On the 12th Day of Christmas…

On the 12th Day of Christmas we celebrate the Vigil of the Epiphany, but that post will be for tomorrow (and it’s gonna be a long one).

We also celebrate St. Telesphorus (on January 5th).

Telesphorus was Pope somewhere around 126 to around 137.
Eusebius, one of the earliest writers of the Church’s History, said that Telesphorus was Pope during the reigns of Emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius.

He is recognized as the 7th Pope in the succession of St. Peter, and as written by St. Jerome in Liber Pontificalis (Book of Popes) was a hermit before placed in the seat of Holy See. St. Irenæus wrote earlier that Telephorus suffered a glorious martyrdom. This is an interesting fact because many early Popes were written of in Liber Pontificalis of having suffered martyrdom, but Irenæus had written this much earlier.

In a writing from Irenæus, preserved by Eusebius, says that Telephorus was one of the Bishops of Rome who celebrated Easter always on a Sunday, rather than any other day of the week based off calculations having to do with Passover. (But he kept in communion with those who kept a different date unlike Pope Victor I about 50 some years later.)

Celebrating Midnight Christmas Mass, singing the Gloria, and and keeping a 7 week long Lent before Easter, along with the aforementioned Easter on Sunday, are all attributed to his pontificate.

Telephorus is also the Patron Saint of the Carmelites, since some sources place his hermitage on Mount Carmel.

And since this isn’t long enough for my Church nerd, a little info on Mount Carmel and the Carmelite Orders.

Mount Carmel, or Hakkarmel or Karmel in Hebrew, is in the Holy Land and only referred to in the Old Testament. It holds a sacredness to several religions, the major including Catholic (Christian), Jewish, and Muslim. According the the Book of Kings, long before Elijah, there was an alter to God, but it had fallen into ruin. Elijah rebuilt the alter with 12 stones (possibly in reference to the 12 tribes) and was victor over 450 prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18).

There is a mention that Pythagoras (yes, that guy- a2+b2=c2) visited Mount Carmel by his biographer Iamblichus.

The Carmelites were founded as an order sometime in the 12th century here, although there is some evidence of a hermitage being there before that time. The first Carmelites were men from Europe who had gone on pilgrimages or were part of the Crusaders to Mount Carmel because of the link to Elijah. The foundation was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and the hermitage lives under the Rule of St Albert, first approved by Pope Honorius III in 1226. According to tradition, St. Simon Stock received a vision of Mary, remembered in the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the Brown Scapular in July 16, 1251. The sacramental of the Brown Scapular is still in use today by Catholics all over the world. There are Carmelites communities (both O Carm and Discalced, a post for a different day) of friars and monks, nuns, and laity all over the world. Some are cloistered and some are opened. (Those in the Northwest Indiana area can visit a Carmelite monastery in Munster.)

The original monastery would often be turned in to a Mosque during Islamic control of the area. And over time, many others were built and destroyed, including one that housed Napoleon’s sick and injured soldiers, who were than killed by the Turks when Napoleon fled. The monks who were their caretakers were driven away.

The current Church and Monastery, Stella Maris, was opened in 1836 and is under the care of the Discalced Carmelites. Stella Maris is Latin for Star of the Sea, and the oratory, or prayer room, was dedicated to the Virgin Mary in her aspect of Our Lady, Star of the Sea. There is also a convent further up the Mount. Under the alter in the the church is The Cave of Elijah, with a small alter.


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