Saints of Ankara

Since we’re seeing a lot of Turkey for the next few days, time to point out a few important saints from there!

Yesterday the Pope visited Turkey’s capital. But Ankara was once known as Ancyra. (Also Angora, as in cats, goats, and rabbits with silky fur.) Probably its most popular saint was the heroic innkeeper St. Theodotus of Ancyra. (If he actually existed and Nilus really was an eyewitness to his tale.) The story goes that his clever foresight and leadership made his inn a secret center of Christian activities. He also secretly buried Christian martyrs’ bodies. But finally he got caught and killed, and somebody else had to swipe his body and secretly bury it. His feast was celebrated along with the deaths of other martyrs, with the euphonious names of: “the saintly virgins Thecusa; his aunt, Alexandra; Claudia; Faina; Euphrasia; Matrona; and Julitta.”

More sober and historically grounded saintly folks included: St. Basil of Ancyra, anti-Arian priest martyred by the Emperor Julian; St. Clement of Ancyra, made its bishop at the age of twenty, and martyred along with his disciple St. Agathangelus; St. Platon (called “the Great” in the East), philosopher and martyr; and his brother St. Antiochos, physician and martyr; and St. Philoumenos, bread seller and martyr (who’s commemmorated today! Right next to a saint from Regensburg and a Carmelite who was tortured to death by Malaysian Muslims, oddly enough….).

Yesterday’s commemmorated saints included Ss. Basil, Andrew, Peter, feisty Abbot Stephen the Younger, and 300 other folks martyred in Constantinople for opposing iconoclasm. (Byzantine doctrinal conflicts tended to be lively and committed.) Also celebrated was a saintly Byzantine hagiographer and secretary of state who is (enviably enough) known to history St. Simeon the Logothete.

(Logothete was the name of his office, but it just sounds snazzier. Condoleeza Rice the Logothete. Logothete Kissinger. Awesome, eh?)

You can learn tons more about Ankara in church history over at Way of the Fathers. (We need him to square off with Dawn Eden in some kind of pun contest, ne?)

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