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, February 22, 2013

February 22 -- Feast of Saint Maximianus of Ravenna

This might be a long one.  I will break it up into chunks so you can grab what you need and run if you must.

Max. at right (bald); Justinian with the bowl, crown, and halo (???)
The Boring Basics     Maximianus was a forty-eight year old deacon when Pope Vigilius tapped him to be bishop of Ravenna in 546.  The folks in Ravenna resisted, since he was Emperor Justinian I's choice and not theirs. He was perceived as a political manipulator who advanced his own career skillfully.  Yet he won over the Ravennans with generosity, skillful management, and ambitious projects.  He completed the construction of the Basilica of San Vitale but also built several other churches.  All these were richly decorated, but perhaps the most famous furnishing is the Throne of Maximian, a bishop's cathedra of with ornately carved ivory panels. He is said to be the first bishop in the West to use the term archbishop. 

The Throne of Maximian
A Semi-Tangent     Since 1960, February 22 has been the combined feast of the Chairs of Saint Peter -- one in Rome and the other in Antioch.  I don't know if the Chair in Antioch is still around, but Maximian's fabulous seat is still in Ravenna.  You can bet no one was going to toss that away.  It may not have a feast, but it's a pretty classy cathedra. 

An Emotional Check-in     I was on guard about this guy because he was from Ravenna because some of those guys have a little attitude toward Rome.  I have ranted about that elsewhere and don't need to repeat it here.  The Chair thing set me off, since it seemed like upstaging Saint Peter's Chair.  And the Archbishop thing pushed me a little further since I perceived it as creating a new level to distinguish himself from western bishops who were not in the Western capital and the Emperor's pocket.

A Little Scripture 
Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.     Matthew 7: 1-2
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.      Galatians 5: 19-21  
Jamie Wyeth w/ two deadly sins: Greed and Gluttony
The Ruminations     In Paul's letter to the Galatians, he makes a much longer list of vices than the Seven Deadly Sins, or even the Eight Evil Thoughts from which they were adapted.  The thing that struck me after quite a bit of reflection about Maximianus (I'm on vacation and have time to think about such things) is that judgment or sanctimony are not in the list.  They could fall under pride (hubris, vainglory, superbia) but they are a long way from Κενοδοξία or kenodoxia, translated as boasting or vanity.  I have long believed that vanity is a better bucket into which to put all these sub-sins than pride; it better describes futility of believing so deeply in something so transitory.  But I am not sure that any of these deadly listmakers -- not Dante or Pope Gregory or John Cassian or Evagrius Pontius or even Saint Paul -- captured what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:1-2.  It was the sin he spoke against which I was in peril of committing as I began to compose this post.  In my eagerness for stories of heroes and villains, I was too ready to condemn Maximianus for greed and pride. 

The Exculpations     As for the Archbishop title, this much should be considered.  Maximianus had come from Pola (modern Pula, Croatia) and got his gig through the influence of the Emperor.  Justinian was trying to hold the East and West together, but plainly all the energy and industry was in the East.  The hierarchy among bishops was pronounced in the East, and it's probably not unreasonable that the Emperor's man in Ravenna should adopt a more eastern way of doing things.  Of course it is lucky that they didn't go totally eastern, since the imperial influence would have led to the destruction of a lot more art during the iconoclast phase, but that's beside this point.  

As for the Chair, I have read that it was intended to remain vacant, a visible reminder that God reigns supreme.  If so, that's a very cool idea and should probably have been instituted in every church in Christendom.  
Archbishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni: fortuna buon, padre.

Remove those two things and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to trouble me about this guy.  He didn't mess with Rome.  He didn't undermine Pope Vigilius.  He administered his see well and built lots of inspired, inspirational, and enduring stuff.  

The Postscript     Lorenzo Ghizzoni was appointed archbishop of Ravenna-Cervia on November 17, 2012.  He took possession of the see on January 20, 2013.  He replaced Giuseppe Verucchi, who retired upon reaching age seventy-five.  Archbishop Verucchi was implicated in an embezzlement scandal not long before he retired.  Let us wish the best for Archbishop Ghizzoni. 

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