Thursday, November 01, 2007

My saintly patrons

This All Saints' Day, I'm focusing on those saints who are related to me in some fashion--patrons, you might say.

St Timothy—my Christian name. Timothy was a young Greek with a Jewish mother. He became a companion of St Paul and remained at Ephesus as its first bishop. Two letters of the New Testament are addressed to Timothy, delivering instruction and encouragement to this young bishop.

St Anselm—his feast is on April 21, my birthday. He became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093, and his greatest talents were as a theologian and a spiritual director. His spirituality is summarized by the phrase "faith seeking understanding." He pioneered the scholastic method and expounded the ontological argument for the existence of God. Anselm's most significant contribution to theology was the "satisfaction theory" of the atonement.

St Louis IX, King of France—his feast is August 25, the anniversary of my baptism. Louis was a model of integrity for political leaders. He was determined to live a life of Franciscan poverty and self-denial in the midst of worldly power and splendor.

St Anacletus—his feast is April 17, the anniversary of my confirmation. Anacletus (often just "Cletus" was Bishop of Rome from AD 76-88, although there is some discrepancy about exactly when he reigned as pope. We don't know much about his life either. All we are told in the historical record was that he ordained some priests and died as a martyr.

St Julian of Antioch—his feast day is March 16, the anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate. This Roman senator was martyred on that day in the Diocletian persecution, about the year 305. His legend states that he was subjected to terrible tortures and paraded daily for a whole year through various cities of Cilicia. He was then sewn up in a sack half-filled with scorpions, sand, and vipers, and cast into the sea. The sea carried his body to Alexandria, and was buried there before being moved to Antioch.

St Bede the Venerable—his feast is May 25, the anniversary of my wedding. The Venerable Bede kept the light of knowledge and scholarship burning in the Dark Ages at his monastery at Jarrow. He also wrote The Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

St Linus—his feast is September 23, the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Not much is known about this successor to St Peter in Rome. He is said to have reigned as Pope from AD 67 until (he was perhaps martyred) in 76. Those were big shoes to fill, but Linus seems to have pulled it off. The people no doubt chose him because of his tender pastoral heart and holiness of life. He may be the Linus mentioned in passing in 2 Timothy 4:21.

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