Wednesday, January 20, 2010

St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr

Today (January 20) is the feast of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr. He's usually forgotten in the history books and even on the calendar, because people like St. Sebastian more. Pope Fabian was the 20th Pope, and probably my favorite ancient Pope (after Peter, of course). The Martyrologium Romanum states
At Rome, the birthday of St. Fabian, pope, who suffered martyrdom in the time of Decius, and was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.
Not much said, but there is much more to this interesting Saint. He was a layman when he was elevated to the Chair of Peter. In fact, he was a simple farmer. From the Catholic Encyclopedia
After the death of Anterus he had come to Rome, with some others, from his farm and was in the city when the new election began. While the names of several illustrious and noble persons were being considered, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian, of whom no one had even thought. To the assembled brethren the sight recalled the Gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Saviour of mankind, and so, divinely inspired, as it were, they chose Fabian with joyous unanimity and placed him in the Chair of Peter.
The Catholic Encyclopedia goes on to tell us that there is a certain tradition that he instituted the minor orders. It could be St. Fabian we have to thank for the subdeaconate. He sent missionaries to Gaul. Overall, he was a well-liked Pope, I think. He condemned some heresies and did other such Popery.

He is an example for us all. He was not the only Pope to be elevated to the Papacy while still a layman, but he may have been the first (ignoring arguments about when Peter was selected first Pope and made a priest/bishop). Though he isn't especially "popular" among the Saints, evidenced by the fact that usually Sebastian's mass texts get said today, and that he has no official patronage. I, however, propose that he should be considered a patron of being open to the call of God, After all, he just came into Rome to catch some of the excitement of a Papal election (there had had been less than 20 ever). By being open to the grace of God, he came up to Rome a farmer, and ended up Bishop and Pope.
God our Father, glory of your priests,
may the prayers of your Martyr Fabian
help us to share his faith
and offer you loving service.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

No comments: