A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Athonite Aziz Athanasius (Saint Athanasios of Athos, Αθανάσιος ο Αθωνίτης, Heilige Athanasius die Athoniet, Athanasios of Trebizond) (c920-c1003). Feast Day for Turkish Byzantine monk who founded the monastic community on Mount Athos that has since become the greatest centre of Eastern Orthodox monasticism. He studied at Constantinople and became famous there as Abraham, a fervent preacher, but ill at ease with the lax morals of the monks living in the capital, he changed his name to Athanasios and joined the monks at Mount Kyminas in Bithynia on the Black Sea and in 958 relocated to Mount Athos in Greece. With the support of the Emperor, he helped defend, against the Saracens, the sketes (hermits) of Mount Athos and started to incorporate them into what would become known as the Great Lavra. This monastery was dedicated in 963 and is still in use today, being often referred to in the area simply as Lavra or The Monastery. Three other foundations followed shortly after, again still in place. Athanasios met with considerable opposition to the construction of his monasteries from the hermits already at Mount Athos, as they resented his intrusion and his attempts to bring order and discipline to their lives. On the death of the Emperor, the enemies of Athanasios prevailed and he had to leave Athos for Cyprus, where he lived until a new Emperor resumed the patronage of the Great Lavra and granted its first charter in 971. Athanasios, spurred by a divine vision, returned at once to Athos as a hegumen (abbot) and introduced a typicon liturgical book with instructions on the order of the Byzantine Rite office and variable hymns of the Divine Liturgy for cenobites (members of the monastic community). Athanasios died on Mount Athos, killed by falling masonry when the cupola of his church collapsed. Venerated in Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism (Eastern Catholic Churches). Major shrine Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos. Image: 1000 Years of Athos Monastic Community 1963 stamp.
San Antonio Maria Zaccaria (St Anthony Zaccaria) (1502-1539). Feast Day commemorating the death of the noble Roman Milanese priest and confessor born in Cremona, who studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Padua. After completing those studies in 1524, he practised as a physician for three years and then started studying for the priesthood, being ordained in 1528. Anthony was an early leader of the Counter Reformation and the co-founder of the 1530 Catholic Church religious order of the Pontifical Right, the Clerics Regular of Saint Paul (Barnabites), in St Barnabas Monastery, Milan. After serving in hospitals and institutions for the poor for two years, Athony went to Milan to become a member of the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom in 1531. In 1536, he stepped down as general of the order and went to Vicenza, where he reformed two convents and founded the order’s second house. With a Papal Bull (Debitum pastoralis officii), Anthony also founded the 1535 Angelic Sisters of St Paul, the female branch of uncloistered nuns of the Barnabites, conferred the habit on six postulants and appointed a Mistress of Novices in 1537. Anthony’s third foundation was the Laity of St Paul (originally the Married of St Paul), sometimes referred to in North America as the Oblates of St Paul. The three foundations met regularly and engaged together in various forms of apostolic action, their aim being the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy and religious. Anthony was a promoter of the devotion to the Passion of Christ, the Eucharist and the renewal of the religious life among the lay people. He contributed to the reformation of the Church, insisting on various religious or devotional practices to renew the spiritual life of the clergy, religious and laity. In Vincenza, Anthony popularised for the laity the Forty-hour devotion, a solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration of the faithful, accompanied by preaching. He also revived the custom of ringing church bells at 3 pm on Fridays, in remembrance of the Crucifixion. Whilst on a 1539 prayer mission to Guastalla, he caught a fever which, combined with the strict penances he performed, caused his health to wane and he died at 36. At his funeral were the aristocratic assembly and the people of Cremona and surrounding towns and he was buried in the convent of the Angelic Sisters of St Paul in Milan. After his death, a number of cures were attributed to his intercession and 27 years after his death his body was found to be incorrupt. His mortal remains are now enshrined at the Church of St Barnabas in Milan. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Major shrine San Paolo convent, Milan. Patron of the Barnabite Order, the Angelic Sisters of St Paul, the Laity of St. Paul, physicians. Image: cradio.org.au.
Prayer Saint Anthony Zaccaria, helper of the poor and the sick, you who devoted your life to our spiritual welfare, hear our humble and hopeful prayer. Continue your work as doctor and priest by obtaining from God healing from our physical and moral sicknesses, so that free from all evil and sin we may love the Lord with joy, fulfil with fidelity our duties, work generously for the good of our brothers and sisters and seize the opportunities available to us to help the poor and marginalised. Amen
St Fragan of Dumnonia and Gwenn of England. Medieval and Catholic Church Feast Day for Fifth Century Prince of Albany (Scotland) and his Breton holy woman wife. Fragan (Fracan) left to escape the pagan barbarians of England and to evangelise Armorica (Brittany). He arrived in Ploufragan in the Côtes-d’Armor to the west of Saint-Malo, hastily amassed a small army to repel a larger force of pagan pirates, settled in the Fleuve de Sang (River of Blood) valley and built the castle of Lesguen in Plouguin. northwest of Brest. Gwenn Teirbron (Blanche, Alba Trimammis, Candida, Wite) bore the twins Sts Jacut and Guethenoc of Guénolé, and their sister St Creirwy. Venerated in Catholic Church, Western Orthodoxy. Churches in Brittany were dedicated to Fragan and to Gwenn. Feast Day 3 October for Fragan in the Calendar of Breton Saints and Gwenn in the Catholic Church, she being feasted 18 July by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Australia. Gwenn was a euhemerised mother goddess and is invoked for women’s fertility. Image: lalumierededieu.eklablog.com.