Saints of the Week

 

S. Cyril of Alexandria 27th June

 

S. Cyril was born in 370 and became Bishop of Alexandria in 412 when the city was at its height. He wrote extensively and opposed the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople at the Council of Ephesus in 431.  Cyril is among the patristic fathers and the Doctors of the Church, and his reputation within the Christian world has led to his acquiring the title "Seal of all the Fathers."  He has left many writings and was a vigorous defender of the faith.

S. Iranaeus - 28th June

 

Iranaeus was born in 130 AD in Smyrna and was a disciple of S. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna.  He was raised as a Christian and became a priest of the Church of Lyon during the persecution.  He suceeded St. Pothinus – who was martyred -  and became the second Bishop of Lyon. During the ensuing religious peace he became both pastor and missionary and is known as a theologian and powerful defender of the faith against the heresy of the Gnostics. He is thought to have been martyred about 200 and is buried under the church of S. John’s in Lyon.

S.s. Peter & Paul - 29th June

  

Peter was one of the twelve Apostles originally chosen by Jesus and was a Galilean fisherman.  The ancient Christian churches consider him a Saint and he is associated with the foundation of the Church in Rome.  Peter’s life story relies on the New Testament. He is said to have been born in Bethsaida and was a fisherman, along with his brother Andrew.  Given the title Cephas by Jesus –meaning ‘the rock’ in Aramaic – he formed part of a special group within the twelve apostles and was present at incidents, such as the Transfiguration, that the others were not party to.  He famously denied our Lord prior to His crucifixion, but was the first person, according to John, to enter the empty tomb. According to Paul, in the first epistle to the Corinthians; the first of Jesus’ Resurrection appearances was to Peter, and in another of the Resurrection appearances Peter three times affirmed his love for Jesus, balancing his threefold denial. He became an extremely important figure in the early Christian community but, according to tradition, the Roman authorities eventually sentenced him to death by crucifixion. It is also said that the sentence was carried out head down.  Tradition also holds that his burial place lies under the Basilica of S. Peter.

Paul, the ‘Apostle to the Gentiles’ was, together with Peter, the most notable of the early Christian missionaries.  His coming to faith on the Damascus Road is a well-known story.  He is the second most prolific contributor to the New Testament and thirteen letters are attributed to him with varying degrees of confidence.  His undisputed Epistles contain the earliest systematic account of Christian doctrine, and provide information on the life of the infant Church. They are arguably the oldest part of the New Testament and his influence on Christian thought has been massive.  His death – by beheading - possibly took place during the reign of Nero and there is a tradition that the deaths of both Peter and Paul occurred on the same day and possibly in the same year. 

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome – 30th June

 

Many early Christians were put to death by the emperor Nero, after being held responsible for the burning of Rome in AD64.  Their deaths are recorded by the historian Tacitus and also by Pope Clement I.

S. Oliver Plunkett - 1st July

  

Oliver Plunkett was the Roman Bishop of Armagh.  Born in 1629 at Loughcrew in County Meath to a noble family, he studied and taught in Rome and was ordained priest in 1654. For some years he acted as the representative of the Irish Bishops at Rome and in 1669 was appointed Archbishop of Armagh.  He administered his diocese energetically, raising the standards of education and morality in the face of constant hardship.  During the persecutions that began in 1673 he remained in Ireland and, subsequent to the fury engendered by the Titus Oats Plot, he was arrested and tried in London.  On July 11th 1681 he was executed for treason at Tyburn.  He was beatified in 1920. 


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