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 14, 2012

November 14 -- Feast of Saint Hypatius of Gangra

Sometimes you smite a demon; sometimes the demon smites you.
The fourth century was one of the heydays for heterodox anathemas.  Folks were making up rules all over the place about who could be what level of Christian.  One of my favorites was an attempt to block the ambitions of a man named Novatian: since he had gotten a deathbed baptism before his catechism was complete, he was told he could not have the rest of the sacraments.  He asked how then he was to receive the Holy Spirit.  Good question, right?  Apparently they relented and permitted other sacraments, excepting of course Holy Orders.  Can you imagine ordaining someone who had been granted a deathbed baptism and then didn't even have the decency to die?

Novatian was, of course, ordained, and like so many other leaders in the Church at the time, he campaigned for orthodoxy based on his own theology.  He scrapped with a man named Cornelius over who was the legitimate pope.  Cornelius won, but Novatian stuck to his claims (becoming the second anti-pope) and divided the faithful.

None of this has much to do with Hypatius yet, except that as bishop of Gangra he was a staunch supporter of what we've come to understand as fourth century orthodoxy.  After defending the faith at the Council of Nicea, he was attacked by Novatianists on the way back to Gangra.  They beat him senseless and threw his body into a swamp.  Then a woman in the group hurled a stone at his head, inflicting the coup de grace.

Surely a woman who kills a saint must be possessed by a demon.  And just as surely, that demon will turn on its host.  The woman began to strike herself, and did not stop until the saint's body was recovered and properly buried.  Only when her family took her to the saint's grave did the demon leave her.  His grave, and later his exhumed relics, continued to provide miracles of healing. 

The picture above shows the saint happily on his way home.  Then it shows the dragon that he dispatched for Emperor Constantius, thus providing access to a treasure hoard.  Finally it shows him on the ground, about to be skull-split by a stone-chucking Novatianist woman. 

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