Fascinating saints re found each day commemorated in the Roman Martyrology. In addition to the better known members of heaven’s choir, are somewhat obscure (for our times at least) but interesting people who – remember – are still part of Holy Church and members of our Christian family history.
Today is the feast of Saint Mena, a bishop and patriarch of Constantinople at the time of the Emperor Justianian. Perhaps of Egyptian origin (there are several saints named Menas and some confusion about them) he was consecrated bishop by Pope Agapitus in 536. Menas was involved in the Originism controversy (which he condemned) but supported the Emperor Justinian in his Monophysite tendencies (the heresy holding that Christ had only one nature). Pope Vigilius excommunicated himin 551, but Menas was later reconciled.
St. Menas consecrated the mighty church called "Holy Wisdom" or Hagia Sophiai. Here is some background:
The first church where Hagia Sophia now stands was begun by Constatine and it was built between A.D. 325-360. Constantius completed the church, which was the largest in the new city and was therefore called Megalo Ekklesia. The Constantinian church was consecrated on 15 October 360, but burned, alas, on 20 June 404 by a mob protesting the exile of St. John Chrysostom who had attacked the Empress in his preaching.
The Emperor Theodosius 11 (408-450) built a new basilica on the spot, which was opened 8 October 415, but it also was destroyed on 13 January 532 during an insurrection. Some of the western wall of that church survives.
Less than two months after the destruction of Theodosius’ church the Emperor Justinian set out to build a new church surpassing all others.
It was opened on 27 December 537 with a great ceremony. Leading the procession was the Emperor Justinian. He approached the church in a carriage and met the Patriarch Menas at the doors. Tradition says they linked arms and entered the church. It is said that Justianian, seeing the church, shouted, "Solomon, I have surpassed you!"
Here is the entry from the Roman Martyrology for Menas:
6. Constantinopoli, sancti Menae, episcopi, qui a sancto Agapito papa ordinatus, communione interdum suspensa cum Vigilio papa reconciliata, magnam ecclesiam ab imperatore Iustiniano aedificatem divinae Sophiae dedicavit. … At Constantinople, [the feast] of Saint Menas, bishop, who, ordained by Pope Agapitus, when the communion with Pope Viligius which had for a while been suspended was reconciled, dedicated to "Holy Wisdom" the large church built by the Emperor Justinian.