May 3 – Theodosius of the Kievan Caves; Philip the Apostle

Theodosius of the Caves (1009–1074), cofounder (with St. Anthony of Kiev) of the Kievan Caves Lavra*, is credited with introducing cenobitic* monasticism to Russia—by which is meant, he introduced the Rule (explicit ordering of shared monastic life) of Theodore the Studite into Russian monkdom. Having lost his father at fourteen, he was raised by a somewhat overbearing mother, who, when he snuck off at age 24 to pursue a monastic calling, sought him until she found him (which was a good trick, as he didn’t leave a forwarding address). She begged him to come home, but he instead talked her into joining the adjoining nun shop. It goes without saying that he eventually became igumen* (abbot) of the Caves.

According to his hagiographer, he followed the pattern of the typical monastic overachiever—praying more than anybody, fasting better than anybody, and doing more manual labor than anybody. He even took his hairshirt off at night so the gnats and mosquitos of the frozen north would not go hungry (I only wish I could make up stuff like that). Of course he concealed the extent of his labors (if perhaps not the bug bites on his face) from the other monks, and did not seek accolades. He had a special heart for the poor, and had a dedicated courtyard made for them, where they could always come for a meal, even if the monks inside were running short. He also had a special touch with the nobles—even after he upbraided Great Prince Svyatoslav for usurping his brother Isyaslav, Svyasha donated land for a new church.

Finally, a story. Once when he was walking back from a meeting with Izyaslav (“Is he a Slav?”), a coachman pulled up next to him and said, “Hey monk. You guys are always on vacation while I work all day. Why don’t you drive for me so I can sit in the carriage?” Theodosius did as he was asked (probably cutting hours off his trip), but the coachman, seeing the nobles they passed saluting the monk, was a little (as the kids say) freaked out. When they arrived at the Lavra*, Theodosius calmed him down, and gave him a hot meal.

The great saint died peacefully in his sleep and was buried in the little cell he always used during Lent.

Philip the Apostle (d. ca. 80) was one of the Twelve. He was from Bethsaida (hailing place of Peter and Andrew), and was responsible for bringing Nathaniel to see Christ. He is singled out three times in the Gospel of John. At the feeding of the multitude, our Lord asks him where he can get bread for the crowd. In Jerusalem, he is tapped by some Gentiles for a backstage pass to see Jesus. Finally, at the Holy Supper he says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” From these vignettes the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia concludes he was naïve, shy, and sober-minded. This rather makes me wonder if their editors read tea leaves as well—but maybe that’s just me.

In the tradition of the church, he appears to have gotten all mixed up with the deacon of the same name (apparently Eusebius flat out thought they were the same guy). An apocryphal Acts of Philip, dating from roughly the time of Eusebius, appears to be trusted by nobody who’s anybody. In it, Philip is said to have enraged the Proconsul of Hierapolis by healing and converting his wife. As a result Philip, with Bartholomew, was crucified upside-down. While he hung there, he preached to the assembled crowd and convinced them to let Bartholomew go, but insisted on remaining on the cross himself. He was either beheaded or stoned to death while hanging there.

In 2011, an Italian archaeologist found a tomb near Hierapolis that he thinks is definitely Philip’s. Whether or no, Philip is definitely the patron saint of hatters and pastry chefs.