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, May 29, 2013

May 29 -- Feast of a Pair of Saints Named Conon

Two years ago, the May 29 post focused on a couple of saints named Theodosia.  This year, we have a couple of saints named Conon. 

The Conons were a father-son team living in Iconium, in Asia Minor.  St. Paul went there with Barnabas and raised a ruckus by preaching in the synagogue.  He then beat feet to nearby Lystra, but this is not his feast so that's all we'll say about that. 

When Mrs. Conon (unnamed in the sources) died, Conon the Elder encouraged young Conon to get involved with the church.  Seeing a secure (?) future for his twelve-year-old son, the Elder went off to live as a hermit.  As he fasted and prayed, his son worked his way up from lector to deacon. 

An officer for the Emperor Aurelian rolled into town, looking for Christians to kill.  Both Conors volunteered themselves.  This fella, Domitian by name, commented on the hermit's rough appearance and in response he got an earful about the rocky road to salvation and storing up your treasure in heaven and all those metaphors that hermits take so literally.  Okay, said Domitian, challenge accepted.  I'll break your faith. 

Modern villains would start torturing the kid first to see if the old man would break.  Actually, the ancients sometimes did that too, but not Domitian.  He put them side by side on the gridiron where their flesh was scorched like a T-bone.  The Conons encouraged each other to hold fast to their rock and their redeemer. 

When that didn't work, he hung them upside down in the smoke of a fire.  Old Conon sneered at the feeble attempts to break their spirits.  So Domitian ordered them lowered down and then had their hands sawed off.  They prayed as they bled out together. 

Disembodied like that, but with more blood
It takes a great deal of faith to want martyrdom for your child, especially if the martyrdom is as gruesome as that.  Theirs is a story about devotion to each other, not parental love nor filial piety.  My secular self finds it unimaginably savage, but I suppose martyrdom is.  I would have prayed that the cup of suffering be taken from my son.  I hope I would have prayed that the cup of suffering be taken from my father.  And lest I presume that I am braver than Jesus himself, let me be honest and declare that I would have prayed that the cup of suffering be taken from me as well. 

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