MALTA: Matrimony, Adultery, Luminous Mysteries, and St George Preca

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Father Donald Calloway {listen to the our Champions of the Rosary interview} on the history of the Rosary and he taught me something that I did not know:

The 5 Luminous Mysteries do not find their origin with Saint John Paul II in 2002 with is Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, but rather with Saint George Preca in the 1950s.

In 1950s, Saint George Preca prayerfully discerned that the Church needed to focus on the public and sacramental ministry of Christ within the context of the Holy Rosary. He began praying a set of 5 new mysteries in the context of the Rosary, which he called “Mysteries of Light.” These were published by him in a leaflet in 1973.

saint george preca

St George Preca of Malta

Saint George Preca was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on June 3, 2007.

There’s a historical twist to this story. Saint George Preca was a priest of the island of Malta!

You may have heard that the two bishops of the island of Malta have ruled that the divorced and remarried that have not received annulments and continue to live in a sexual relationship can receive the Holy Eucharist after a period of discernment and following their conscience in the pursuit of peace. The debate centers of baptism, matrimony, the teaching of Christ, and the Eucharist (4 of the 5 Luminous Mysteries). There has also been some confusion about the Knights of Malta with regard to the distribution of contraceptive devices. Why Malta?

Could it be that Jesus and Mary’s Luminous Mysteries AND the presence at the “Wedding at Cana” was especially planted on the island of Malta by Christ through his sainted priest George Preca?

All the Luminous Mysteries speak to our time and our personal difficulties:

  1. Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan
  2. His manifestation at the wedding at Cana
  3. His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion
  4. His transfiguration before the Apostles on Mount Tabor
  5. His institution of the Eucharist

These are profound meditations for our current vocation within the Catholic Church to become saints:

  1. Baptism: Our baptismal dignity and call to be holy as He is holy.
  2. Matrimony: Our call to transform water into wine: to transform the natural creation ordinance of matrimony into a supernatural grace-filled union of sanctity. And to sanctify family life in the context of matrimony.
  3. The perfect teaching of Christ: Evangelizing our hearts and inviting others by turning the Truth of Christ as preserved by His Catholic Church.
  4. Transfiguration: Stress on the Divinity of Christ and His power in our lives to transform us.
  5. Eucharist: The sacrosanct nature of the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is Christ Himself.

I have no doubt that Our Lady desires for us to come to Jesus Christ by meditating on these Mysteries of Light. As Father Calloway says, new battles require us to renew our weapons. The Rosary has been modified over time (listen to the interview to learn more) and it seems that two saints for our time: Pope Saint John Paul II and the Maltese Saint George Preca may have been guided by Heaven to guide our prayers during this time of Darkness with Mysteries of Light.

Post tenebras lux,

Taylor Marshall, PhD

PS: On the island of Malta, a viper bit Saint Paul. But he remained uninjured as by a miracle. The fangs of the serpent did the Apostle no harm:

After we had escaped, we then learned that the island was called Malta. And the natives showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, when a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They waited, expecting him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. (Acts 28)

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Vatican 101: Your Guide to How the Vatican Works

+ List of the Vatican Dicasteries

What is “the Vatican” and how does it work? Most Catholics are partially ignorant about what “the Vatican” is and how it works. The Vatican City State is a sovereign nation, but it is also the collection of dicasteries that oversee legal cases, liturgy, money, abuse, doctrine, religious orders, appointment of bishops…basically all the newsworthy and controversial elements of Catholicism.

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Over the last couple years I’ve been able to spend time in Rome and even some time with priests, bishops, and cardinals working within the Vatican. What was once a knotted mystery has become more clear to me and I wanted to share a basic outline so that you can also better understand how the Vatican works:

Understanding the Roman Curia as Dicasteries:

“The Vatican” is literally the geographic location of Saint Peter’s burial at the foot of the “Vatican Hill” outside the ancient boundaries of the city of Rome (See my book The Eternal City for thorough details about the geography and tradition of Peter’s burial). But a more accurate term for what most people mean by “the Vatican” is the “Roman Curia,” which is a collection of “dicasteries” or departments working for and under the Pope.

The word dicastery comes from the Greek word δικαστήριον meaning “place of justice.”

The Church is not a nation, but to use an analogy, you might think of the heads of each “dicasteries” as the “cabinent” of the United States President. I know, I know. It breaks down. You don’t need to leave a comment to me about how the Pope is not like a President. I’m only making an analogy.

So the Pope appoints leaders or prefects (usually cardinals) to each of the dicasteries to aid His Holiness in the governance of the Church:

List of the Vatican Dicasteries:

Here are the Vatican dicasteries organized into their six various species:

  1. Secretariats:
    The Secretariat of State (most powerful dicastery – headed by Cardinal Secretary of State)
    The Secretariat for the Economy (created by Pope Francis to oversee financials)
    The Secretariat for Communications (Vatican Radio, Osservatore Romano, Vatican Press, etc.)
  2. Congregations:
    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (one might say this is the second most powerful dicastery, after the Secretary of State)
    The Congregation for the Eastern Churches
    The Congregation for Divine Worship (liturgy and sacraments)
    The Congregation for the Causes of Saints (the process of canonizing saints)
    The Congregation for Bishops (researches and selects bishops for dioceses)
    The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (formerly named Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith)
    The Congregation for the Clergy (priests, deacons, seminaries)
    The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (religious life)
    The Congregation for Catholic Education (Catholic universities, but not seminaries)
  3. Dicasteries
    The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life (created by Pope Francis)
    The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (created by Pope Francis)
  4. Legal Tribunals (operate like courts):
    The Apostolic Penitentiary (excommunications, dispensations, indulgences)
    The Tribunal of the Roman Rota (highest appellate tribunal; usually handles contested marriage annulments)
    The Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (Supreme court seeing appealed cases from Roman Rota and conflicts between Congregations)
  5. Pontifical Councils
    The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (handles ecumenical relations with non-Catholic Christians, and notably Jewish relations)
    The Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (interpreting canon law)
    The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (handles relations with non-Christian religions)
    The Pontifical Council for Culture
    The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization (for re-evangelizing the West)
  6. Offices of the Holy See:
    The Apostolic Camera (the Papal Treasury)
    The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (modified by Pope Francis; see  Secretariat for the Economy above; oversees property of the Holy See)
    The Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (oversees finances)

*Note: The tendency of Pope Francis has been to close and collapse “Pontifical Councils” into what he calls “Dicasteries.” Pope Francis has closed down four “Pontifical Councils” and erected two new “Dicasteries” listed above.

My opinion is that a reduction in the number of dicasteries is a positive reform of the Church.

Each dicastery works at the pleasure of the Holy Father. The Pope appoints all offices and he can close and open new dicasteries according to his pleasure.

Other Departments in the Vatican

You also have other departments in the Vatican that are not technically dicasteries such as:

  • The Pontifical Swiss Guard
    • Approximately 130 soldiers that where colorful uniforms while protecting the Pope and providing border security for Vatican City.
    • Fun fact: the Swiss Guard makes use of the Glock 19 pistol and Heckler & Koch MP7 .
  • The Vatican Bank (Official Name is: Institute for the Works of Religion – I’ll do a future post on this.)
  • The Pontifical Commissions (3 of which fall under the CDF):
    • Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (art, books, archives)
    • Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
      • Oversees 1962 Extraordinary Form of Mass.
      • Answers to and is located within CDF.
    • Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology
    • Pontifical Biblical Commission (publishes articles on biblical studies; answers to CDF)
    • International Theological Commission (publishes theological articles; answers to CDF)
    • Pontifical Commission for Latin America (answers to Congregation for Bishops)
    • Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (instituted by Pope Francis in 2014; headed by Cardinal O’Malley of Boston)
  • Temporary or Interdicasterial Commissions (temporary commissions for tasks, such as producing a Catechism of the Catholic Church)

How to Be Better Educated about the Catholic Church:

  • As the Church faces new issues, new dicasteries are created and some are closed. There is nothing of divine right with the Roman Curia. The Pope can open and close dicasteries to help him govern the Church. Technically speaking, he could close all the offices.
  • It’s worth following the current issues in the Catholic Church and having an understanding of how these issues flow into and out of the “Vatican” through the various dicasteries.
  • It’s also worth printing out on a piece of paper the dicasteries of the Catholic Church.
    • Print them out and place them in your Bible so that you can pray for their leaders and for their work. It’s worth following which Cardinals head which dicasteries.

Here are the current leaders/prefects of some of the important dicasteries:

The Secretariat of State: Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin
The Secretariat for the Economy: Australian Cardinal George Pell
The Secretariat for Communications: Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller
The Congregation for the Eastern Churches: Cardinal Leonardo Sandri
The Congregation for Divine Worship: Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints: Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato
The Congregation for Bishops: Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples: Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni
The Congregation for the Clergy: Italian Cardinal Beniamino Stella
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz
The Congregation for Catholic Education: Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi

The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life: American Cardinal Kevin Farrell
The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development: Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson

All the Cardinals that lead dicasteries are usually seen as papabile – unspoken candidates for the next papacy.

Holy Apostles, pray for the Cardinals.

Question: Do you have questions or comments about the Roman Curia? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Is Peter’s Historical Chair inside the Vatican?

In the Catholic calendar up until at least 1955, January 18 was the Feast of the Saint Peter’s Chair at Rome. The “chair” is an Old Testament sign of magisterial authority, as Christ Himself gave witness:

“Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not.” (Matthew 23:2–3, D-R)

The commemoration of Peter’s chair in rome honors the preeminent magisterial authority of Saint Peter to whom was given the Keys of the Kingdom. Peter’s office as the Vicar of Christ recalls the promise of God to the “royal steward” or “vicar” in the royal household of the Davidic king. This prophecy promises that the king’s steward will “become a throne of honor”:
“And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a peg in a sure place, and he shall be for a throne of glory to the house of his father.” (Isaiah 22:22–23, D-R)
Saint Peter's Chair Taylor MarshallYet did Saint Peter as the first Vicar of Christ have his own physical cathedra (Greek: “chair”)?
There is a third century anti-Marcionite poem that seems to testify to this historicity of Peter’s cathedra:
Hac cathedra, Petrus qua sederat ipse, locatum
Maxima Roma Linum primum considere iussit.
– Adversus Marcionem (Patrologia Latina II, 1099)
The Latin translates:
“On this chair whereupon Peter himself sat
The great Rome placed Linus and commanded him to sit.”
Saint Linus is of course the successor of Saint Peter, that is the second pope of Rome. Is this cathedra, Petrus qua sederat ipse, a literally chair or is it merely a poetic allusion to Peter’s authority? I suppose that there is no way to know for sure, but Tertullian (cf. De præscriptione hæreticorum, 36) and others seem to suggest or assume that a true physical chair kept in Rome had been that of Saint Peter.
Regardless, the chair depicted above is the traditional “Chair of Saint Peter”. In Old Saint Peter’s, this chair was prominently placed in the baptistry and the Pope would sit on it in order to confer the sacrament of Confirmation. This chair and custom are confirmed to as early as AD 366.
Today, it is enshrined in the apse of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I don’t know whether carbon dating has been performed on it. If you’re aware of any studies or archeological investigations, please send them my way.

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Why Do Christians Worship on Sunday and Not Saturday Like Jews?

NSTI Student Member Paul C asks:

I also hope Taylor could address Seventh Day Adventism in a video.

My in-laws are Adventists and a few are curious about Catholicism. At family get-togethers I’ve gotten questions, such as, wasn’t Constantine the founder of the Catholic Church? and, didn’t a Pope change the Sabbath day in order to attract converts from followers of a Sunday pagan ritual? They’ve been taught a lot of misinformation!

Clearly Constantine was not the founder of Catholicism. See our video(s) on Constantinian era on this.

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Regarding Sunday, it goes back to the Apostles:

And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight,” (Acts 20:7).

Here Saint Paul is breaking bread (Eucharist) and preaching on Sunday.

Paul preaching on Sunday

Saint Paul also recognizes Sunday as the day of Christian gathering here:

On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.” (1 Cor. 16:2). So the offering was taken on Sunday – during Liturgy.

The Jews kept Saturday (last day of week) because they looked forward to Messiah. Christians keep Sunday (first day of the week) because we look back to the Messiah.

Moreover, Christ rose again from the dead on Sunday and the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost on a Sunday. Christ is King of the New Creation and so Sunday, the day of creation is the day of His worship.

Seventh Day Adventists are thus Judaizers and they do not understand the fulness of Christ’s fulfillment of not only the Old Law, but the Old Creation. If you want to see study how Christ fulfills the entire Old Testament (including an appendix list of over 300 prophecies), see my book The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity.

Crucified Rabbi Look Inside

Is there literal physical fire in Purgatory? Video and Thomas Aquinas

The Eastern Orthodox often reject the Latin doctrine of Purgatory based on the Latin tradition of “physical fire” purifying souls in purgatory.

The Latin phrase used by Thomas Aquinas and others is “corporal fire.” For example:

I answer that, In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. (STh Supp. App I. q. 2, a. 5)

The Latin is ignis corporalis. The “corporeal fire” of Purgatory is one of the doctrines that the Greek Orthodox objected to during the Second Council of Lyons (1274). Saint Thomas Aquinas was discharged to defend the doctrine at this council, but he died on the way. Saint Bonaventure was sent in his stead (and Bonaventure died at the end of Council).

I very rarely disagree with Saint Thomas Aquinas, but I do disagree here – but I will offer a Benedict XVI suggestion that might provide a unique solution.

How can “corporeal fire” purify an immaterial non-corporeal soul in Purgatory? This is a metaphysical problem. You cold corporeal fire under an immaterial soul all day long and it would not touch the soul. And yet Thomas is insistent on the fire of Purgatory (and Gehenna) as corporeal.

Pope Benedict, in his Encyclical Spe Salvi, writes:

Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgment. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves (Pope Benedict, Spe Salvi 47).

This goes along with the teaching of Moses that “the Lord your God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24). If Christ Himself is the purifying fire, then here’s the twist: Christ is corporeal! He is resurrected. So a Christian might in fact say that the fire of purgatory is “corporeal” if in fact we are referencing the resurrected corpus Christi.

burning bush icon

Is the particular judgment when we stand face to face with the resurrected Christ the burning fire of love that hurts, burns, cleanses, and restores the soul alive with sanctifying grace but lacking full sanctification at death. I think so.

I think all of this can be held along with holding (as do I) that Purgatory is “located” not in Heaven with the Beatific Vision but in the Infernus or Sheol.

Here’s my video on Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Four Regions of Hell:

Question: Comments are open. Please share your thoughts. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Pope That Rejected Christ: Pope Marcellinus

According to legend, Saint Marcellinus was like Saint Peter in three ways:

  1. He was a Pope
  2. He denied Christ publicly
  3. He repented and died a martyr’s death
Pope Marcellinus offering incense with Saint Peter behind him.

Pope Marcellinus offering incense with Saint Peter behind him.

Lets take a look at his life:

  • The Liber Pontificalis records that during Diocletian’s persecution (AD 303) Marcellinus was captured and commanded to offer incense to the Roman idols.
  • Fearful of death, he scattered incense to the false gods.
  • Remorseful after a few days, he confessed his faith of Christ.
  • He was captured again, stayed true to Christ and received martyrdom.
  • Marcellinus was buried on 26 April 304 in the cemetery of Priscilla, on the Via Salaria, 25 days after his martyrdom.

These details are hotly debated. For example, Saint Augustine of Hippo (died AD 430) denies that Pope Marcellinus offered incense to idols – although he knows of the story and the accusation (see St Augustine, Against Petilian 2.202). The Church Historian Eusebius does not mention it at all.

However, scholars have noted that the pontificate of “Marcellinus” is notably omitted in the Roman “Chronograph” of AD 336. He had undoubtedly been the bishop of Rome, so this absence on the list reveals some doubt about his status as Bishop of Rome.

I wish that we had a way to know the truth of the matter.

I incorporated Pope Marcellinus into my best-selling historical fiction novel: Sword and Serpent: A Historical Retelling of Saint George and the Dragon. The novel features Saint George visiting Pope Marcellinus hiding in a cavern-like catacomb and receiving a sword from him (which will eventually become the sword of King Arthur). The novel has received great reviews and a shining endorsement from Father Dwight Longenecker. I hope you enjoy it. You can get a copy on amazon.com (or check out the 340 reviews) by clicking here.

sword and serpent look inside

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121: Your Virtue of Temperance (and Aquinas on Women Looking Sexy) [Podcast]

Dr. Taylor Marshall guides you through the virtue of Temperance with Saint Thomas Aquinas on topics such as lust, drunkenness, anger, and pride – and closes on Thomas Aquinas’ thoughts on women dressing attractive and how it relates to husbands. And he has a surprised visitor at the end (not scripted).

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121: Your Virtue of Temperance (and Aquinas on Women Looking Sexy) [Podcast]

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  • Featured Segment: The Virtue of Temperance
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What is the Sword That Pierced Mary’s Soul?

In Luke 2:35, Saint Simeon prophesied to Mary “a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

What is this sword?

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The Greek word is ῥομφαία {rhomphaia} and it means sword or javelin. Here’s the full definition:

ῤομφαία, ῤομφαίας, ἡ, a large sword; properly, a long Thracian javelin (cf. Rich, Dict. of Antiq. under the word Rhompaea); also a kind of long sword usually worn on the right shoulder (Hesychius ῤομφαία. Θρακιον ἀμυντηριον, μάχαιρα, ξίφος ἤ ἀκόντιον μακρόν; (Suidas 3223 c. (cf. ῥεμβω to revolve, vibrate)); cf. Plutarch, Aemil. 18); (A. V. sword): Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12, 16; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 19:15, 21; σου δέ αὐτῆς τήν ψυχήν διελεύσεται ῤομφαία, a figure for ‘extreme anguish shall fill (pierce, as it were) thy soul’, Luke 2:35, where cf. Kuinoel. (Josephus, Antiquities 6, 12, 4; 7, 12, 1; in Ev. Nicod. 26 the archangel Michael, keeper of Paradise, is called ἡ φλογινη ῤομφαία. Very often in the Sept. for חֶרֶב; often also in the O. T. Apocrypha.)

Swords are violent weapons that are formed not to hunt animals, but to kill men. In the Jewish mind, the sword is a physical weapon but it is very frequently used as a metaphor for the tongue. The tongue sends out lethal words that strike men down. Even Christ in Revelation is depicted with a sword coming from his mouth to slay His enemies (listen to my podcast on Christ’s mouth-sword here: Revelation 19: Eucharist and Mouth Sword mp3).

Mary’s soul is slain in two ways:

  1. Sword as Tongue: The evil words spoken against Christ during His ministry and up to His death rip open the soul of Mary who perfectly knows that He is the innocent and immaculate Lamb of God who only loves mankind and seeks to save it. Every hostile word toward Christ, thrusts a sword through her soul.
  2. Sword as Piercing of Christ her Son: Ultimately, when her eyes see Christ’s pure flesh pierced with nails and His dead chest pierced with the lance, her own soul is pierced with love for Christ and for those whom He died for: every single human person.

Simeon says that this piercing of Mary is a “sign of contradiction.” I think this refers to Isaiah 7:14 where a sign is given a “a virgin shall bear a son.” This is a sign of “contradiction” because virgins are not mothers.

The manifest love of the Son for his Virgin Mother is at the cross when He proclaims, “Behold your mother.” Her love is also most manifest at the cross. And for each human person, our love should be most manifest at the foot of the cross.

and a sword will pierce through your own soul also,
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.

Notice how the piercing of Mary’s soul reveals the “thoughts of the many hearts.” It’s my personal conviction (not teaching of the Church) that the way a person speaks of the Blessed Virgin as a quiet mother and co-sufferer with Christ reveals their heart.

  • Show me someone who has a very gentle and respectful appreciation for Mary’s suffering, I’ll show you a very holy person “that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”
  • Show me someone who denigrates Mary and says, “Yeah, but she ain’t special or anything,” and I’ll show you a bitter and lost person “that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

Today, place your mind’s eye on Jesus pierced on the cross and ask for the gift to feel part of what His Mother felt as she looked upon Him making the perfect sacrifice for the entire human race.

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Was St Simeon in Luke 2 also the Son of Hillel the Rabbi?

Ever since I wrote The Crucified Rabbi, I continue to come across great rabbinical insights into Catholicism. Once recent example is the probability that the Simeon in Luke’s G0spel is the famous Simeon ben Hillel – son of the famous Rabbi Hillel.

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Here’s the passage from Luke:

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 and a sword will pierce through your own soul also, so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” – Luke 2:25-35

Simeon is the first explicit prophet of Mary’s sorrow at the crucifixion and piercing of Christ: “a sword shall pierce through your own soul also.”

Simeon ben Hillel was the son of Hillel the Elder. When Hillel died, Simeon took over as President of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.Hillel did not die until about 10 AD. Simeon was likely active at the Temple during this time, but I doubt he was an “old man.”

At first I thought this was proof that Simeon could NOT be Hillel’s son, since the Simeon in Luke 2 is an “old man” but Simeon ben Hillel would have been a middle aged man. And then I noticed that Luke never calls Simeon “old.” I read it over and over. It’s not there in Luke’s text. Simeon is not necessarily old in Luke 2. I’ve seen so many paintings of the Presentation and of Simeon as an old grey bearded priest that I’ve assumed that he was “old,” but the text doesn’t say it.

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So could Simeon in Luke 2 be Simeon ben Hillel? Perhaps.

Saint Simeon pray for us to Christ our Lord and Mediator!

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