A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Islamic New Year (رأس السنة الهجرية, Arabic New Year 1443 Al-Hijra). First day of Muharram, the first month and second holiest of the Islamic (Hijri, هجري) year observed since 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) migrated (Hijra), to escape religious persecution, from Makkah (Mecca) to Yathrib (now Medina), which led to the establishment of the Muslim community there. The day is not universally celebrated amongst Sunni Muslims but is notable as Muslim years are dated from this time and are marked AH (After the Hijrah). “I wish you well on this occasion every year” (Kul aam wa anatom bekhayr) is a traditional New Year greeting. The Lunar Islamic Hijri calendar (ٱلتَّقْوِيم ٱلْهِجْرِيّ) has 354 days in 12 lunar months, al-Muharram (forbidden) being followed by Safar (void), Rabiʿ al-ʾAwwal (the first spring), Rabiʿ ath-Thani (the second spring, the last spring), Jumada al-ʾUla (the first of parched land), Jumada ath-Thaniyah (the second of parched land, the last of parched land), Rajab (respect, honour), Sha’ban (scattered), Ramadan (burning heat), Shawwal (raised), Ḏu al-Qaʿdah (the one of truce/sitting) and Ḏu al-Hijjah (the one of pilgrimage). The Islamic calendar follows a 30-year cycle, with 19 years of 354 days and 11 leap years of 355 days, so New Year falls on a different day on the Gregorian calendar each year. Each month of the Islamic calendar starts with the birth of the new lunar cycle, traditionally based on actual observation of the moon’s crescent (hilal) marking the end of the previous lunar cycle and hence the previous month, thereby beginning the new month. Each month can have 29 or 30 days depending on the visibility of the moon, the astronomical positioning of the Earth and weather conditions. However, certain sects and groups, most notably Dawoodi and Alavi Bohras, Sulaymanis and Shi’a Ismaili Muslims, use a tabular Islamic calendar in which odd-numbered months have 30 days, as does the twelfth month in a leap year, and even months have 29. Image: wishesmsg.com.
San Lorenzo (St Lawrence, Laurence, Laurentius) (225-58). Catholic and Anglican Feast Day, Church of England Lesser Festival and Lutheran Commemoration of the death of the Spanish archivist and treasurer who was ordained in Rome and became one of the seven deacons of the City of Rome, responsible for the material goods of the Church and the distribution of alms to the poor. The Roman authorities charged Christians of that era with odium humani generis (hatred of the human race) and decreed that all Christians who had been denounced must be executed and their goods confiscated by the Imperial treasury. The Prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church and Lawrence distributed as much Church property as possible to the needy, so as to prevent it being seized by the Prefect. When he went to the Prefect, Lawrence presented the poor, crippled, blind and suffering, and he declared that these were the true treasures of the Church, saying: “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your Emperor.” This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom with four clerics, the Pope and the other deacons having been beheaded four days earlier, leaving him as the last of the seven deacons and therefore the ranking Church official. The Prefect was so angry that he condemned Lawrence to burning alive in public and had a great gridiron prepared with hot coals beneath it and had him placed on it, the martyr suffering prolonged pain before cheerfully declaring: “I am well done on this side. Turn me over!” Lawrence was sentenced at San Lorenzo in Miranda in the Roman Forum and imprisoned in San Lorenzo in Fonte, being allowed to baptise fellow prisoners including St Romanus Ostiarius before being martyred at San Lorenzo in Panisperna. He was buried by Hippolytus and Justin the Confessor, a presbyter, in San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in the Catacomb of Cyriaca on the Via Tiburtina. Emperor Constantine I erected a small oratory in honour of Lawrence, devotion to whom was widespread by the Fourth Century. The oratory became one of the seven principal churches in Rome and a station on the itineraries of the graves of the Roman martyrs by the Seventh Century and it is now the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, whilst the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo in Panisperna was erected over the site of his martyrdom. The gridiron of the martyrdom was placed in the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo in Lucina. The church built over his tomb became a favourite place for Roman pilgrimages. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church as one of the saints enumerated in the Roman Canon of the Holy Mass as celebrated in the Latin Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism. Lawrence is especially honoured in the city of Rome and on his Feast Day the reliquary containing his burnt head is displayed in St Peter’s Basilica for veneration. Anglo-Catholics venerate Lawrence, who is the patron of many Anglican parish churches, including 228 in England, and the Anglican charitable society Brotherhood of St Laurence bears his name. San Lorenzo del Escorial, the monastery commemorating the Spanish victory at the 1557 Battle of St Quentin on the Feast of St Lawrence, and the attached palace, college and library are laid out in a grid pattern that resembles the gridiron of Lawrence’s martyrdom. The gridiron is also thought to be the basis of the design of the Certosa di San Lorenzo di Padula monastery, Salerno. On his 1535 second voyage, the French explorer Jacques Cartier arrived on the Feast of St Lawrence in what he named as The Country of Canadas at the river estuary of the North American Great Lakes and named it the Gulf of St Lawrence along with the river. St Lawrence University is in Kampala, Uganda. In Freemasonry, the Order of St Lawrence the Martyr is a masonic degree whose ritual is based on his story and is a constituent of the Allied Masonic Degrees. The rescue operation for the miners trapped in the 2010 Copiapó mining accident in Chile was named Operación San Lorenzo after Lawrence, patron saint of miners. Because the annual Perseid Meteor Shower occurs in mid-August near his Feast Day, some refer to it as the Tears of St Lawrence. Major shrine Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura. Patron of Rome after Sts Peter and Paul, Ampleforth Abbey, Grosseto, Rotterdam, Huesca, San Lawrenz, Gozo and Birgu, Barangay, San Lorenzo, San Pablo, Philippines, Canada, Colombo City, Eastern Samar, Sri Lanka, San Lorenzo Diakono Chapel, Mexico, archivists, comedians, librarians, students, miners, tanners, cooks, chefs, roasters, poor people, firefighters. Image: salisburycatholics.org.
Prayer O St Lawrence, who in the flower of youth suffered and died for the faith, hear our prayers. With confidence we fly to your patronage. Obtain for us deep faith, strong hope, a sincere love of God and neighbour, unsullied chastity and humble obedience. Inspire us to succour the poor, the needy, the sick and the afflicted. Lead the erring back to the Father’s Home. May God’s Kingdom spread far and wide on earth. Help us in all our needs especially in these troubled times. Finally, grant that we live as the worthy people of God, die a holy death and join you in the heavenly bliss forever. Amen.
St Nicola Saggio OM (Giovanni Battista Clemente) (1650-1709). Feast Day for Calabrian Roman Catholic peasant, a professed oblate of the Order of Minims who was famous as a catechist in his home village of Longobardi. He made a pilgrimage on foot to Loreto, Ancona to ask God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the 1683 liberation of Vienna from the Turks to mark the beginning of the end of Ottoman domination in eastern Europe. He then resumed his work as a catechist in Rome, where he died. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Patron of Longobardi. Image: twitter.com.