Oil dedicated to St Servatus on prayer cloth
The Oil dedicated to St Servatus on prayer cloth is in honour of the great saint. Who acclaimed as the patron saint for foot problems and lameness.
A widely travelled diplomat and a determined prosecutor of Arianism. The presence of Servatius recorded at several synods and church councils. Athanasius, leader of the anti-Arian party, in exile in Trier, may have met with Servatius. Both men campaigned against Arian bishops and priests in the region. In addition, at the Council of Cologne Servatius testified against the bishop of Cologne. Servatius said that “he denied the divinity of Jesus Christ”. This happened in the presence of Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria.
Servatius sent to the Roman emperor in Edessa after co-emperor Constance had assassinated in 350. He went to represent the late Constans as an unworthy tyrant and oppressor. He hoped to obtain Constantius’ recognition of Magnentius as co-ruler. The mission failed. The resulting civil war ended with the death of Magnentius in 353. The mission can seen as a sign of the high standing of Servatius. In 359, the Council of Rimini reports that Servatius again eloquently denounced Arianism.
Source is Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours’, Glory of Confessors and History of the Franks is our source for the life of St Servatius. In his late 6th-century account, Gregory writes about Servatius. He a bishop of Tongeren and died in Maastricht. According to him, Servatius lived at the time when the Huns threatened Tongeren (5th century). However, this does not match the 4th-century dates of the synods mentioned above. Also, it is not always clear how much of Gregory’s account is history. Some of it may be (pious) fiction.
Gregory describes how Servatius, during a vigil at St Peter’s tomb in Rome, had a vision. It showed the destruction of Tongeren. Peter then handed the Keys of Heaven to Servatius. He thus transferred to him the power to forgive sins. According to Gregory, Servatius returned to Tongeren. He brought the relics of his predecessors to Maastricht. There he died and buried alongside the Roman road, near the bridge.
St Servatius founded a number of churches.
As a bishop, Servatius may have the founder of several early Christian churches in the diocese of Tongeren. Two likely candidates are the Basilica of Our Lady in Tongeren and the Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht. In the case of Tongeren, this traditional claim supported by excavations in the 1980s. These revealed under the medieval church remains of a 4th-century church. Also, it is possibly the original cathedral of the diocese. The origins of the Maastricht church of Our Lady remain uncertain. Also, no excavations have ever been carried out inside this church. The Basilica of St Severatius, excavations in the 1990s have revealed the remains of a 6th-century church. In addition, it described by Gregory of Tours as a magnum templum). At its center is a late Roman structure, possibly the tomb of Servatius.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.
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