“Thou Art A Ciceronian!”

From its very beginning, Christianity had to struggle with the question of what to do with the culture of the pagan world into which it was born. Some early Christian writers saw nothing useful in it, as exemplified by Tertullian’s famous question, “Quid ergo Athenis Hierosoymis? Quid academiae et ecclesiae? – What has Athens to […]

St Gregory the Great on the Nine Choirs of Angels

Today’s feast of St Michael the Archangel originated with the dedication of a basilica in his honor about seven miles from Rome up the via Salaria, sometime before the mid-6th century. The memory of this is retained in the feast’s title in the usus antiquior, “The Dedication of St Michael”, even though this basilica disappeared […]

Pope St Leo the Great Preaches on the Ember Days

In addition to the feast of the Apostle and Evangelist St Matthew, in the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite, today is the first of the September Ember days. These are fasting days that each occur toward the end of each season, on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the third week of Advent, the […]

St Theodore of Tarsus, the Greek Archbishop of Canterbury

Today marks the anniversary of the death of one of the most interesting characters in the history of the English people, a seventh-century archbishop of Canterbury named Theodore. His life and career perfectly show the endurance of the transnational culture created by the Roman Empire, and the role that culture played in spreading the Gospel, […]

Ss Cornelius and Cyprian

As we noted on Wednesday, St Cyprian of Carthage was martyred on September 14th, 258, but his feast day is the 16th, bumped forward by the Exaltation of the Cross. Since at least the mid-6th century, the Roman Church has kept his feast jointly with Pope St Cornelius, who was martyred five years before him. […]

St Bernard of Clairvaux on the Holy Name of Mary

On this day in the year 1683, the armies of the Ottoman Empire were soundly defeated outside the gates of Vienna by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This battle represents the high-water mark of the Turkish invasion and occupation of eastern Europe. Sixteen years later, after several other […]

Laus Beatae Mariae Virginis

The feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which the Church celebrated yesterday, was imported into the Roman Rite from the Byzantine tradition at the end of the 7th century, along with three other Marian feasts, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Assumption. Unlike those other three, however, it was slow to catch on, […]

St Leo the Great Preaches on St Lawrence and the Riches of the Church

As we noted yesterday, the church of Rome has from the most ancient times celebrated the deacon and martyr Lawrence as one of her most important patron Saints, alongside the Apostles Peter and Paul. Since yesterday we read a bit about him from St Ambrose, a bishop of Milan, it is only right that we […]

The Feast of St Lawrence

Today is the feast of one of Rome’s most famous Saints, the deacon Lawrence, who was martyred by being roasted alive on a grill during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian in the mid-3rd century. The Roman church has long honored this native son as one of her chief Patrons, alongside Ss Peter and Peter; […]

A Miracle of St Benedict

St Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this is the date on which his principal feast is traditionally kept throughout the Roman Rite, and is still kept by Benedictine houses. On the calendars of their liturgical books, it is sometimes called his “Transitus – Passing.” A second feast to […]