Archive for April 2012

Feast of St. Stephen of Sweden (June 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Northern Europe in 1000 CE

SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN (DIED CIRCA 1075)

Roman Catholic Missionary Bishop and Martyr

Sometimes a post adding someone to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days becomes a rather involved affair.  Saint A leads me Saint B, et cetera.  Once I wrote a post covering sixteen people because of such connections!  It was the best way to cover the material yet the drafting of that post took some time because I had to slow down, remind myself of whom I was writing at the moment, and decide upon the best way to organize the content.  This time, however, the material is rather short and sweet.

Today I add to my calendar St. Stephen of Sweden, a.k.a. St. Stephen of Corbie and St. Stephen of Corvey.  Originally a monk at New Corbie/Corvey monastery in Saxony, he received holy orders and became a missionary bishop.  Assigned to the Danish-Swedish frontier, the saint introduced Christianity to the area.  He converted many people and worked to suppress the worship of Woden/Odin.  For his good work St. Stephen died violently in the region of Uppsala.

I stand in awe of saints such as Stephen of Sweden.  As a Christian in 2012, I stand on their shoulders.  They laid foundations and risked everything for their Savior and Lord.  St. Stephen could have lived a safe and still holy existence at the monastery, but he followed his Messiah to martyrdom.  Such sacrifice demands our great respect for the martyred and renewed dedication to obey the call of God on our lives.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. METHODIST BOOK OF WORSHIP, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUALFARDUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of Saint Stephen of Sweden, whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Feast of St. Simeon of Syracuse (June 1)   Leave a comment

 

Above:  A Map of Europe in 1000 CE

SAINT SIMEON OF SYRACUSE (DIED 1035)

Roman Catholic Monk

I found the name of St. Simeon Syracuse in the 1980 edition of the Dictionary of Saints, by John J. Delaney.  I purchased the book on October 3, 2011, at the public library sale in Winder, Georgia.  This volume has already led me to pursue many paths of research.  And more will follow.

The lifespan of St. Simeon places him close to the formal rupture between Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.  This fact becomes important for understanding something which Saints.SQPN.com says about him:

One of the last great figures linking the [Catholic] West with the Orthodox East.

Actually, the website said “Orthodox West” and “Orthodox East,” but “Catholic West” makes more sense.

St. Simeon of Syracuse, a native of Syracuse, Sicily, educated at Constantinople, then the Byzantine imperial capital, became a hermit along the River Jordan after making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  After some time he became a monk at Bethlehem then, for two years or so, a hermit attached to the monastery at Mt. Sinai.  Then he began a dangerous mission to Normandy.

Now I combine hagiography with royal history according to encyclopedias and other reference works I consulted.  Richard II, Duke of Normandy, called Richard the Good (reigned 996-1026), had promised to make a donation to Mt. Sinai monastery.  (Richard II, by the way, was a nephew of Hugh Capet, King of France (reigned 987-996), founder of the Capetian line, which remained uninterrupted until 1792.  I wonder how good Richard II was, for he crushed at least one peasant uprising.)  Anyhow, Richard II had not paid the money yet.  So St. Simeon went to collect it.

As I mentioned, this was a perilous journey.  Pirates attacked the ship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and killed everyone aboard except St. Simeon.  He swam ashore, where he met one Cosmas, who traveled with him from Antioch to Belgrade (where they spent time in custody) then to southern France.  There Cosmas died.  St. Simeon arrived at the ducal court to discover that Richard II had died and that the new duke refused to pay the promised money.

Who was this duke?  No source I have consulted is certain.  Richard II had two sons who succeeded him.  The first was Richard III (reigned 1026-1027).  After he died,  Robert I (reigned 1027-1035) governed.  Robert had two nicknames:  the Magnificent and the Devil, the latter of which referred to a rumor that he had killed his way to the throne.  Given the length of each reign, Robert I was more likely to be the duke who refused to pay the money.  He was also the father (by a mistress) of his successor, William II the Bastard (reigned 1035-1087).  William is more more famous as the Duke of Normandy who claimed his right (established via his aunt Emma’s marriage into the English royal family) to the English throne in 1066.  So William II the Bastard became William I the Conqueror (reigned 1066-1087).

Back to our regularly scheduled program….

St. Simeon, in western Europe, met Poppo, Archbishop of Trier.  They made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land then returned to Trier, where the saint lived his remaining years a hermit under the direction of the Abbot of St. Martin’s Monastery.  St. Simeon died of natural causes in 1035.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 1042.  This was a formal process consistent with canonizations since 993.  Canonizations prior to 993 had been informal affairs.

This has been an adventure story which has overlapped with dynastic histories.  But what does it have to do with anything important, one might ask?  One purpose of reading hagiographies is to learn about church history.  This is a laudable goal.  (I am a history buff; of course I claim that this is a laudable goal.)  But there is another purpose:  to learn valuable moral lessons.  St. Simeon of Syracuse traveled far and wide for God.  He placed himself at great risk for this purpose.  And he preferred to be alone with God, based on his chosen lifestyle.  We all need solitude with God to feed our souls, so may we never starve ourselves with too much activity.  And, regardless of where we ought to go for God–and at what risks–may we obey that call.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an ordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Simeon of Syracuse,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or 9:57-62

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 722

Posted April 25, 2012 by neatnik2009 in June 1-10, Saints of the 1000s

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Feast of St. Pamphilus of Caesarea and His Companions (June 1)   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruins of the Roman Aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima

SAINT PAMPHILUS OF CAESAREA (DIED 309)

Bible Scholar and Translator; Martyr

One of the pleasures of reading then writing about notable saints is feeding the intellectual side of my nature.  My blogging functions as a creative outlet.  Another associated pleasure is learning about long-dead people I would have liked to know.  Among these historical heroes was St. Pamphilus of Caesaria, born to a wealthy Beirut family in the late 200s.  The saint studied at the great catechetical school of Alexandria, Egypt.  There he came under the influence of Pierius, a follower of Origen, another person I admire greatly.  St. Pamphilus, who also taught at that school in time, became a priest at Caesarea Maritima.

St. Pamphilus was a great scholar.  During his lifetime the saint had a reputation for being well-informed and maintaining a large private library, one invaluable for research by himself and others.  Known as the leading Bible scholar of his time, St. Pamphilus taught, mentored, and befriended Eusebius of Caesarea, the great historian of early Christianity.  Eusebius described St. Pamphilus as

a most admirable man of our times and the glory of the church at Caesarea, whose illustrious deeds we have set forth….

Ecclesiastical History, Book 8, Chapter 13, (6), translated by C. F. Cruse

and as

that dearest of my friends and associates, a man who for every virtue was the most illustrious martyr of our times.

Ecclesiastical History, The Book of Martyrs, Chapter 7

St. Pamphilus, who lived simply and gave his wealth to the poor, also translated the Bible.  His library has long since ceased to exist, unfortunately, as has the biography Eusebius wrote about him.

On another note, the saint and Eusebius did collaborate on the Apology for Origen.  I approve of this, for Origen needed defenders; he had many detractors.

As Eusebius has informed us, the life of St. Pamphilus ended in martyrdom.  The scholarly saint refused to sacrifice to pagan gods at Caesarea Maritima in 308.  Imprisoned for over a year, he died by beheading in 309.  Also beheaded were St. Paul of Jamnia and St. Valens of Jerusalem, a deacon.  Their crime was to be a Christian.  The man who ordered their executions was Firmilian, the local Roman governor.  On that day he also oversaw the crucifixion of St. Theodolus of Caesarea, a former servant of his who was a Christian.  It was a bloody day at Caesarea Maritima.  One St. Porphyrius of Caesarea, a student of St. Pamphilius, requested the opportunity to bury his mentor’s body.  For this alleged offense Firmilian ordered him tortured then burned to death.  An on-looker named St. Seleucus of Cappadocia applauded the faith of St. Porphyrius.  So Firmilian had this man beheaded.

Such violence flows from fear.  One might wonder why Romans persecuted those Gentiles who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods and those who sympathized with such dissidents.  These violent acts flowed from the assumption that the gods, whose existence most Mediterranean people of the time affirmed, would bless the empire and cause it to prosper so long as people sacrificed to them.  The Romans, being relatively tolerant of religious differences, exempted Jews from this civic duty.  Yet this tolerance did not extend to dissident Gentiles, depending on who was governor in a particular region at a certain time.  Most persecutions were regional, and empire-wide persecutions were rare.  As the empire faced foreign and domestic turmoil, cracking down on these Gentiles who refused to sacrifice to imaginary deities seemed rational, from a certain point of view.  These Christians constituted a real threat to the health of the empire, persecutors thought.

May we know then remember that those who engage in persecution might not think of themselves as villains.  They can probably rationalize their actions to themselves and others.  That said, not every dispute in a church-state relationship indicates persecution; may we not “cry wolf.”  And may we not persecute either.

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Dear God of life, who has endured us with the blessings of the intellect,

we thank you for the scholarship of Saint Pamphilus of Caesarea,

whose output influenced his contemporaries and his successors in the Christian faith positively.

We thank you also for his faith and that of his fellow martyrs,

Saint Paul of Jamnia,

Saint Valens of Jerusalem,

Saint Theodolus of Caesarea,

Saint Porphyrius of Caesarea,

and Saint Seleucus of Cappadocia,

each of whom took up his cross and followed you.

We mourn the violence which leads to martyrdom

while rejoicing that such violence has failed to crush Christianity.

May such violence cease,

tolerance increase,

and love of you flourish.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 22

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Mark 8:31-38

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF THE SEVEN MARTYRS OF THE MELANESIAN BROTHERHOOD

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, TEACHER AND EVANGELIST

Feast of St. Luke Kirby and Blesseds Thomas Cottam, William Filby, and Laurence Richardson (May 30)   Leave a comment

Above:  English Flag

MARTYRED MAY 30, 1582

After having written hagiographies of various English martyrs.  I have exhausted my small supply of non-repetitive statements to express.  So, at this time and place, I repeat that (A) holding certain religious opinions ought never to meet a legal or extra-legal definition of treason, (B) it is shameful for Christians to martyr each other, and (C) I honor those who, regardless of affiliation, have become Christian martyrs.

We begin with St. Luke Kirby (1549-1582), a Cambridge graduate and adult convert to Roman Catholicism.  He studied at Douai, France, and at Rome in 1576-1577.  Ordained in 1577, he began his English mission in 1580.  It was brief, for authorities arrested the saint soon after he arrived.  The charge was treason, with the fact that he was a Roman Catholic priest functioning as evidence against him.  Imprisoned and tortured in the Tower of London, the saint died on May 30, 1582.  The Roman Catholic Church canonized him in 1970.

Kirby died on the same day as three other martyrs, all Blesseds in the Roman Catholic Church since 1886.  Thomas Cottam (1549-1582), an Oxford graduate and erstwhile grammar school master, had converted to Roman Catholicism, studied at Douai then became a deacon in 1577.  He had become a Jesuit novice two years later in hopes of going to India as a missionary.  Yet illness prevented the dreamed-of journey to the subcontinent.  Ordained to the priesthood in 1580, Cottam went to England instead.  A missionary journey to India might still be possible, he had hoped.  Betrayed and arrested that year, Cottam had endured imprisonment and torture at the Tower of London before his death.

Blessed William Filby (circa 1560-1582) and Blessed Laurence Richardson (d. 1582), both Oxford-educated, were also priests.  Filby, ordained priest in 1581, had studied at Reims.  Richardson, ordained priest in 1577, had studied at Douai.  Each man had begun his English mission the same year he had become a priest and suffered in the Tower of London.

Religious opinions vary; that is predictable.  Yet to criminalize theology is to treat holding an opinion as committing a felony.  That is wrong at all times and places.  Thought crimes ought not to exist.  If someone has committed a violent act or conspired to do so, laws cover such actions.  But those are matters of behavior.  Call me a civil libertarian (to a certain extent), O reader; I confess without apology.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MALRUBIUS OF APPLECROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSELM, ARCHBISHOP OF THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEYMOUR BRIDGES, POET AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the hearts of your holy martyrs

Saint Luke Kirby,

Blessed Thomas Cottam,

Blessed William Filby, and

Blessed Laurence Richardson:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 715

Feast of Sts. Andrew Fournet, Elizabeth Bichier, and Michael Garicoits (May 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  French Flag

SAINT ANDREW HUBERT FOURNET (1752-1834)

Cofounder of the Daughters of the Cross

His feast = May 16

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SAINT JOAN ELIZABETH MARY LUCY BICHIER DES ANGES (1773-1838)

Cofounder of the Daughters of the Cross

Her feast transferred from August 26

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SAINT MICHAEL GARICOITS (1797-1863)

Founder of the Priest of the Sacred Heart of Betharram

His feast transferred from May 14

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Each of these saints has a separate feast day on the Rom Catholic calendar.  Yet telling their unified story makes much sense to me.  And this is my ecumenical calendar of saints, so I can place anyone on any date I choose.  So may 16, for my purposes, is the feast fay for all three, not just St. Andrew Fournet.

We begin with St. Andrew Fournet (1752-1834), born at Maille, near Poitiers, France.  His mother wanted him to become a priest, but the young saint had other ideas.  He studied law and philosophy at Poitiers instead.  Yet a priest who happened to be his uncle convinced the saint to honor his mother’s wishes.  Fournet, ordained to the priesthood, assisted his uncle then served as parish priest at Maille.  There he lived quite simply–austerely, in fact–in contrast to his previous standard of living, which had been quite comfortable.  The saint had to go into hiding during the French Revolution, for he refused to swear allegiance to the government.  He lived in Spain from 1792 to 1797 and resumed life as a fugitive in France from 1797 to 1802.

We turn next to St. Elizabeth Bichier (1773-1838).  Joan Elizabeth Mary Luch Bichier des Anges was the daughter of Anthony Bichier, lord of the manor, Chateau des Anges, at Le Blanc, France.  Educated at the Poitiers convent, she succeeded in preventing the National Assembly from confiscating the estate after her father’s death.  In 1796 Bichier was living with her mother at Bethines, near Poitiers.  At Bethines the female saint kept the faith when doing so was risky.

The paths of St. Andrew Fournet and St. Elizabeth Bichier crossed in 1797, when they met and became friends.  She was dedicating her life to teaching the young and caring for the aged and the ill of Bethines.  Fournet composed a rule for her to follow.  In 1802, with the announcement of the Concordat between Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Pius VII, Fournet returned to life as a parish priest.  Two years later, Bichier’s mother died, so the female saint became a Carmelite novice at Poitiers.  She and Fournet were preparing to found a new religious order.  They did so in 1807, establish the Daughters of the Cross, devoted to teaching the young and caring for the aged and the ill.  Fournet wrote the order’s rule.

There was a coworker:  Saint Michael Garicoits (1797-1863).  Born at Ibarra, near Bayonne, France, Garicoits worked as a shepherd when a boy.  He studied at St. Palais College, Bayonne, becoming a priest in 1823.  This was three years after Fournet had retired, thus beginning the period during which he served as a confessor and a spiritual adviser to the order.  Garicoits, meanwhile, served as a pastor then as a professor of theology at the Lestelle-Betharram seminary then as Rector of that seminary.  Garicoits, in 1834, succeeded the recently deceased Fournet as a confessor and a spiritual adviser to the Daughters of the Cross.

St. Elizabeth Bichier, in her final years, encouraged Garicoits to found a new order, the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram.  The members of this order, founded in 1838, devoted themselves to missionary work.  Unfortunately, politics involving bishops delayed papal approval of the order until 1877, fourteen years after the death of Garicoits.

We human beings are supposed to support and encourage each other in good deeds and in works of righteousness.  The overlapping stories of these three saints demonstrate this principle well.  May we–you, O reader, and I–in our efforts, regardless of how humble of seemingly minor they might be, live accordingly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 7, 2012 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MONTFORD SCOTT, EDMUND GENNINGS, HENRY WALPOLE, AND THEIR FELLOW MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE, FOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE AMERICAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TIKHON, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW

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Lord God, you have surrounded us with so great a cloud of witnesses.

Grant that we, encouraged by the examples of your servants

Saint Andrew Fournet,

Saint Elizabeth Bichier,

and Saint Michael Garicoits,

may persevere in the course that is set before us and, at the last, share in your eternal joy with all the saints in light,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 9:1-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Luke 6:20-23

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

Feast of Sts. Gregory of Ostia and Dominic of the Causeway (May 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Vatican Flag

SAINT GREGORY OF OSTIA (DIED 1044)

Roman Catholic Abbot, Cardinal, and Legate

His feast transferred from May 9

mentor of

SAINT DOMINIC OF THE CAUSEWAY (DIED CIRCA 1109)

Roman Catholic Hermit

His feast = May 12

St. Gregory of Ostia, an abbot, was a man known for his wisdom and the holiness of his life.  In 1034 or so Pope Benedict IX (reigned 1032-1044; 1045; 1047-1048) named the saint Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and papal librarian.  Later St. Gregory served as papal legate to Navarre and Castille, on the Iberian peninsula.  He established various religious practices, such as processions and fasts, there, improving public morals by them.

One person whose life St. Gregory of Ostia touched was St. Dominic of the Causeway.  St. Dominic, a Basque, had tried several times to join the Benedictines, to no avail.  So he became a hermit at Rjola then a follower and St. Gregory.  St. Dominic became a hermit in the forest near La Calzada, on the road to Compostela, after the legate’s death.  The hermit saint built a highway, a bridge, and a hostel for pilgrims traveling to Compostela.  Thus he is the patron of civil engineers.

I understand why certain saints (both canonized and not) have needed to live apart from other people.  Some of us are born as introverts.  This is the way God has fashioned us, so introversion is not a fault.  Some societies, cultures, and subcultures favor extroversion, a way of being which is proper for those whom God as made to be extroverts.  And my experiences (mostly bad, by the way) with Evangelicalism reveal it to favor extroversion.  But may we never fail to honor God’s introverts and those who mentor them.  Perhaps you, O reader, are an introvert.  If so, be the best and holiest one possible, by grace.  And/or maybe God has called you to mentor and support an introvert or introverts.  Then do that–and always for the glory of God.

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Lord Jesus, who retired to solitude for prayer,

we thank you for the holy lives and legacies of

Saints Gregory of Ostia and Dominic of the Causeway.

May their examples inspire us to seek and find you by the means you have chosen for each of us,

to support each other in holiness,

and not to scorn each other’s introversion or extroversion.

In the name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in the communion of saints.  Amen.

Isaiah 30:15-18

Psalm 63

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

Luke 5:12-16

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 7, 2012 COMMON ERA

HOLY SATURDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MONTFORD SCOTT, EDMUND GENNINGS, HENRY WALPOLE, AND THEIR FELLOW MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BAPTIST DE LA SALLE, FOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE AMERICAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT TIKHON, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW

Feast of Sts. Petronax of Monte Cassino, Willibald of Eichstatt, Walburga and Winnebald of Heidenhelm, Sebaldus of Vincenza, Wigbert of Fritzlar, Sturmius of Fulda, and Lullus of Mainz (May 6)   Leave a comment

 

Above:   Vatican Coat of Arms

SAINT PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO (DIED CIRCA 747)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast = May 6

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SIBLINGS

SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM (710-779)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from February 25

SAINT WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT (700-786)

Roman Catholic Bishop

His feast transferred from June 6

SAINT WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM (DIED 761)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from December 18

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ASSOCIATES OF SAINT WILLBALD

SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA (DIED CIRCA 770)

Roman Catholic Hermit and Missionary

His feat transferred from August 19

SAINT WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR (675-746)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from August 13

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SAINT STURMIUS OF FULDA (DIED 779)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from December 17

disputed with

SAINT LULLUS OF MAINZ (710-786)

Roman Catholic Archbishop

His feast transferred from October 16

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I have done it again.  I have, while researching the life of one saint, uncovered other related lives.  Here we find mentors, students, associates, siblings, and even an adversary in a dispute.  I invite you, O reader, to join me on a journey through church history.

We begin where I started:  St. Petronax of Monte Cassino (died circa 747).  This saint, from Brescia, Italy, arrived at Monte Cassino in 717.  There he organized the hermits living at the tomb of St. Benedict of Nursia, rebuilt the abbey, and attracted many more monks.  Lombards had destroyed the monastery in 581, but St. Petronax restored the abbey and its influence.  For this accomplishment history recalls him as the Second Founder of the abbey.

Among the monks St. Petronax taught was St. Willibald of Eichstatt (700-786).  St. Willibald was a nephew of St. Boniface of Mainz through his (St. Willibald’s) mother, St. Wuna, about whom I can find little information.  St. Willibald’s father and St. Wuna’s husband was St. Richard the Pilgrim (died 721/722), a West Saxon chieftain of whom little reliable information survives.  Educated at Waltham Monastery, St. Willibald, his brother, St. Winnebald of Heidenhelm (died 761), and their father undertook a pilgrimage to Rome in 721.  St. Richard died at Lucca, Italy, in 721/722, but the brothers continued to Rome.  At Rome St. Willibald continued to the Holy Land.   He reached Jerusalem in 724 then traveled to Edessa, where he was imprisoned by some local Muslims on charges of being a spy.  Released, he visited many hermitages and monasteries before traveling to Constantinople.  He returned to Italy in 730, spending a decade at Monte Cassino.

St. Winnebald, in the meantime, entered the religious life at Rome.  He traveled with his uncle, St. Boniface of Mainz, to Germany in 739.  There St. Boniface ordained his nephew.  St. Willibald joined the German mission in 740, when Pope Gregory III sent him to St. Boniface.  Uncle St. Boniface ordained St. Willibald in Thuringia in 741.  St. Willibald was an effective evangelist around Eichstatt, of which he became the first bishop.

St. Willibald had at least two unrelated associates in his missionary work.  One was St. Sebaldus of Vincenza (died circa 770), who had been a hermit near Vincenza.  Another was St. Wigbert of Fritzlar (675-746), an English monk who had accepted St. Boniface’s invitation to join the mission.  St. Wigbert served as abbot of two monasteries–Fritzlar then Ohrdruf, but he returned to Fritzlar to die.  Many details of the lives of these two saints have become lost in the mists of time, unfortunately.

Sts. Willibald and Winnebald had a sister, St. Walburga of Heidenhelm (710-779).  She studied under one St. Tatta, of whom I can find no reliable information other than this:  St. Tatta sent St. Walburga to assist St. Leoba and St. Boniface of Mainz in the German mission.  The three siblings founded the double abbey at Heidenhelm.  St. Walburga, as abbess, governed the nuns, and St. Winnebald, as abbot, led the monks.  St. Walburga became the sole leader of the double abbey after her brother, the abbot, died.  And St. Willibald made the double abbey the headquarters for his missionary work.  He died in 786, having been bishop for forty-five  years.

Another figure in our saga is St. Sturmius of Fulda (died 779).  Born to a Christian family in Bavaria, St Wigbert educated him at Fritzlar Abbey and St. Boniface ordained him.  St. Sturmius worked as a missionary for several years before becoming a hermit at Hersfeld.  Yet raiding Saxons forced him to flee.  St. Sturmius founded Fulda Monastery in 744, and St. Boniface appointed him the first abbot.  The new monastery became a center of Benedictine spirituality and learning.

Here St. Lullus of Mainz (710-786) enters the story.  Born in Britain and educated at Malmesbury Monastery, he had become a deacon.  Then, aged twenty years, St. Lullus joined St. Boniface’s mission.  The great missionary bishop ordained St. Lullus to the priesthood.  Pope St. Zachary (reigned 741-752) consecrated the priest Bishop Coadjutor.  St. Lullus succeeded St. Boniface as Archbishop of Mainz in 754.

Pope St. Zachary had granted St. Sturmius complete autonomy.  Perhaps St. Lullus was not aware of this fact.  Anyhow, St. Lullus claimed jurisdiction over Fulda Monastery.  In 763, Pepin III (reigned 752-768), the Frankish king (and previously Mayor of the Palace) banished St. Sturmius from Fulda.  Yet the saint returned from exile after two years, reinstated in large part due to the protestations of monks there.  The king also declared the monastery independent, affirming Pope St. Zachary’s decision.

St. Sturmius, the first German to become a Benedictine, was the Apostle to the Saxons, a people whom he had great difficulty evangelizing due to the ill treatment they had received from Pepin III then Charlemagne (reigned 768-814).  But at least St. Sturmius tried.

St. Lullus retired as Archbishop of Mainz in 786, returned to Hersfeld Monastery, and died there.

These were remarkable saints devoted their lives to God.  Most of them left their homes and traveled far away.  They took great risks for Jesus and helped to preserve civilization.  That was meritorious.  May we thank God that they lived.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 1, 2012 COMMON ERA

PALM SUNDAY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SYRAGIUS OF AUTUN AND ANACHARIUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS, AND VALERY OF LEUCONE AND EUSTACE OF LUXEUIT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST  OF SAINTS SIDONIUS APOLLINARIS, EUSTACE OF LYON, AND HIS DESCENDANTS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit  you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Eccleasiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726