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.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21 -- Feast of Saint Usphazanes the Eunuch

First, it's the feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury.  If you click on the hawk, it should take you to last year's post about him.  The only thing I want to add about this is the quote below.  Go Hawks.

"Yesterday I hated him with great hatred, today I hate him with yet greater hatred and he can be certain that tomorrow and thereafter I shall hate him continually with ever fiercer and more bitter hatred."  King William II of England, speaking about Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury

 Usphazanes was the tutor of Sapor II, the Persian Emperor.  His reign overlapped with Diocletian's, and it was just about as tough on Christians.  This post will mention a few of the other martyrs, whose deaths all coincided in a span of about two weeks, and who are variously commemorated in April and October.  Here, they are batched among the 1,150 martyrs of Persia during Sapor's beheading frenzy. 

That's a whole lot of halos waiting for the sword
A Zoroastrian, Sapor decided to tax Christianity out of existence.  Good strategy, if you ask me.  Hit them in their wallets and they'll fold quicker than if you threaten them with martyrdom.  The only thing is, you have to be patient.  You can't follow up with the death penalty for tax evasion.  You have to proceed like it's all legitimate and fair.  Otherwise, they'll be martyrs anyway.

Bishop Simeon declared he would not pay the taxes. He was condemned to death for tax evasion and disrespecting the Emperor.  So far so good.  Usphazanes was present at court during the condemnation, and he had already folded.  Simeon wouldn't even look at him, so Usphazanes repented and sat outside Sapor's door, begging to be executed.  Sapor took pity on the old eunuch and agreed to have his head lopped off.  Usphazanes then asked that he be executed for Christianity, not for tax evasion or disrespect or treason or any other secular charge.  In the depth of his compassion, Sapor even agreed to that.

Sucker.  Word of the martyrdom spread and soon there were hundreds waiting for the axe to kiss their necks.  Crypto-Chrisitian Phusicius, a courtier, even outed himself in front of the emperor to get killed.  The last to go was Bishop Simeon, who could hardly back out after seeing 1,149 other Christians get chopped.  Eusebius is quoted as saying, "The blood of the martyrs waters the seeds of the Church."  If not in Persia, then elsewhere. 

Beuno recaps it all.

Also celebrated today is Saint Beuno.  He showed up in the story of Saint Winnifred, his niece.  You might recall that she had been beheaded by an angry suitor, but that the prayers of Beuno recapitated her.  [There's a verb you don't get to use very often.]

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