Friday, July 16, 2004

The Heavenly Kings

Yesterday Ecclesia Anglicana published a small biography of St. Henry, the second Holy Roman Emperor of that name, whose feast day it was in the old calendar. This led to a little discussion in the comment box of other royal saints. St. Elizabeth of Hungary was mentioned as well as St. Volodomyr (or Vladimir) of Kiev and St. Helena the mother of the Emperor Constantine. In fact, Constantine himself appears in the sanctoral Menaion of the Eastern Churches and his feast is kept along with St. Helena’s on May 21. The Anglican church canonized King Charles I and he appeared in the 1662 prayer book, his feast day being kept on January 31.

Other English royal saints which Catholics join in venerating include St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Martyr, and St. Edmund the Martyr, King of East Anglia. St. Margaret of Scotland, born in Hungary but possibly of English parentage, was wife to the Scottish King.

The French have St. Louis IX whose feast is August 25. Charlemagne himself is honored in some French calendars, usually on January 28. He was canonized in 1165 by Pascal III who is usually considered an anti-Pope. Subsequent popes have permitted the veneration to continue. The University of Paris chose him as its patron in 1661. His feast in Aix-la-Chapelle is the equivalent of what these days would be a solemnity. (from Engelbert's "Lives of the Saints".)

Portugal counts St. Elizabeth of Portugal and

Karl I, the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor is due to be beatified this October.

Outside our own Roman home, the Anglicans’ Blessed Charles the Martyr has already been mentioned. In addition the Serbs honor St. Sava, who renounced royal honors to become a monk, as the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. They also honor St. Lazar, the Tsar-Martyr. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia canonized Tsar Nicholas II and the martyred royal family some time ago. More recently the Russian Orthodox Church followed suit.

Some of our own canonized Popes were not only bishops of Rome but monarchical rulers of the then Papal States.

I’m sure I’ve left some out. There were very many saints with royal blood. But keeping to regnant monarchs or consorts keeps the numbers down somewhat. Some of the ancient Celtic saints were kings. Very small kingdoms, indeed, but kings they were called nonetheless.