Above: Icon of Sts. Anne and Mary
Image in the Public Domain
BLESSED ROGER LEFORT (CIRCA 1277-MARCH 1, 1367)
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bourges
The renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days resumes, this time with saints with feast days in March, as 2016 passes the torch to 2017.
Blessed Roger Lefort was an important yet relatively observe (by current standards) saint. He, of French noble origin, was the nephew of a cardinal. In 1321 Lefort was a sub-deacon. Also during that year the See of Orleans became vacant. Certain clergymen competed to become the next Bishop of Orleans. Lefort disapproved of such political maneuvering. Although he did not seek the position and even considered himself unworthy to hold it, he became the next Bishop of Orleans in 1321. The Holy Spirit had spoken, some claimed. Lefort had, prior to his selection, joked that he would be a good bishop. What he intended as sarcasm a sufficient number of people interpreted as truth. Lefort was a capable bishop, one who translated to Limoges in 1328 then became the Archbishop of Bourges in 1343.
Liturgically Lefort pioneered the observance of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in France. The idea of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception was not new; it derived from the writings of certain Church Fathers, including St. Justin Martyr (circa 100-circa 165) and St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 130-circa 200), both of whom thought of her as the “new Eve.” St. Andrew of Crete (circa 660-740) and St. John of Damascus (circa 675-circa 749) considered Our Lady to have been sinless. The annual observance of St. Mary’s conception dated to the 600s (in the East) and began to spread throughout the West (starting at Naples) in the 800s. In the 1100s, when commemorations began in France, they prompted controversy. Theologians including St. Albert the Great (circa 1200-1280), St. Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274), and St. Bonaventure (circa 1217-1274) rejected the idea of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. She was not immune from original sin, they argued. The position Lefort supported became the official position of the Roman Catholic Church in time. The Council of Basle (1439) declared the Immaculate Conception to be theologically sound. A decade later the Sorbonne became the first university to require its candidates to defend the doctrine. Pope Sixtus IV established the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, with its own propers, in 1476. Pope Clement XI made the observance a Feast of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church in 1708. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma.
Lefort died, aged 90 years, on March 1, 1367. He left his estate for the education of poor boys.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 1, 2017 COMMON ERA
THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS, YEAR A
THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS: THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS
WORLD DAY OF PEACE
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8)
Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary
to be the worthy mother of your Son.
You let her share beforehand in the salvation
Christ would bring by his death,
and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.
Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
–Compiled from The Book of Catholic Worship (1966), pages 301-302, and Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), pages 1332-1334