Saint Narcissus of Jerusalem
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church of Arodon
- 2Current process
- 4Partial list of pending cases
- 5Prefects of the Congregation for Rites, 1903 to 1969
- 6Officials of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints since 1969
- 7See also
- 9External links
FeastOctober 29 (Roman Catholic Church)
August 7 (Eastern Orthodox Church)AttributesDepicted as a Bishop holding a thistle in blossom; pitcher of water near him; an angel depicted carrying his soul to Heaven.
Saint Narcissus of Jerusalem’s Story
Life in second- and third-century Jerusalem couldn’t have been easy, but Saint Narcissus managed to live well beyond 100. Some even speculate he lived to 160.
Details of his life are sketchy, but there are many reports of his miracles. The miracle for which Narcissus is most remembered was turning water into oil for use in the church lamps on Holy Saturday when the deacons had forgotten to provide any.
We do know that Narcissus became bishop of Jerusalem in the late second century. He was known for his holiness, but there are hints that many people found him harsh and rigid in his efforts to impose Church discipline. One of his many detractors accused Narcissus of a serious crime at one point. Though the charges against him did not hold up, he used the occasion to retire from his role as bishop and live in solitude. His disappearance was so sudden and convincing that many people assumed he had actually died. [ ]
In mythology, Narcissus had been the unhappy young man who, for his beauty, had fallen in love with himself, dying miserably in a pool of water which, like a mirror, reflected his image.
The mythological Narcissus is therefore a symbol of sterile and selfish love, and of useless and soulless beauty. Quite different, indeed opposite, it is – fortunately – the figure of today’s saint, who with the sad young man of mythology had nothing in common but the name.
Today’s Saint lived long, and in the extreme old age he was able to conquer his fame and affection. If the ancient Narcissus can be taken as a symbol of a psychologically ill youth, the new Narcissus is an image of spiritually vigorous old age, in the health of the body and mind.
He was the thirtieth bishop of Jerusalem, but he was not of Jewish origin. It was certainly kind, born around 96, when the ruins of Tito’s destruction were still fresh in Jerusalem.
For nearly a century, he saw the city of David laboriously resurrect and repopulate, hosting a vast Christian community alongside the Jews. He was almost a hundred years old when he was elected Bishop of Jerusalem, for his merits not so much of age as of virtue.
Despite the years, he was an active bishop, and presided over a council in which it was decided that the feast of Easter should always fall on Sunday. Just on an Easter day, San Narcissus performed the miracle of turning the water into oil for the lamps of the church, whose wicks had remained dry.
And he was also an energetic Bishop, so much so as to attract the hatred of the corrupt and dishonest, who felt threatened by his severity. To defend themselves, they thought of attacking, spreading a terrible slander on the account of the very old Bishop.
History does not tell us what this slander was, but recalls that it was confirmed by solemn oaths by the accusers. Not all the faithful trusted the insinuations, but to avoid any scandal the old Bishop, although innocent, preferred to leave the city.
The perjuries, one by one, were struck by terrible punishments, until someone revealed the lie. Everyone thought, however, that the Bishop, now rehabilitated, had died in the meantime, so another was elected to succeed him, and after that, another one. At the death of the second, St. Narcissus reappeared in Jerusalem, and the faithful brought him back with great honor on the Episcopal Chair. He remained there for many years, however, taking a coadjutor, the first in the history of the episcopate, according to a custom that still continues.
From a letter from this coadjutor, who was Saint Alexander, we know the latest news on the account of the long-lived Bishop of Jerusalem: “Narcissus greets you,” he reads. “He turned one hundred and six, and exhorts you, like me, to keep the concord “.
Translated into english by Google Translate. Grammar left as is.