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January 9 Saints of the Day – Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, and Adrian of Canterbury

Philip, Metropolitan of MoscowOn this date in 1937, the Italian regime banned marriages between Italians and Abyssinians, effectively destroying the lucrative Neapolitan mail-order Abyssinian bride biz, and sparking universal joy and merrymaking in Abyssinia.

In the eastern church today we venerate St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow (1507-1566), who was born in either Moscow or Gulich, either took part in a conspiracy or didn’t, and was either on good terms with Tsar Ivan the Terrible or wasn’t. Rumors that his biographers were locked in a room in the Kremlin until they could get their stories straight, but escaped to separate oblasts before they reached agreement, have not been verified. At any rate, tiring of the chilly Muscovite climate, he either fled or leisurely strolled to the Solovetsky monastery in the balmy White Sea, and was eventually made abbot after working as a blacksmith and a baker. Astute readers will note that both of those positions involve an oven or furnace.

In time he was recalled to Moscow by Tsar Ivan to fill the vacant Metropolitan’s chair. Sadly for the Tsar, the new Metropolitan refused to say nice things about his ongoing massacres. Sadly for the Metropolitan, the Tsar deposed him and had him either strangled or suffocated, once again depending on whom you ask. He was glorified as a saint in 1652, and is commemorated on January 9, July 3 (translation of relics), and October 5 (with other Hierarchs of Moscow). Ivan the Terrible is not commemorated in the Church at all, which goes to show that if you have to choose between mixed-up biographers and vicious acts of terror, and commemoration as a saint is at all important to you, go for the mixed-up biographers.

Adrian of CanterburySpeaking of Naples and Africa, the western church today commemorates among others St. Adrian of Canterbury (d. 710), who was born in the latter and became abbot of a monastery near the former. Pope Vitalian, who contrary to speculation did not start a vitamin supplement manufacturing firm, twice fingered him to be archbishop of Canterbury, but the modest Adrian, possibly with a thought to the climate although nobody will come out and say this, demurred. The third time the offer was made, Adrian suggested a pal (Ted of Tarsus) for the job, and the wily Vitalian accepted the offer but insisted that Adrian accompany Theodore as adjutant or bodyguard or something. Adrian, outfoxed, agreed.

On the pair’s way through France, Adrian was imprisoned by Ebroin, mayor of Neustria, on suspicion of being a Greek spy, which was grossly unfair seeing as it was Theodore, who was allowed to pass on to England, who was the Greek. (Reports of snickering sounds from Theodore are unfounded and unfair.) Neurotic, despotic, and Frankish, Ebroin apparently led a life of tyranny and villainy, dying of assassination in 681, his attempt to become the Ivan the Terrible of seventh-century France thus happily thwarted. He is today commemorated by an article in Wikipedia.

Eventually Adrian made it to Canterbury, where once again he became abbot of a nearby monastery. His itchy feet soon propelled him, however, to roam the island schooling the rustics in religion, poetry, astronomy, rhetoric, literature, physical science, Latin, Greek, and mathematics — yet another of those annoying polymaths that make us normal mortals feel undereducated.

Copyright © 2012 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

2 comments on “January 9 Saints of the Day – Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, and Adrian of Canterbury

  1. Love it – just chrismated this past Sunday and now I get a saint of the day – perfect!

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