A Mighty Voice for Virtue: Hrotsvitha’s Paphnutius and the Baptism of Classical Drama
My wife and I were married on September 11th—a day, as our priest recalled, quite infamous in memory, but now seen in a new light of hope. And as we chose the date as a matter of its proximity to surrounding feast days rather than its exactness, we endeavored to learn the patron of the day. Perhaps, we thought, it would provide a name for one of our future children. St. Paphnutius —Desert Father and disciple of St. Anthony the Great—is not a name that rings pleasant in modern ears, though my wife and I often joked about this when she became pregnant with our daughter. From the Lives of the Saints:
The holy confessor Paphnutius was an Egyptian, and after having spent several years in the desert, under the direction of the great St. Anthony, was made bishop in Upper Thebais. He was one of those confessors who, under the tyrant Maximin Daia, lost their right eye, and were afterward sent to work in the mines. Peace being restored to the Church, Paphnutius returned to his flock. The Arian heresy being broached in Egypt, he was one of the most zealous in defending the Catholic faith, and for his eminent sanctity and the glorious title of confessor was highly considered in the great council of Nice. Constantine the Great, during the celebration of the synod, sometimes conferred privately with him in his palace, and never dismissed him without kissing respectfully the place which had once held the eye he had lost for the faith.