Posted in Against ICONOCLASM, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 28 November – Saint Pope Gregory III (Died 741)

Saint of the Day – 28 November – Saint Pope Gregory III (Died 741) Bishop of Rome 11 February 731 until his death on 28 November 741. Born in Syria and died on 28 November 741 of natural causes.

The Roman Martyrology states: “St Rome, the blessed Pope Gregory III, who departed for Heaven with a reputation for great sanctity and miracles.

Beside the fact that Gregory was a Priest at Saint Crisogono Church in Rome and that he was the son of a Syrian named John nothing else is known about his life prior to being elected the 90th pope. He was elected by popular acclamation in 731, during the funeral procession of his predecessor, because of his reputation for virtue and learninge.

Gregory’s Pontificate, like that of his predecessor, was troubled by the iconoclastic controversy (the deliberate destruction of religious icons and other symbols) in the Byzantine Empire.

Upon his accession as Pope, Gregory immediately appealed to the Byzantine Emperor Leo III, to moderate his position on the Iconoclastic controversy. When Pope Gregory’s representative was arrested on the orders of the Emperor, Gregory called a Synod in November 731, which condemned Iconoclasm outright. Leo responded by trying to bring the Pope under control, although the fleet he sent to enforce the imperial will, was shipwrecked in the Adriatic Sea. Failing, he appropriated Papal territories in Sicily and Calabria, transferring ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the former Praetorian Prefect, to the Patriarch of Constantinople. His attempt to force the Duke of Naples to enforce an imperial decree to confiscate [apal territory in the duchy failed, as the Duke was supportive of the Pope’s stand.

Pope Gregory demonstrated his opposition to Iconoclasm by emphasising his veneration of icons and relics. He repaired numerous beautiful Churches, adorning them with icons and images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and many Saints. He ordered, in the heart of St. Peter’s Basilica and Iconostasis, (an iconostasis is a wall of artworks and religious paintings, used to separate the Nave from the Sanctuary) situated between six onyx and marble columns. He also built a new oratory in St. Peter’s Basilica, which housed relics of several Saints. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of monasticism – he established the Monastery of S. Chrysogonus and rebuilt the Hospice of Saints Sergius and Bacchus near St Peter’s.

Pope Gregory also promoted the Church in northern Europe. He supported the continuing mission of St. Boniface in Germany, elevating him to the rank of Archbishop in 732. In 732, Gregory banned the consumption of horsemeat, both domestic and wild, comparing it as an “abomination” since it was associated with pagan ritual feastings. He was very conscious of the ongoing Lombard threat but was unsuccessful at stopping their advance. He also undertook and completed, the restoration of the Walls of Rome.

Pope Gregory III died on 28 November 741. He was succeeded by Pope Zachary and was buried in St Peter’s Basilica, in the oratory he had built at the start of his Pontificate.

Posted in Against ICONOCLASM, DOCTORS of the Church, FATHERS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 2 August – Saint Serenus of Marseilles (Died c 606)

Saint of the Day – 2 August – Saint Serenus of Marseilles (Died c 606) the 10th Bishop of Marseilles. Died in c 606 near Biandrate, Piedmont, Italy of natural causes. Also known as – Sereno, Clear (translation of his name). Patronages – for good weather, for good harvests, of Biandrate, Italy.

Serenus is known through an exchange of letters with Pope Gregory the Great (540-604). The correspondence between the Pope and the Bishop of Marseilles concerned the position of the Church in regard to the images in the Churches and the journey undertaken by Saint Augustine, the future Archbishop of Canterbury and the Monks who accompanied him to the England.

He would have died near Biandrate in the Diocese of Vercelli on his return from Rome where he had been to discuss his iconoclastic positions regarding the veneration of images. We know little else but this Saint except that he was a zealous and holy Bishop sincerely aiming to foster the faith of his flock and adherence to Holy Mother Church.

He was buried in a field near the Benedictine Abbey of San Nazzaro. His body,was found in the Middle Ages, by a farmer working the field, and his relics were then reenshrined in the St Columba of Biandrate.

The Bishop had destroyed the holy images by strictly applying the commandment given by God to Moses.
In 599, the Pope sent Father Cyriaque to Gaul. Having to go through Marseilles, he had given Cyriaque a letter he had written to the Bishop :

“I learned a long time ago that seeing a few people worshiping the pictures of the Church you broke them and threw them out. I praise your zeal to prevent man-made things from being worshiped but I believe you should not shatter these images. Because we put paintings in Churches so that those who cannot read can see, on the walls, what they cannot learn from books. So you had to keep them and divert the people from sinning by worshiping paintings .
Serenus replied to the Pope, doubting that this letter was from him. The Pope replied to him the following year:

You must have had no suspicion of Father Cyriaque, who was the bearer of my letters .
Then talking about pictures:

Tell me, my brother, what Bishop have you ever heard of who did the same? Should not this consideration only hold you back so as not to appear alone pious and wise, in contempt of your brothers? … It is said that by shattering these images you scandalised your people so much, that most of them broke away from your community. We must remind them of them and show them, that through the Holy Scriptures, that it is not allowed to worship what is made by hand. Then add, that seeing the legitimate use of the images, turned into worship, you were outraged and made them break. You will add – if you want to have images in the Church, for your instruction, for which they were made in the past, I will gladly allow you. So you will soften them and bring them back to union. If someone wants to make images, do not prevent him: only forbid worshiping them. The sight of the stories must excite in them compunction but they must prostrate themselves only to adore the Holy Trinity. I tell you all this only out of my love for the Church, not to weaken your zeal but to encourage you in your duty.
Saint Gregory the Great, after Basil the Great (329-379), Gregory of Nazianze (330-390), Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) and PaulinE of Nola (353-431), resumes in his letters that the images are useful for those who cannot read books.
Gregory the Great sets three roles for images in his two letters to Serenus

1. educate the illiterate,
2. to fix the memory of holy history,
3. arouse a feeling of compunction among the faithful.
But the Bishop must teach, that pictures cannot be worshiped.

Posted in Against ICONOCLASM, DOCTORS of the Church, DOCTRINE, FATHERS of the Church, SAINT of the DAY, VATICAN Documents

Quote/s of the Day – 12 May – Sacred Images

Quote/s of the Day – 12 May – The Memorial of St Germanus of Constantinople (c 640-733) Defender of Sacred Images

“The honour given to an image
goes to the original model.”

St Basil the Great (329-379
Father and Doctor of the Church

“When we show reverence
to representations of Jesus Christ,
we do not worship paint laid on wood –
we worship the invisible God,
in spirit and in truth.”

St Germanus of Constantinople (c 640-733)

“Previously God, Who has neither a body nor a face,
absolutely could not be represented by an image.
But now that He has made Himself visible
in the flesh and has lived with men,
I can make an image of what I have seen of God…
and contemplate the glory of the Lord,
His face unveiled.”

“The beauty of the images
moves me to contemplation,
as a meadow delights the eyes
and subtly infuses the soul
with the glory of God.”

St John Damascene (675-749)
Father and Doctor of the Church

“… Through these images which we kiss
and before which we kneel
and uncover our heads,
we are adoring Christ
and venerating the saints,
whose likeness these images bear.”

Council of Trent (1563)