October 25 – Notaries Marcian and Martyrius; Gaudentius of Brescia

Marcian and Martyrius (d. ca. 335) served as notaries to Patriarch Paul of Constantinople. That means secretaries, not rubber-stampers. Rubber hadn’t been invented yet. (Nor embossing.) Marcian was a reader (go, readers, go!) and Martyrius was a subdeacon (rah, sort of). Then, the Arians struck, expelling the patriarch and killing him offstage. They tried to entice Marcian and Martyrius to their side, flattering them and offering gold, archbishoprics, and other stuff. But M&M stuck to their guns, although guns hadn’t been invented yet, even in China. Anyway, China is kind of irrelevant because Marco Polo hadn’t been invented yet.

The heretics then condemned M&M to the emperor and threatened them with torture, but they held to the Trinitarian faith. Just before they were executed they prayed a nice prayer (although not so nice as that of the Three Holy Youths in the fiery furnace, but the fiery youths set a pretty high bar) (I do not know if the high jump had been invented yet), along these lines: “Dear God, accept our souls, since we perish for your sake, like lambs to the slaughter, see you soon.” They were killed by beheading, and later their relics were interred in a church built especial for the purpose, on the order of John Chrysostom, during one of the periods when he was in town.

Gaudentius of Brescia (d. 410) studied under Bishop Philastrius of Brescia, and went on to a preaching career in Italy and the Middle East. He was in the latter, either pilgrimaging or monking, when Philastrius died, and the people of Brescia took an oath that they would make Gaudentius their bishop or die trying. Ambrose (Dec 7) and other nearby higher-ups sent messages to the bishops in the Holy Land telling them they wanted Gaudentius back, and the bishops threatened to refuse him communion unless he agreed to return. So, muttering in his beard, Gaudentius returned to Brescia and permitted himself to be consecrated bishop. He still was an ace preacher, and thanks to a Constantinopolitan nobleman, we have some of his sermons. It seems Lord Benevolus had been hounded out of the capital for opposing Arianism, and retired to Brescia, because of the waters or something else. The waters didn’t help his lumbago or gout or whatever it was, so he was unable to make it to the cathedral for Gaudentius’ Easter sermons. He thus asked if they could be written down for him, that he might read them later, and that is why we have ten of Gaudentius’ sermons for our reading pleasure. Sadly there were also forgeries running about, and Gaudentius took pains to condemn them. “Only buy the genuine article,” he said.

Gaudentius is best known, however, for his defense of St. John Chrysostom. When the latter was getting in hot water for condemning Arianism, Gaudy and Pope Innocent I wrote letters to Emperor Arcadius, insisting that John be reinstated. Gaudentius was among the delegation chosen to present the letters to the emperor, but the delegation was seized in Athens, and sent to Constantinople under guard (and underfed). The documents were seized from them in a scuffle that resulted in a broken thumb for one of his companions (wild horses couldn’t drag the name out of me, because I don’t know it). They were thrown in prison for a time in Thrace, then sent to sea in a leaky boat, with the hopes they would drown somewhere in the sapphire blue waters of the Aegean. It didn’t work, however, and they arrove safely in Lampsacus (home of Priapus, the Greek god of, erm, various, ah, aspects of fertility—those aspects which, if they last over four hours, you should see your doctor), although one source says they sank within sight of land, presumably requiring them to dogpaddle the rest of the way. After taking in the sights, they hopped a more seaworthy vessel back to Italy. Despite the failure of the mission, Chrysostom wrote Gaudentius to thank him for at least trying.