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.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27 -- Feast of Saint Simeon of Jerusalem

It's kind of funny what some guys get remembered for.  Simeon was the son of Cleopas, who was the brother of Joseph the Carpenter.  Okay, being Jesus' cousin gets you a footnote in the Gospels, maybe. 

He was the second bishop of Jersualem, taking over after Jesus' brother James the Righteous was stoned to death around AD 62 or 63.  The Roman Porcius Festus (the Festive Pig?) was just taking over as procurator (governor).  The Roman historian Flavius Josephus dished the dirt on the execution, but that's not important here.  We might think being the second bishop is memorable, but who was the second pope?  You know, that guy who succeeded Saint Peter?  Yeah, I didn't think so.

Simeon is said to have lived to be 120 years old.  If true, that's pretty friggin' impressive.  And if they actually bothered to crucify a 120-year-old man, then the Romans in charge of the Judea under Trajan were beyond horrible.  [Of course, there's always the possibility that as soon as a death penalty was announced, Simeon requested the crucifixion out of respect for his cousin]. 

The Arch of Titus showing the sack of the Temple
All those things appear in most of the accounts of Saint Simeon, but fewer sources note that he moved the Christian community from Jerusalem to Pella, in present day Jordan.  He did this in the mid-sixties, just before Vespasian's and Titus' troops sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, killed hundreds of thousands (Josephus says 1.1 million), and brought 100,000 slaves to Rome to build the Colosseum. 

Lest we think the fix was in, a little perspective might help.  Remember that the Christians were considered fairly heretical among the Jews.  If their numbers were growing at all, it would have been irritating to the religious conservatives in Jerusalem.  At the same time, lots of factions were getting noisy about rebellion against Roman rule, not least a group called the Zealots.  Stick around and get caught between the Zealots and the Roman Army or cross the Jordan and head north to some good farmland --- hmmm, tough call, huh? 

Still, you'd think having enough foresight to move the Christian community to safety in advance of the rebellion and Vespasian's subsequent slaughter would be more celebrated than it is. 

Saint Simeon - patron of strategic relocation.  Oh, and the second pope was Linus. 

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