December 26th - St. Dionysius
- From: "Traudel" <hildegard8@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 10:48:09 -0600
December 26th - St. Dionysius
259 - 268 AD
The storm of persecution which had slain St. Sixtus and St. Lawrence blew
throughout Rome with such violence that for some time the Christians could
not elect a new pope. But by July of 259 Emperor Valerian was too busy
worrying about Persians to pay much attention to Christians. On July 22,
259, the priest Dionysius was elected pope.
St. Dionysius was to have a peaceful pontificate. In 260 Valerian was
defeated by Sapor the Persian. He was made prisoner and then skinned. His
son and successor, Gallienus, though an incapable ruler, was well-disposed
to the Christians. Salonina, his wife, may well have been a Christian
herself. Gallienus issued a decree of toleration which not only gave the
Christians a breathing spell but even restored confiscated Church property.
It is interesting to note that the decree dealt directly with the heads of
While there was peace at Rome, there was trouble in the East. The Persians
had ravaged Cappadocia, and the Christians had shared in the general agony.
Pope Dionysius sent the sufferers a letter of consolation and a large sum of
money to redeem such of the faithful as had been captured and enslaved.
The Pope was on guard to defend the purity of Christian doctrine. His
namesake, Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, had gone astray in his
speculations on the Trinity. The Pope, alarmed, held a synod at Rome, then
sent a letter condemning the doctrinal vagaries of the good Alexandrian.
This letter is important for its dogmatic content. It is a prelude to
Nicaea. In it the Pope defends the true doctrine of the Three Persons in one
divine nature. Dionysius of Alexandria was less than exact in his
phraseology, but he was no heretic. The good old man died at peace with the
A real heretic, however, was troubling the Church in Asia at this time. Paul
of Samosata, who incongruously combined the offices of bishop of Antioch and
treasurer of the civil government, taught that Jesus was not true God. To
meet this threat, the Asiatic bishops held a council at Antioch in 264 and
condemned Paul's teaching. This council sent a circular letter addressed to
Dionysius and Maximus, bishop of Alexandria, to inform the Christian world
of its doings.
Pope Dionysius also seems to have done some organizing of new parishes
Dionysius died in December 268 and was buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus.
His feast is kept on December 26.
I wish I could persuade spiritual persons that the way of perfection does
not consist in many devices, nor in much cogitation, but in denying
themselves completely and yielding themselves to suffer everything for love
of Christ. And if there is failure in this exercise, all other methods of
walking in the spiritual way are merely a beating about the bush, and
profitless trifling, although a person should have a very high contemplation
and communication with God.
-St. John of the Cross
8 Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
[Here is Bl. Jacopone da Todi's most famous hymn (in English translation):]
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass'd.
Oh, how sad and sore distress'd
Was that Mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
Whelm'd in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
>From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother's pain untold?
Bruis'd, derided, curs'd, defil'd,
She beheld her tender child
All with bloody scourges rent.
For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with thine accord.
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.
Holy Mother! pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.
Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourn'd for me,
All the days that I may live.
By the cross with thee to stay,
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.
Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.
Let me, to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swoon'd
In His very blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy cross my victory.
While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.
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