Archive for the ‘Saints of 1200-1299’ Category

Feast of Mechthild of Magdeburg, St. Mechthild of Hackeborn, and St. Gertrude the Great (July 28)   1 comment

Above:  Eisleben and Helfta, Germany

Image Source = Google Earth

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MECHTHILD OF MAGDEBURG (1210?-1282/1285)

German Mystic, Beguine, and Nun

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SAINT MECHTHILD OF HACKEBORN (CIRCA 1241-NOVEMBER 19, 1298)

German Nun and Mystic

Also known as Saint Mechthild of Helfta

Her feast transferred from February 26, November 16, and November 19

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SAINT GERTRUDE THE GREAT (JANUARY 6, 1256-NOVEMBER 17, 1302)

German Mystic and Abbess

Also known as Saint Gertrude of Helfta

Her feast transferred from April 12, November 15, November 16, and November 17

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What hinders spiritual people most of all from complete perfection is that they pay so little attention to small sins.  I tell you in truth:  when I hold back a smile which would harm no one, or have a sourness in my heart which I tell to no one, or feel some impatience with my own pain, then my soul becomes so dark…and my heart so cold that I must weep greatly and lament pitiably and yearn greatly and humbly confess all my lack of virtue.

–Mechthild of Magdeburg, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 320-321

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The smallest details of creation are reflected in the Holy Trinity by means of the humanity of Christ, because it is from the same earth that produced them that Christ drew his humanity.

–St. Mechthild of Hackeborn, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 505

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Inscribe with your precious blood, most merciful Lord, your wounds on my heart, that I may read in them both your sufferings and your love.

–St. Gertrude the Great, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 488

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These three saints knew each other.

Before I write about these mystics, I seek to clarify identities.  In this post, O reader, you will read of two Mechthilds and two Gertrudes.  That some secondary sources indicate confusion does not surprise me.  However, even a small effort easily separates the identity of one Mechthild from the other and the identity of one Gertrude from the other.

One of my purposes of this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is to emphasize relationships and influence.  Sometimes one can properly tell one saint’s story in the context of at least one other saint.  That is the case in this post.

Beguines were informal female monastics.  These women formed intentional communities without taking vows or receiving formal ecclesiastical approval.

Mechthild of Magdeburg, born in Saxony circa 1210, came from a devout and wealthy family.  Starting at the age of 12 years, she reported daily greetings from the Holy Spirit.  In 1230, our saint, seeking to deepen her faith, became a Beguine and embarked on a religious life of prayer and asceticism.  She also criticized ecclesiastical corruption and worldliness.  Mechthild of Magdeburg made enemies in the Church, not surprisingly.  Details of her clash with another Beguine, Hadewijch of Brabant (1200-1248), have faded from the historical record.  Mechthild of Magdeburg’s book, The Flowing Light of the Godhead, was the most important work of German Roman Catholic mysticism prior to Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1327/1328).

Mechthild of Magdeburg was nearly blind in 1270, when she became a Cistercian nun at St. Mary’s Convent, Helfta, near Eisleben.  She spent the rest of her life (until 1282/1285) there.

One of the other nuns at Helfta was St. Mechthild of Hackeborn/Helfta (c. 1241-1298), born at the family castle, Helfta.  She was also a mystic.  St. Mechthild of Hackeborn/Helfta, educated by nuns, had become a Cistercian nun at Roderdorf, Switzerland.  Then, in 1258, she transferred to Helfta, where her older sister, Gertrude, was the abbess.  St. Mechthild had her first mystical experience at Mass; she saw Christ in the host and the wine.  She also had a reputation as a counselor within the convent.

St. Mechthild was a close friend of St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302).  St. Gertrude, who arrived at the abbey when five years old, stayed.  St. Mechthild was chiefly responsible for raising her.  St. Gertrude, who had a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, reported many mystical experiences.  She, who referred to Christ as her Beloved Spouse, became a capable spiritual director.  St. Gertrude compiled St. Mechthild’s teachings and visions in the Book of Grace.

St. Mechthild, about 57 years old, died on November 19, 1298.

St. Gertrude, the abbess (1292f), lived until November 17, 1302.  She was 46 years old.  Her book was The Herald of Divine Love.

Ecclesiastical authorities generally recognized Sts. Mechthild and Gertrude with feat days yet not extended that courtesy to Mechthild of Magdeburg.  Trying to sort out that matter has become somewhat complicated due to confusing one Mechthild for the other.  The Roman Catholic Church has assigned multiple feast days to Sts. Mechthild and Gertrude.  In Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, The Episcopal Church has assigned them one feast, November 19.  The Church of England has defined November 19 as the feast day of Mechthild of Magdeburg.  The date on this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, comes via proximity to July 27, the feast day of Mechthild of Magdeburg in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND AGENT OF NATIONAL HEALING; AND BETTY FORD, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA AND ADVOCATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF ALICE PAUL, U.S. QUAKER WOMEN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUMARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI BATTISTA BONONCINI AND ANTONIO MARIA BONONCINI, ITALIAN COMPOSERS

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Almighty God, who gave to your servants Mechthild, Mechthild, and Gertrude

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by their teachings we may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ your Son;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Psalm 119:41-48

Luke 10:38-42

–Adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 582

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Feast of St. William of Perth (May 23)   2 comments

Above:  St. William of Perth

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT WILLIAM OF PERTH (DIED IN 1201)

Scottish Roman Catholic Baker and Martyr, 1201

Also known as Saint William of Rochester

Alternative feast day = April 22

St. William of Perth/Rochester comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

St. William, a native of Perth, Scotland, led a reckless youth yet came to faith as an adult.  He, a baker, gave every tenth loaf or so of bread to the poor.  Our saint also attended Mass daily.  St. William rescued and adopted an abandoned infant, whom he named David.  Unfortunately, David was a bad seed.  In 1201, when David and St. William were on pilgrimage, in Rochester, England, en route to the Holy Land, David murdered his adoptive father then fled.  The Church declared St. William a martyr because he died on pilgrimage.

The place where David murdered St. William became the site of a tomb, a chapel, and a shrine.  One reason for this was that, on the day of the murder, a woman reported her miraculous healing at our saint’s corpse.  Rochester was the destination for many pilgrims for centuries.

Pope Innocent IV canonized St. William in 1256.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT FULBERT OF CHARTRES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, U.S. PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM LAW, ANGLICAN PRIEST, MYSTIC, AND SPIRITUAL WRITER

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Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love

in the heart of your holy martyr Saint William of Perth/Rochester:

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

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

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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Feast of St. Humility (May 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Humility Transports Bricks to the Convent, by Pietro Lorenzetti

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HUMILITY (1226-MAY 22, 1310)

Italian Roman Catholic Hermitess and Abbess

Born Rosanna Negusanti

Rosanna Negusanti, born in Faenza, on the Italian peninsula, in 1226, spent most of her life as a monastic.  She, from a wealthy family, married nobleman Ugoletto dei Caccianemici (d. 1256) when she was fifteen years old.  The couple had two children, both of whom died in infancy.  After Ugoletoo narrowly escaped getting killed in 1250, the husband and wife reassessed their lives.  They joined the double Monastery of Saint Perpetua, near Faenza.  Ugoletto became a lay brother.  Rosanna became Sister Humility.  Our saint was a hermitess near the Church of Saint Apollinaris for twelve years.  Then she founded the Convent of Santa Maria Novella, near Faenza.  She served as the first abbess of that, the first Vallombrosan convent.  Then, in 1282, St. Humility founded a convent in Florence.  She died at that convent on May 22, 1310.  Her written legacy included sermons and mystical writings.

Pope Clement XI canonized St. Humility in 1720.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF CARTHAGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 413

THE FEAST OF BENJAMIN HALL KENNEDY, GREEK AND LATIN SCHOLAR, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF DANIEL G. C. WU, CHINESE-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF EMIL BRUNNER, SWISS REFORMED THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MILNER BALL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LAW PROFESSOR, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT NOKTER BALBULUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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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 Humility,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain t 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 Luke 9:57-62

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

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Posted April 6, 2020 by neatnik2009 in May 22, Saints of 1200-1299, Saints of 1300-1399

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Feast of St. Zita of Tuscany (April 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Zita, by Leon Biedronski

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZITA OF TUSCANY (1218-APRIL 27, 1272)

Worker of Charity

Also known as Saint Zita of Lucca

St. Zita of Tuscany/Lucca comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and The Episcopal Church.  Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 lists her as a “Worker of Charity.”

St. Zita, born in Bozzanello, Monte Sagrate, Tuscany, in 1218, performed her work for God and helped many of the less fortunate.  Her family was devout and impoverished.  Our saint became a domestic servant of the Fatinelli family of Lucca when she was 12 years old.  Initially, her work ethic, although excellent, did not prevent Fatinellis from heaping scorn upon St. Zita.  Eventually, however, she earned respect, as well as a promotion to housekeeper, head of the domestic staff.  Our saint lived according to the Golden Rule, treating staffers accordingly and giving most of her money to poor people.

St. Zita died in Lucca on April 27, 1272.  She was about 54 years old.

The Roman Catholic Church formally recognized our saint.  Pope Innocent X beatified her in 1652.  Pope Leo X canonized St. Zita in 1696.

St. Zita is the patron of, among other goals, finding lost keys.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 13, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF YVES CONGAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELDRAD, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JAMES THEODORE HOLLY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF HAITI, AND OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC; FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN BISHOP IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLATO OF SYMBOLEON AND THEODORE STUDITES, EASTERN ORTHODOX ABBOTS; AND SAINT NICEPHORUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT RODERIC OF CABRA AND SOLOMON OF CORDOBA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 857

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Merciful God, who has given to us all things necessary for life and godliness;

Grant that we may be faithful in the exercise of our duties,

and that what you give us to do, we may do heartily,

as something done for you, O Lord, and not for human beings;

through him who has called us to glory and virtue,

Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.  Amen.

Genesis 39:1-23

Psalm 16

Luke 10:38-42

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 252, altered

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Feast of Hadewijch of Brabant (April 22)   1 comment

Above:  The Duchy of Brabant

Image in the Public Domain

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HADEWIJCH OF BRABANT (1200-1248)

Roman Catholic Mystic

Hadewijch of Brabant comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church’s Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.

Documentation about the life of Hadewijch of Brabant is scarce, unfortunately.

Hadewijch, born in 1200, in the Duchy of Brabant (modern Belgium), left an influential literary legacy.  She, an upper-class figure, was well-read in philosophy and Christian theology.  She was, for a time, a Beguine, a member of a semi-monastic community of women.  Our saint apparently disagreed with Mechthild of Magdeburg (circa 1207-circa 1282/1285), another female Roman Catholic mystic.  Hadewijch seems to have left her Beguine community involuntarily.

Hadewijch was an important literary figure, especially in Dutch literature.  She, also fluent in French and Latin, wrote poems of courtly love.  Furthermore, our saint composed the Book of Visions, a dialogue with Christ.  She, perhaps inspired by the characterization of divine wisdom as feminine in the Book Proverbs, the Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach/Ecclesiasticus, wrote of love as female.

Hadewijch’s direct influence faded by the 1500s.  However, her indirect influence via Meister Eckhart (circa 1260-1327/1328), who read her, has continued.  Scholarly interest in Hadewijch’s writings has revived.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN NIEMOLLER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND PEACE ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT JORDAN OF PISA, DOMINICAN EVANGELIST

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BRIGHT, ANGLICAN CANON, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Triune God of Love, overwhelming and all-encompassing,

visit us in our solitude and in our companionship,

and draw us ever more deeply into union with you,

who are ever present and ever mysterious,

that we, like your servant Hadewijch,

might know you ever more fully,

even as we have been fully known.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 119:129-136

John 19:31-37

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 245

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Feast of Blessed Henry Suso (March 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Henry Suso

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED HENRY SUSO (MARCH 21, 1295-JANUARY 25, 1366)

German Roman Catholic Mystic, Preacher, and Spiritual Writer

Born Heinrich von Berg

Alternative feast days = January 25 and March 2

Also known as Amandus and the Servant of the Eternal Wisdom

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Ah, gentle God, if Thou art so lovely in Thy creatures, how exceedingly beautiful and ravishing Thou must be in Thyself.

–Blessed Henry Suso, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 101

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Blessed Henry Suso comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), in which March 4 is his feast day.

Heinrich von Berg, born in Uberlingen, near Contance, on March 21, 1295, changed his life then preached the love of God.  Our saint, from German nobility, joined the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) at the age of 13 years.  Young Suso was obsessed with his salvation or damnation.  He mortified his flesh and reported terrifying visions of Hell.  Then our saint sought and received spiritual counsel from another Dominican, Meister Eckhart (1260-1329).  Under Eckhart’s guidance Suso stopped being self-centered spiritually, abandoned physical mortification, and focused on the salvation of other people.

The Dominican prior became an itinerant preacher in service to Christ, whom he called “Eternal Wisdom,” “a gentle loving mistress.”  Suso sought to bring people to God and to deepen their faith by focusing on divine love, not by scaring them.  He also wrote under the pseudonym “Amandus” and worked mainly in Switzerland and the Upper Rhine valley.

Suso was a good man, objectively.  He was also gentle and kind.  Nevertheless, he had to contend with false allegations, including poisoning someone, fathering the child of a woman he was counseling, and stealing.  Our saint spent time in prison on false charges.  Authorities ultimately exonerated him with each other, however.

The self-identified “Servant of Divine Wisdom,” aged 70 years, died in Ulm on January 25, 1366.

Pope Gregory XVI beatified Suso in 1831.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF SAINT CAESARIUS OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND HIS SISTER, SAINT CAESARIA OF ARLES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS

THE FEAST OF EIVIND JOSEF BERGGRAV, LUTHERAN BISHOP OF OSLO, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND LEADER OF THE NORWEGIAN RESISTANCE DURING WORLD WAR II

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Henry Suso,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

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.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Feast of St. Hugh of Lincoln (November 17)   1 comment

Above:  St. Hugh of Lincoln

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HUGH OF LINCOLN (1135-NOVEMBER 16, 1200)

Roman Catholic Bishop and Abbot

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If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift up his head against them.

–King Richard I

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St. Hugh of Lincoln, a reluctant abbot then a reluctant bishop, served God, confronted his king, and left a fine legacy.

St. Hugh was noble in two senses of that word.  His father was William, Lord of Avalon.  Our saint, born in Avalon Castle, Burgundy, France, in 1135, was eight years old when his mother, Anna, died.  St. Hugh, educated at a monastery in Villard-Benoit, France, became a monk at the age of 15 years and a deacon four years later.  Our saint, a Carthusian since 1160, became a priest five years later, having already been the Prior of Saint-Maxim since 1159.

St. Hugh reluctantly became the abbot of the new monastery (the first Carthusian abbey in England) at Witham, Somerset, in 1175.  King Henry II (reigned 1154-1189), penitent over the murder of St. Thomas Becket (December 29, 1170), had ordered the construction of that monastery.  St. Hugh, renowned for his piety, actively cared for the poor and attracted many recruits to the Carthusian order.

St. Hugh was an even more reluctant Bishop of Lincoln (1186-1200).  He was no less faithful, though.  After an earthquake destroyed the cathedral, St. Hugh presided over the reconstruction of the structure.  He also helped to transform the cathedral school into one of the greatest institutions of learning in England.  St. Hugh fearlessly confronted King Richard I (reigned 1189-1199), criticizing him for mistreating subjects.  Our saint also refused to raise funds for foreign wars.  Furthermore, St. Hugh criticized the monarch for leaving certain sees vacant, for the sake of collecting income.  Our saint also risked his life to resist the persecution of Jews (1190-1191); he confronted mobs and forced the release of captives.

St. Hugh died in London on November 16, 1200.  His health had been failing since the previous year, after a diplomatic mission for King John (reigned 1199-1216) to France.

The Church recognized St. Hugh in 1220, when Pope Honorius III made him the first canonized Carthusian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, ORTHODOX MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy God, our greatest treasure, you blessed Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln,

with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of your Word to rich and poor alike;

Grant that all who minister in your Name may serve with diligence, discipline, and humility,

fearing nothing but the loss of you and drawing all to you through Jesus Christ our Savior;

who lives and reigns with you in the communion of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Micah 4:1-4

Psalm 61

Titus 2:7-8, 11-14

Luke 12:35-44

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 685

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Feast of Blessed John Duns Scotus (November 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed John Duns Scotus

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS (1266-NOVEMBER 8, 1308)

Scottish Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian 

Born John Duns

Also known as the Subtle Doctor

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In paying homage to Christ I would rather go too far than not far enough to give him the praise that is due him.

–John Duns Scotus, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 487

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I am of the opinion that God wished to redeem us in the fashion [the Incarnation] primarily in order to draw us to his love.

–Blessed John Duns Scotus, quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 487

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Blessed John Duns Scotus was a Scholastic theologian whose influence remains evident in Roman Catholic theology.  John Duns, born in Duns, Berwick, Scotland, in 1206, was a son of a wealthy farmer.  Our saint received his early education from the Franciscans at Dumfries, where his uncle, Elias Duns, was the superior.  Our saint, a Franciscan from the age of 15 years, studied theology in Oxford and Paris.  He, ordained to the priesthood at the age of 25 years, on March 17, 1291, in Northampton, was a lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge (1297-1301).  Duns Scotus, called “Scotus” because he was Scottish, began doctoral work in Paris in 1301.  He had to leave Paris in 1303, for he sided with Pope Benedict VIII against King Philip the Fair in a dispute over taxation of ecclesiastical property.  Duns Scotus, back in Paris in 1305, completed his doctorate and taught.  He transferred to a teaching post in Cologne in 1307.  There he, aged 42 years, died on November 8, 1308.

Duns Scotus, an Aristotelean, founded Scotism, a somewhat mystical version of Scholasticism.  He argued for a distinction between rational knowledge of proof for the existence of God and saving faith in God.  Duns Scotus thought that one could prove the existence of God rationally–a dubious proposition, although a pious one.

Duns Scotus also argued against the Anselmian understanding of the atonement–Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  (I am glad Duns Scotus argued against it.)  Duns Scotus defined God as infinite Love.  The Incarnation, he insisted, was an expression of divine love, and therefore an act of union with creation, not as the necessary antecedent of Penal Substitutionary Atonement.  The proper human response to the Incarnation, Duns Scotus argued, is love for God.

Duns Scotus also made a convincing case for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The case he made in 1307 won the day in the fourteenth century; the Sorbonne adopted his position.  Furthermore, Pope Pius IX quoted Duns Scotus in 1854, when the Holy Father defined the Immaculate Conception.

Pope John Paul II beatified Duns Scotus in 1991.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Blessed John Duns Scotus

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you, the one true God,

and Jesus Christ whom you have sent;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of St. Hedwig of Andechs and Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica (October 16)   2 comments

Above:  Family Tree of St. Hedwig of Andechs

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT HEDWIG OF ANDECHS (1174-OCTOBER 15, 1243)

Silesian Roman Catholic Princess of and Nun

Also known as Saint Hedwig of Silesia

Alternative feast day = October 15

mother of

BLESSED GERTRUDE OF TRZEBNICA (CIRCA 1200-DECEMBER 1268)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from March 17

One of my goals in the continuing process of renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships.  That is my rationale for merging the feasts of St. Hedwig of Andechs and Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica, not that I need one, given that the Ecumenical Calendar is my project.

These saints came from nobility.  St. Hedwig was a daughter of Berthold IV, Duke of Merania (reigned 1185-1204)St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) was on her nieces.  St. Hedwig, born in Castle Andechs, Bavaria (now Germany), married Prince Henry I “the Bearded,” Duke of Silesia (r. 1201-1238) and the Duke of Greater Poland (r. 1231-1238) when she was 12 years old.  The couple had seven children, including Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica (c. 1200-December 1268).  Blessed Gertrude, betrothed to Count Palatine Otto of Wittelsbach, who died prior to the wedding day, became a nun instead.  St. Hedwig, a widow from 1238, founded hospitals, helped orphans, and cared for the sick.  She gave away her fortune before becoming a nun in the convent at Trzebnica, where Blessed Gertrude was the abbess.

St. Hedwig died at the abbey at Trzebnica, Silesia (now Poland), on October 15, 1243.

Pope Clement IV canonized her in 1267.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by whose grace your servants Saint Hedwig of Andechs and Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica,

kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

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.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Feast of Robert Grosseteste (October 9)   1 comment

Above:  Robert Grosseteste 

Image in the Public Domain

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ROBERT GROSSETESTE (CIRCA 1168-OCTOBER 9, 1253)

English Roman Catholic Scholar, Philosopher, and Bishop of Lincoln

This project, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is an exercise in the Great Man (and Woman) School of History.  I make no apology for this.  Social History and Cultural History have their vital roles to fill in historical analysis, but I remain a devotee of the emphasis on the great people–those who have made their marks on the world.

Grosseteste, born circa 1168, was a Christian intellectual and a bishop.  He, educated at Oxford and perhaps at Paris, also, taught at Oxford prior to 1209.  Our saint, a priest, held various ecclesiastical position through 1232.  He resigned all but one–Prebendary of Lincoln–that year.  The former Chancellor of Oxford University (circa 1215-1221) taught at the Franciscan house of studies, Oxford, from 1224 to 1235.  Then he became the Bishop of Lincoln.

Grosseteste had a fine mind.  He, an Aristotelian with Neoplatonist influences, translated works of Aristotle and some ancient saints, wrote commentaries on the Bible and works of Aristotle.  Our saint, whose life ended as the worst outbreak of the Black Death was ending and the Renaissance was about to begin, was an active encourager of the spread of knowledge–philosophy, science, mathematics, and the Bible.  He accepted truth, as he recognized it, regardless of its source or manner of transmission.

Grosseteste, author of theological and devotional works, was a pious bishop who took his spiritual responsibilities seriously.  He was a man of his time, for he affirmed the supremacy of the Church over the state.  This opinion caused some political problems for him.  Grosseteste also had political conflicts with various bishops and at least one Pope; our saint was an uncompromising critic and opponent of ecclesiastical corruption.

Grosseteste died in Buckdon, Buckinghamshire, England, on October 9, 1253.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Robert Grosseteste 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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