Pope Saint Alexander I was the bishop of Rome for seven to ten years in the early second century. According to Catholic tradition, the dates of his episcopacy are estimated from as early as 106-115 and as late as 109-119 C.E. Tradition holds that Alexander I converted the Roman governor Hermes and 1,500 members of his family, servants, and government officials to Christianity. Like all of the early popes, he is honored as a saint and a martyr. He was formerly credited with instituting several church traditions, but much of this is now doubted by secular and Catholic scholars alike.
Alexander's feast day is celebrated on May 3. From 1960, the Roman Calendar no longer lists him as a martyr, as his cause of death cannot be historically confirmed.
A Roman who was named after his father, Alexander, was reportedly born at "Caput Tauri," thought to refer to the area of Esquiline Hill, one of the Seven hills of Rome. Nothing is known of his life before he took office. Some sources say his episcopacy lasted seven years, others ten.
According to the Liber Pontificalis, it was Alexander I who inserted the narration of the Last Supper (the Qui pridie) into the Catholic mass. However, this claim is now considered to be anachronistic by both Catholic and non-Catholic experts. It is viewed as a product of the agenda of Liber Pontificalis—this section of the book was probably written in the late fifth century—to show an ancient pattern of the earliest bishops of Rome ruling the church by papal decree.
Alexander I is also said to have introduced the use of holy water and salt for the purification of Christian homes from evil influences, as well as the custom of mixing water with the sacramental wine of the Eucharist. All this, too, is considered unlikely, as is the report that he ordained six priests, two deacons, and five bishops, since these offices are not thought to have been defined as such yet in his time. However, it is certainly possible that Alexander, whether acting singly or part of a collective leadership at Rome, played an important part in the governance of the church and the evolution of its emerging liturgical and administrative tradition.
Liber Pontificalis also reports that Alexander suffered martyrdom by beheading, probably under the Roman Emperor Trajan (or possibly Hadrian). The priest Eventius and the deacon Theodulus are said to have died with him outside of Rome. However, Irenaeus of Lyons, writing much earlier than the Liber Pontificalis, does not know of this tradition. Since Liber Pontificalis reports that all the early popes were martyrs, the accuracy of this report is now treated with skepticism. The date of his death is given as May 3, and he was buried on the Via Nomentana, where his execution took place.
Although little is known of Alexander I with certainty, he became part of a time-honored tradition that views each of the early popes as both saints and martyrs. Three Christian martyrs named Alexander, Eventius, and Theodulus were indeed buried along the Via Nomentana, but it is now thought that Alexander I was was a different Alexander—probably mistakenly identified as one of the martyrs by the writer of Liber Pontificalis or his source. His remains are said to have been transferred to Freising in Bavaria, Germany in 834 C.E.
A later tradition holds that in the reign of Emperor Hadrian, Alexander I converted the Roman governor Hermes by miraculous means, together with his entire household of 1500 souls. Saint Quirinus of Neuss, who was Alexander's supposed jailer, and Quirinus' daughter Saint Balbina were also among his converts.
Alexander's feast day is celebrated on May 3, the traditional date of his death. The identification of Alexander as a martyr was removed from the Roman Calendar by Pope John XXIII in 1960 as lacking historical basis.
Today in the Latin Calendar we celebrate the Feast Day of SS. Pope Alexander I and Companions, many martyrs and S. Juvenal, Bishop. A story about this Feast day can be found by Clicking Here.
Sts. James and Philip
James, Son of Alphaeus: We know nothing of this man except his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the 12 pillars of the New Israel, his Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, “brother” of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Letter of James. James, son of Alphaeus, is also known as James the Lesser to avoid confusing him with James the son of Zebedee, also an apostle and known as James the Greater.
Philip: Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the “one about whom Moses wrote” (John 1:45).
Like the other apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat. St. John comments, “[Jesus] said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do” (John 6:6). Philip answered, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit]” (John 6:7).
John’s story is not a put-down of Philip. It was simply necessary for these men who were to be the foundation stones of the Church to see the clear distinction between humanity’s total helplessness apart from God and the human ability to be a bearer of divine power by God’s gift.
On another occasion, we can almost hear the exasperation in Jesus’ voice. After Thomas had complained that they did not know where Jesus was going, Jesus said, “I am the way...If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6a, 7). Then Philip said, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Enough! Jesus answered, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9a).
Possibly because Philip bore a Greek name or because he was thought to be close to Jesus, some Gentile proselytes came to him and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip went to Andrew, and Andrew went to Jesus. Jesus’ reply in John’s Gospel is indirect; Jesus says that now his “hour” has come, that in a short time he will give his life for Jew and Gentile alike.
As in the case of the other apostles, we see in James and Philip human men who became foundation stones of the Church, and we are reminded again that holiness and its consequent apostolate are entirely the gift of God, not a matter of human achieving. All power is God’s power, even the power of human freedom to accept his gifts. “You will be clothed with power from on high,” Jesus told Philip and the others. Their first commission had been to expel unclean spirits, heal diseases, announce the kingdom. They learned, gradually, that these externals were sacraments of an even greater miracle inside their persons—the divine power to love like God.
“He sent them...so that as sharers in his power they might make all peoples his disciples, sanctifying and governing them.... They were fully confirmed in this mission on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1–26) in accordance with the Lord’s promise: ‘You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me...even to the very ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). By everywhere preaching the gospel (cf. Mark 16:20), which was accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the apostles gathered together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus himself remaining the supreme cornerstone...” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 19).
Patron Saint of:
Supporting Our Church:
Let us continue to draw directly from the Church, especially from the local Church, all that is necessary to live a life of the Spirit--sacraments, authority, ministries and doctrine. Let us continue to pour out all that we are directly into the bosom of life that is the Church.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
The spiritual combats are pressing on me relentlessly. Darkness is followed by darkness, and spiritual blindness has become pitch darkness for me...