July 3 – Hyacinthus of Caesarea; Anatolius of Alexandria

Hyacinthus of Caesarea (96–108), born there, was a lad of 12 when he was tapped to be chamberlain (or (as seems more likely) assistant to the chamberlain) for Emperor Trajan. He held this office faithfully, even though secretly he was Speed’s older brother Rex. I mean, he was secretly a Christian. This worked fine for everybody until one fateful day when the Emperor was off with a cohort of his cohorts burning incense to the pagan idols, and Hyacinthus (Latin for the Greek for “hyacinth”) was closeted in his closet saying prayers to Jesus Christ. One of the servants overheard him, and ratted him out to the emperor.

Needless to say (of course I always say things that are needless to say, lest the hagiography be too short), he was brought before the emperor, and variously persuaded, cajoled, and threatened to sacrifice to the idols. He was resolutely resolute, however, and professed his faith in Christ before the assembled assemblage. He was scourged and thrown in prison, and offered meat sacrificed to idols to eat (it was offered for him to eat, I mean). He refused. The guards figured hunger and thirst would eventually wear down his resistance, but they figured falsely, and after thirty-eight days, Hyachinthus surrendered his soul to the Lord. When they came to seize him for another round of tortures, they found he was dead, and as they entered the cell they saw two angels—one covered Hyacinthus with his cloak, and the other placed a crown upon his head.

His intact body was later posted to Caesarea, but somehow ended up in the Cistercian Abbey of Fürstenfeld in Bavaria, where it remains, despite the abbey having been decommissioned in 1803. It is now a cultural center and civic hall, but Hyacinthus’ tomb is still accessible to visitors and pilgrims.

Anatolius of Alexandria (d. 283) is also called Anatolius of Laodicea, and now you know where he was born and died (in that order) (actually most people do it in that order). He ran the Aristotelian School in Alexandria, where he taught (and was boffo at) arithmetic, geometry, physics, rhetoric, dialectic, and astronomy. Jerome (Sep 30) speaks glowingly of him, which says something (or other). Fragments of ten of his books on arithmetic have come down to us, although what proportion those fragments are of the whole, the sources do not say. Would have been nice to have a pie chart.

He was never conceited or arrogant, and despite his considerable intolerance for ignorance (he considered it a sin for Christians to be ignorant), he never blamed the poor for being ignorant (or poor), but patiently taught (and fed) them. Indeed he managed to prevent a number of people from starving to death by his diplomacy, which happened in this way. When the city was in a state of rebellion and besieged by the Roman army, he snuck (yes, I said “snuck,” get over it) off to the Romans and arranged for the greater part of the women, children, elderly, sick people, and so forth to be excused out the back door. For good or for ill, this allowed the rebels to hold out a bit longer, and when the city was finally taken, he found himself outside the good graces of either side. Ain’t that just the way of it.

Lest Alexandria sin against mathematics, he headed off for Caesarea in Palestine, where he was made assistant to the overworked bishop, who dumped—erm, I should say, entrusted—many of his duties to Anatolius. Later the two were summoned to a council in Antioch, but as they passed through Laodicea they were dry-gulched by the inhabitants, who were in want of a bishop and weren’t above stooping to kidnapping to obtain one. Which reminds me of an episode of Firefly, but we’re not going to even speculate that Joss Whedon was familiar with Anatolius of Alexandria. Let’s just say there were no “big [darn] heroes” to rescue them, and so Anatolius remained in Laodicea unto the end of his days.