Western Saints of the Orthodox Church
ÁED MAC BRICC(AEDH MACBRICC), (Sixth Century), as there is no contemporaneous information on the great saint Áed mac Bricc, we are left with a brief Life in the Codex Salmanticensis (probably eighth-century), and the seventeenth-century Martyrology of Donegal as the main sources of knowledge about him. According to the Life in the Codex Salmanticensis, St. Áed served as Bishop of Rahugh and Killare in present-day Co. Westmeath; later Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) on the south-west coast of present-day Co. Donegal, was placed under his omophorion as well. The Codex Salmanticensis Life also highlights St. Áed’s wonderworking, especially in the healing of headaches. However, the Martyrology of Donegal does not mention Rahugh.
When St. Áed was quite young he came upon SS. Brendan of Birr (29th November) and Kenneth of Kilkenny (11th October). Though the saints were deep in conversation, they saw the boy approaching and St. Brendan rose and greeted him with great joy. St. Kenneth upbraided St. Brendan for rising for the boy. St. Brendan asked St. Kenneth “Do you not see what I see?” St. Kenneth replied “No”; St. Brendan said, “Why wouldn’t I rise? Look! Angels of God come towards us, for an army of angels accompanies him”. As a young adult St. Áed met St. Illadan (10th June), Abbot-Bishop of Rathliibthien in present-day Co. Offaly, and soon became his disciple. In time, St. Áed founded a church at Rahugh, present-day Co. Westmeath, about 7 km (4 mi.) to the east of Durrow Abbey, in present-day Co. Offaly.
According to the legends collected by nineteenth-century English historian Charles Plummer and seventeenth-century hagiographer John Colgan O.F.M., St. Áed was best known for his ability to cure headaches. At birth, his head struck a stone and an indentation was left in the stone which then collected rainwater. This water was said to cure all ailments, and even today bullaun stones (Irish: bullán; from a word cognate with “bowl”) have wonderworking qualities. According to the Life of St. Brigid of Kildare St. Áed cured St. Brigid’s (1st February) headache while they were separated by some distance. St. Áed was miraculously able to take on the pain of a man who was suffering greatly from a headache. An eighth-century hymn of supplication which originated at an abbey at Lake Constance in present-day Germany to “St. Aid mechprech”, who has been identified as St. Áed Mac Bricc, sought his intervention for those afflicted by headaches.
Áed Mac Bricc reposed in 588, and is commemorated in the Félire Óengusso thus:
And in the early seventeenth-century Martyrology of Donegal as follows:
AEDH, son of Breac, Bishop, of Cill-Air, in Meath, and of Sliabh Liag, in Tir Boghaine, in Cinel-Conaill. He was of the race of Fiachaidh, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The age of Christ when he sent his spirit to heaven was 588.
Troparion of St. Áed Mac Bricc — Tone I
Founder of churches, Wonderworker, Hierarch, and curer of headaches,/
thou art rightly praised for thy missionary labours, O Father Áed mac Bricc./
We celebrate thy memory, O Saint, praying that we may be given grace to emulate thee,/
for the re-establishment of Orthodoxy in these islands and for the salvation of our souls.
ELAETH THE KING, (Sixth Century), St. Elaeth was a king or chieftain, in the north of England, who was deposed by the Picts. Seeking refuge in Anglesey northern Wales, he received monastic tonsure from St. Seiriol (1st February) at Penmon Priory. St. Elaeth was known for his religious poetry and the authorship of two poems is attributed to him in the twelfth-century Black Book of Carmarthen. St. Elaeth is also credited with the founding of St. Eleth’s Church, Amlwch on Anglesey, where there was a nearby holy well known as “Ffynnon Elaeth” (Elnath’s Well) known for its healing qualities. The exact years he flourished are unknown, beyond evidence that he lived during the sixth century
Troparion of St. Eleath — Tone VIII
Thou didst exchange armed combat with the heathen for the spiritual warfare of the monastic life, O Father Eleath./
Look on those who now hymn thee, O thou who didst praise God with the poetic talents He gave thee,/
and intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.
GUEREMBALDUS, a monk at Hirschau Abbey in present-day Baden-Württemberg Germany. When St. Guerembaldus was offered the Bishopric of Speyer (Spires), claiming to be unworthy, refused the honour. St. Guerembaldus reposed in 965.
HADELIN (ADELHEIM), a monk and later Abbot of the Abbey of Anisole and Saint-Calais (42 km / 26 mi) east of Les Mans. St. Hadelin was consecrated Bishop of Séez in Normandy circa 884 and served that See until his repose circa 910.
JUSTUS of CANTERBURY, nothing of St. Justus’ life prior to his arrival in England is known. St. Bede the Venerable’s (25th May) eighth-century Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) is the main source of information on St. Justus’s life in England. Goscelin of Saint-Bertin’s Vita S. Iusti (late eleventh-century) is of limited use, and the additions to the information on his life made by later mediaeval historians, such as William of Malmesbury (†c.1143) or Thomas of Elmham (†c.1427), add nothing to St. Bede the Venerable’s account that can be considered historically accurate.
According to St. Bede the Venerable, St. Justus was a member of the second group of missionaries sent in 601 by Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist (3rd September) to reinforce St. Augustine’s mission. And that St. Justus arrived with a gift of books and “all things which were needed for worship and the ministry of the Church, viz., sacred vessels and vestments for the altars, also ornaments for the churches, and vestments for the priests and clerks, as likewise relics of the holy apostles and martyrs”. Several of these books are still extant:
- The St. Augustine Gospels, now in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (Manuscript (MS) 286).
- A copy of the Rule of St. Benedict, now Oxford Bodleian Hatton MS 48.
- Another Gospel, the writing of which indicates an Italian origin, closely related to the St. Augustine Gospels, is MS Oxford Bodleian Auctarium D.2.14. This Gospel appears to have been in Anglo-Saxon possession during the early seventh century
- A fragment of a work by Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist (3rd September), now in the collection of the British Library as part of Cotton MS. Titus C.
In 604 King St. Ethelbert (25th February) created a second Kentish See at Rochester and St. Augustine (27th May) consecrated St. Justus its first Bishop. Though at the time, Rochester was a small town with but one street, it was a fortified town and important politically.
As Bishop of Rochester, St. Justus, together with St. Mellitus (24th April), Bishop of London at the time, signed a letter authored by St. Laurence of Canterbury (2nd February), in his capacity as Archbishop of Canterbury addressed to the Irish bishops urging them to adopt the Roman method of calculating the date of Easter (vide Paschal Controversy). The letter is no longer extant; though St. Bede the Venerable quotes parts of it in his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
St. Mellitus reposed in 624 leaving the See of Canterbury vacant. St. Justus was translated there, assuming the episcopal throne as fourth Archbishop of Canterbury. In the letter accompanying the pallium, which is still extant, Pope Boniface V praised St. Justus’ apostolic labours and the great number of souls which he had brought to God. Extolling his patience and zeal, Boniface reminded St. Justus “…that the unspeakable rewards of the eternal kingdom are reserved for those who labour for Almighty God…” and exhorted him to persevere to the end.
One of St. Justus’ notable acts as Archbishop was consecrating St. Paulinus (10th October) as Bishop of York. As Bishop, St. Paulinus baptised King St. Edwin of Northumbria (12th October), as well as a great number of his subjects, including the future St. Hilda of Whitby (17th November). St. Paulinus also oversaw the building of several churches in Northumbria. These events were instrumental to the Christianisation of the north of England. St. Justus’ other significant act as Archbishop was his consecration of Romanus as his successor at Rochester. Little else is known of St. Justus’ short episcopacy.
According to St. Bede the Venerable, St. Justus reposed on 10th November, however, he omits the year. St. Justus most likely reposed in 627, since his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury is said to have lasted three years. St. Justus was buried in the porch of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Monastery (later St. Augustine’s Abbey), Canterbury. In the late eleventh century, his relics were translated to a shrine beside the high altar of St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.
LEO the GREAT, a Roman aristocrat from Tuscany, our father amongst the saints Leo the Great was the 45th Bishop of Rome, a renown theologian, defender of Orthodoxy, and the first Pope of Rome to be called 'The Great'. As Archdeacon of Rome under Popes SS. Celestine (6th April) and Sixtus III (28th March), St. Leo was well enough respected throughout the Church that St. John Cassian (23rd July) prefaced De Incarnatione Domini contra Nestorium with a letter of dedication to St. Leo as well. Following the repose of Pope St. Sixtus III in 440 St. Leo was unanimously chosen to be the next Bishop of Rome. At the time of his Papacy, the Church was beset by many heresies particularly Eutychianism and Nestorianism. At the Council of Chalcedon (451), St. Leo's illustrious Tomos, which set forth the Orthodox belief in the Two Natures and One Person of Christ, was unanimously affirmed by the bishops present, and subsequently Eutyches was excommunicated. Without a doubt, the most famous act of St. Leo was his meeting in 452 with Attila the Hun outside the gates of Rome, resulting in Attila sparing Rome from the sack. St. Leo the Great reposed in 461.
Troparion of St. Leo the Great the Pope of Rome — Tone III
You were the Church’s instrument /
in strengthening the teaching of true doctrine; /
you shone forth from the West like a sun dispelling the errors of the heretics. /
Righteous Leo, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.
Troparion of St. Leo the Great the Pope of Rome — Tone VIII
O Champion of Orthodoxy, and teacher of holiness, /
The enlightenment of the universe and the inspired glory of true believers. /
O most wise Father Leo, your teachings are as music of the Holy Spirit for us! /
Pray that Christ our God may save our souls!
Kontakion of St. Leo the Great the Pope of Rome — Tone III
Seated upon the throne of the priesthood, glorious Leo, /
you shut the mouths of the spiritual lions. /
With divinely inspired teachings of the honored Trinity, /
you shed the light of the knowledge of God upon your flock. /
Therefore, you are glorified as a divine initiate of the grace of God.
MONITOR, documents of, and relating to, the Diocese of Orléans, list the 12th Bishop as a saint, though there is no other extant information on him. St. Monitor reposed circa 490.
PROBUS, the sixth Bishop of Ravenna, and known as a wonderworker. St. Probus reposed circa 175 and his relics were later enshrined in Cathedral of Ravenna.
TIBERIUS, MODESTUS, and FLORENTIA (MARTYRS of AGDE), martyrs at Agde in southern Gaul during the Diocletianic Persecution, circa 303. It is possible they were part of a larger group, and only the names of these three have survived.
Prior to the Schism the Patriarchate of Rome was Orthodox, and fully in communion with the Orthodox Church. As Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco +1966 said “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable Liturgy is far older than any of her heresies”.