Archives For Church History

 


(I know that I’m jumping ahead of things a bit by posting this hymn during Lent, but it also is an important piece of Women’s History)
 
St. Cassiane was a ninth century Eastern Roman abbess, poet, composer, and hymnographer. She is one of the first medieval composers whose scores are both extant and able to be interpreted by modern scholars and musicians. Approximately fifty of her hymns are extant and twenty-three are included in Orthodox Church liturgical books. The exact number is difficult to assess, as many hymns are ascribed to different authors in different manuscripts and are often identified as anonymous (adapted from Wikipedia)
 

Other Women Saints
Whose Stories You Should Know

 

Hymn for
Holy Wednesday
St. Cassiane

 
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February 23 is the Feast Day of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, a martyr of the second century. In remembrance, we offer the story of his martyrdom…

The Encyclical Epistle
of the Church at Smyrna
Concerning the Martyrdom
of the Holy Polycarp

Modern paraphrase of a 19th century translation,
excerpted from Water, Faith and Wood:
Stories of the Early Church’s Witness for Today

C. Christopher Smith. Doulos Christou Press, 2003.

— PAGE 1 —

The following text tells the story of Polycarp’s martyrdom. Polycarp
was born in approximately 70 A.D. to a wealthy family. He
eventually was discipled by the Apostle John and later became the
bishop of Smyrna. His martyrdom took place in either 155 or 156,
and this text was recorded at some point after that date in the second
century.

The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God
sojourning in Philomelium, and to all the congregations of the Holy and
Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the
Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

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In honor of Black History Month, here are the stories of 10 African Saints. North American Christians know too little about the history of Christianity in Africa, so these stories are a great place for us to start learning!

If these saints were alive today, would they have dark skin and be recognized as black people? Perhaps, perhaps not. (See Was St. Augustine Black?)  But regardless these saints were all born in Africa, and played a vital role in the church on this continent.

Here are brief introductions to ten African saints (I use this term loosely to include other prominent women of faith, not just those who have been canonized by the Roman Catholic church) that you should be familiar with. 

The Ugandan Martyrs

1885-1887

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St. Petronilla
 

Today, May 31, is the feast day of St. Petronilla, an early Christian saint, who died in Rome at the end of 1st century.

 

“She lived when Christians were more solicitous
to live well than to write much”

 

Her story… 

 
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St. Possidius

Today, May 17, is the feast day of St. Possidius, a North African saint who was a student of St. Augustine, and one of Augustine’s earliest biographers.

 
St. Possidius (5th century) was a friend of St. Augustine of Hippo who wrote a reliable biography and an indiculus or list of his works. He was bishop of Calama in the Roman province of Numidia. (via Wikipedia)
 

READ St. Possidius’s
Life of St. Augustine

 

His story…

 
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Seven Martyred Monks of Gafsa
Liberatus, Boniface, Servus, Rusticus,
Rogatus, Septimus, and Maximus

Martyred 483 A.D.

 

Today (August 17) is the traditional feast day for these seven martyred monks.  This is their story… 

HUNERIC, the Arian Vandal king in Africa, in the seventh year of his reign, published fresh edicts against the Catholics, and ordered their monasteries to be demolished everywhere. Seven monks, named Liberatus, Boniface, Servus, Rusticus, Rogatus, Septimus, and Maximus, who lived in a monastery near Gafsa, in the province of Byzacena, were at that time summoned to Carthage. They were first tempted with great promises, but as they remained constant in the belief of the Trinity, and of one Baptism, they were loaded with irons and thrown into a dark dungeon.

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Remembering our Ancestors in the Faith
 
 
A Review of 

The Great Athanasius: An Introduction to His Life and Work
John R. Tyson

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
Reviewed by Gregory Soderberg
 
 
John Tyson is Professor of Church History at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and is the author of ten books, including Faith, Doubt, and Courage(Wipf & Stock). His new book on Athanasius of Alexandria (296 – 373) is a welcome addition to the on-going effort by scholars to describe and assess the remarkable bishop who stood contra mundum (“against the world”) in his defense of what he believe the Bible clearly taught about the nature of Jesus Christ. Tyson remarks that this book began as his own attempt to understand Athanasius more fully, but he continued to pursue it because “Athanasius is not as well known among contemporary Christians as he deserves to be known” (vii).  Opinions on Athanasius range from calling him the “great Athanasius” (from a funeral oration for Athanasius by another early Christian bishop and theologian, Gregory Nazianzen) to a “gangster” (from Timothy Barnes’ 1993 book, Athanasius and Constantius: Theology and Politics in the Constantinian Empire). Nor is this simply a modern, or post-modern, perspective. Charges against Athanasius, “including abuse of power and authority, along with sorcery, were so well known in the fourth century that they are even reported by the secular Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus” (xii)! So, who was the real Athanasius? Tyson navigates the ancient sources and the best of contemporary scholarship to present a nuanced, and ultimately more human, portrait of one of the most influential figures of Christian history.

Why was Athanasius so important? “In the days before the great Christian creeds were developed and while Christianity was still a minority religion in the Roman Empire, Athanasius laid many of the theological foundations that would become Christian orthodoxy” (x). Furthermore:

Athanasius was one of the chief architects and most persistent defenders of what would come to be accepted as the standard and orthodox understanding of the relationship of God the Father  and God the Son. His writings on the Holy Spirit also helped pave the way for a truly full  Trinitarian theology, and his use of and passion for Holy Scripture contributed significantly to  the closing of the New Testament canon (ix).

 

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Ignatius_von_Loyola

Today is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola…

Ignatius of Loyola (c. October 23, 1491 – July 31, 1556) was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and, on 19 April 1541, became its first Superior General. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation. (via Wikipedia)

Struggling to know how to pray?
St. Ignatius offers three practical methods of praying.

 
Here’s an important passage adapted from his classic book The Spiritual Exercises

Download the full book as a FREE PDF ebook (via CCEL)

 
 

Three Methods of Prayer
St. Ignatius of Loyola

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Walking the Ancient Path With John Michael Talbot

A Review of

The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today
John Michael Talbot

Hardback: Image, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jake Kampe

 

Sometimes we are served well to take a good look at history in order to comprehend and find meaning within the present. Understanding the lives of those who have walked on this Earth before us is imperative to understanding ourselves as well as our place within the Kingdom of God. As American culture, and more significantly, the Church, finds itself within a system of complexity and identity crisis, the need for a healthy balance is become increasingly apparent. When inundated with a seemingly endless onslaught of belief systems, theological constructs and Christian trends, it is becoming more and more difficult to build and strengthen a clearly definable foundation of faith. Becoming increasing frustrated, especially within younger generations, Christians are finding the repetitive and sometimes transparent teachings of modern Christianity empty, often leaving them with more feelings of discontent than peace. It is no surprise than countless Christians are finding or rediscovering comfort in the liturgical Church structures, spiritual disciplines and the teachings and philosophies of the ancient leaders. Looking specifically at the example of the Church Fathers, the Church has at its disposal a priceless asset that is just as essential for us today; maybe even more so.

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St. Catherine of SienaToday is the Feast of
St. Catherine of Siena…

 
Thrifty Christian Reader
is offering
two bargain ebooks
by St. Catherine

(One FREE, One 99c!)

 

 

Our poem of the day, adapted from Catherine’s Dialogue….
 

Eternal Godhead
St. Catherine of Siena

 

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