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.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10 -- Feast of a Pair of Popes

Chi-Rho: in hoc signo vinces
Today's celebration -- more of a reflection, really -- is about the men on watch when things got complicated.  It is tough to be the guy who has to make Hobson's Choice, and each of these popes was faced with it. 

Pope Saint Miltiades took the job after a four year sede vacante that followed the death in exile of Pope Eusebius.  Maxentius, a viciously anti-Christian Roman emperor, was still in power when Miltiades stepped up, but a year later, the Emperor Constantine defeated Max's army at the Milvan Bridge. That victory was brought to him by the letters chi and rho; in gratitude, he and co-emperor Licinius legalized Christianity. 

A handsome young Miltiades
The Hobson's Choice?  Accept Constantine as the patron of the faith or... Well, that's the thing about such choices.  They're not really choices at all. He could, theoretically, have told the Emperor to step off, but having just come off two and a half centuries of suppression and mass execution, that would seem unwise.  So Miltiades took the Lateran Palace as his headquarters, took the Emperor as his ecclesiastical partner, and kicked off a couple millennia of church-state entanglement.

an auric image of Greg3
Four centuries later, Pope Saint Gregory III was having trouble with iconoclasts and Lombards.  Everybody needs a friend, even popes.  [Yeah, okay.  There's a song called "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," but the Pope was looking for someone a little more... militant?]  Charles Martel, Mayor of the Frankish palace, stepped up to kick some Lombard keisters back into Lombardy, which kicked off a thousand years of the French involvement (manipulation?  shenanigans?) in Italy and in the Vatican.  Again, Charles was his only option, but inviting him into Italy made things ever so much harder for all his successors. 

No comments:

Post a Comment