St. Irenaeus of Lyons (feast day 23 August)

A modern-day Byzantine Orthodox icon of St Irenaeus.

A modern-day Byzantine Orthodox icon of St Irenaeus.

Information as to his life is scarce, and in some measure inexact. He was born in Proconsular Asia, or at least in some province bordering thereon, in the first half of the second century; the exact date is controverted, between the years 115 and 125, according to some, or, according to others, between 130 and 142. It is certain that, while still very young, Irenaeus had seen and heard the holy Bishop Polycarp (d. 155) at Smyrna. During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, Irenaeus was a priest of the Church of Lyons. The clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the Faith, sent him (177 or 178) to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleutherius concerning Montanism, and on that occasion bore emphatic testimony to his merits. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons. During the religious peace which followed the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the new bishop divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary (as to which we have but brief data, late and not very certain) and his writings, almost all of which were directed against Gnosticism, the heresy then spreading in Gaul and elsewhere. In 190 or 191 he interceded with Pope Victor to lift the sentence of excommunication laid by that pontiff upon the Christian communities of Asia Minor which persevered in the practice of the Quartodecimans in regard to the celebration of Easter. Nothing is known of the date of his death, which must have occurred at the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. In spite of some isolated and later testimony to that effect, it is not very probable that he ended his career with martyrdom. His feast is celebrated on 28 June in the Latin Church, and on 23 August in the Greek. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

St. Joseph of Arimathea (with Orthodox hymn to the saint from St. Anthony’s Orthodox Monastery in Arizona) – July 31

A contemporary Orthodox icon depicting saints Eudokimos and Joseph of Arimathea (July 31).

A contemporary Orthodox icon depicting saints Eudokimos and Joseph of Arimathea (July 31).

All that is known for certain concerning him is derived from the canonical Gospels. He was born at Arimathea — hence his surname — «a city of Judea» (Luke 23:51), which is very likely identical with Ramatha, the birthplace of the Prophet Samuel, although several scholars prefer to identify it with the town of Ramleh. He was a wealthy Israelite (Matthew 27:57), «a good and a just man» (Luke 23:50), «who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God» (Mark 15:43). He is also called by St. Mark and by St. Luke a bouleutes, literally, «a senator», whereby is meant a member of the Sanhedrin or supreme council of the Jews. He was a disciple of Jesus, probably ever since Christ’s first preaching in Judea (John 2:23), but he did not declare himself as such «for fear of the Jews» (John 19:38). On account of this secret allegiance to Jesus, he did not consent to His condemnation by the Sanhedrin (Luke 23:51), and was most likely absent from the meeting which sentenced Jesus to death (cf. Mark 14:64).

St Joseph of ArimatheaThe Crucifixion of the Master quickened Joseph’s faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ’s burial before the Sabbath began. Unmindful therefore of all personal danger, a danger which was indeed considerable under the circumstances, he boldly requested from Pilate the Body of Jesus, and was successful in his request (Mark 15:43-45). Once in possession of this sacred treasure, he — together with Nicodemus, whom his courage had likewise emboldened, and who brought abundant spices — wrapped up Christ’s Body in fine linen and grave bands, laid it in his own tomb, new and yet unused, and hewn out of a rock in a neighbouring garden, and withdrew after rolling a great stone to the opening of the sepulchre (Matthew 27:59, 60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:38-42). Thus was fulfilled Isaiah’s prediction that the grave of the Messias would be with a rich man (Isaiah 53:9). The Greek Church elebrates the feast of Joseph of Arimathea on 31 July, and the Roman Church on 17 March. The additional details which are found concerning him in the apocryphal «Acta Pilati», are unworthy of credence. Likewise fabulous is the legend which tells of his coming to Gaul A.D. 63, and thence to Great Britain, where he is supposed to have founded the earliest Christian oratory at  Glastonbury. Finally, the story of the translation of the body of Joseph of Arimathea from Jerusalem to Moyenmonstre (Diocese of Toul) originated late and is unreliable.

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