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2006.06.30 16:08
Re: Helen and the True Cross
I am offering good evidence that very well points to a law of silence having been issued regarding Helena and the True Cross soon after 25 July 326. Perhaps argumentum ex ignorantia becomes quite strong when taken to an extreme.
Of course it is easier to try and swiftly push the whole argument aside, but perhaps, too, a sign of weakness.


2006.06.30 15:07
5:45 PM 6/3/2020
Was this near where a friend of mine lives off Torresdale Avenue in the Tacony section of Philadelphia, or just a fortunate coincidence?
It's becoming 24/7 adventures for me.


2006.06.30 11:46
Re: Helen and the True Cross
Thank you, Jan Willem.
I will continue, however, to hold up the extreme case, i.e., that the legend of Helena and the True Cross did happen, and at its earliest possible date, 14 September 325. Additionally, a law of silence specifically regarding Helena-and-the-True-Cross was put into place soon after 25 July 326.
[It just occurred to me now that, besides keeping imperial control of the situation, there is another reason the law of silence may have come into place. If the event was a fabrication of Helena, Eutropia and/or Constantine, then the deaths of Crispus, Helena and Fausta may have been seen by Constantine and Eutropia (and perhaps even by Helena on her death bed) as signs that they did something very wrong, and thus a law of silence was the best way to 'enforce' that the event never really happened. Nonetheless, news of the (possibly fabricated) event was already in circulation for 10 months.]
Laws of silence are strangely powerful because the better they work, the less history gets to know what the silence was about. It appears, however, that breaking an imperial law of silence is not punishable by death, rather by exile--see St. Martin I, pope and martyr, died c. 656.
Between 25 July 326 and 25 February 395 (during which time the law of silence regarding Helena and the Cross was enforced) Bishop Athanasius and Bishop Cyril were committed to exile several times, and, before Athanasius and Cyril, Bishop Eustathius lost his see.
"Last night, in reviewing the case of the 'downfall' of Eustathius, bishop of Antioch, and its seeming connection to his having said something about Helena, it is mentioned that Eustathius was anti-Arian while Helena seems to have been pro-Arian, and thus maybe Eustathius said something along these lines. [The fall of Eustathius occurred sometime 326-328, and is one of the factors that leads modern scholars to believe that Helena was in the Holy Land/East during that period. I think that Eustathius did fall because he said something about Helena, but that his real crime was that he said something about Helena after her death in Rome July 326. In other words, Eustathius broke the 'silence' regarding Helena and the Cross that was somehow enforced by Constantine, and Eustathius' losing his see is a clear example to those living then under Constantine of what will happen if you too break the 'silence'. Interestingly, it is Athanasius of Alexandria that first tells us of the Eustathius/Helena connection, and he was also a supported of Eustathius. Athanasius was exiled to Trier (where he might not be heard so well?) during the latter years of Constantine's life.]"
--Stephen Lauf, "re-reading VITA CONSTANTINI Book III" at lt-antiq listserv, 2001.08.18 [the feast of St. Helena]
Laws of silence are not only effectually beneficial for imperials, however. If you knew that one of your adversaries had broken a law of silence, a charge against your adversary could then be quickly brought to court. I now seriously wonder/speculate that the law of silence regarding Helena and the True Cross was also occasionally utilized as a powerful tool within the ongoing Arian controversy.
Last night, while reading of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in Butler's Lives of the Saints, the following passage struck me:
"Acacius thereupon, making his way to Constantinople, persuaded the Emperor Constantius to summon another council. Fresh accusations were made in addition to the old ones, and what particularly incensed the emperor was the information that a gold-brocaded vestment presented by his father Constantine to Marcarius for administering baptism had been sold, and had been seen and recognized on a comedian performing on the boards of a theatre. Acacius triumphed and obtained a second decree of exile against Cyril within a year of his vindication."
If such a charge against Cyril was really brought before Constantius, did Cyril really sell such an important vestment, especially since he himself was so closely involved with the baptisms that occurred at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? It didn't take me long to think that the charge as recorded might be code for Cyril having done the worst, the unspeakable, i.e., that he spoke of that which by law he should be silent.
If Cyril did indeed speak of Helena and the True Cross, it may well have already happened before he was bishop of Jerusalem.
"He seems to have been ordained priest by the bishop of Jerusalem, St. Maximus, who thought so highly of his abilities that he charged him with the important duty of instructing the catechumens. His catechetical lectures were delivered for several years--those to the illuminandi, or candidates for baptism, taking place in Constantine's basilica of the Holy Cross, usually called the Martyrion, and those to the newly-baptized being given during Easter week in the circular Anastasis or church of the Resurrection. They were delivered without book... We find in them also interesting allusions to the discovery of the cross..."
--Butler's Lives of the Saints
Cyril's lectures occurred within the first decade of the publication of Eusebius's Vita Constantini. As a (probable) native of Jerusalem who was about 10 years old 14 September 325, did it bother Cyril that Eusebius omitted all mention of Helena with regard to the building of the Holy Sepulchre? Was Cyril, in his catechetical lectures, making sure that the newly-baptized Christians were aware of the full "real" story?
Is Gelasius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History (c. 390) "now lost" because it contained information that was illegal to publish at the time?
As to Santa Croce in Jerusalemme, the basilica and its Constantinian date are still important to the discussion of relics (and pilgrimage).
ps
I'm curious as to why Steve Mulburger excluded a passage from me when he demonstrated the 4th century "as even more eccentric" than he thought. Don't tell me there is a law of silence forbidding discussion of a law of silence.

2006.06.30 09:50
Re: Helen and the True Cross
[This email came to my email address alone (30 June 2006, 03:38 am EST.), yet I'm sure it was meant for the whole list.]
Yes, I think that the cross was found (or a piece of wood considered to be the cross) possibly when the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built but that its inventio was only attributed to Helena later for specific motives. One of the motives was political and had to do with the conflict between Caesarea and Jerusalem about primacy in the church province of Palestine.
There are no historically reliable sources before the last decades of the 4th century that connect Helena with the inventio crucis. There are plenty of references to the Cross, to its finding (see Cyril's letter to Constantius II of 351) and its veneration in Jerusalem before that, but no mention of Helena. The one who probably first mentioned Helena's discovery of the Cross was Gelasius of Caesarea in his (now lost) Ecclesiastical History (c. 390); the core of his story of Helena's inventio crucis can be found in Rufinus' Ecclesiastical History.
As to S Croce in Gerusalemme, even if we assume that the information in the Liber Pontificalis is reliable, Helena and the inventio crucis are not mentioned. I believe therefore that the relevant passage in the LP (I.179) cannot serve as evidence for the finding of the Cross by Helena.
Dr. Jan Willem Drijvers


2006.06.29 11:21
Re: Helen and the True Cross
Jan Willem,
Are you suggesting then that the inventio crucis did occur prior to Cyril, but that only his attribution to Helena is false/fabricated?
What was the point then of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome (beginning circa 327)?
I see your Cyril of Jerusalem : bishop and city is presently being processed at my local university library. I look forward to reading it with the notion of a law of silence (326-395) in background.
ps
Yesterday, 28 June, was the 429th birthday of Pieter Pauwel Rubens, whose first public commission was three paintings for the Helena Chapel at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
=====
From a private response email to Eugene Vance today:
I do not necessarily believe that Helena and Ambrose are fakers. What I do believe is that a law of silence regarding Helena and the True Cross was proclaimed right after Helena's death, and, subsequently, Ambrose broke this law at the most advantageous time.
Did the event happen? Like everyone else I cannot answer with any absolute certainty. I do believe Helena was involved, as I believe Eutropia and Constantine were also involved. Beyond that, I am merely trying to demonstrate what the possible scenarios are when considering the involvement of these three people in tandem.


2006.06.28 15:04
Re: Helen and the True Cross
Thank you, Eugene.
I'm (still) sitting in St. Ambrose Parish, Olney, Philadelphia, and if I stick my head out the window to my left I could see the old church/school (1923), which is now closed for good as of a week or two ago.
I too believe Ambrose played a pivotal role in placing the Helena and the True Cross "legend" firmly within the Christian faith, placed as a staple even.
Did the event really occur 14 September 325? Well, I already stated two possibilities, and now I'll add a third:
3. The event was fabricated by Constantine and put into effect by Helena and Eutropia 14 September 325. Subsequent to the death of Crispus spring 326 and then the death of Helena 24/25 July 326 and the suicide of Fausta 25 July 326, chaos and threat to the imperial position ensued, thus a law of silence regarding the fabricated legend of the True Cross was quickly proclaimed by Constantine at Eutropia's suggestion. Ambrose then broke the silence 25 February 395 and the fabricated discovery of the True Cross became an article of the Christian faith.
So where are all these people now?
The spirit of Ambrose and Helena is certainly present in Olney, Philadelphia, with St. Helena Parish being Ambrose's neighboring parish in Olney.
And where were these people 1700 years ago right now?
Constantius and Constantine in Britannia, for sure. Was Theodora there too?
Where were Maximius and Eutropia? Where was Helena?
And then where were these people in the month before 25 July 326?
=====
Eugene, for your own mnemonic pleasure:
26 June 363 death of Julian the Apostate
27 June 1458 discovery of tombs (not Maria's the wife of Honorius, however) in the chapel of St. Petronella (at St. Peter's Basilica, Rome)
27 June 2006 Eugene Vance posts 'Helen and the True Cross' at lt-antiq

2006.06.28 12:20
Re: Helen and the True Cross
Is there any truth to this:
Mgr Duchesne states that this Holy Cross day in September was a festival of Palestinian origin, "on the anniversary of the dedication of the basilicas erected under Constantine on the sites of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre", and he adds: "This dedication festival was celebrated in 335 by the bishops attending the Council of Tyre, who had pronounced upon Athanasius the sentence of deposition. There was associated with it also the commemoration of the discovery of the true cross", which was "exalted" before the people.
--September 14, Butler's Lives of the Saints
=====
Averil, I am familiar with Averil Cameron and S.G. Hall, The Life of Constantine, in fact, I used your and an earlier translation of the Vita Constantini to see what would happen if the passages from Book III (24-53) were in chronological order, rather than the disorder that you and Hall suggest (and an abstract of this exercise is within the lt-antiq archives 2001).
24... But there may be an opportunity to assemble these [letters] in a special collection, so as not to disrupt the sequence of our present account.
--Eusebius, Cameron/Hall translation
25... Eusebius moves straight from the account of the Council of Nicaea and its aftermath to the excavation and discovery of the tomb of Jesus, without finishing his account of Constantine's Vicennalia, which ended 25 July 326. This is understandable.
--Cameron/Hall commentary
Understandable yes, but not necessarily correct. It could just as well be that "the excavation and discovery of the tomb of Jesus" occurred a few months after the Council of Nicaea, thus corresponding with Eusebius' "sequence of our present account".
43.4-47.3. The death of the Empress Helena
46.2 Having settled her affairs in this way, she finally came to the end of her life. So great a son was present and stood by her, ministering and holding her hands..."
--Eusebius, Cameron/Hall translation
46.2 "...she was buried in a porphyry sarcophagus in a mausoleum in a mausoleum on the Via Labicana in Rome..."
--Cameron/Hall commentary
After the Vicennalia 25 July 326, Constantine left Rome 3 August 326 and never returned to Rome.
47.4-49 Constantinople
52... The greatest single service to us by my most saintly mother-in-law has been to inform us through her letters to us of the mad folly of evil men [at Mamre], which has so far escaped attention among you, so that the neglected fault may receive appropriate corrective and restorative action from us, late perhaps but yet necessary.
--Constantine, Cameron/Hall translation
51-3... Constantine had been told of the pagan worship on the site in letters from Eutropia, the mother of Fausta, who evidently visited Palestine; Rubin, 'Church of the Holy Sepulchre', 90, places her visit between the defeat of Licinius and the Council of Nicaea (see also Walker, Holy City, Holy Places, 276), and the reference to her becomes more comfortable if the visit took place before the death of her daughter Fausta in 326. Rubin ingeniously argues that Eusebius deliberately includes the letter so as to expose his rival Marcarius, who, however, was soon to assume the role of guide to Constantine's own mother Helena ('Church of the Holy Sepulchre', 88-91, accepted by Walker, Holy City, Holy Places, 276n.); it seems more likely that he includes the letter in order to make his dossier of Constantinian documents as complete as possible. Marcarius is not named by Eusebius, but this is in accordance with his normal practice (see e.g. on IV.61.2-3). Constantine's letter is placed out of chronological order, which serves to reduce the importance of Eutropia.
--Cameron/Hall, commentary
So we have Constantine himself saying "late perhaps", yet Rubin says Eutropia was in Palestine before the Council of Nicaea, and this is somehow "ingenious"(?). I don't find any of this "comfortable" at all. For a start, isn't Rubin's date for Eutropia in Palestine one of his own design choice as opposed to based on any historical evidence? And, more importantly, there is no real indication that Eutropia was even writing from Palestine when she wrote to Constantine about Mamre.

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