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.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25 -- Feast of Saint Philopateer Mercurius

Here's a warrior-saint, a martyr who waited a century until the Lord was ready to use him as an agent of vengeance. 

Two swords -- one kickass saint
Philopeteer (loves the father) was born in AD 225 in Cappadocia (eastern Turkey).  Some sources say that he's Scythian, but folks moved around in the Empire back then.  His dad, Yares, had a conversion experience while hunting and arranged for the whole family to be baptized.  At the time, Christianity was not being actively persecuted, so Yares (who was christened Noah) served in the Roman army until he was captured and forced into servitude.  He returned after seventeen months, but died soon after. 

Mercurius (Philopateer's christian name) joined the Roman army and distinguished himself as an able soldier.  He rose quickly through the ranks.  Michael the Archangel appeared to him and offered him a sword, saying that he would be given victory, suffering, and death by God.  As depicted, Mercurius fought with two swords -- one from God and one from Caesar -- leading the troops to victory and personally killing the enemy king. 

The Emperor Decius heard about this and promoted Mercurius.  One account says he got the title Stratelates (general, master of the soldiers) but another says he became Supreme Commander of All Roman Armies.  The story gets a little predictable here, so I will be brief.

Decius invited Mercurius to the sacrifice to Artemis.  Mercurius tried to dodge the ceremony without being rude, but eventually had to confess his Christianity.  He was tortured brutally by the troops, but healed nightly by an angel.  Weary of the demonstration of Christian devotion and the power of God, Decius gave the death warrant.  Mercurius had a vision of Jesus himself offering a welcome, so Mercurius raced to the soldiers and begged them to carry out the order immediately, pausing only to ask God to forgive them. 

Take that, Julian! Thanks for the spear, Lakhmids!
A year later (AD 251), Decius' three-year reign came to a pointy end at the Battle of Abrittus.  In that death, Mercurius has no part.  However, in AD 363, Emperor Julian the Apostate suffered a spear wound while fleeing the Sassanid army.  The spear punctured his liver, peritoneum, and intestines, and yet he did not die.  His surgeon sutured the wound after first bathing it with dark wine.  Yeah, pouring yeasty liquid into an open wound seems like a good idea to me. 

No living person is given credit for the kill.  Julian's surgeon said the wound was consistent with a Lakhmid auxilliaries' spear rather than a Roman one.  And yet, the Sassanids were not fighting nearby and rumors of a Roman assassin were without any credible evidence.  Later, folks figured out that Saint Mercurius had a heavenly commission to kill Julian so that a Christian emperor, one who would restore the Faith's position in the Empire, could be brought to the throne. 

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