Saint of the day:
Saint Simon of Cyrene the Cross Bearer
Saint Simon of Cyrene's Story
Who is St Simon of Cyrene
St Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in three of the four Gospels as the man compelled by the Roman soldiers to carry our Lord’s cross out of Jerusalem. St Simon’s act of carrying the cross, (patibulum) for Jesus is the fifth or seventh of the Stations of the Cross. Cyrene was situated in modern day Libya, on the northern coast of the African continent. Settled by Greeks in 630 BC and later infused with a significant Jewish population, Cyrene was the capital of the Roman district of Cyrenaica at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. By then, Cyrene was home to a large number of Hellenistic Jews.
Many Jews from Cyrene had returned to their native land and were part of a community in Jerusalem called the Synagogue of the Freedmen comprising of Jews from many other provinces including Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia (Acts 6:9). St Luke records men from Cyrene being among those converted at Pentecost (Acts 2:10). After the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7), believers from Cyrene were among the first scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem; arriving in Antioch, they preached to the Gentiles there (Acts 11:20). These believers were instrumental in the formation of the church of Antioch, where, for the first time, “the disciples were called Christians” (Acts 11:26). Tradition links St Simon with the “men of Cyrene” who preached the Gospel to the Greeks. (Acts 11:20)It was in Antioch where St Simon of Cyrene and his sons Alexander and Rufus served as prophets.
St Simon of Cyrene is mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 27:32, Mk 15:21-22, and Lk 23;26). St Matthew only records his names and place of origin (Matt 27:32), but SS Mark and Luke say that he was “on his way in from the country” (Lk 23:26). St Mark, provides the most information about St Simon, adding he was “the father of Alexander and Rufus” (Mk 15:21), men obviously well known to St Mark’s readers. According to Tradition, the Rufus mentioned here is the same man St Paul greets in his letter to Rome, whom he calls “chosen in the Lord” and whose mother “has been a mother to me, too” (Romans 16:13).
O Simon, whose name is “hearkening” thou didst hearken unto the words of Jesus, who spoke to that other Simon, saying: Take up thy, and follow me.
His Cross became thy cross, and so, partaking of his sufferings, thou dost now partake of his life, light and glory.
Chapel of Simon of Cyrene
The Chapel of Simon of Cyrene is a Catholic chapel belonging to the Franciscans in the Old City of Jerusalem. The place marks the fifth station of Via Dolorosa, and refers to the biblical episode in which Simon of Cyrene takes Jesus' cross, and carries it for him.
Israeli Krembo Cookies
Krembos typically mark the winter season in Israel. A Krembo is a classic Israeli snack that is a chocolate-covered marshmallow treat with a cookie base.
4 ounces unsalted butter
(110 grams or ½ cup) or vegan butter
⅓ cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or non-dairy milk
1½ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup white sugar
½ cup water
2 large egg whites
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
½ cup coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350℉ / 175℃.
In a large bowl, mash the butter with the powdered sugar.
Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract, milk and flour. Mix until a dough forms. Use your hands to shape it into a block. Wrap in plastic and place in fridge for 20 mins.
Roll out the dough and cut out circles about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on nonstick baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly golden. Re-roll out the unused dough into new circles. After baking let cool on wire rack.
For the marshmallow filling, add the sugar and water to a pot. Watch the temperature with a candy thermometer. On medium heat, stir often and be careful not to let the sugar burn. When it hits 220℉/104℃, beat the 2 egg whites in a large bowl until very fluffy. When the sugar water hits 243℉/117℃ pour it slowly into the egg whites. Whip the mixture until it stiffens up and looks like marshmallow!
Pipe the marshmallow onto the cookies.
For the chocolate coating, melt the chocolate and add the coconut oil. Mix well. Pour over the Krembos. It helps to use a spoon. If the marshmallow is very stuck onto the cookie, you can also dip it into the chocolate.
Carefully move the Krembos onto a clean tray. Allow about an hour to cool or place in the fridge before serving. An extra tip for the chocolate: everyone’s chocolate and coconut oil are different, so after you melt the chocolate, add the coconut oil one tablespoon at a time until is drips off a spoon smoothly and quickly.
Note: Make these little treats to be fun and what you want them to reflect. White Chocolate vs Milk Chocolate...Color Marshmallow vs White Marshmallow...Toppings like Sprinkles vs No Toppings...Hidden Chocolates on the cookies under the Marshmallow vs No Extra Filling.... So many possibilities!