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, May 12, 2012

May 12 -- Feast of Saints Epiphanius and Dominic de la Calzada

Dominic, at the cathedral named for him
Let's start with Dominic, the would-be Benedictine.  He applied to join the order multiple times at a couple of different monasteries, but they shot him down.   Recognizing the obvious, he struck out for the wilderness to become a hermit.  The spot where he settled is now a city named for him: Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain. 

After a while in that spot, a passing Bishop-at-Large hunkered down to give him a hand.  Bishop-at-large is not a real term, of course, but it describes what Gregory IV of Ostia was doing.  Rather than tending to the needs of the folks in Ostia, who after all live in the shadow of the Vatican and probably have sufficient access to bishops when they need them, he was sent to Spain to help combat a plague of locusts.  He ordained Dominic (take that, Benedictines) and together they built a wooden bridge across the Oja River.  It's just like Rev. Ernest Case of the First Radio Parish Church of America used to say at the end of each broadcast: Build bridges, not barriers.  

The bridge was important for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James (Via Santiago Compostela, Camino de Santiago, etc).  This was the third biggest pilgrimage for Roman Catholics, after Jerusalem and Rome.  The little bridge and subsequent infrastructure improvements (wider road, causeway, well, hospital, church) that Dom and Greg built actually wound up re-routing much of the traffic headed toward Compostela; the words Via and Camino are a little deceptive, since there's no single path that is required, as long as you end up in Santiago Compostela.  Having a safe place to stay, hear Mass, get well, drink fresh water, etc seemed to make a difference. 

Eventually, after the recognition of Dominic's sainthood, Santo Domingo de la Calvaza (Saint Dominic of the Causeway) became a destination for pilgrims rather than merely a way-station for pilgrims.  Civil engineers are especially adherent to his memory. 

Epiphanius lived in the fourth century, a time when Christianity became legal, but Orthodoxy was up for grabs.  This was an era when some of the most brilliant theologians of all time bent their minds toward discerning the unknowable and declaring it known.  It was a perilous time -- other folks in the hagiomajor canon were exiled and even killed for thinking the wrong thing about Jesus, even though they were in full agreement about Him being the way, the truth, and the life.  Epiphanius dedicated his life to being in the thick of these struggles, combating Heresy as he found it with Truth as he knew it. 
Saint Pentaglossis, amicus Ieromis

Epiphanius' friend, Saint Jerome -- and please note that very few people could claim to be friends with Jerome -- nicknamed him Pentaglossis, or in English, Five-Tongues.  This was in recognition that he could speak Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and and Egyptian.  As nicknames go, it is not as simple and friendly as Bud or Bubba, but it is way better than Phanny or Epiphattius. 

During his forty-year tenure as Bishop and Metropolitan of Salamis (Cyprus), Epiphanius attended the big councils and synods.  He also wrote several books about theology, the most famous and best titled of which is Panarion (The Medicine Chest).  The premise is that every heresy is a disease; he described the symptoms (ideas) of each disease and then prescribed the remedies (his arguments for the orthodox position).  Since most heretical writings were lost over time, Panarion became one of the best resources we have for learning about heterodoxy in the fourth century church.

I must apologize for the tardiness of this post.  It seems I spent way too much time reading about the many branches of Saint Thomas Christians aka (Nasranis) one of which is the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.  And the reason for this discursion (yeah, it's a real word -- I looked it up to be sure) is that I almost skipped Saint Epiphanius of Salamis until I noticed that he's a Doctor of the Church.  I found that strange, since I had reviewed the list of Church Doctors more than a few times and didn't remember him.  Upon further review, I found that the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church recognizes Dr. Epiphanius, though the Roman Catholic, Georgians, and Armenians list him as a Church Father.  Big difference, right?   His bona fides are good enough for this post.  [And to add to the delay, I just spent another three minutes checking the various usages and pronunciations of bona fides.] 

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