Feast of St. Benedict Biscop (January 12)   1 comment

England 700 CE

Above:  England in 700 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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ST. BENEDICT BISCOP (CIRCA 628-JANUARY 12, 689/689)

Roman Catholic Abbot of Wearmouth

As I read and took notes about the life of St. Benedict Biscop I became increasingly impressed.  I also decided that he was among my kindred spirits separated from me by time and space.  His habit of accumulating a relatively large library spanning a variety of subjects yet focused on service books confirmed that conclusion.

January 12 seems to be an auspicious date for saints from Northumbria.  In the previous post I wrote about St. Aelred of Hexham (circa 1109/1110-1167), an influential abbot and writer.  Now I write about St. Benedict Biscop (circa 628-689/690), also an influential abbot and scholar.

Biscop Baducing came from Northumbrian nobility.  For a time he was a warrior of King Oswiu of Bernicia (reigned 642-670).  Our saint, who traveled to Rome five times (often in part to purchase books), was a friend of St. Wilfrid, Bishop of York (lived 634-709), a predecessor of St. Wilfrid of Ripon (died circa 744), also Bishop of York.  (Some sources identify the first St. Wilfrid as St. Wilfrid the Elder and the second St. Wilfrid, the one from Ripon, as St. Wilfrid the Younger.)  In 665, after returning from his second journey to Rome, Biscop settled on the island of Lerins, where he studied to become a monk for two years then took vows and a new name–Benedict.

Thus St. Benedict Biscop found his calling and pursued it.  In 668 and 669 he accompanied St. Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, from Rome to England.  Upon their arrival the Archbishop appointed our saint the Abbot of Sts. Peter and Paul’s, Canterbury, a post he held for two years.  In 674 King Ecgfirth of Northumbria (reigned 670-685) granted St. Benedict Biscop land on which to build a monastery–St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth.  Our saint traveled in Europe to find the masons to erect the structures in the Pre-Romanesque style.  He also made his final journey to Rome in 679 and returned with books, relics, glaziers, masons, and a papal grant of special privileges for the monastery.  Ecgfirth, impressed, granted more land adjacent to St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth, in 1182.  Thus St. Paul’s, Jarrow, came to exist.  The priory of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s became a center of learning, due primarily to its library of almost 300 books–an impressive number for the time and place.  (There were no printing presses in Europe yet, although the Chinese had invented one by that time.)  That library proved invaluable to St. Bede of Jarrow, or the Venerable Bede (circa 673-735), a great historian.

St. Benedict Biscop, who did much to influence the world for the better, spent his last two years in pain and confined to his bed.  He died on January 12, 689 or 690, but his legacy has never ceased to live.  The legacies of teachers survive in their students and those whom the students influence.  To this day the writings of St. Bede remain in print, awaiting more readers.  They would not exist without the efforts of St. Benedict Biscop.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF AARON ROBARTS WOLFE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MORTON REYNOLDS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [St. Benedict Biscop and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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