In 236, an assembly was held at Rome to elect a pope as successor to Antherus. In the throng was Fabian, a layman from another part of Italy. Suddenly, according to the historian Eusebius, a dove flew over the crowd and lighted on Fabian’s head. In spite of the fact that he was both a total stranger and not even a candidate for election, the people unanimously chose Fabian to be pope, shouting, “He is worthy! He is worthy!” Fabian was ordained to the episcopate without opposition.
During his fourteen years as pontiff, Fabian made numerous administrative reforms. He developed the parochial structure of the Church in Rome, and established the custom of venerating martyrs at their shrines in the catacombs. He appointed seven deacons and seven sub-deacons to write the lives of the martyrs, so that their deeds should not be forgotten in times to come.
Lesser Feasts and Fasts
Probably most of us will never be called upon to lay down our life for the faith. We may be ridiculed, snubbed, ignored, or dismissed because of our faith—small torments compared to the martyrdom of men and women through the ages. Our fervent plea to receive grace to remain “steadfast in the faith” that we may endure “times of trial and persecution” will surely be answered. And God will be glorified. ~Fr. Dan
Almighty God, you called Fabian to be a faithful pastor and servant of your people, and to lay down his life in witness to your Son: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and aided by his prayers, may in times of trial and persecution remain steadfast in faith and endurance, for the sake of him who laid down his life for us all, Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Like Roman Catholics and the Orthodox, Episcopalians honor our ancestors in the faith, men and women of exceptional character and action as Christ-followers, who inspire and encourage us along the Way. The Collect used on the day they are honored often asks for graces to become a better Christ-follower in our day and in our lives. What did you hear today?
For further reading
- Fabian (Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music)
- The Lectionary Readings for the Commemoration (Lectionary Page)
- Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (Home Page)
- What is a Collect?
Image: Holy Women, Holy Men