus of Munster the island of Aran
(Árainn; also Inis Mór), the largest of the Aran Islands. There he founded
ten monasteries, operated miracles, and had as a disciple St. Ciarán [of
Clonmacnoise]. Thus far the Vita (except that I've left out the colorful
bits, such as Fanchea and three of her nuns crossing the Irish Sea by foot
on her shawl). Enda's rule for monks was very strict and even included
manual labor (unusual for Irish monks); according to later tradition, he
insisted on weeding with his own hands and digging ditches without tools,
and forced his monks to do the same. His principal monastery came to be
named for him: Kill-Enda. It gave its name to the island's present village
of Killeany. The 8th-century Martyrology of St. Oengus records his feast on
this day. He is a recurring figure in stories from County Clare.
S. Cuimin of Connor tells us that:
Enda love glorious mortification
In Aran - triumphant virtue!
A narrow dungeon of flinty stone,
To bring the people to heaven.
Enda might have been an only son, but were it not for his sister Fainche,
he might never have been a saint. He came to her seeking one of her vowed
virgins as a bride (much like Béoán did to Íte, but he got his wish and
hence his son became a saint, not him), but just after he made his request
his chosen virgin went to her true Spouse, dying on the spot. Fainche then
preached to her brother about the pains of hell and the joys of heaven until
she made him cry. He joined the religious life at once, thanks to the
preaching and prayers of his sister.
Benedict of Nursia (d. c547) "The father of western monasticism," Benedict
and his twin sister St. Scholastica were born in Nursia in c480 to a
prosperous family. He studied in Rome, but soon left the city and joined a
community of hermits in the Sabine hills. Then he lived for three years in a
cave near Subiaco. A nearby community of hermits made him their leader, but
refused his efforts to reform the community and tried to poison him;
Benedict went back to Subiaco. There he developed his own monastic
community, moving in c529 to Monte Cassino. His Rule for Monks of course
eventually swept Europe, thanks especially to the support given it by the
John of Valence (d. 1145). We know about John chiefly from his contemporary
Vita et Miracula by Giraldus of Valence (BHL 4446). He was a canon of Lyon
who after a pilgrimage to Compostela entered the abbey of Cîteaux. In 1117
or 1118 John became the first abbot of Cîteaux's daughter house at today's
Bonnevaux in today's Villeneuve-de-Marc (Isère). In 1141 he was chosen to
succeed the extruded Eustachius in the see of Valence, where he is said to
have distinguished himself through assistance to the poor, to farmers, and
to merchants who had been despoiled of their coin. Today is his dies
natalis. His cult was confirmed papally in 1903.
Santuccia, matron (1305) - founded a community of Benedictine nuns, the
Servants of Mary, in her home town of Gubbio
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in
school. ~Albert Einstein
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