July 30 – Tsotne Dadiani; Peter Chrysologus

Tsotne Dadiani (d. ca. 1260) was the younger son of Shergil, Duke of Mingrelia (Georgia), which position he (Tsotne) held after his older brother died. (There is no suspicion whatever of foul play, so put that out of your mind.) During those times the Mongols were hegemonic (“demons in the hedges”) over Georgia and neighboring parts, and Tsotne and a few of the guys met at Kokhtastavi to plan a little rebellion. “I’ll go rally my troops,” he said, and rode off to, well, rally his troops. A fink in the ranks, however, tipped the Mongols off, resulting in everybody (less Tsotne) being arrested and dragged off to the Mongol headquarters at Ani (“More than one anus”).

“Rebellion? Little old us?” the rebels said. “We were just, um, gathering to collect the tribute.” The Mongols, not fooled, had them stripped bare, slathered with honey, and staked to the ground in the hot sun. “LUNCH!” cried the insects of Ani. (And wouldn’t “The Insects of Ani” be a swell name for a rock group?) When word came to Tsotne, he rode thither and, seeing their plight, stripped off his clothes and joined them on the ground. (No word as to whether he smeared himself—the Mongols may have used up all the honey in the district). The commander was so impressed with his loyalty that he let them all go free. (The Chronicle does not say if he offered them a bath.) Tsotne’s sainthood was recognized by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 1999.

Peter Chrysologus (ca. 380–450) was called “Golden Word” because he was one heck of a preacher, and “Golden mouth” (Chrysostom) was already taken. Some of his sermons have come down to us, but my source is singularly unimpressed, hinting that all his golden-worded sermons must have been lost. But everything in due order.

He was born in Imola and was made deacon and archdeacon and bishop of Ravenna, albeit not all at the same time. The latter promotion was by Pope Sixtus III, in response to a vision of Saints Peter and Apollinaris, the first bishops of Rome and Ravenna, respectively, who showed him an 8×10 glossy and said, “This is the guy.” When a group of travelers from Ravenna turned up, Sixtus immediately recognized Peter and bishopified him on the spot. Well, maybe not on the spot but that would have been cool, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Peter was known for giving short sermons out of fear of boring his listeners. (I’d call any preacher “golden word” whose sermons, however dull, were short.) In addition to being blissfully pithy, he was also a reformer, and set about immediately to unslacken his clergy. He was alsø alsø a foe of heresy, denouncing Monophysites and Arians. For example, he reprimanded an Arian bishop who had written him to whine about being reprimanded. He was an advocate of daily Communion, and a compassionate preacher of forgiveness through Christ.

He was sought out by other bishops, including Pope Leo I, to whom he was a trusted counselor, and (St.) Germanus of Auxerre (Jul 31), who died in Ravenna while visiting. Peter presided at Germanus’ funeral, and kept some of his clothing as relics, which only seems fitting. (Get it?) Shortly after that he learned, somehow, that his end was near, so he headed back to Imola. It used to be thought he died on December 2 (for which reason his feast used to be on December 4), but when they went back and read the record again, it turns out it actually says July 31 (an easy mistake to make; could happen to anybody). His feast was thus moved (in 1969) to July 30, so he wouldn’t have to compete with Ignatius of Loyola (guess who we’ll read about tomorrow?). With eight other saints, he is the patron “against mad dogs.”