Francis of Assisi
Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco, was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy, he became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. He is remembered as the patron saint of animals. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient, he returned to Italy to organize the Order.
Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew from external affairs. Francis is known for his love of the Eucharist. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy, which would make him the second person in Christian tradition after St. Paul to bear the wounds of Christ's Passion, he died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142. Francis of Assisi was born in late 1181 or early 1182, one of several children of an Italian father, Pietro di Bernardone, a prosperous silk merchant, a French mother, Pica de Bourlemont, about whom little is known except that she was a noblewoman from Provence. Pietro was in France on business when Francis was born in Assisi, Pica had him baptized as Giovanni. Upon his return to Assisi, Pietro took to calling his son Francesco in honor of his commercial success and enthusiasm for all things French.
Since the child was renamed in infancy, the change can hardly have had anything to do with his aptitude for learning French, as some have thought. Indulged by his parents, Francis lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man; as a youth, Francesco became a devotee of troubadours and was fascinated with all things Transalpine. He was handsome, witty and delighted in fine clothes, he spent money lavishly. Although many hagiographers remark about his bright clothing, rich friends, love of pleasures, his displays of disillusionment toward the world that surrounded him came early in his life, as is shown in the "story of the beggar". In this account, he was selling cloth and velvet in the marketplace on behalf of his father when a beggar came to him and asked for alms. At the conclusion of his business deal, Francis ran after the beggar; when he found him, Francis gave the man everything. His friends chided and mocked him for his act of charity; when he got home, his father scolded him in rage.
Around 1202, he joined a military expedition against Perugia and was taken as a prisoner at Collestrada, spending a year as a captive. An illness caused him to re-evaluate his life, it is possible. Upon his return to Assisi in 1203, Francis returned to his carefree life. In 1205, Francis left for Apulia to enlist in the army of Count of Brienne. A strange vision made having lost his taste for the worldly life. According to hagiographic accounts, thereafter he began to avoid the sports and the feasts of his former companions. In response, they asked him laughingly whether he was thinking of marrying, to which he answered, "Yes, a fairer bride than any of you have seen", meaning his "Lady Poverty". On a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor in begging at St. Peter's Basilica, he spent some time in lonely places. He said he had a mystical vision of Jesus Christ in the forsaken country chapel of San Damiano, just outside Assisi, in which the Icon of Christ Crucified said to him, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins."
He took this to mean the ruined church in which he was presently praying, so he sold some cloth from his father's store to assist the priest there for this purpose. When the priest refused to accept the ill-gotten gains, an indignant Francis threw the coins on the floor. In order to avoid his father's wrath, Francis hid in a cave near San Damiano for about a month; when he returned to town and dirty, he was dragged home by his father, beaten and locked in a small storeroom. Freed by his mother during Bernardone's absence, Francis returned at once to San Damiano, where he found shelter with the officiating priest, but he was soon cited before the city consuls by his father; the latter, not content with having recovered the scattered gold from San Damiano, sought to force his son to forego his inheritance by way of restitution. In the midst of legal proceedings before the Bishop of Assisi, Francis renounced his father and his patrimony. For the next couple of months Francis wandered as a beggar in the hills behind Assisi.
He spent some time at a neighbouring monastery working as a scullion. He went to Gubbio, where a friend gave him, as an alms, the cloak and staff of a pilgrim. Returning to Assisi, he traversed the city begging stones for the restoration of St. Damiano's; these he carried to the old chapel, set in p
Julian of Norwich
Julian of Norwich known as Dame Julian or Mother Julian was the greatest of all the English anchorites of the Middle Ages. She wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language to be written by a woman, Revelations of Divine Love, she lived throughout her life in the English city of Norwich, an important centre for commerce that had a vibrant religious life, but which during her lifetime was a witness to the devastating effects of the Black Death of 1349, the English Peasants' Revolt, which affected large parts of England in 1381, the suppression of the Lollards. In 1373, aged thirty and so ill she thought she was on her deathbed, Julian received a series of visions or "shewings" of the Passion of Christ and of Mary, mother of Jesus, she recovered from her illness and wrote two versions of her experiences, the earlier one being completed soon after her recovery, a much longer version being written many years later. For much of her life, Julian lived in permanent seclusion as an anchoress in her cell, attached to St Julian's Church, Norwich.
Four wills in which sums were bequeathed to her have survived, an account by the celebrated mystic Margery Kempe exists, which provides details of the counsel she was given by the anchoress. Nothing is known for certain about Julian's actual name, family, or education, or of her life prior to her becoming an anchoress. Preferring to write anonymously, seeking isolation from the world, she was influential in her own lifetime, her writings were first published by Serenus de Cressy. She emerged from obscurity when a manuscript in the British Museum was transcribed and published with notes by Grace Warrack in 1901. Since many more translations of Revelations of Divine Love have been produced. Julian is nowadays considered to be theologian; the English city of Norwich, where Julian lived all her life, was second in importance to London during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, at the centre of the country's primary region for agriculture and trade. During her life Norwich suffered when the Black Death reached the city.
The disease killed over half the population and returned in subsequent outbreaks up to 1387. Julian was alive during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, when it was overwhelmed by rebel forces led by Geoffrey Litster executed by Henry le Despenser after his peasant army was overwhelmed at the Battle of North Walsham; as Bishop of Norwich, Despenser zealously opposed Lollardy, which advocated reform of the Catholic Church, a number of Lollards were burnt at the stake at Lollard's Pit just outside the city. Norwich may have been the most religious city in Europe at that time, with its cathedral, friaries and recluses' cells dominating the landscape, as well as the lives of all the people living in it. On the eastern side of the city was the Norman Cathedral, the Benedictine Hospital of St. Paul, the Carmelite friary, St. Giles' Hospital, the Greyfriars monastery, to the south the priory at Carrow, located just beyond the city walls; the priory's income was generated from'livings' it acquired, which included the Norwich churches of St. Julian, All Saints Timberhill, St. Edward Conisford and St. Catherine Newgate, all now lost apart from St. Julian's.
Where these churches had an anchorite cell, they enhanced the income and the reputation of the priory still further. Julian is associated with St Julian's Church, located off King Street, in the south of the city centre, which still holds services on a regular basis. St Julian's is an early round-tower church, listed as one of twenty-nine churches that were rebuilt after the Norman conquest of England. During the Middle Ages there were twenty-two religious houses in Norwich and sixty-three churches within the city walls, of which thirty-six had an anchorage. No hermits or anchorites existed in Norwich from 1312 until the emergence of Julian in the 1370s, it is not recorded when the anchorage at St Julian's was built, but it was used by a number of different anchorites up to the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, some of whom were named Julian. After this time the cell was demolished and the church stripped of its rood screen and statues. No rector was appointed until 1581. By 1845 St Julian's was in a poor state of repair and that year the east wall collapsed.
After an appeal for funds, the church underwent a ruthless restoration. It was further restored in the 20th century, but was destroyed during the Norwich Blitz of 1942, when in June that year the tower received a direct hit. After the war, funds were raised to rebuild the church, it had to be rebuilt to look as it was before its destruction, although its tower was much-reduced in height and a chapel was built in place of the long-lost anchorite cell. Uniquely for the mystics of the Middle Ages, Julian wrote about her visions, she was an anchoress from at least the 1390s, was the greatest English mystic of her age, by virtue of the visions she experienced and her literary achievement, but nothing about her life is known. What little is known about her comes from a handful of sources, she provides a few scant comments about the circumstances of her revelations in her book Revelations of Divine Love, of which one fifteenth-century manuscript and a number of longer, post-Reformation manuscripts, have survived.
The earliest surviving copy of Julian's Short Text, made by a scribe in the 1470s, acknowledges her as the author of the work. The earliest known reference to an anchorite living in Norwich with the name Julian comes from a will made in 1394. There are four known instances of wills which name Julian
Saint Bonaventure, born Giovanni di Fidanza, was an Italian medieval Franciscan, scholastic theologian and philosopher. The seventh Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, he was Cardinal Bishop of Albano, he was canonised on 14 April 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in the year 1588 by Pope Sixtus V. He is known as the "Seraphic Doctor". Many writings believed in the Middle Ages to be his are now collected under the name Pseudo-Bonaventure, he was born at Bagnoregio in Umbria, not far from Viterbo part of the Papal States. Nothing is known of his childhood, other than the names of his parents, Giovanni di Fidanza and Maria di Ritella, he entered the Franciscan Order in 1243 and studied at the University of Paris under Alexander of Hales, under Alexander's successor, John of Rochelle. In 1253 he held the Franciscan chair at Paris. A dispute between seculars and mendicants delayed his reception as Master until 1257, where his degree was taken in company with Thomas Aquinas.
Three years earlier his fame had earned him the position of lecturer on The Four Books of Sentences—a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the twelfth century—and in 1255 he received the degree of master, the medieval equivalent of doctor. After having defended his order against the reproaches of the anti-mendicant party, he was elected Minister General of the Franciscan Order. On 24 November 1265, he was selected for the post of Archbishop of York. During his tenure, the General Chapter of Narbonne, held in 1260, promulgated a decree prohibiting the publication of any work out of the order without permission from the higher superiors; this prohibition has induced modern writers to pass severe judgment upon Roger Bacon's superiors being envious of Bacon's abilities. However, the prohibition enjoined on Bacon was a general one, its promulgation was not directed against him, but rather against Gerard of Borgo San Donnino. Gerard had published in 1254 without permission a heretical work, Introductorius in Evangelium æternum.
Thereupon the General Chapter of Narbonne promulgated the above-mentioned decree, identical with the "constitutio gravis in contrarium" Bacon speaks of. The above-mentioned prohibition was rescinded in Roger's favour unexpectedly in 1266. Bonaventure was instrumental in procuring the election of Pope Gregory X, who rewarded him with the title of Cardinal Bishop of Albano, insisted on his presence at the great Second Council of Lyon in 1274. There, after his significant contributions led to a union of the Greek and Latin churches, Bonaventure died and in suspicious circumstances; the 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia has citations that suggest he was poisoned, but no mention is made of this in the 2003 second edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia. The only extant relic of the saint is the arm and hand with which he wrote his Commentary on the Sentences, now conserved at Bagnoregio, in the parish church of St. Nicholas, he steered the Franciscans on a moderate and intellectual course that made them the most prominent order in the Catholic Church until the coming of the Jesuits.
His theology was marked by an attempt to integrate faith and reason. He thought of Christ as the "one true master" who offers humans knowledge that begins in faith, is developed through rational understanding, is perfected by mystical union with God. Bonaventure's feast day was included in the General Roman Calendar upon his canonisation in 1482, it was at first celebrated on the second Sunday in July, but was moved in 1568 to 14 July, since 15 July, the anniversary of his death, was at that time taken up with the feast of Saint Henry. It remained on that date, with the rank of "double", until 1960, when it was reclassified as a feast of the third class. In 1969 it was assigned to the date of his death, 15 July. Bonaventure was formally canonised in 1484 by the Franciscan Pope Sixtus IV, ranked along with Thomas Aquinas as the greatest of the Doctors of the Church by another Franciscan, Pope Sixtus V, in 1587. Bonaventure was regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Middle Ages, his works, as arranged in the most recent Critical Edition by the Quaracchi Fathers, consist of a Commentary on the Sentences of Lombard, in four volumes, eight other volumes, including a Commentary on the Gospel of St Luke and a number of smaller works.
The German philosopher Dieter Hattrup denies that Reduction of the Arts to Theology was written by Bonaventure, claiming that the style of thinking does not match Bonaventure's original style. His position is no longer tenable given recent research: the text remains "indubitably authentic". A work that for many years was falsely attributed to Bonaventure, De septem itineribus aeternitatis, was written by Rudolf von Biberach. For St. Isabelle of France, the sister of King St. Louis IX of France, her monastery of Poor Clares at Longchamps, St. Bonaventure wrote the treatise, Concerning the Perfection of Life; the Commentary on the Sentences, written at the
Anthony the Great
Saint Anthony or Antony, was a Christian monk from Egypt, revered since his death as a saint. He is distinguished from other saints named Anthony such as Anthony of Padua, by various epithets of his own: Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Antony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Anthony of Thebes. For his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all Christian monasticism, he is known as the Father of All Monks, his feast day is celebrated on 17 January among the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and on Tobi 22 in the Coptic calendar used by the Coptic Church. The biography of Anthony's life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism in Western Europe via its Latin translations, he is erroneously considered the first Christian monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, the first to go into the wilderness, which seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.
Anthony is appealed to against infectious diseases skin diseases. In the past, many such afflictions, including ergotism and shingles, were referred to as St. Anthony's fire. Anthony was born in Coma in Lower Egypt to wealthy landowner parents; when he was about 20 years old, his parents left him with the care of his unmarried sister. Shortly thereafter, he decided to follow the Evangelical counsel of Jesus which reads, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, you will have treasures in heaven." Anthony gave away some of his family's lands to his neighbors, sold the remaining property, donated the funds thus raised to the poor. He left to live an ascetic life, placing his sister with a group of Christian virgins, a sort of proto-convent in that time. For the next fifteen years, Anthony remained in the area, spending the first years as the disciple of another local hermit. There are various legends associating Anthony with pigs: one is that he worked as a swineherd during this period.
Anthony is sometimes considered the first monk, the first to initiate solitary desertification, but there were others before him. There were ascetic pagan hermits, loosely organized cenobitic communities were described by the Hellenized Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria in the 1st century AD as long established in the harsh environment of Lake Mareotis and in other less accessible regions. Philo opined that "this class of persons may be met with in many places, for both Greece and barbarian countries want to enjoy whatever is good." Christian ascetics such as Thecla had retreated to isolated locations at the outskirts of cities. Anthony is notable for having decided to surpass this tradition and headed out into the desert proper, he left for the alkaline Nitrian Desert on the edge of the Western Desert about 95 km west of Alexandria. He remained there for 13 years. According to Athanasius, the devil fought Anthony by afflicting him with boredom and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer, providing a theme for Christian art.
After that, he moved to a tomb, where he resided and closed the door on himself, depending on some local villagers who brought him food. When the devil perceived his ascetic life and his intense worship, he was envious and beat him mercilessly, leaving him unconscious; when his friends from the local village came to visit him and found him in this condition, they carried him to a church. After he recovered, he made a second effort and went back into the desert to a father mountain by the Nile called Pispir, opposite Arsinoë. There he lived enclosed in an old abandoned Roman fort for some 20 years. According to Athanasius, the devil again resumed his war against Anthony, only this time the phantoms were in the form of wild beasts, lions and scorpions, they appeared as if they were about to cut him into pieces. But the saint would laugh at them scornfully and say, "If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me." At his saying this, they disappeared as though in smoke.
While in the fort he only communicated with the outside world by a crevice through which food would be passed and he would say a few words. Anthony would prepare a quantity of bread, he did not allow anyone to enter his cell. One day he emerged from the fort with the help of villagers, who broke down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away or to have gone insane in his solitary confinement. Instead, he emerged healthy and enlightened. Everyone was amazed that he emerged spiritually rejuvenated, he was hailed from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow. Anthony went to Fayyum and confirmed the brethren there in the Christian faith before returning to his fort. Amid the Diocletian Persecutions, Anthony in 311 went to Alexandria, he visited those who were comforted them. When the Governor saw that he was confessing his Christianity publicly, not caring what might happen to him, he ordered him not to show up in the city. However
Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. Mysticism is not so much a doctrine as a method of thought, it has been connected to mystical theology in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied, they range from ecstatic visions of the soul's mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture. "Mysticism" is derived from the Greek μυω, meaning "to conceal", its derivative μυστικός, meaning'an initiate'. In the Hellenistic world, a "mystikos" was an initiate of a mystery religion. "Mystical" referred to secret religious rituals and use of the word lacked any direct references to the transcendental. In early Christianity the term mystikos referred to three dimensions, which soon became intertwined, namely the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative; the biblical dimension refers to "hidden" or allegorical interpretations of Scriptures.
The liturgical dimension refers to the liturgical mystery of the Eucharist, the presence of Christ at the Eucharist. The third dimension is the experiential knowledge of God. Bernard McGinn defines Christian mysticism as: hat part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, the effect of a direct and transformative presence of God. McGinn argues that "presence" is more accurate than "union", since not all mystics spoke of union with God, since many visions and miracles were not related to union, he argues that we should speak of "consciousness" of God's presence, rather than of "experience", since mystical activity is not about the sensation of God as an external object, but more broadly about...new ways of knowing and loving based on states of awareness in which God becomes present in our inner acts. William James popularized the use of the term "religious experience" in his 1902 book The Varieties of Religious Experience, it has influenced the understanding of mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge.
Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of "religious experience" further back to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of "religious experience" was used by Schleiermacher to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular critique, it was adopted by many scholars of religion. McGinn's emphasis on the transformation that occurs through mystical activity relates to this idea of "presence" instead of "experience": This is why the only test that Christianity has known for determining the authenticity of a mystic and her or his message has been that of personal transformation, both on the mystic's part and—especially—on the part of those whom the mystic has affected. Other critics point out that the stress on "experience" is accompanied by favoring the atomic individual, instead of the shared life on the community, it fails to distinguish between episodic experience, mysticism as a process, embedded in a total religious matrix of liturgy, worship, theology and practices.
Richard King points to disjunction between "mystical experience" and social justice: The privatisation of mysticism - that is, the increasing tendency to locate the mystical in the psychological realm of personal experiences - serves to exclude it from political issues as social justice. Mysticism thus becomes seen as a personal matter of cultivating inner states of tranquility and equanimity, rather than seeking to transform the world, serve to accommodate the individual to the status quo through the alleviation of anxiety and stress. Transformation has particular importance in the theology of Origen. Mystical experience is not a matter between the mystic and God, but is shaped by cultural issues. For instance, Caroline Bynum has shown how, in the late Middle Ages, miracles attending the taking of the Eucharist were not symbolic of the Passion story, but served as vindication of the mystic's theological orthodoxy by proving that the mystic had not fallen prey to heretical ideas, such as the Cathar rejection of the material world as evil, contrary to orthodox teaching that God took on human flesh and remained sinless.
Thus, the nature of mystical experience could be tailored to the particular cultural and theological issues of the time. The idea of mystical realities has been held in Christianity since the second century AD, referring not to spiritual practices, but to the belief that their rituals and their scriptures have hidden meanings; the link between mysticism and the vision of the Divine was introduced by the early Church Fathers, who used the term as an adjective, as in mystical theology and mystical contemplation. In subsequent centuries as Christian apologetics began to use Greek philosophy to explain Christian ideas, Neoplatonism became an influence on Christian mystical thought and practice via such authors as Augustine of Hippo and Origen. Jewish spirituality in the period before Jesus was corporate and public, based on the worship services of the synagogues, which included the reading and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures and the recitation of prayers, on the major festivals. Thus, private spirituality was influenced by the liturgies and by the scriptures, individual prayers recalled historical events just as much as they recalled their own immediate needs.
Of special impor
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years, of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century. Conflict with Arius and Arianism as well as successive Roman emperors shaped Athanasius' career. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius began his leading role against the Arians as a deacon and assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria during the First Council of Nicaea. Roman emperor Constantine the Great had convened the council in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is of a distinct substance from the Father. Three years after that council, Athanasius succeeded his mentor as archbishop of Alexandria.
In addition to the conflict with the Arians, he struggled against the Emperors Constantine, Constantius II, Julian the Apostate and Valens. He was known as Athanasius Contra Mundum. Nonetheless, within a few years after his death, Gregory of Nazianzus called him the "Pillar of the Church", his writings were well regarded by all following Church fathers in the West and the East, who noted their rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern and profound interest in monasticism. Athanasius is counted as one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Catholic Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is labeled as the "Father of Orthodoxy". Athanasius is the first person to identify the same 27 books of the New Testament that are in use today, he is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is venerated by the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran churches, the Anglican Communion.
The Council of Nicaea, "passed twenty disciplinary canons for the better government of the Church. By one, C. 6, of these the Bishops of Rome and Antioch, were declared to possess jurisdiction over the Churches in their respective provinces". Hence, the Alexandrian Bishop was declared with the authority of Patriarch. Athanasius was born to a Christian family in the city of Alexandria or the nearby Nile Delta town of Damanhur sometime between the years 293 and 298; the earlier date is sometimes assigned due to the maturity revealed in his two earliest treatises Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione, which were admittedly written about the year 318 before Arianism had begun to make itself felt, as those writings do not show an awareness of Arianism. However Cornelius Clifford places his birth no earlier than 296 and no than 298, based on the fact that Athanasius indicates no first hand recollection of the Maximian persecution of 303, which he suggests Athanasius would have remembered if he had been ten years old at the time.
Secondly, the Festal Epistles state that the Arians had accused Athanasius, among other charges, of not having yet attained the canonical age and thus could not have been properly ordained as Patriarch of Alexandria in 328. The accusation must have seemed plausible; the Orthodox Church places his year of birth around 297. His parents were wealthy enough to afford giving him a fine secular education, he was clearly not a member of the Egyptian aristocracy. Some Western scholars consider his command of Greek, in which he wrote most of his surviving works, evidence that he may have been a Greek born in Alexandria. Historical evidence, indicates that he was fluent in Coptic as well given the regions of Egypt where he preached; some surviving copies of his writings are in fact in Coptic, though scholars differ as to whether he himself wrote them in Coptic or whether these were translations of writings in Greek. Rufinus relates a story that as Bishop Alexander stood by a window, he watched boys playing on the seashore below, imitating the ritual of Christian baptism.
He discovered that one of the boys had acted as bishop. After questioning Athanasius, Bishop Alexander informed him that the baptisms were genuine, as both the form and matter of the sacrament had been performed through the recitation of the correct words and the administration of water, that he must not continue to do this as those baptized had not been properly catechized, he invited his playfellows to prepare for clerical careers. Alexandria was the most important trade center in the whole empire during Athanasius's boyhood. Intellectually and politically—it epitomized the ethnically diverse Graeco-Roman world more than Rome or Constantinople, Antioch or Marseilles, its famous catechetical school, while sacrificing none of its famous passion for orthodoxy since the days of Pantaenus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria and Theognostus, had begun to take on an secular character in the comprehensiveness of its interests, had counted influential pagans among its serious auditors. Peter of Alexandria, the 17th archbishop of Alexandria, was martyred in 311 in the closing days of the persecution, ma
Angela of Foligno
Angela of Foligno, T. O. S. F. was an Italian Franciscan tertiary who became known as a mystic from her extensive writings about her mystical revelations. Due to the respect those writings engendered in the Catholic Church she became known as "Mistress of Theologians". Angela was noted not only for her spiritual writings, but for founding a religious community which refused to become an enclosed religious order so that it might continue her vision of caring for those in need, it is still active. The Catholic Church declared Angela to be a saint in 2013. Angela's birth date, not known with certainty, is listed as 1248, she was born into a wealthy family in Umbria. Married at an early age, she had several children. Angela reports that she loved its pleasures. Around the age of 40, she had a vision of St. Francis and recognized the emptiness of her life. From that time, she began to lead a life devoted to higher perfection. Three years Angela's mother died, followed, a few months by her husband and children.
With one serving woman, Masazuola, as her companion, she began to divest herself of her possessions and to live as a penitent. Angela joined the Third Order of St. Francis in 1291, she placed herself under the direction of a Franciscan friar named Arnoldo, who would serve as her confessor. Considered a "great medieval mystic," Angela is said to have received mystical revelations, which she dictated to a scribe in the late 13th century; these accounts are contained in a compilation of two works published under the title Il Libro della Beata Angela da Foligno. Angela recorded the history of her conversion in her Book of Instructions, she dictated, in her Umbrian dialect, an account of her spiritual progress, known as the Memoriale, transcribed in Latin by a man known as "Brother A." This work was begun in 1292. The Memorial is the first part of two sections of Angela of Foligno's Liber; the second text is known as Instructions and is composed of thirty-six instructional texts, a note about her death, an epilogue.
These texts appear in different orders in different manuscripts, there is not known to be one correct order. Brother A. remained with her until 1296 while she completed the higher and more difficult final ten stages, but since it proved impossible for him to understand these he condensed them into seven ‘supplementary stages’ whose description takes up the larger portion of the Memorial. The text was finished by 1298, submitted to Cardinal James of Colonna and eight Friars Minor, who gave it their approval, it seems that Brother A. revised it shortly after, in 1299-1300. Between around 1296 and her death in early 1309, the fame of Angela's sanctity gathered around her a number of other tertiaries, both men and women, who strove under her direction to advance in holiness, she established at Foligno a community of other women tertiaries, who added to the Rule of the Third Order a commitment to a common life without, binding themselves to enclosure, so that they might devote their lives to works of charity.
The final version of the Book appends a series of 36 Instructions to the Memorial. These reflect Angela’s teaching during this period; these teachings are rather more conventional in tone and have differences in vocabulary and emphasis from the Memorial – which may reflect redaction by several hands. The Instructions seem to reflect Angela’s teaching, albeit at some remove. "No one can be saved without divine light. Divine light causes us to begin and to make progress, it leads us to the summit of perfection; therefore if you want to begin and to receive this divine light, pray. If you have begun to make progress, pray, and if you have reached the summit of perfection, want to be super-illumined so as to remain in that state, pray. If you want faith, pray. If you want hope, pray. If you want charity, pray. If you want poverty, pray. If you want obedience, pray. If you want chastity, pray. If you want humility, pray. If you want meekness, pray. If you want fortitude, pray. If you want any virtue, pray." "And pray in this fashion: always reading the Book of Life, that is, the life of the God-man, Jesus Christ, whose life consisted of poverty, pain and true obedience."
At Christmas 1308, Angela told her companions. A few days she had a vision of Christ appearing to her and promising to come to take her to heaven, she died in her sleep on 3 January 1309. Angela died surrounded by her community of disciples, her remains repose in the Church of St. Francis at Foligno. Many people attributed miracles to her. Angela's authority as a spiritual teacher may be gathered from the fact that Bollandus, among other testimonials, quotes Maximilian van der Sandt, of the Society of Jesus, as calling her the "'Mistress of Theologians', whose whole doctrine has been drawn out of the Book of Life, Jesus Christ, Our Lord". Pope Clement XI approved the veneration paid to her over the centuries in his beatification of her on 11 July 1701 and Pope Francis extended the veneration to all the Church on 9 October 2013, declaring her a saint by the procedure of equivocal canonization, recognizing the validity of the long-standing veneration of her, her feast day is celebrated by the Third Order of Saint Francis, both Secular and Regular, on 4 January.
Although the community she founded was not recognized as a religious institute until the 20th-century, she is honored as a religious. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Paschal. "Bl. Angela of Foligno