Category Archives: General History

Nestorius and Nestorianism

Nestorius, who gave his name to the Nestorian heresy, was born at Germanicia, in Syria Euphoratensis (date unknown); died in the Thebaid, Egypt, c. 451. He was living as a priest and monk in the monastery of Euprepius near the walls, when he was chosen by the Emperor Theodosius II to be Patriarch of Constantinople in succession to Sisinnius. He had a highr eputation for eloquence, and the popularity of St. Chrysostom’s memory among the people of the imperial city may have influenced the Emperor’s choice of another priest from Antioch to be court bishop. He was consecrated in April, 428, and seems to have made an excellent impression. He lost no time in showing his zeal against heretics. Within a few days of hisc onsecration Nestorius had an Arian chapel destroyed, and he persuaded Theodosius to issue a severe edict against heresy in the following month. He had the churches of the Macedoniansin the Hellespont seized, and took measures against the Quartodecimans who remained inA sia Minor. He also attacked the Novatians, in spite of the good reputation of their bishop. Pelagian refugees from the West, however, he did not expel, not being well acquainted with their condemnation ten years earlier. He twice wrote to Pope St. Celestine I for information on the subject. He received no reply, but Marius Mercator, a disciple of St. Augustine, published a memoir on the subject at Constantinople, and presented it to the emperor, who duly proscribed the heretics. At the end of 428, or at latest in the early part of 429, Nestorius preached the first of his famous sermons against the word Theotokos, and detailed hisAntiochian doctrine of the Incarnation. The first to raise his voice against it was Eusebius, alayman, afterwards Bishop of Dorylaeum and the accuser of Eutyches. Two priests of the city,Philip and Proclus, who had both been unsuccessful candidates for the patriarchate, preached against Nestorius. Philip, known as Sidetes, from Side, his birthplace, author of a vast and discursive history now lost, accused the patriarch of heresy. Proclus (who was to succeed later in his candidature) preached a flowery, but perfectly orthodox, sermon, yet extant, to which Nestorius replied in an extempore discourse, which we also possess. All this naturally causedg reat excitement at Constantinople, especially among the clergy, who were clearly not well disposed towards the stranger from Antioch. St. Celestine immediately condemned the doctrine. Nestorius had arranged with the emperor in the summer of 430 for the assembling of a council. He now hastened it on, and the summons had been issued to patriarchs and metropolitans on 19 Nov., before the pope’s sentence, delivered though Cyril of Alexandria, had been served on Nestorius (6 Dec.). At the council Nestorius was condemned, and the emperor, after much delay and hesitation, ratified its finding. It was confirmed by Pope Sixtus III.

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The Sto. Niño de Cebu: The Oldest Icon in the Country

 

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Photo: Courtesy of andalltheangelsandsaints blog 

The Santo Niño icon of Cebu is historically recognized as the oldest religious relic in the Philippines. Itsorigin is traced from the celebrated voyage of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 which accidentally “discovered” and claimed the islands for the Spanish Monarchy. The historic arrival was purely uncalculated for the fleet did not intend to sail directly to the Philippines. The land of the spices, particularly the highly-contested Moluccas, was the expedition’s targetdestination. The armada reached the islands after it was driven away by strong winds from the original routewhich eventually brought them to the island of Cebu. The preliminary encounters that followed forged conditional alliancesand the accompanying ceremonials took place including the introduction of the Christian faith. Initial attempt to evangelize the indigenous people of Cebu was accomplished with the hasty acceptance of the Christian faith by King Humabon and his subjects numbering around 800. The Santo Niño image was given to Queen Juana upon her ardent wish to have it in place of her local deities. The baptized indigenous people did not flourish in their practice of faith mainly due to the untimely demise of Magellan (including the chaplain Fr. Pedro Valderrama) and the eventual return of the surviving contingent to Spain. Also attributable to the absence of deeper instruction, the baptismal rite was misconstrued by the locals as a customary ritual of friendship rather than a spiritual initiation. After the interruption of forty-four (44) years, the Legazpi-Urdaneta Expedition arrived in Cebu. On April 28, 1565, the dramatic yet providential discovery (pagkakaplag) of the same wooden image in a partially scorched hut started the distinctive Christian heritage of the Philippines. The Augustinians who accompanied the journey commenced the systematic evangelization and Christianization of the islands. The subsequent foundation of the Church and Convent of the Augustinians rose on the actual site where the statuette was found. It became the central house of the Augustinians, the mother church in the Philippine Islands. The establishment of organic settlements and mission areas followed instantaneously and the pioneering evangelization gradually prospered in geographical reach and ecclesial organization despite the scarcity of missionaries. Additional religious orders were commissioned to the Philippines in successive intervals: Franciscans (1578), Jesuits (1581), Dominicans (1587), and Augustinian Recollects (1606). Their ground-breaking missionary endeavours contributed to the Philippine identity as a predominantly Christian nation.

The first Church and Convent dedicated to Santo Niño developed into a principalhouse of the Augustinian friars mainly in the spiritual and missionary formation, and the promotion of the devotion to the Holy Child – theadored patron, protector and inspiration. As a consequence, the Santo Niño Church grew in popularity throughout the islands both in magnificence and significance as the cradle of Philippine Christianity, and the perpetual sanctuary of the Santo Niño of Cebu. In recognition of the historical, religious and cultural importance of the Santo Niño Church and the sacred relic it keeps, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) petitioned Pope Paul VI in 1964 to confer on the Santo Niño Church the title “Basilica Minore” in time for the Fourth Centennial of the Christianization of the Philippines in 1965.The Santo Niño icon was also canonically crowned by the Papal LegateIldebrando Cardinal Antoniutti – a solemn gesture of singular honor reserved to the beloved Santo Niño. In its entirety, the Fourth Centennial Celebration overwhelmingly succeeded in engaging the entire nation, thus renewing “The Philippines for Christ” in faith, commitment and enthusiasm to live out the Gospel message.

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