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Asterius of Amasea, St.


Bishop and preacher; b. Cappadocia, c. 350; d. Amasea, c. 410. Asterius, having specialized in rhetoric and the practice of law, abandoned this profession to enter the clergy, and subsequently became metropolitan of Amasea in Pontus between 380 and 390. His extant writings consist of 16 homilies and panegyrics of the martyrs (Patrologia Graeca 40:155480). photius supplies quotations from ten other sermons that have disappeared (PG 104:201204). Some works formerly attributed to him belong to his namesake, asterius the sophist (d. 341). His style is elegant, vigorous, and vivid, as in his description of a hunting scene in a sermon on Lazarus. His sermons show the high esteem in which the martyrs were held and throw light upon contemporary events, such as the persecution under Julian the Apostate and the pagan customs still in vogue at the beginning of the year. A sermon on St. euphemia is important in the history of art, because a painting of this saint is compared with the works of Euphranor and Timomachus. The Second Council of Nicaea (787) twice referred to this picture as a proof that sacred images were venerated in the ancient Church. This council also speaks of Asterius as a saint, and he is honored as such by the Greek church.

Feast: Oct. 30.

Bibliography: asterius of amasea, Ancient Sermons for Modern Times, tr. g. anderson and e. j. goodspeed (New York 1904). j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster MD 1950) 3:300301. a. bretz, Studien und Texte zu Asterios von Amasea (Leipzig 1914). m. rauer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 1:958.

[s. j. mckenna]

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