This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23 -- Feast of Saint Amphilochius of Iconium

NB.  November 23 is also the feast of Blessed Father Miguel Pro, whom I incorrectly celebrated on November 25 last year.  One website dedicated entirely to him recommends having a warm cup of Mexican hot chocolate in his honor

Today's saint retired from a thriving and lucrative law practice to join the hyper-charged religious community that formed around Basil of Caesarea.  Amphilochius' cousin and friend, Gregory of Nazianzus, introduced him to Basil, who was probably responsible for his appointment as Bishop of Iconium.

Amphilochius was a dogged defender of the emerging Christian orthodoxy against the rival heterodoxies (heresies).  His writings were commonly cited in doctrinal debates for centuries after his death.  Even cantankerous old Saint Jerome, who seldom had a kindly word for anyone, said of Amphilochius (and Basil and Gregory), "they cram their books with the lessons and sentences of the philosophers to such an extent that you cannot tell which you ought to admire most in them, their secular erudition or their scriptural knowledge."  It's not exactly the sort of endorsement I'd want to read in a book review, but from him, it is high praise indeed.

Lots of saints sharing this day.  Our boy is on the far left. 
There's a great anecdote about Amphilochius, but to get it, you have to know a little about the Arian heterodoxy (heresy).  In short, Arius taught that, in the Holy Trinity, the Son was a lesser deity than the Father.  At the time, no one wanted to even think about where or how the Holy Spirit fit in.

So one day, Amphilochius was formally presented to Emperor Theodosius I and his son Arcadius for an audience.  [Theodosius had refused Amphilochius' request that he expel the Arians from Constantinople.]  The Bishop saluted the Emperor, who promptly scolded him for ignoring Arcadius.  Amphilochius took the opportunity to remind his Emperor that God also doesn't like it when people disrespect his son.  It might have been a cheap rhetorical trap, but it took some balls.

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