Saint of the Day – 18 March – Saint Alexander of Jerusalem (Died 251) Bishop of Cappadocia and Martyr – martyred in 251 at Ceasarea. Also known as Alexander of Cappadocia.
During the late second century, Alexander studied at the Christian school of Alexandria under the instruction of St Pantaenus (known as “the Philosopher”) (died c 200) and St Clement of Alexandria. He was a friend and pupil alongside Origen, the Christian theologian who composed the seminal work of Christian Neo-Platonism.
It was Alexander who permitted Origen, despite being a layman, to speak in the Churches. For this concession he was taken to task but he defended himself, by examples of other permissions, of the same kind, given even to Origen himself elsewhere, although then quite young. When Alexander became a Bishop, he ordained Origen to the Priesthood.
Alexander eventually became Bishop of Cappadocia. After seven years of imprisonment under the persecution of Severus, Alexander sought to continue his journey of faith. He travelled to Jerusalem where he created an extensive theological library, for which he is much praised and eventually, became the Auxiliary Bishop.
While Alexander achieved several high positions in the Church, he maintained his gentleness of character, expressed most in his homilies. In contrast to his warm demeanour, his faith was strong, unwavering and he was willing to endure torture and death in the name of that faith.
Finally, in spite of his years, he, with several other Bishops, was carried off a prisoner to Caesarea and as the historians say, “The glory of his white hairs and great sanctity formed a double crown for him in captivity.” His vita states that he suffered many tortures but survived them all. When the wild beasts were brought to devour him, some licked his feet and others their impression on the sand of the arena.
When the wild beasts did not attack him, Decius sent Alexander to a Caesarean prison. He died there in 251.
Eusebius of Caesarea has preserved some of writings and letters.