September 2006 - Volume 11, Issue 2

Saint Of The Month

St. Liberius – September 24

Painting of Saint LiberiusCalled to a life of religious leadership, Liberius was elected Pope on May 17, 352. But three years later, the emperor Constantine II exiled him from Rome. He was angry with Liberius for refusing to agree with the unseating of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria and an outspoken opponent of the Arian heresy.

Liberius was sent to Beroea in Thrace and signed, most likely under pressure, a document that rejected orthodox Christianity and embraced Arianism.

The exiled Pope returned to Rome in 358 and bided his time until the death of Constantine three years later. The new emperor, Julian, retracted Liberius's sentence, and the Pope was able to reaffirm his devotion to the principles of the Council of Nicaea and the concept of the Trinity.

There is a famous legend that involves a devout childless couple and Liberius. The couple prayed at length for a child. The Blessed Mother appeared in a dream simultaneously to Liberius and the couple and told them to build a church in her honor and that the exact location of the church would be marked in the snow.

On a hot August night, there was a miraculous snow fall. The aristocrat and his wife awoke and rushed to the site, along with Liberius. The people who gathered there knew this would be the site of the church and cordoned off the area before the snow melted. Soon thereafter, the couple was expecting a child.

The church, known as the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, was built in two years. It is also referred to as the Basilica of Liberiana, after the Pope. Liberius died in 366 and was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla in Rome.

Dear Lord,
bless our religious leaders
and keep them always in Your thoughts.
Heal them when they are sick.
Give them strength when they are weak.
Give them knowledge when they are unsure.
Give them the courage to keep their religious communities together.
I ask this in Your name.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives