9 May: St. Isaiah, prophet

Many people don’t realize that Holy Church considers some Old Testament figures to be saints with their own feast days.   We don’t celebrate them at the altar, but they have a day.

Actually, if there were no other saint in the liturgical calendar taking precedence, we are told that we indeed could take a saint from the Martyrology.  But I digress.

Today is the commemoration of the 8th c. St. Isaiah, the prophet of the Old Testament.

The Martyrologium Romanum has an entry for him.

1. Commemoratio sancti Isaiae, prophetae, qui, in diebus Oziae, Iotham, Achaz et Ezechiae, regum Iudae, missus est ut populo infideli et peccatori Dominum fidelem et salvatorem revelaret, ad implementum promissionis David a Deo iuratae. Apud Iudaeos sub Manasse rege martyr occubuisse traditur. … The commemoration of saint Isaiah, the prophet, who, in the days of Ozias, Jotham, Achaz and Ezechias, kings of Judah, was sent in order to reveal to the unfaithful and sinful People the faithful Lord, the Savior, for the fulfillment of the promise made by God to David.  It is said that he sank into death among the Jews under King Manasse.

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  1. Tom in NY says:

    There are few images of the great prophet in churches. He lived before the prophet of Nazareth, and a synagogue won’t have human images in its sanctuary. The only one I’ve seen is at a Methodist church. Don’t forget to read A. Heschel’s book on the prophets.

    Greetings to all.

  2. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is the difference between “celebrat[ing] them at the altar” and them “hav[ing] a day”?

  3. TNCath says:

    Are there any Old Testament figures that DO have a commemoration at the altar?

  4. Tom in NY says:

    Obiter dictum:
    In a weblog oriented to worship, allow me to bring to readers’ attention the call of the prophet at the beginning of chapter six. The Hebrew says “kabod,” suggesting both the glory and presence of the Deity.

  5. Mark says:

    The Machabees have at least a commemoration on August 1st, or did until 1955.

  6. LCB says:

    In the Carmelite Rite there is a specific feast day for both St. Elijah and St. Elisha.

  7. Mila says:

    Jeff, if I’m not mistaken, celebrating them at the altar means there is a Mass to celebrate their feast day (either as a memorial or an optional memorial). Not all saints are celebrated in this manner. But all saints have a feast day. Hope this helps.

  8. QMJ says:

    In the Byzantine calendar the prophet Haggai’s feast day is December 16.

    Any more prophets out there?

  9. Angela says:

    In Orthodoxy, we also celebrate St Isaiah today. St Elisha’s day is June 14, and St Elijah’s day is July 20, just to name a few of the OT saints.

  10. Christopher says:

    So – just supposing one were to celebrate a Mass of St Isaiah… where would you find the proper texts?

  11. Dr. Eric says:

    From what I remember, on the 9th of May, cars and carriages are blessed in honor of St. Elias (at least in the Byzantine Churches.) I think this is akin to having pets and animals blessed on the 4th of October in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.

  12. Not only are you likely to see Old Testament saints on icons, but it is not at all unusual for us to take the names of Old Testament figures as our “saints” names: Our Metropolitan is +Jonah, and our Bishop-elect is +Melchisedek.

  13. Maureen says:

    Pretty much all the OT folks have some sort of commemorative day, on both the East and the West, and you run into chapels and such in various places.

    The really common place to see prophets and patriarchs in Western Catholic art is depictions of Mary at the Annunciation, Jesse Trees, etc. There’s Mary reading a book, and there’s all the relevant prophets with little scrolls coming out of their mouths. That sort of thing.

    The problem is, you get a lot of these cathedrals and such depicting everybody and their uncle, but you can’t tell who they are without binoculars and an iconography class. I mean, your average medieval person thought about Isaiah as “that prophet who got sawed up”, whereas this is not usually included in the Isaiah stories you get from the pulpit or religion class.

    I was also kinda surprised to learn Ysaye, a good medieval French name, is actually derived from Isaiah. Just like the prophets’ pictures, standing around in plain sight but not noticed by the average modern viewer.

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