It is the 3rd of September 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 301.
Of course, in the year 301, they didn’t call it the year 301 as our modern dating system came later. For Romans dating their origin from the legendary founding, the year would be AUC 1054. AUC stands for “ab Urbe Condita” which means “from the founding of the city.” Romans would also distinguish the year as being under the Consulship of Postumius and Napotianus. However, by our counting, the disastrous third century was over, and a new era would begin in this year under the leadership of Diocletian.
From his chosen home in Nicomedia, he ruled rather effectively, at least at first. He delegated to others who could also take the appellation of Caesar, and a strong united front helped quell dissent on the borderlands. Diocletian’s call for a revival of traditional Roman virtues again proved popular.
However, the ever-expanding empire and the cost of strong administration led to the introduction of a tax on land and individuals. In 301, to avoid the inflation of the previous century, Diocletian introduced new coinage and froze prices. On the discussion of these actions, there is seemingly no end.
However, we might best know Diocletian for his persecution of Christians. When we talk about the persecutions of Christians for being Christian, it is best understood as happening during the Diocletian persecution. We can discuss another time the causes, but it is fair to suggest that Diocletian’s desire to revive Roman traditions stood in contrast to the Christian message.
Many Christians fled the empire, including one man we know as Marinus or “St. Marinus.” And it is on this day, the 3rd of September in the year 301 that St. Marinus founded the tiny, ancient, and still existing state of San Marino. Initially designed to be a spiritual and political refuge from the empire, the world’s oldest republic celebrates its 1,719th birthday today.
Marinus was a Roman soldier living in modern-day Croatia. To escape the persecution of Diocletian, he and other Christians sailed across the Adriatic and settled near north-central Italy near the Apennines. Marinus was a devoted Christian and builder. He was said to have been a stonemason back home. Marinus eventually fled to nearby Monte Titano, where a monastery would eventually develop around him.
Despite Imperial and Papal pressure, the small republic was never absorbed into either the empire or Roman church. Throughout the Middle Ages, they resisted the wars that characterize so many of the Italian city-states in the era. San Marino resisted Napoleon, and he recognized the state’s independent status. Later, the Congress of Vienna recognized the small independent and democratic republic. It became a haven for those both those looking to escape extradition and for those looking for picturesque Italian landscapes.
To this day, the possibly apocryphal words of its founder St. Marinus reflect the city’s independent spirit. He is said to have replied on his death bed, “I leave you free from BOTH men.” Those “men” are believed to be the Emperor and the Pope. The free and independent state surrounded by Italy has remained independent. Its legendary founding was on this the 3rd of September in the year 301.
The reading for today comes from Sarah Klassen. This is her poem, “Ephesus.”
——-To everyone who conquers
——-I will give permission to eat from the tree of life
——-that is in the paradise of God. Rev.2:7.
Now as then we are dismayed when business falters,
baffled when rains fail,
alarmed when another riot erupts in our city.
Now as then we have among us the hungry. Also
the scrupulous. We have those
who regularly bow and bend and those who don’t.
We know a house must have a sure foundation,
a solid cornerstone. We know, though we keep building them,
dividing walls must fall. How else
can the stranger and the alien enter? We do not know
why the lovely bird of peace nests over there
while here at home the vultures flap their hostile wings.
Now as then noise streams from the market place,
applause from the crowded theatre.
The hungry lions roar. On quiet evenings
you can hear, above the drone of time,
the whisper of leaves
on the tree of life.
That was "Ephesus" by Sarah Klassen. Check out today’s transcription for links to where you can find more of her work: https://www.turnstonepress.com/author/sarah-klassen.html.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 3rd of September 2020, brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man still wondering what the Romans ever did for us, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.