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October 13 Saints of the Day – Anthony of Chkondidi and Edward the Confessor

On this day in 1860, in Boston, the first aerial photo was taken, from a balloon. Coincidentally, this was the last day Miss Penelope Cabot of Beacon Hill sunbathed on her roof in the altogether.

Anthony of ChkondidiAnthony of Chkondidi (d. 1815) was born to a prince and a prince’s daughter (not the same prince, obviously) in Georgia. His sister went on to marry a king, but this is not her story. Not that her story wouldn’t be fascinating. Where was I? His mother, Gulka, raised her children in the Christian faith, and Anthony in particular was groomed for a diplomatic career and fed on steaming bowls of philosophy, literature, poetry, art, and foreign languages such as Turkish and Persian. Nicholas, Anthony’s older brother, whose story this also isn’t, was expected to become a bishop, but rejected the required asceticism. Anthony on the other hand longed for it, so he took his brother’s place, so to speak.

Once monkified, Anthony realized his education was incomplete, and so the monks at his monastery arranged for him to be tutored by some French missionaries. Tony soon realized that the scholasticism they taught was incompatible with Orthodoxy. “Can you put wine into a glass of water without them mixing?” he said enigmatically. “Mais non,” said one of the Frenchmen. “Well, neither can you mix your theology and ours,” Anthony concluded. “Um, yeah,” said the missionaries, and they parted, hopefully amicably. Anthony then traveled to Tblisi, where he had relatives among the royalty (of course), to further his education. Before you know it (at least in this retelling) he was made bishop, fasting until his face resembled that of an angel (a fat baby with wispy blond curls).

As bishop he ordered that a daily meal be prepared for the poor at the episcopal residence, and spoke out sternly against the practice of slave trading, even convening a church council to condemn it. He endowed monasteries with (tax-free!) holdings, as well as with ancient icons and such. He was ultimately made a Metropolitan, and ended his days at the Nakharebou Monastery at a venerable old age.

Edward the ConfessorEdward the Confessor (1003 – 1066) was the son of King Æthelred the Unready, but that’s not his fault. The whole family went into exile when Viking Sweyn Forkbeard invaded. A series of battles ensued between the Unready family and Sweyn and his son Cnut, which worked through all of Edwin’s brothers (at least one under pretty horrific circumstances). When Æthelred died (a search of a dozen sources did not turn up the cause), his wife was so torn up that she married Cnut (one wonders if that was voluntary however). After Cnut died, a period of weirdness ensued. Ed’s mother acted as regent for Cnut’s successor Harthancnut, who was busy in Denmark. When Harthie died, Edward mounted the English throne, unanimously proclaimed king by the requisite proclaimers (some of whom walked 500 miles, doubtless). He complained that his mother had “done less for him than he wanted before he became king, and also afterwards” (direct quote), which as you have seen was putting it rather politely.

Once enthroned Edward sailed the rocky shoals of a part-Danish, part-English nobility, regaining the authority his father had lost even before he was booted. He turned back some invaders, restored the Scottish king to his throne, and rolled back unjust taxes (really unjust ones, mind). He was known for his charity to the poor, his devotion to God, and for commissioning Winchester Cathedral. The fact he had no direct heir (he and his wife lived chastely, as was discovered years later) didn’t matter, as the Anglo-Saxon kingship came to an end just months after he died with the invasion of William the Bastard, um, Conqueror. After Ed’s death there was a groundswell of support for his saintification, but the Normans took a couple of generations to get sufficiently over their animosity toward the Anglo-Saxons. Henry II was amenable, however, and when he supported Pope Alexander III over an antipope claimant, the abbot of Winchester pressed the claim, and Edward was canonized. He is the patron saint of separated spouses, but not, interestingly, of treacherous mothers.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
This Day in History for 13th October
St Anthony, Metropolitan of Chkondidi (OCA) – Main (only) source
Icon from OCA (copyright unknown)
Edward the Confessor (Wikipedia) — Main source
Saint Edward the Confessor (SQPN)
Æthelred the Unready.
Illuminated illumination of Edward from Wikimedia (Public domain according to this rule).

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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.

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