Archive for the ‘January 7’ Category

Feast of St. Angela of Foligno (January 7)   Leave a comment


Above:  St. Angela of Foligno

Image in the Public Domain



Penitent and Humanitarian

Her feast transferred from January 4

Alternative feast day = March 30


Let us go and look for Christ our Lord.  We will go to the hospital and perhaps among the sick and the suffering we shall find Him.

–St. Angela of Foligno, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), page 15


St. Angela of Foligno spent much of her life helping the poor of that city.

We know little about the life of St. Angela of Foligno until the 1280s.  We do know that she was the wife of a wealthy merchant of Foligno, Italy, and that she enjoyed the benefits of his success more than she should have done, to the detriment of soul; wealth became an idol for her.  We also know that St. Angela enjoyed wearing flashy clothing, gossiping, and flirting with men.  Furthermore, we know that, in 1285, she had an epiphany.

In 1285 St. Angela committed adultery.  Then she went to confession, but she concealed that sin.  Next she compounded the error by taking communion.  She, fearing that she might have condemned herself to Hell, prayed to St. Francis of Assisi and asked him to direct her to a confessor.  St. Angela perceived St. Francis as telling her:

Sister, if you would have asked me sooner, I would have complied with your request sooner.  Nonetheless, your request is granted.

That day, at the cathedral, St. Angela confessed her sins to a kinsman, Father Arnoldo.  She found peace and vowed to reform her life.

For five years that reform proceeded in baby steps.  She began to sell some of her possessions to raise funds to help the poor of the city, but she remained susceptible to the temptations of wealth.  Then, in 1290, after her husband and sons died, St. Angela became more serious about selling her possessions.  Priests counseled her to consider this prayerfully, for she might not have a vocation to poverty, they said.  Our saint made a pilgrimage to Rome, to ponder their advice.  She returned to Foligno and resumed the process of selling her possessions.  She also became a Franciscan tertiary and had mystical experiences.

These ecstasies and visions attracted some people to her company and embarrassed and scandalized others.  Certain devout people sought to learn of God from her.  Yet once, while St. Angela was on pilgrimage to Assisi, Father Arnoldo scolded her for allegedly making a spectacle of herself at the basilica.  He even ordered her to leave and never to return.  She obeyed this command.

At Foligno St. Angela became the core of a community of women who lived as Franciscans and performed many good works.  For years, until her death in 1309, Father Arnoldo was their chaplain.

The cult of St. Angela led the Roman Catholic Church to recognize her formally.  Pope Innocent XII declared her a Blessed in 1693; Pope Clement XI confirmed this eight years later.  Pope Francis canonized her in 2013.

St. Angela is the patron invoked against sexual temptation, temptation in general, and the death of children and for people ridiculed for their piety, as well as for widows.







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

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Saint Angela of Foligno,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the world 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 Luke 9:57-62

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


Feast of St. Gaspar del Bufalo (January 7)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of the Unification of Italy

Image in the Public Domain


SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO (A.K.A. SAINT CASPAR DEL BUFALO) (January 6, 1786-December 28, 1837)

Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood

His feast transferred from January 2

The son of a cook in Rome, St. Gaspar del Bufalo became a Roman Catholic priest in 1808.  Later that year, he joined Pope Pius VII and other clergymen who refused to swear allegiance to Napoleon Bonaparte in exile.  They returned to Rome in 1814.  The saint founded the Missionaries of the Precious Blood the following year.  He spent years engaged in extensive evangelism in central Italy and worked in the Santa Galla Hospice in Rome.  He also earned a reputation as an excellent preacher.  At the end of his life, although he was quite ill, the saint returned to Rome in late 1837 to tend to people during a cholera outbreak.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized St. Gaspar del Bufalo in 1954.







God of grace and glory,

we praise you for your servant Saint Gaspar del Bufalo,

who made the good news known in Italy.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you,

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59


Revised on November 20, 2016


Feast of St. Aldric of Le Mans (January 7)   Leave a comment

Above:  Northern France in 843

Image in the Public Domain



Roman Catholic Bishop of Le Mans

St. Aldric spent his youth in the court of the Frankish Emperor Charles the Great, a.k.a. Charlemagne, and Louis I the Pious/Debonair (reigned 814-840).  The saint, however, left that easy life to become a priest at the age of twenty-one years.  Yet Emperor Louis I recalled St. Aldric to the court.  There he remained until 832, nine years after his ordination, when the saint became Bishop of Le Mans, the post he held for the remaining twenty-four years of his life.  St. Aldric earned a reputation for his virtue and his civil spirit, the latter of which was evident from his efforts to build aqueducts, rebuild churches, restore monasteries and convents, and buy the freedom of captives.  Civil wars divided the Frankish kingdom after the death of Charlemagne.  The saint sided with Emperor Charles II the Bald (reigned 840-877), son of Louis I, so lost his see until Pope Gregory IV reinstated him.  St. Aldric also lost church lands due to the civil war, but regained them during his tenure.

Above all, the legacy of St. Aldric is one of active virtue which builds up the common good.  This is one way to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.  May we do this as God directs us.







Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant

Saint Aldric of Le Mans,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Revised from November 13, 2016


Posted November 27, 2011 by neatnik2009 in January 7, Saints of 800-899

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First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Ubari Oasis in Libya

The Waters of Life

JANUARY 7, 2018


Genesis 1:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said,

Let there be light;

and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Psalm 29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods,

ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;

the God of glory thunders;

the LORD is mighty upon the waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;

the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees;

the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD splits the flames of fire;

the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe

and strips the forest bare.

9 And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits enthroned above the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as King for evermore.

11 The LORD shall give strength to his people;

the LORD shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Acts 19:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.  He said to them,

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?

They replied,

No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.

Then he said,

Into what then were you baptized?

They answered,

Into John’s baptism.

Paul said,

John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.

On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul had laid his hands on them, they spoke in tongues and prophesied–altogether there were about twelve of them.

Mark 1:4-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed,

The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

In those days Jesus came down from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven,

You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

The Collect:

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

First Sunday after the Epiphany:  The Baptism of Our Lord, Year A:


Genesis 1:

Mark 1:


Water carries much symbolic meaning in the Bible.  The beautiful opening mythology in Genesis assumes that the Earth is founded upon the waters and that waters occupy the space on the other side of the dome of the sky.  So it is that, early in Genesis 1, a wind–the Spirit–from God moves across the face of the primordial waters.  Later, in Exodus, the Hebrew nations is born when it crosses the Sea of Reeds out of Egypt and into the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula.  Indeed, water was especially precious to those Biblical people who lived in or near the desert; water was essential for life.  This comes across in Psalm 1:3, for example:

They [“they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful”] are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.

(1979 Book of Common Prayer, page 585)

A survival techniques website I have consulted says that one, depending on circumstances, for months without any food.  Yet one’s body requires water daily; indeed, one can survive on just a few quarts of water for days or weeks in some environments.  So there are excellent reasons for the association of water with spiritual life.

Many people think of baptism as something we do.   Yes, we perform the sacramental rite baptism, but it is a sacrament.  As the catechism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer says regarding the sacraments,

The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.

Grace, in turn, is

God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

(This material comes from pages 857 and 858 of the Prayer Book.)

Baptism is something God does, and the ritual we perform is a rite of Christian initiation, a ceremony of formal admission to the family of God.  Baptism is properly communal, not individual, in nature.  This is why the gathered congregation takes part in the baptism of a person.

God became human in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, who sought the baptism of John the Baptist.  Hence Jesus identified with us.  It is proper, then, that we identify with him.



Saints’ Days and Holy Days for January   Leave a comment

Snow in January

Image in the Public Domain


  • Holy Name of Jesus
  • World Day of Peace


  • Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, Bavarian Lutheran Minister, and Coordinator of Domestic and Foreign Missions
  • Narcissus, Argeus, and Marcellinus of Tomi, Roman Martyrs, 320
  • Odilo of Cluny, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Sabine Baring-Gould, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


  • Edward Caswall, Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Perronet, British Methodist Preacher
  • Gladys Aylward, Missionary in China and Taiwan
  • William Alfred Passavant, Sr., U.S. Lutheran Minister, Humanitarian, and Evangelist


  • Elizabeth Ann Seton, Foundress of the American Sisters of Charity
  • Felix Manz, First Anabaptist Martyr, 1527
  • Gregory of Langres, Terticus of Langres, Gallus of Clermont, Gregory of Tours, Avitus I of Clermont, Magnericus of Trier, and Gaugericus, Roman Catholic Bishops
  • Johann Ludwig Freydt, German Moravian Composer and Educator


  • Antonio Lotti, Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Genoveva Torres Morales, Foundress of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels
  • John Nepomucene Neumann, Roman Catholic Bishop of Philadelphia
  • Margaret Mackay, Scottish Hymn Writer


7 (François Fénelon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cambrai)

  • Aldric of Le Mans, Roman Catholic Bishop
  • Angela of Foligno, Penitent and Humanitarian
  • Gaspar del Bufalo, Founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood
  • Lucian of Antioch, Roman Catholic Martyr, 312

8 (Thorfinn of Hamar, Roman Catholic Bishop)

  • A. J. Muste, Dutch-American Minister, Labor Activist, and Pacifist
  • Arcangelo Corelli, Roman Catholic Musician and Composer
  • Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, Scientists
  • Harriet Bedell, Episcopal Deaconess and Missionary

9 (Pepin of Landen, Itta of Metz, Their Relations, Amand, Austregisilus, and Sulpicius II of Bourges, Faithful Christians Across Generational Lines)

  • Emily Greene Balch, U.S. Quaker Sociologist, Economist, and Peace Activist
  • Julia Chester Emery, Upholder of Missions
  • Philip II of Moscow, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, and Martyr, 1569
  • William Jones, Anglican Priest and Musician

10 (John the Good, Roman Catholic Bishop of Milan)

  • Allen William Chatfield, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Translator
  • Ignatius Spencer, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Apostle of Ecumenical Prayer; mentor of Elizabeth Prout, Foundress of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion
  • Mary Lundie Duncan, Scottish Presbyterian Hymn Writer
  • William Gay Ballantine, U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Educator, Scholar, Poet, and Hymn Writer

11 (Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Roman Catholic Monk)

  • Charles William Everest, Episcopal Priest, Poet, and Hymn Writer
  • Miep Gies, Righteous Gentile
  • Paulinus II of Aquileia, Roman Catholic Patriarch of Aquileia
  • Richard Frederick Littledale, Anglican Priest and Translator of Hymns

12 (Benedict Biscop, Roman Catholic Abbot of Wearmouth)

  • Aelred of Hexham, Roman Catholic Abbot of Rievaulx
  • Anthony Mary Pucci, Roman Catholic Priest
  • Henry Alford, Anglican Priest, Biblical Scholar, Literary Translator, Hymn Writer, Hymn Translator, and Bible Translator
  • Marguerite Bourgeoys, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame

13 (Hilary of Poitiers, Roman Catholic Bishop of Poitiers, “Athanasius of the West;” and Hymn Writer; mentor of Martin of Tours, Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours)

  • Christian Keimann, German Lutheran Hymn Writer
  • George Fox, Founder of the Religious Society of Friends
  • Mary Slessor, Scottish Presbyterian Missionary in West Africa
  • Samuel Preiswerk, Swiss Reformed Minister and Hymn Writer

14 (Macrina the Elder, Her Family, and Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger)

  • Caesarius of Arles, Roman Catholic Bishop; and Caesaria of Arles, Roman Catholic Abbess
  • Eivind Josef Berggrav, Lutheran Bishop of Oslo, Hymn Translator, and Leader of the Norwegian Resistance During World War II
  • Kristen Kvamme, Norwegian-American Hymn Writer and Translator
  • Sava I, Founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church and First Archbishop of Serbs

15 (Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader and Martyr, 1968)

  • Abby Kelley Foster and her husband, Stephen Symonds Foster, U.S. Quaker Abolitionists and Feminists
  • Bertha Paulssen, German-American Seminary Professor, Psychologist, and Sociologist
  • Gene M. Tucker, United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • John Cosin, Anglican Bishop of Durham

16 (Roberto de Noboli, Roman Catholic Missionary in India)

  • Berard and His Companions, Roman Catholic Martyrs in Morocco, 1220
  • Edmund Hamilton Sears, U.S. Unitarian Minister, Hymn Writer, and Biblical Scholar
  • Gustave Weigel, U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Ecumenist
  • Richard Meux Benson, Anglican Priest and Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist; Charles Chapman Grafton, Episcopal Priest, Cofounder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and Bishop of Fond du Lac; and Charles Gore, Anglican Bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and Oxford; Founder of the Community of the Resurrection; Theologian; and Advocate for Social Justice and World Peace

17 (Antony of Egypt, Roman Catholic Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism)

  • James Woodrow, Southern Presbyterian Minister, Naturalist, and Alleged Heretic
  • Pachomius the Great, Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism
  • Rutherford Birchard Hayes, President of the United States of America
  • Thomas A. Dooley, U.S. Roman Catholic Physician and Humanitarian



19 (Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Humanitarians)

  • Deicola and Gall, Roman Catholic Monks; and Othmar, Roman Catholic Abbot at Saint Gallen
  • Elmer G. Homrighausen, U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Biblical Scholar, and Professor of Christian Education
  • Harold A. Bosley, United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Henry Twells, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer

20 (Fabian, Bishop of Rome, and Martyr, 250)

  • Euthymius the Great and Theoctistus, Roman Catholic Abbots
  • Greville Phillimore, English Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymn Translator
  • Harriet Auber, Anglican Hymn Writer
  • Richard Rolle, English Roman Catholic Spiritual Writer

21 (Mirocles of Milan and Epiphanius of Pavia, Roman Catholic Bishops)

  • Alban Roe and Thomas Reynolds, Roman Catholic Priests and Martyrs, 1642
  • Edgar J. Goodspeed, U.S. Baptist Biblical Scholar and Translator
  • John Yi Yon-on, Roman Catholic Catechist and Martyr in Korea, 1867
  • W. Sibley Towner, U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

22 (John Julian, Anglican Priest, Hymn Writer, and Hymnologist)

  • Alexander Men, Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1990
  • Ladislao Batthány-Strattmann, Austro-Hungarian Roman Catholic Physician and Philanthropist
  • Louise Cecilia Fleming, African-American Baptist Missionary and Physician
  • Vincent Pallotti, Founder of the Society for the Catholic Apostolate, the Union of Catholic Apostolate, and the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate

23 (John the Almsgiver, Patriarch of Alexandria)

  • Charles Kingsley, Anglican Priest, Novelist, and Hymn Writer
  • Edward Grubb, English Quaker Author, Social Reformer, and Hymn Writer
  • James D. Smart, Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Phillips Brooks, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, and Hymn Writer

24 (Ordination of Florence Li-Tim-Oi, First Female Priest in the Anglican Communion)

  • George A. Buttrick, Anglo-American Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar; and his son, David G. Buttrick, U.S. Presbyterian then United Church of Christ Minister, Theologian, and Liturgist
  • Marie Poussepin, Foundress of the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Virgin
  • Martyrs of Podlasie, 1874
  • Suranus of Sora, Roman Catholic Abbot and Martyr, 580



27 (Jerome, Paula of Rome, Eustochium, Blaesilla, Marcella, and Lea of Rome)

  • Angela Merici, Foundress of the Company of Saint Ursula
  • Carolina Santocanale, Foundress of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculate of Lourdes
  • Caspar Neumann, German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer
  • Pierre Batiffol, French Roman Catholic Priest, Historian, and Theologian

28 (Albert the Great and his pupil, Thomas Aquinas, Roman Catholic Theologians)

  • Daniel J. Simundson, U.S. Lutheran Minister and Biblical Scholar
  • Henry Augustine Collins, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest and Hymn Writer
  • Joseph Barnby, Anglican Church Musician and Composer
  • Somerset Corry Lowry, Anglican Priest and Hymn Writer


30 (Lesslie Newbigin, English Reformed Missionary and Theologian)

  • Bathildas, Queen of France
  • Frederick Oakeley, Anglican then Roman Catholic Priest
  • Genesius I of Clermont and Praejectus of Clermont, Roman Catholic Bishops; and Amarin, Roman Catholic Abbot
  • Jacques Bunol, French Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1945

31 (Charles Frederick Mackenzie, Anglican Bishop of Nyasaland, and Martyr, 1862)

  • Anthony Bénézet, French-American Quaker Abolitionist
  • Lanza del Vasto, Founder of the Community of the Ark
  • Menno Simons, Mennonite Leader
  • Mary Evelyn “Mev” Puleo, U.S. Roman Catholic Photojournalist and Advocate for Social Justice


Lowercase boldface on a date with two or more commemorations indicates a primary feast

Feast of St. Lucian of Antioch (January 7)   Leave a comment

The Roman Empire in 125 C.E.



Priest, Scholar, Theological Teacher, and Martyr

Born in Samosata, Syria, St. Lucian became an orphan at the age of 12 years.  It is probable that his parents, Christians, were martyrs.

The saint grew to maturity and established the theological school at Antioch, Syria (now in Turkey), a center of early Christianity.  He translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek.   Furthermore, the Lucian Recension, his translation of the Bible, was authoritative  and well-respected.  St. Jerome used it when translating the Vulgate.

St. Lucian followed in his parents’ footsteps and became a martyr.  He spent nine years in prison for being a Christian.  His reply to any question during interrogation was, “I am a Christian.”  Accounts of the details of his martyrdom disagree.  That is a minor point, however, for he gave his life for his faith.

I count myself fortunate to live in a nation-state with freedom of religion enshrined in its Constitution.  It is easy to take one’s faith casually in such a context as the one in which I live.  (I do not take my faith casually.)  But being a Christian was a great risk for St. Lucian and his fellow Christians during Roman Imperial and provincial persecutions.  And being a Christian remains risky for Christians in many nations today.  Ironically, many of those who persecute Christians do so in the name of God, as they understand God, or in the name of gods.  They think they are performing righteous deeds.  They are mistaken, of course.





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 St. Lucian of Antioch, 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, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59


Posted September 13, 2010 by neatnik2009 in January 7, Saints of 200-299, Saints of 300-399

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Feast of Francois Fenelon (January 7)   1 comment

Above:  Francois Fenelon

Image in the Public Domain



French Theologian and Archbishop of Cambrai

Francois Fenelon, born on August 6, 1651, came from a family that included bishops.  He received a classical education, including Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy.  Ordained a priest in 1675, Fenelon preached to Huguenots (French Calvinists)  in 1686-1687 and convinced the King Louis XIV to remove the outward signs of religious persecution.  This might not seem like much to occupants of religiously free nations today, but it was progress by the standards of the time.

In 1688 Fenelon advocated the education of girls and women in serious matters, including theology.  This constituted further evidence of his progressiveness, which manifested itself in other ways which caused difficulties for him in later years.

From 1689 to 1697, Fenelon tutored the dauphin (in this case, the father of Louis XV).  In 1696, toward the end of this assignment, Fenelon became Archbishop of Cambrai, a post he held until 1714.

One of Felelon’s acquaintances was one Jeanne-Marie Bouvier  de la Motte-Goyon, of simply Madame Guyon.  She advocated Quietism, which the Roman Catholic Church considered a heresy.  (It continues to do so.)  According to Quietism, the highest human perfection consists of a self-annihilation and absorption into the divine, especially in this life, making room for constant contemplation of God.  This, in turn, leads to a state at which the soul ceases to need prayers, hymns, and rituals.  This variety of mysticism threatened the hierarchical Catholic Church.  Fenelon’s defense of Madame Guyon prompted Louis XIV to remove his as tutor and to restrict him to the Archdiocese of Cambrai, despite the fact that Fenelon had backed down from his defense of Madame Guyon and her brand of Quietism.  (Guyon’s views led to her imprisonment from 1695 to 1703.)

In 1699 Fenelon took another risk.  He published The Adventures of Telemachus, the story of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, and his tutor, Mentor,  actually Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom.  Mentor condemns war, luxury, and selfishness while praising fraternity and altruism.  Also, Mentor lashes out at mercantilism and high taxes on peasants.  The Adventures of Telemachus was an attack on the French monarchy.

As Archbishop, Fenelon tended faithfully to the people of his archdiocese, preaching on major feast days and focusing on the training of seminarians.  During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), when Spanish troops invaded the archdiocese, Fenelon opened his palace to refugees.

Archbishop Fenelon wrote condemnations of the heresy called Jansenism, a hybrid of Roman Catholicism and Calvinism.

Fenelon died on this day in 1715, shortly after resigning his archdiocese.



A Prayer by Archbishop Fenelon, from The Communion of Saints: Prayers of the Famous, edited by Horton Davies:

Lord, take my heart, for I cannot give it to you.  And when you have it, keep it, for I would not take it from you.  And save me in spite of myself, for Christ’s sake.  Amen.


Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church, including your servant Francois Fenelon.  May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith, so that we may serve and confess your name before the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3;14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Revised on November 13, 2016