St. Alexander, known as "The charcoal burner", was Bishop of Comana, in Pontus. Whether he was the first to occupy that see is open to discussion. The Bollandists have also a long paper as to the exact location of Comana as there were several plates of that name, but decide for Pontus, near Neo-Caesarea. The curious name of the saint comes from the fact that he had, out of humility, taken up the work of burning charcoal, so as to escape worldly honours. He is called a philosopher, but it is not certain that the term is to be taken literally. His philosophy consisted rather in his preference of heavenly to earthly things. The discovery of his virtues was due to the very contempt with which he had been regarded. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus had been asked to come to Comana to help select a bishop for that place. As he rejected all the candidates, someone in derision suggested that he might accept Alexander, the charcoal-burner. Gregory took the suggestion seriously, summoned Alexander, and found that he had to do with a saint and a man of great capabilities. Alexander was made bishop of the see, administered it with remarkable wisdom and ultimately gave up his life for the Faith, being burned to death in the persecution of Decius. The vagueness of the information we have about him comes from the fact that his name is not found in any of the old Greek or Roman calendars. He would have been absolutely unknown were it not for a discourse pronounced by St. Gregory of Nyssa, on the life of St. Gregory Thaumaturgus , in which the election of Alexander is incidentally descrlbed. In the modern Roman Martyrology his name occurs, and he is described as a "philosophus disertissimus." His feast is kept on 11 August.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online