Saint of the Day – 3 July – St Anatolius of Alexandria (Died 283) Bishop, Scholar, Scientiest, Philosoper, Conputist, Mathematics, Writer – also known as Anatolius of Laodicea. Born in Alexandria, Egypt and died in 283 at Laodicea, Syria of natural causes. He was not only one of the foremost scholars of his day in the physical sciences, as well as in Aristotelean philosophy but also a great computist.
Note: Computist – The computus (Latin for ‘computation’) is a calculation that determines the calendar date of Easter. Easter is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after 21 March (an approximation of the March equinox). Determining this date in advance requires a correlation between the lunar months and the solar year, while also accounting for the month, date and weekday of the calendar.
Anatolius was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, during the early 3rd century. Prior to becoming one of the great lights of the Church, Anatolius enjoyed considerable prestige at Alexandria. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, he was credited with a rich knowledge of arithmetic, geometry, physics, rhetoric, dialectic and astronomy. Also according to Eusebius, Anatolius was deemed worthy to maintain the school of the Aristotelian succession in Alexandria. The pagan philosopher Iamblichus studied among his disciples for a short time.
There are fragments of ten books on Arithmetic written by him. There is also a treatise onthe time of the Paschal celebration. His famous 19-year Paschal cycle has survived in seven different complete medieval manuscripts of the Latin text De ratione paschali. Saint Jerome praised his scholarship and writing, however, he was known not just as a scholar but as a humble and deeply religious man. Ignorance horrified him and part of his work with the poor was to educate them. St Anatolius also held a number of government posts in Alexandria.
A story is told by St Eusebius of the way in which Anatolius broke up a rebellion against the Roman authorities in 263 in a part of Alexandria known then as Bruchium. It was held by the forces of Zenobia and being violently beleaguered by the Romans was in a state of starvation. Anatolius, who was living in Bruchium at the time, met with the Romans and negotiated the release of non-combatant children, women, the sick and the elderly, saving many and earning him a reputation as a peacemaker. The rebels, freed of caring for the non-combatants, were able to fight even longer. However, when they lost, Anatolius found himself with enemies on both sides of the conflict and he decided to leave Alexandria.
Anatolius emigrated to Caesaria, Palestine. His reputation as a scholar and Christian had preceeded him and he became assistant and advisor to the Bishop. In 268, while en route to the Council of Antioch, he passed through Laodicea, Syria. Their Bishop, Saint Eusebius of Laodicea, had just died, they saw Anatolius’ arrival as a gift from God and insisted that he assume the Bishopric. He accepted and spent his remaining fifteen years there.
He died in 283 of natural causes.