Sunday, April 3, 2011
April 4 -- Feast of St. Zosimus of Palestine
No, that's not a picture of Zosimus. More on him, below, with a bonus saint from the Eastern Calendar. But first...
There are always choices for which saint to select. Some are fun, others less so. Some are only recognized by local cults, while others have wider acceptance. In the canon of the American civil religion (wikipedia explanation here), there are probably few saints larger than Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yes, he had his faults and they are well documented. I don't need to repeat them here. But I will declare that his achievements were miraculous in the original sense of the word -- they were wondrous. And if his death was not martyrdom, then the term has no meaning.
He adhered to a sect of Christianity that did not revere the saints, so perhaps he would not consider the designation as a good thing. He was an ordained and practicing Christian minister, so perhaps he would not even approve of the idea of an American civil religion with its own canon of saints. Nonetheless, I cannot omit him for those reasons -- his place in our history and our mythology is too large. And while the Monday closest to his birthday is a public holiday, I hold with the tradition that marks one's death as the feast, especially one who was martyred.
As for Zosimus, he was a Venerable Monk living near the Jordan River. He found Mary of Egypt in the desert and repeated her story to his fellow monks.
Also celebrated in the Eastern Calendar is St. Plato the Studite, an erudite monk who distinguished himself by articulating the prevailing argument against the iconoclastic heresy. And yes, I mean heresy, not heterodoxy. I got no use for iconoclasts. Plato later excommunicated Emperor Constantine VI for sending his wife to a nunnery so he could marry his cousin. In response, the Emperor imprisoned Plato. The old monk was only released after the Emperor died, but the controversy didn't go away and Plato wound up serving another four years until yet another emperor took the throne.
Posted by Tom Major at 7:28 AM