Saint Sixtus III

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Saint Sixtus III., Pope.

HE was a priest among the Roman clergy in 418, when Pope Zozimus condemned the Pelagian heretics. Sixtus was the first, after this sentence, who pronounced publicly anathema against them, to stop their slander in Africa that he favoured their doctrine, as we are assured by St. Austin and St. Prosper in his chronicle. The former sent him two congratulatory letters the same year, in which he applauds this testimony of his zeal, and in the first of these letters professes a high esteem of a treatise written by him in defence of the grace of God against its enemies. It was that calumny of the Pelagian heretics that led Garnier into the mistake, that our saint at first favoured their errors. But a change of this kind would not have been buried in silence. After the death of St. Celestine, Sixtus was chosen pope, in 432. He wrote to Nestorius to endeavour to reclaim him after his condemnation at Ephesus, in 431: but his heart was hardened, and he stopped his ears against all wholesome admonitions. The pope had the comfort to see a happy reconciliation made, by his endeavours, between the Orientals and St. Cyril: in which he much commended the humility and pacific dispositions of the latter. He says, “that he was charged with the care and solicitude of all the churches in the world, 1 and that it is unlawful for any one to abandon the faith of the Apostolic Roman Church, in which St. Peter teaches in his successors what he received from Christ.” 2 When Bassus, a nobleman of Rome, had been condemned by the emperor, and excommunicated by a synod of bishops for raising a grievous slander against the good pope, the meek servant of Christ visited and assisted him in person, administered him the viaticum in his last sickness, and buried him with his own hands. Julian of Eclanum or Eeulanum, the famous Pelagian, earnestly desiring to recover his see, made great efforts to be admitted to the communion of the Church, pretending that he had become a convert, and used several artifices to convince our saint that he really was so: but he was too well acquainted with them to be imposed on. This holy pope died soon after, on the 28th of March, in 440, having sat in the see near eight years. See his letters, Anastasius’s Pontifical, with the notes of Bianchini, &c.

March 28. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints.

 

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St. John Capistran

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St. John Capistran, Confessor

Among the Saints who glorified and illustrated the Church of Christ in the 15th Century, St. John was one of the most famous. He derived his surname from the place of his birth, Capistran, a town in the kingdom of Naples. After he had studied the liberal arts, he was sent to Perugia to study theology and law, in both of which he soon became so proficient, that he was made an officer at the Court of Justice, and gained the highest esteem of the whole city. One of the richest and first men gave him his daughter in marriage, together with a large fortune. Every thing seemed to smile upon John; but his good fortune lasted not long. Perugia refused to acknowledge Ladislas, King of Naples, as her rightful Lord, and revolted against him. John was secretly an adherent of the King, and stood well with the royal army. This no sooner became known, than he was put in prison. He expected surely that he, in whose service he had lost his liberty, would take his defence and set him free; but as this did not take place, John began to see how faithless the world is, and how changeable is all temporal happiness. About the same time, his young wife died, and he determined to leave the world and endeavor to gain, in a religious order, the grace of the Most High and eternal salvation. Continue reading

St. John Damascene

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St. John Damascene

Born at Damascus, about 676; died some time between 754 and 787. The only extant life of the saint is that by John, Patriarch of Jerusalem, which dates from the tenth century (P.G. XCIV, 429-90). This life is the single source from which have been drawn the materials of all his biographical notices. It is extremely unsatisfactory from the standpoint of historical criticism. An exasperating lack of detail, a pronounced legendary tendency, and a turgid style are its chief characteristics. Mansur was probably the name of John’s father. What little is known of him indicates that he was a sterling Christian whose infidel environment made no impression on his religious fervour. Apparently his adhesion to Christian truth constituted no offence in the eyes of his Saracen countrymen, for he seems to have enjoyed their esteem in an eminent degree, and discharged the duties of chief financial officer for the caliph, Abdul Malek. The author of the life records the names of but two of his children, John and his half-brother Cosmas. When the future apologist had reached the age of twenty-three his father cast about for a Christian tutor capable of giving his sons the best education the age afforded. In this he was singularly fortunate. Standing one day in the market-place he discovered among the captives taken in a recent raid on the shores of Italy a Sicilian monk named Cosmas. Investigation proved him to be a man of deep and broad erudition. Through the influence of the caliph, Mansur secured the captive’s liberty and appointed him tutor to his sons. Under the tutelage of Cosmas, John made such rapid progress that, in the enthusiastic language of his biographer, he soon equalled Diophantus in algebra and Euclid in geometry. Equal progress was made in music, astronomy, and theology. Continue reading