Feast of Robert Grosseteste (October 9)   2 comments

Robert Grosseteste

Academic; Scientist; Bishop of Lincoln; died in 1253

Faith and intellect = a wonderful combination



From the New Zealand Anglicans:

Robert Grosseteste became one of the most significant bishops in England in the thirteenth century. Little is known of his early life. He was born in Stradbroke, Suffolk, about 1175, and was educated at Oxford and possibly Paris. He was a brilliant scholar and from 1224 till his appointment as bishop of Lincoln in 1235 he taught at the new Franciscan house at the University of Oxford.

Like many Franciscans, Grosseteste was unsympathetic to the rediscovered teachings of Aristotle, which emphasised the evidence of the senses as a source of knowledge. Nevertheless, he did much to encourage the emerging scientific method, and one of his outstanding students was Roger Bacon. Grosseteste linked the sciences to Neoplatonist concepts and notions derived from Augustine in which light is a basis of the created order.

The Diocese of Lincoln was the largest diocese in England at the time. Grosseteste proved himself a conscientious and efficient bishop. He was a vigorous and determined proponent of the reform of the church. His visitations resulted in the tightening up of discipline and improved standards among the clergy. Such changes did not please those who benefited from a lax church, and Grosseteste was at odds with his dean and chapter, who resisted his episcopal visitation. He eventually received papal authority to remove the dean. Grosseteste also resisted attempts by the king to encroach on the rights of the church. In his interest in reform of the church, Grosseteste strongly influenced John Wickliffe (see 31 December).

Grosseteste was also in conflict with the papacy itself over the policy of appointing Italians to rich English livings, a policy Grosseteste attacked vigorously during a visit to Rome in 1250. He refused to accept the appointment of a nephew of the pope to a living in his diocese. It was actions such as these that probably prevented the recognition of Grosseteste as a saint after his death in 1253.

Grosseteste was a man of wide interests in both science and theology. He translated a large number of works on philosophy and theology, wrote commentaries on some parts of the Bible, and wrote works on philosophy and theology, his treatise, On Light, being the most comprehensive statement of his metaphysics. In addition he wrote a number of pastoral and devotional works.

For Liturgical Use

Robert Grosseteste was born about 1175 in Suffolk, and was educated at Oxford and Paris Universities. He taught at Oxford University and was master of the Oxford Franciscans. In 1235 he became bishop of Lincoln. He strove to reform monastic corruption, and struggled against papal appointments of Italians to rich English livings and against royal interference in the English church. His theological writings are striking for their penetrating metaphors and similes, and he played a significant part in the early development of scientific method at Oxford. He died in 1253.


O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Robert Grosseteste to be a bishop and pastor in your Church and to feed your flock: Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Acts 20:28-32

Psalm 112:1-9 or Psalm 23

Luke 16:10-15


2 responses to “Feast of Robert Grosseteste (October 9)

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  1. Great post on a great bishop and scholar.

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