Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 10

7 "Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. 8 Also in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry enough with you to have destroyed you. 9 When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. 10 Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. 11 And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the Lord gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.
12 "Then the Lord said to me, 'Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly; they have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made themselves a molded image.'
13 "Furthermore the Lord spoke to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. 14 Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.'
15 "So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire; and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God--had made for yourselves a molded calf! You had turned aside quickly from the way which the Lord had commanded you. 17 Then I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. 18 And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you committed in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was angry with you, to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me at that time also. 20 And the Lord was very angry with Aaron and would have destroyed him; so I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. 21 Then I took your sin, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it and ground it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that descended from the mountain.
22 "Also at Taberah and Massah and Kibroth Hattaavah you provoked the Lord to wrath. 23 Likewise, when the Lord sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying, 'Go up and possess the land which I have given you,' then you rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God, and you did not believe Him nor obey His voice. 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
25 "Thus I prostrated myself before the Lord; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the Lord had said He would destroy you. 26 Therefore I prayed to the Lord, and said: 'O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance whom You have redeemed through Your greatness, whom You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin, 28 lest the land from which You brought us should say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring them to the land which He promised them, and because He hated them, He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness." 29 Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out by Your mighty power and by Your outstretched arm.'

Deut. Ch. 9 (NKJV)


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 9

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, by thy disciples fast not?

And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

Gospel According to St. Mark 2:18-20 (KJV)

18και ησαν οι μαθηται ιωαννου και οι των φαρισαιων νηστευοντες και ερχονται και λεγουσιν αυτω διατι οι μαθηται ιωαννου και οι των φαρισαιων νηστευουσιν οι δε σοι μαθηται ου νηστευουσιν 19και ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους μη δυνανται οι υιοι του νυμφωνος εν ω ο νυμφιος μετ αυτων εστιν νηστευειν οσον χρονον μεθ εαυτων εχουσιν τον νυμφιον ου δυνανται νηστευειν 20ελευσονται δε ημεραι οταν απαρθη απ αυτων ο νυμφιος και τοτε νηστευσουσιν εν εκειναις ταις ημεραις

Greek 1550


Monday, February 26, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 8

Wisdom of the Fathers:

8:1 Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays[*], but do you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.

8:2 And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us to-day our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine is the power and the glory for ever."

8:3 Pray thus three times a day.

- The Didache (The Teaching) (c. ~80-100 A.D.)

[*] It is my understanding that certain pious Jews in modern times fast on Monday-Thursday-Monday following the feasts of Pesach and Sukkot. Interestingly, there is a fast called Ta'anit Bechorim (Fast of the Firstborn) which is observed only by firstborn males on the 14th of Nisan, the day before Pesach/Passover, in commemoration of the fact that the first-born of Israel were saved from the fate of the first-born in Egypt. I don't know the antiquity of this fast.


Today the Discovery Channel and show producers are going to hold a press conference to hype a show coming on in early March about the Lost Tomb of Jesus relating the discovery of some interred ossuary boxes in Talpiot, Israel. The claim will be that the Ossuaries are those of the family of Jesus including an 'unrelated' Mary (thus presumably his 'spouse' Mary of Magdala).

So Lent will prove even more difficult this year, perhaps, as the sensationalists will seek the destruction of the Christian faith. Of course, as St. Paul said, if Christ is not raised from the dead, we are men to be pitied.

The Discovery Channel site has some downloadable documents which they use as the 'evidence.' One of these is a 1996 journal article about the find. What makes the whole thing fishy is, if these things were discovered in the 1980s, and journaled about in the 1990s, why did not such a find make a huge splash then?

Second, if there was a conspiracy to create a 'false gospel' of the ressurection of Christ, it seems highly unlikely that such conspiracists would have allowed for the chance that Jesus of Nazareth's bones would be translated from the tomb and placed into a family tomb. But maybe the proto-templars (see, e.g., Da Vinci Code) outwitted them, eh?

I smell a rat, but I've not found him yet.

Many prayers to the Most High for all of us in these dark days.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 7

Sunday of Orthodoxy

The Reading is from John 1:43-51

At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

Ἐκ τοῦ κατὰ Ἰωάννην. Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἠθέλησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, καὶ εὑρίσκει Φίλιππον. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς, ᾽Ακολούθει μοι. Ἦν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδά, ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ᾽Ανδρέου καὶ Πέτρου. Εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, ὃν ἔγραψεν Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται εὑρήκαμεν, ᾽Ιησοῦν υἱὸν τοῦ ᾽Ιωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ. Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ, ᾽Εκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι; λέγει αὐτῷ Φίλιππος, ῎Ερχου καὶ ἴδε. Εἶδεν ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς τὸν Ναθαναὴλ ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει περὶ αὐτοῦ, ῎Ιδε ἀληθῶς ᾽Ισραηλίτης ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστιν. Λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ, Πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη ᾽Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε. Ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ, ῾Ραββί, σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, σὺ βασιλεὺς εἶ τοῦ ᾽Ισραήλ. Ἀπεκρίθη ᾽Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ὅτι εἶπόν σοι ὅτι εἶδόν σε ὑποκάτω τῆς συκῆς πιστεύεις; μείζω τούτων ὄψῃ. Καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, ᾽Αμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὄψεσθε τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεῳγότα καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀναβαίνοντας καὶ καταβαίνοντας ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

Greek and English Texts above from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Online Chapel -

44 وكان فيلبس من بيت صيدا من مدينة اندراوس وبطرس.

45 فيلبس وجد نثنائيل وقال له وجدنا الذي كتب عنه موسى في الناموس والانبياء يسوع ابن يوسف الذي من الناصرة.

46 فقال له نثنائيل أمن الناصرة يمكن ان يكون شيء صالح. قال له فيلبس تعال وانظر

47 ورأى يسوع نثنائيل مقبلا اليه فقال عنه هوذا اسرائيلي حقا لا غش فيه.

48 قال له نثنائيل من اين تعرفني. اجاب يسوع وقال له. قبل ان دعاك فيلبس وانت تحت التينة رأيتك.

49 اجاب نثنائيل وقال له يا معلّم انت ابن الله. انت ملك اسرائيل.

50 اجاب يسوع وقال له هل آمنت لاني قلت لك اني رأيتك تحت التينة. سوف ترى اعظم من هذا.

51 وقال له الحق الحق اقول لكم من الآن ترون السماء مفتوحة وملائكة الله يصعدون وينزلون على ابن الانسان


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 6

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans-- 2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. 6 Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.

8 "O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.

13 "As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day--we have sinned, we have done wickedly!

16 "O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. 17 Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord's sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name."

20 Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision:

24 "Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.

25 "Know therefore and understand,
That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem
Until Messiah the Prince,
There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall,
Even in troublesome times.

26 "And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate."

Book of Daniel, Ch. 9 (NKJV)


Friday, February 23, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 5

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?'

In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
5 Is it a fast that I have chosen,
A day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush,
And to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Would you call this a fast,
And an acceptable day to the Lord?

6 Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'

If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
12 Those from among you
Shall build the old waste places;
You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

13 If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 58:3-14 (NKJV)


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 4

4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you."

8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.

9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

10 So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

11 Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

14 And he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

15 Then the Lord said to him: "Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. 16 Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.

1 Kings 19:4-15


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 3

1 Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. 2 And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.

6 Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.

11 Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 lest--when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end-- 17 then you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.'
18 And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy Ch. 8 (NKJV)


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 2

Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.

Gospel According to St. Matthew 4:1-2 (KJV)

τοτε ο ιησους ανηχθη εις την ερημον υπο του πνευματος πειρασθηναι υπο του διαβολου
και νηστευσας ημερας τεσσαρακοντα και νυκτας τεσσαρακοντα υστερον επεινασεν

- Matt 4-12 (according to Byzantine/Majority Text)

ثم أصعد يسوع الى البرية من الروح ليجرب من ابليس
فبعدما صام اربعين نهارا واربعين ليلة جاع اخيرا

- Matt 4:1-2 (according to Smith & Van Dyke Arabic translation)


Monday, February 19, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert of Lent - Day 1

"Hast thou run so many circles of the years busied in vain about the world, and hast thou not forty days to be free for prayer, for thine own soul's sake?

Be still, and know that I am God, saith the Scripture. Excuse thyself from talking many idle words: neither backbite, nor lend a willing ear to backbiters; but rather be prompt to prayer. Shew in ascetic exercise that thy heart is nerved. Cleanse thy vessel, that thou mayest receive grace more abundantly."

- St. Kyril, presbyter and later bishop of Jersusalem, c. 348 A.D., from his lectures to catechumens.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Treasures of "Western" Orthodoxy

This is the Bapistery of Saint John (Baptistere St. Jean) in Poitiers, France. The photo is copyright me, shot in 1996 . . . please feel free to make 'fair use' of it, but don't start selling postcards using the shot, etc. :)

The Baptistery was originally built in the 4th Century, when Poitiers was a Roman town in Gaul, known as Pictaviensis. St. Hilary of Poitiers was its bishop then. He was one of the Latin fathers to battle the Arian heresy, and to explain the problem to the Latin-speaking bishops and presbyters 'round about. He had the advantage of having been exiled by the Emperor to the east, and picking up quite a few things about what was going on (and probably improving his Greek a great deal, too). The Roman Catholic Church has declared him a Doctor of the Church - there aren't too many of those, and you can look up what it means in the Catholic Encylopedia on line.

The building was not a regular parish church, but particularly reserved for immersion baptisms, with the altar on the far side of the baptismal pool for that first communion. A few modifications to the original building were made, but basically that ended in about the 7th or 8th century and ultimately the thing fell out of use somewhere in the 9th century as a baptistery since the sprinkling of infants was on the rise in the West.

So this building out in West Central France is quite an old treasure . . . older than the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, I think, and older than St. Catherine's monastery in Sinai. It's the oldest Christian building in all of France that's still around (according to the museum there). Go visit if you get a chance, before it falls down or something.

St. Hilary wrote a nice treatise entitled "On the Holy Trinity" which is respected East and West. The first three chapters (or 'books') are a delightful exposition of the basic trinitarian belief, and how St. Hilary came to that understanding from a pagan upbringing.

St. Hilary, and the bapistery that he served at, reminds us that Orthodoxy is neither 'Eastern' nor 'Western' but is the heritage of both.