Category Archives: Saints

St Nicholas

An illustration of St. Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia whose feast we celebrate today.

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in the United States, and protector of our children. Traditionally, before bed the prior night, children would leave their shoes out and upon waking on December 6th they would find them filled with treats left by the saint from the night before. This is a custom observed by many East Slavs throughout the world.

In the illustration St. Nicholas is depicted feeding the poor while wearing the vestments of a Byzantine bishop, notably the omophorion, epigonation, and mitre. The mitre which is topped by a cross, and resembling an imperial crown, was not worn by bishops until after the fall of Constantinople; however, this is how the saint is traditionally depicted in Byzantine iconography.

(Artwork by Yosyf Bokshai, 1922; h/t MW)

St Andrew

A later tradition … tells of Andrew’s death at Patras, where he too suffered the torture of crucifixion. At that supreme moment, however, like his brother Peter, he asked to be nailed to a cross different from the Cross of Jesus. In his case it was a diagonal or X-shaped cross, which has thus come to be known as “St Andrew’s cross”.

This is what the Apostle is claimed to have said on that occasion, according to an ancient story (which dates back to the beginning of the sixth century), entitled The Passion of Andrew:

“Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.

“Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the One who was hung upon you…. O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord’s limbs!… Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross; yes, hail indeed!”.

Here, as can be seen, is a very profound Christian spirituality. It does not view the Cross as an instrument of torture but rather as the incomparable means for perfect configuration to the Redeemer, to the grain of wheat that fell into the earth.

Here we have a very important lesson to learn:  our own crosses acquire value if we consider them and accept them as a part of the Cross of Christ, if a reflection of his light illuminates them.

It is by that Cross alone that our sufferings too are ennobled and acquire their true meaning.

The Apostle Andrew, therefore, teaches us to follow Jesus with promptness (cf. Mt 4: 20; Mk 1: 18), to speak enthusiastically about him to those we meet, and especially, to cultivate a relationship of true familiarity with him, acutely aware that in him alone can we find the ultimate meaning of our life and death.

Benedict XVI
Audience, June 14, 2006

Image: Fr. Kevin Kim’s

St Catherine of Alexandria

 

“Let all of us who love to honor the martyrs form a great choir and praise the most wise Catherine, for she preached Christ in the stadium and trampled the serpent, despising the art of orators.”

-Kontakion for the feast of Great-Martyr Catherine of Alexandria

 

Are we preaching Christ Jesus everywhere we go?

St Clement of Rome

Clement was a disciple of Ss. Peter and Paul from whom he learned about Jesus and the new Way. Much of what we know about Clement comes from his epistle to the Church at Corinth (an example of pastoral concern and paternal prudence). Yet, our knowledge of Clement comes through the witness of St. Irenaeus spent significant time with the Church at Rome, before serving as bishop of Lyon from approximately AD 177. Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp. The Roman Christians chose him as their bishop to succeed Linus and Cletus who briefly held that office before being martyred.

Its antiquity ranks Clement as the first of the great Apostolic Fathers. Tradition holds that after being tried for his faith Clement was exiled to hard labor in the Crimea, where he was believed to have been martyred. His relics were returned to Rome by St. Cyril, who reportedly discovered them on one of his early missionary journeys to the region. The relics were placed in what is now called St. Clement’s church in Rome (now under the direction of the Order of Preachers), where Cyril himself was buried when he died while he and Methodius were in Rome preparing for their mission among the Slavs.

The importance of St. Clement is his understanding of ecclesial authority and the life of the Christian in the face of said authority. As St. Irenaeus says, Clement had “the preaching of the apostles … echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes.” Is this true for us today? Do we have the preaching of the apostles echoing in my ears, and the traditions of the apostles before my eyes?

St Cecilia

St. Cecilia, one of the venerated Virgin Martyrs of the early Church. Known as the patron saint of church musicians, she is the object of many a poet and has the affection of many even today.

Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place;
Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia rais’d the wonder high’r;
When to her organ, vocal breath was giv’n,
An angel heard, and straight appear’d
Mistaking earth for Heav’n. (John Dryden)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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