He was a very early Church father, living from 99-216. Yes, he lived a long life!
Narcissus became the 13th Bishop of Jerusalem when he was about 80 years old. American Catholic gives us a short description of his time in this office: “He was known for his holiness, but there are hints that many people found him harsh and rigid in his efforts to impose church discipline.”
Three men accused Narcissus of terrible crime (no source seems to know what it was). Anyhow, suffice it to say he was proven innocent. But those testifying against him did so in order to exact revenge and in perjury. Here’s what they said after telling their lies:
- “May I be burned alive if I’m lying.”
- “May I be stricken with leprosy if I’m lying.”
- “May I go blind if I’m lying.”
They were lying. The first man died in a house fire. The second died of leprosy. And the third watched what happened to the first two and repented out of fear. He cried so many tears of sorrow and repentance that he did, in fact, go blind.
But these weren’t the only folks against him, from his own flock. He eventually left Jerusalem because he was finding that it was too difficult for the Church to make any progress or even do its work when everyone was so set against their bishop.
Wikipedia says this: “St Narcissus continued to serve his flock and other churches outside his jurisdiction by his constant, fervent prayer and his earnest exhortations to the faithful for unity and peace. St Narcissus died while in prayer on his knees at the age of a hundred and seventeen.”
I think we need some unity in Mother Church now, also. There are wounds that still hurt us. Let’s pray for the intercession of St. Narcissus.