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, July 3, 2013

July 3 -- Feast of Saint Anatolius of Alexandria

     A friend recently posed a rhetorical and light-hearted question about whether there is a difference between a Catholic and a Baptist.  I replied, trying to maintain the light humor, that he should ask a Baptist.  With just a little edge in his voice, he suggested that we should ask a critical thinker.  His implication was that all persons of faith are substantially similar to those who think for themselves.    Such is the fashionable bigotry of our age, that any faith is blind faith and any person of faith is benighted.

     Bishop Anatolius was accounted to be a brilliant mathematician and a man of great faith.  He weighed in early on the Paschal calendar controversy that would not be settled in the West until the Synod of Whitby and continues to distinguish they Latin and Orthodox rites.  He may not have been the first to have developed the nineteen-year calendar known as the Metonic Cycle, but his grasp of the astronomy and math that underlay it, as well as his application of it to the celebration of the Resurrection (Easter), is some damn fine thought.  His pal Eusebius might have said that Anatolius had not written much -- but enough to show his eloquence and manifold learning.  I think ten books on mathematics is probably ample evidence of manifold learning; as to the eloquence, I'll take his word for it.

     Anatolius was not just distinguished in math, astronomy, and calendars.  During the rebellion of Mussius Aemilianus in Egypt, Anatolius commanded the Alexandrian suburb of Brucheium.  Mussius was captured in 262, but the rebellion seems to have persisted.  One account had Anatolius defending the suburb on behalf of Queen Zenobia, but her invasion didn't occur until 269, and by that point, he had bolted Egypt and become the bishop of Laodicea, in Syria.  But about the rebellion...

     Anatolius understood that Brucheium would not hold out against the besieging Roman army.  Anyone who had read Caesar's Gallic Wars understands that the folks inside the ramparts always lose.  Unfortunately, the other leaders hadn't read De Bello Gallico, or much else, most likely.   So Anatolius came up with a plan.  He negotiated the departure of all the women, children, old folks and sick people.  The advantage to the Romans was a demonstration of their mercy, a kind but tactically disadvantageous act.  The advantage to the rebels was that their meager food stores would be divided among fewer mouths, theoretically extending their siege.  In fact, Anatolius got all the Christians (and anyone else who wanted to go) out during the ceasefire and exodus.  With so many folks gone, the rebellion collapsed.

     Nobody thanks the rebel who brought the insurgency to a quick, unsuccessful conclusion.  Anatolius moved to Palestine, got ordained, and was on his way to the Council of Antioch when the good folks of Laodicea persuaded him to succeed their recently deceased bishop.

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