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10. Of the Apostles' Days

Antiquities of the Christian Church
XXI. Sacred Seasons, Festivals and Fasts

10. Of the Apostles' Days

The reasons for observing these were the same as for observing the martyr feasts; nor is there any instance of the appointment of such a day for any apostle or evangelist who was known not to have suffered martyrdom. The Apostolical Constitutions, VIII. c. 33, make mention of the apostles' feast, and direct that slaves shall be exempt from labor on that day, which intimates that it was regarded as one of the great feasts. But none of the apostles is specified, neither is the time of observing it mentioned. The idea of a general feast of this character was often entertained, though the festival was but inconstantly observed. The Oriental church celebrated it immediately after Whitsunday, and in connection with it; but the churches generally were not agreed either in regard to the day, or the persons who should be honored by it. At one time Peter's and Paul's day is mentioned; . at another, that of Philip and James;. then the twelve collectively. But separate festivals were, in time, prescribed for all together with the evangelists Mark and Luke.

Festivals were, in process of time, established also in great numbers for the saints of distinction, though they died not as martyrs. The Eastern church was the first to appoint such festivals. In the Western church they were regarded most from the time of Charlemagne to Gregory VIII. 

The right of canonizing saints originally belonged to the bishops, but the privilege was restricted by councils. The first instance of canonization by the pope occurred A. D. 995. The privilege continued to be exercised occasionally until the twelfth century, when it began to be boldly asserted and defended.

The feasts of All Saints, Nov. 1, and of All Souls, Nov. 2, were instituted, the former in the seventh and the latter in the tenth century.

A farther sketch of the endless festivals of the Catholics would be inconsistent with the design of this work. Suffice it to say that they fill up the entire year in the Roman Calendar, so that there is not a day which is not dedicated to the memory of one or more of their saints. For a further account of the festivals of the church, the reader is referred to the 3d vol. of Augusti's original Work.

It appears that the earliest professors of the christian faith were disposed conscientiously to abstain from public religious ceremonies, and were more than content to be even destitute of temples, altars, priests, and sacred pomp or show. They received in its literal and broadest meaning the precept of our Saviour, that his disciples should worship God in spirit and in truth; and they thought that they had discovered, in the overthrow of the Jewish polity and the destruction of the temple, an intimation of the Divine will that religious worship should be no longer limited by time and place. The Jewish Christians, indeed, continued to evince an attachment to places, times, and seasons; but the early Gentile converts regarded temples and altars as remnants or indications of heathen superstition, – an opinion which is strongly developed, for example, in the Apologies of Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Tertullian, and even in the writings of Origen (contra Celsufn, lib. viii.)

In course of time, however, when Christianity was protected, and even adopted, by the state, and opportunity was thus given of establishing public forms and ceremonies of worship without fear of danger, and when it seemed expedient to recommend it to the favor of half-converted pagans by outward pomp and circumstance, it was thought to be at once safe and seasonable to increase the number of sacred solemnities, both ordinary and extraordinary, to restore many parts of the Jewish ritual, and even to incorporate into the system of christian worship various rites and ceremonies from the customs of the declining pagan superstition. And it is to this period of church history, and to these mistaken principles of pohiy, that we may chiefly refer the origin of stations, processions, and pilgrimages. But to speak of these in detail would carry us too far out of the department of Christian Antiquities into the region of ecclesiastical superstition and folly.

Apost. Constit. v. c. 20:
(No tag #1 appears in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)

Sacrameniar Leonis et Galesii.

Micrologus, c. 55: Durandus, 7, 10.

Concil. Tolos. A. D. 1229. c. 26.

Alcuinus. De div. offic. p. 87.

Karle de Gr. Capital, ii. A. D. 805. c. 17.


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