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Saint Alban

Saint Alban

By DaveWebster14 – File:Saint Alban, window.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8323757

Saint Alban (/ˈɔːlbən, ˈæl-/; Latin: Albanus) is venerated as the first-recorded British Christian martyr, and he is considered to be the British protomartyr. Along with fellow Saints Julius and Aaron, Alban is one of three named martyrs recorded at an early date from Roman Britain (“Amphibalus” was the name given much later to the priest he was said to have been protecting). He is traditionally believed to have been beheaded in the Roman city of Verulamium (modern St Albans) sometime during the 3rd or 4th century, and his cult has been celebrated there since ancient times.

According to the most elaborate version of the tale found in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Alban lived in Verulamium, sometime during the 3rd or 4th century (see dating controversy below), but some authors, on the basis that Gildas says he crosses the Thames before his martyrdom, place his residence and martyrdom in London. He lived in Roman Britain, but little is known about his religious affiliations, socioeconomic status or citizenship. Sometime in the 3rd or 4th century, Christians began to suffer “cruel persecution.” Alban met a Christian priest fleeing from “persecutors” and sheltered him in his house for a number of days. The priest (who later came to be called Amphibalus, meaning “cloak” in Latin) prayed and “kept watch” day and night, and Alban was so impressed with the priest’s faith and piety that he found himself emulating the priest and soon converted to Christianity. Eventually it came to the ears of an unnamed “impious prince” that Alban was sheltering the priest. The prince gave orders for Roman soldiers to make a strict search of Alban’s house. As they came to seize the priest, Alban put on the priest’s cloak and clothing and presented himself to the soldiers in place of his guest.

Alban was brought before the judge, who just then happened to be standing at the altar, offering sacrifices to “devils” (Bede’s reference to pagan gods).When the judge heard that Alban had offered himself up in place of the priest, he became enraged that Alban would shelter a person who “despised and blasphemed the gods,” and as Alban had given himself up in the Christian’s place, Alban was sentenced to endure all the punishments that were to be inflicted upon the priest unless he would comply with the pagan rites of their religion. Alban refused, and declared, “I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things.” (The words are still used in prayer at St Alban’s Abbey).

The enraged judge ordered Alban scourged, thinking that a whipping would shake the constancy of his heart, but Alban bore these torments patiently and joyfully. When the judge realized that the tortures would not shake his faith, he ordered for Alban to be beheaded.

Alban was led to execution, and he presently came to a fast-flowing river that could not be crossed (believed to be the River Ver). There was a bridge, but a mob of curious townspeople who wished to watch the execution had so clogged the bridge that the execution party could not cross. Filled with an ardent desire to arrive quickly at martyrdom, Alban raised his eyes to heaven, and the river dried up, allowing Alban and his captors to cross over on dry land. The astonished executioner cast down his sword and fell at Alban’s feet, moved by divine inspiration and praying that he might either suffer with Alban or be executed for him.

The other executioners hesitated to pick up his sword, and meanwhile, Alban and they went about 500 paces to a gently sloping hill, completely covered with all kinds of wild flowers, and overlooking a beautiful plain (Bede observes that it was a fittingly beautiful place to be enriched and sanctified by a martyr’s blood).

When Alban reached the summit of the hill, he began to thirst and prayed God would give him water. A spring immediately sprang up at his feet. It was there that his head was struck off, as well as that of the first Roman soldier who was miraculously converted and refused to execute him. However, immediately after delivering the fatal stroke, the eyes of the second executioner popped out of his head and dropped to the ground along with Alban’s head so that this second executioner could not rejoice over Alban’s death.

In later legends, Alban’s head rolled downhill after his execution, and a well sprang up where it stopped. Upon hearing of the miracles, the astonished judge ordered further persecutions to cease, and he began to honour the saint’s death.

St Alban’s Cathedral now stands near the believed site of his execution, and a well is at the bottom of the hill, Holywell Hill.

Corpus Christi

Feast of Corpus Christi

By de:Carl Emil Doepler the Elder (1824 Warszawa or Schnepfenthal – 1905 Berlin) – http://www.zeller.de/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=210471

The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”) is the Roman Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the reality of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the Eucharist—known as transubstantiation. Two months earlier, the Eucharist is observed on Maundy Thursday in a somber atmosphere leading to Good Friday. Corpus Christi emphasizes the joy of the Eucharist being the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a holy day of obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”.

At the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and passes to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The celebration of the feast was suppressed in Protestant churches during the Reformation, because they do not hold to the teachings of transubstantiation. Depending on the denomination, Protestant churches instead believe in differing views concerning the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or that Christ is symbolically or metaphorically part of the eucharist. Today, most Protestant denominations do not recognize the feast. The Church of England abolished it in 1548 as the English Reformation progressed, but later reintroduced it.

Saint Barnabas

English: Icon of St. Barnabas (1921), Museum S...

English: Icon of St. Barnabas (1921), Museum St. Barnabas Salamis (Cyprus). Deutsch: Ikone des Barnabas (Apostel), Ikonen-Museum St. Barnabas (1921), Salamis (Zypern). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barnabas (Ancient Greek: Βαρναβᾶς), born Joseph, was an early Christian, one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem. According to Acts 4:36 Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew. Barnabas‘ story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles. Although the date, place, and circumstances of his death are historically unverifiable, Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus, in 61 AD. Barnabas is usually identified as the cousin of Mark the Evangelist on the basis of Colossians 4. Barnabas appears mainly in Acts, a Christian history of the early Christian church. The prosperity of the church at Antioch led the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem to send Barnabas there to superintend the movement. Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Paul did not, as he had left them on the former journey (15:37-38).

According to Hippolytus of Rome, John Mark is not Mark the Cousin of Barnabas, and Barnabas did not dispute with Paul because of personal favor to a blood relative, but due to his character as his nickname Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) indicates. Church tradition developed outside of the canon of the New Testament describes the martyrdom of many saints, including the legend of the martyrdom of Barnabas.

According to the History of the Cyprus Church, in 478 Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop of Constantia (Salamis, Cyprus) Anthemios and revealed to him the place of his sepulchre beneath a carob-tree. The following day Anthemios found the tomb and inside it the remains of Barnabas with a manuscript of Matthew’s Gospel on his breast.

Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, ii, 20) also makes Barnabas one of the Seventy Disciples that are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1ff.

The Cypriot Church claimed Barnabas as its founder in order to rid itself of the supremacy of the Patriarch of Antioch, as did the Archbishop of Milan afterwards, to become more independent of Rome.

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar, and the Sunday of Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. Trinity Sunday celebrates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, the three persons of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The "Hospitality of Abraham" by Andr...

The “Hospitality of Abraham” by Andrei Rublev. The three angels symbolize the Trinity, which is rarely depicted directly in art. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pentecost

Pentecost

Pentecost (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai.

This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot.

Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31.

For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church“.

In the Eastern church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion.

The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday.

The Talmud refers to Shavuot as Atzeret (Hebrew: עצרת, literally, “refraining” or “holding back”), referring to the prohibition against work on this holiday and to the conclusion of the holiday and season of Passover.

Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Hellenistic Jews gave it the name Pentecost.(πεντηκοστή, “fiftieth day”).

According to Jewish tradition, Pentecost commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus.

Present were about one hundred and twenty followers of Christ (Acts 1:15), including the Twelve Apostles (i.e. the Eleven faithful disciples and Matthias who was Judas’ replacement) (Acts 1:13, 26), his mother Mary, various other women disciples and his brothers (Acts 1:14).

Their reception of Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room is recounted in Acts 2:1–6: While those on whom the Spirit had descended were speaking in many languages, the Apostle Peter stood up with the eleven and proclaimed to the crowd that this event was the fulfillment of the prophecy (“I will pour out my spirit”).

According to the current Jewish Calendar, the date of Pentecost is fifty days from Passover.

Since the date of Easter is calculated differently in the East and West (see Easter controversy), in most years the two traditions celebrate Pentecost on different days (though in some years the celebrations will coincide, as in 2010, 2011, and 2014).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Pentecost is one of the Orthodox Great Feasts and is considered to be the highest ranking Great Feast of the Lord, second in rank only to Easter/Resurrection Sunday/Passover.

Theologically, Orthodox do not consider Pentecost to be the “birthday” of the Church; they see the Church as having existed before the creation of the world (cf.

They may depict symbols of the Holy Spirit, such as the dove or flames, symbols of the church such as Noah’s Ark and the Pomegranate, or especially within Protestant churches of Reformed and Evangelical traditions, words rather than images naming for example, the gifts and Fruits of the Spirit.

While this practice is common among a wide spectrum of Western denominations (Eastern Churches do not employ instrumental accompaniment in their worship) it is particularly typical, and distinctive to the heritage of the Moravian Church.

The Pentecost Novena is considered the first Novena, all other Novenas offered in preparation of various festivals and Saints days deriving their practice from those original nine days of prayer observed by the disciples of Christ.

The holiday was also one of the three days each year (along with Christmas and Easter) Roman Catholics were required to confess and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in order to remain in good church standing.

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