Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ven. Pope Pius XII & St. Sergius of Radonezh

I checked Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1940 and it does not have the names of all 21 Russian Orthodox saints that Ven. Pope Pius XII of Rome authorized for veneration by Russian Catholics in a 1940 decree.{1} See here for examples of the veneration of certain post-schism Orthodox saints. The permission for Catholics to venerate these men is, I think, based on a judgment by the Church that such men died Catholics in good standing.

Sergius of Radonezh is in the Roman Martyrology for September 25.{2}  He was in communion{3} with and almost took the place of the Orthodox Metropolitan Alexis of Kiev (1354-1378) when the latter died;{4} Alexis was omitted from the 1940 calendar because of his conscious dependence on the anti-Catholic Patriarchs Callistus and Philotheus of Constantinople, and was indeed anti-Catholic himself.{5} Furthermore, one of the reasons Sergius accomplished the reform of monastic life along cenobitical guidelines at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in 1354 was “a personal letter of recommendation of this course from … Philotheus.”{6} Unlike Gregory Palamas, however, Sergius of Radonezh did not leave any anti-Catholic writings or speeches--he left no writings at all.{7} There is only an apocryphal tradition, recorded by Dimitry of Rostov, that Sergius posthumously appeared to Symeon of Suzdal and Thomas of Tver and told them to join the infamous Metropolitan Mark Eugenikos of Ephesus in his rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Florence.{8}
Notes & References
{1} This decree is mentioned in Butler's Lives of the Saints, Thurston & Attwater Edition, Vol. III (July-Sept) 639-640. So far I know seven names for certain: Sts. Sergius the Wonderworker of Radonezh (†9/25/1392), Theodosius of the Kiev Far Caves (†5/3/1074), Nicetas the Bishop of Novgorod (†1/31/1109), Leontius the Wonderworker and Bishop of Novgorod (†5/23/1073), Alexander Nevsky (†11/14/1263), Barlaam of Khutyn (†11/6/1193), and Abraham of Smolensk (†8/21/1224). O shining stars of the Russian land, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death! Amen.
{2} https://web.archive.org/web/20111006192024/
{3} Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, ed., rev. and supp. by Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater, vol. 3: July, August, September (Westminster, MD: Christian Classics, 1990), 642.
{4} P. Roche, “Sergius of Radonezh, St.,” New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13, 2nd ed. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 16.
{5} Julian Pelesz, Geschichte der Union der ruthenischen Kirche mit Rom, vol. 1 (Würzburg: Woerl, 1881), 348 <https://books.google.com/books?id=dKEtAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA348#v=onepage&q&f=false>.
{6} Thurston and Attwater, loc. cit.
{7} Roche, loc. cit.
{8} Dimitry of Rostov, “The Twenty-Fifth Day of the Month of September: The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh and New Wonder-worker,” The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, vol. 1: September <http://www.chrysostompress.org/lives_25_september.html>. Cf. David B. Miller, Saint Sergius of Radonezh, His Trinity Monastery, and the Formation of the Russian Identity (DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 2010), 68-70, 75.

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