Archive for the ‘Saints of 1300-1349’ Category

Feast of Blesseds Francisco Zanfredini and Michelina of Pesaro (August 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Pesaro, Italy

Image Source = Google Earth

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BLESSED FRANCISCO ZANFREDINI (1270-AUGUST 5, 1350)

Cofounder of the Confraternity of the Annunciation

His feast day = August 5

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BLESSED MICHELINA OF PESARO (1300-JUNE 19, 1356)

Cofounder of the Confraternity of the Annunciation

Her solo feast day = June 19

Blesseds Francisco Zanfredini and Michelina of Pesaro come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church.  These two beati, having shared a feast day in the Diocese of Pesaro since 1393, share one here, too.

Blessed Francisco Zanfredini, born in Pesaro, on the Italian peninsula, in 1270, spent his life in service to Christ, present in “the least of these.”  Our saint, orphaned when quite young, entered into the religious life when he became an adult.  He gave away all his possessions, became a Franciscan tertiary, and embarked on life as a hermit.  Our saint built a convent near Pesaro.  He also built chapels in Montegranaro (about 115 kilometers–about 71.5 miles northwest of Pesaro–and Pesaro.  Zanfredini also collected alms for hospitals and for the restoration of churches.

Michelina Matelli came from a wealthy family–nobility, in fact.  At the age of 12 years, she entered into an arranged marriage to one Duke Malatesta, of Pesaro.  The couple had one child, a son.  The son died shortly after the the Duke did.  The widowed duchess gave away all her wealth and became a Franciscan tertiary.  Widows, orphans, and debt prisoners benefited from her generosity as she prepared to enter the religious life.  Blessed Michelina was certain she had chosen the proper path for her life.  Some of the relatives, however, were certain that she was out of her mind.  After a brief period of incarceration, our saint resumed the religious life.

In 1347, Blesses Francisco and Michelina founded the Confraternity of the Annunciation.  The mission of the Confraternity was to bury the dead, to help the poor, and to assist the sick–all Biblically-approved tasks.

Blessed Francisco, about 80 years old, died at his hermitage at Montegranaro, on August 5, 1350.  He had earned his reputation for wisdom, prayer, good works, and piety.

Pope Pius IX confirmed Blessed Francisco’s cultus in 1859.

Blessed Michelina lived a few more years than did Blessed Francisco.  She reported direct visions from Christ.  She also made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and received the stigmata.  Blessed Michelina died in Pesaro on June 19, 1356.  She was about 56 years old.

Pope Clement XII confirmed Blessed Michelina’s cultus in 1737.

Blessed Michelina’s patronage is for the Confraternity of the Annunciation, for Pesaro, for widows, for people with in-law problems, against the death of children, against mental illness, and for mentally-ill people.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 25, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER, SAINT NONNA, AND THEIR CHILDREN:  SAINTS GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER, CAESARIUS OF NAZIANZUS, AND GORGONIA OF NAZIANZUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FELIX VARELA, CUBAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND PATRIOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY TO THE SHOSHONE AND ARAPAHOE

THE FEAST OF KARL FRIEDRICH LOCHNER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THEODOR FLIEDNER, RENEWER OF THE FEMALE DIACONATE; AND ELIZABETH FEDDE, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN DEACONESS

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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 servants

Blessed Francisco Zanfredini and Blessed Michelina of Pesaro,

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 Luke 9:57-62

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

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Feast of Mechthild of Magdeburg, St. Mechthild of Hackeborn, and St. Gertrude the Great (July 28)   2 comments

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. 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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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 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. Sergius of Radonezh (September 25)   2 comments

Above:  Icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh 

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SERGIUS OF RADONEZH (CIRCA 1314-SEPTEMBER 25, 1392)

Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Sergiyev Posad, Russia

Born Varfolomei Kirillovich

St. Sergius of Radonezh was, by reputation, the greatest of the Russian saints.  He, revered during his lifetime, retained his illustrious name after he died.  Our saint was, however, an unassuming man.

The times during which St. Sergius of Radonezh lived shaped him, and he shaped them.  The Mongol Empire, at its height in the 1200s, spanned the distance from Ukraine to China.  The Mongol conquest of Russia (1237-1240) began a period of Mongol (Tatar) dominance under what, in Russia, was the Khanate of the Golden Horde, which fell in 1480.  The Tatars were, over all, fairly hands-off overlords.  They collected taxes and drafted soldiers, mainly.  The Tatars officially respected cultural institutions, such as the Russian Orthodox Church.  Nevertheless, the life of the Church suffered under Tatar domination, for Tatars played competing princes off against each other.  It was a time of civil wars and related economic upheavals.

Varfolomei Kirillovich, born into nobility in Rostov, near Moscow, circa 1314, came from a family impoverished by these circumstances.  He and his brother, Stephen, raised in the village of Radonezh, also near Moscow, moved into the nearby forest when our saint was 20 years old, after the brothers’ parents had died.  The brothers lived as holy hermits.  Yet, as was the case with many of other holy hermits in Christian history, a community grew up around them.  In 1337 Varfolomei took monastic orders, became a priest, assumed his duties as the first abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, and became Sergius.  The town of Sergiyev Posad (later renamed Sergiyev then Zagorsk then back to Sergiyev Posad) developed around the monastery, the center of the revival of Russian Orthodox monastic life.  Our saint, the founder of 40 monasteries, was a hard-working abbot until he died, except for a time when, in humility, he retired because Stephen opposed his monastic reforms.

St. Sergius was so respected that St. Alexius (in office 1354-1378), the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, with residence in Moscow, asked our saint to succeed him.  St. Sergius was so entrenched in his ascetic lifestyle, however, that he declined the offer.

Dimitri Donskoi, the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1359 to 1389, sought and received help from St. Sergius before fighting Tatar forces in 1380.  Dimitri consulted the abbot, who blessed him and sent a message to the Muscovite soldiers.  The result of the Battle of Kulikovo, fought on the Kulikovo Plain, at the confluence of the Don and Nepravda Rivers, on September 8, 1380, was a great and historic victory for the Muscovite army.  The Tatars remained a threat, but Dimitri, elevated to the status of the Russian national leader among the competing princes, had proven that the Tatars were not invincible.

St. Sergius died at his monastery on September 25, 1392.  The Russian Orthodox Church canonized him in 1452.

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity is the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF ANNE HOULDITCH SHEPHERD, ANGLICAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN STAINER AND WALTER GALPIN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANISTS AND COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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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 Sergius of Moscow,

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 and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 4:1-9

Psalm 87

1 John 2:15-17

Luke 8:16-21

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 601

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Feast of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus (July 6)   4 comments

Above:  Dawn with Mountain Landscape

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN WYCLIFFE (CIRCA 1320-DECEMBER 31, 1384)

English Theologian and Church Reformer

“Morning Star of the Reformation”

Also known as John Wiclif, John Wickliffe, and John Wyclif

Episcopal feast day = October 30

Church of England feast day = December 31

influenced

JAN HUS (1371-JULY 6, 1415)

Czech Theologian, Church Reformer, and Martyr

Also known as John Huss and John Hus

Moravian, Episcopal, and Lutheran feast day = July 6

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It is better to die well than to live wickedly.  One should not sin in order to avoid the punishment of death.  Truth conquers all things.

–Jan Hus, 1415, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 292

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INTRODUCTION

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One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Therefore I, citing the latter, merge the Feasts of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus.

The Moravian Church, founded by Hussites, has long commemorated Hus, who has been a saint in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and their predecessors since the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).  The Episcopal Church added Hus and Wycliffe to its calendar in 2009.  Meanwhile, Wycliffe, with separate feast days in The Church of England and The Episcopal Church, has remained absent from all Lutheran calendars I have consulted.

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THE “MORNING STAR OF THE REFORMATION”

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Above:  John Wycliffe

Image in the Public Domain

The fourteenth century was a difficult time for much of Europe.  During five years in the late 1340s and early 1350s the Black Death killed no less than two-fifths (and probably more) of the population of Western Europe, upending civilization there and helping to give rise to the modern world.  The tumult of that time called authorities and institutions into question as, for example, many peasants revolted, many urban workers asserted their rights, and the Church restaffed with substandard personnel.  The devastating death toll called the legitimacy of the Church into doubt in the minds of many people, some of whom favored apocalyptic understandings of recent events.

Meanwhile, the Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1309-1377) at Avignon, France, a great scandal, was a self-inflicted wound for Holy Mother Church.  Another great scandal and self-inflicted wound, the Great Schism of the Papacy (1378-1417), ensued promptly.

John Wycliffe lived during those times.  He, born near Richmond, Yorkshire, England, circa 1320, was a priest.  Wycliffe was also an academic at Oxford University.  He matriculated at Baillol College in 1344, became master of that college by 1360, and resigned in 1361.  He held overlapping portfolios:

  1. Rector of Fillingham (1361-1368);
  2. Prebend of Aust, Bristol (1362-1384);
  3. Warden of Canterbury Hall, Oxford (1365-1367); and
  4. Rector of Lutterworth (1374-1384).

Meanwhile, Wycliffe was also a lecturer at Oxford until his forced retirement in 1381.

Wycliffe, a popular lecturer and preacher, became a radical.  He, interested in science, theology, local history, canon law, and philosophy, earned various degrees, culminating in his Doctor of Theology degree in 1372.  His move away from affirming the status quo began in 1374, at the start of the last decade of his life.  (Not everyone grows more conservative with age.)  Wycliffe served as a royal envoy to a conference with papal representative at Bruges.  The topic was provisions, or papal appointments to posts not yet vacant.

By 1376 Wycliffe became a committed reformer of the Church.  He criticized papal taxation, fees, and appointments, perhaps more out of political considerations than theological ones.  Our saint, who affirmed the Divine Right of Kings, became convinced that in terms of both doctrine and life the Church had strayed from its apostolic roots.  He argued that the clergy should not hold secular power, so no Pope should exercise power over the English Church.  Furthermore, Wycliffe wrote, Christ is the sole Head of the Universal Church, the Bible is the Law of God, and the true Church consists solely of the predestined Elect.  Wycliffe also affirmed the priesthood of all believers, questioned the theology of purgatory and transubstantiation, opposed the veneration of relics and statues, inveighed against the invocation of saints, criticized the celibacy of the clergy, and insisted that the state (with the monarch as the head of the state church) had an obligation to seize church lands for the benefit of the poor.  Certainly the Great Schism of the Papacy (1378-1417), a time of competing Supreme Pontiffs, influenced and reinforced Wycliffe’s criticism of the Papacy.

Wycliffe alarmed Popes, bishops, and leaders of religious orders, but had protectors in the royal family and among the nobility.  Nevertheless, after he became a scapegoat for a peasant revolt and Oxford authorities declared him a heretic in 1381, forced retirement became his fate.

Wycliffe was fortunate; he got to live and to retain his church positions.  He died three days after a stroke at Lutterworth on December 31, 1384.  Wycliffe was about 64 years old.

Wycliffe’s legacy continued, however.  The translation of the Bible into English was a project in which he was deeply involved, with help from others.  Wycliffe’s theology influenced Jan Hus, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.  The man had died, but his ideas lived.

Nevertheless, the Council of Constance condemned Wycliffe as a heretic posthumously in 1415.  Thirteen years later Richard Fleming, the Bishop of Lincoln, ordered the exhumation and burning of the old priest’s remains.

Some of Wycliffe’s followers were more radical than he was.  The Lollard movement began in 1380 and continued into the 1500s, influencing the English Reformation.  “Lollard” came from the Middle Dutch word for “mumbler” or “mutterer.”  The term, already applied to Flemish heretics prior to Wycliffe’s time, stuck to his followers by 1382.  It was a persecuted minority movement, some of whose members dared to plot to overthrow the government and disendow the English Church in 1431.

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THE CZECH REFORMER

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Above:  Jan Hus

Image in the Public Domain

Lord Jesus Christ, it is for the sake of the gospel and the preaching of the word that I undergo, with patience and humility, this terrifying, ignominious, cruel death.

–Jan Hus, July 6, 1415; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), 291

Jan Hus, born in Husinec, Bohemia, in 1371, was 17 years old when Wycliffe died.  Hus, influenced by Wycliffe’s writings, became a reformer in Bohemia and walked the road to martyrdom.

Hus, educated at the University of Prague (starting in 1390) was a Roman Catholic priest, as Wycliffe had been.  Hus, based in Prague, was, from 1392, chaplain of the Bethlehem Chapel, where he preached in the Czech language.  Our saint, the dean of the philosophical faculty of the University of Prague from 1401, served also as the Rector of the university in 1403 and 1409.  The following year, however, Archbishop Zbynek Zajic of Hasenberg excommunicated Hus.

Hus had been reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting writings of Wycliffe, as well as translating some of them into Czech.  Wycliffe’s ideas had already begun to influence politics in Bohemia, where the Church owned about half of the land, and many people, including a large number of priests, were poor.  Many peasants resented the Church, for obvious reasons.  Also, simony was rife.

Although Hus was radical in his setting, he was less radical than Wycliffe.  Hus, for example, affirmed transubstantiation consistently.  Yet, like Wycliffe, Hus condemned ecclesiastical abuses and defined the true Church as the assembly of the predestined Elect.

Hus managed to survive as long as he did because of protectors.  In 1410  King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia attained a bull from (Antipope) Alexander V (in office 1409-1410) ordering the burning of Wycliffe’s works, forbidding the preaching of their contents at Bethlehem Chapel, and allowing no appeal.  Archbishop Zajic burned those writings that year.  The following year (Antipope) John XXIII, one of three competing Popes, placed an interdict on Prague, but Wenceslaus IV ignored it and ordered others to do the same.  Meanwhile, (Antipope) John XXIII was waging a war against King Ladislaus of Naples and selling indulgences to finance that war.  After Hus, technically excommunicated yet living as though there were no excommunication order, condemned the sale of those indulgences and accused (Antipope) John XXIII of being the Antichrist.  Wenceslaus IV had been protecting Hus, but ceased to do that in 1412, after (Antipope) John XXIII threatened the Bohemian monarch with a crusade on the charge of protecting heretics and heresy.  So, from 1412 to 1414, Hus lived, wrote, and preached in southern Bohemia for two years.

Hus died as a heretic at Constance, Baden, on July 6, 1415.  He had traveled there under a promise of safe conduct, for the Council of Constance, in 1414, but found himself a prisoner instead.  Hus, after having refused to recant, burned at the stake as a heretic.  He was 43 or 44 years old.

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CONCLUSION

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Much of the history of ecclesiastical reactions (as opposed to responses) to heresies, alleged and actual, is an account of behavior contrary to the spirit of Christ.  What in the Gospels might give one the idea that Jesus would approve of burning accused heretics?

One might disagree with Wycliffe and Hus on certain political and/or theological points, but one should recognize and respect their courage in risking their lives by resisting authority nonviolently in the knowledge that the authorities they objected to had the power to torture and execute them.

The Church has silenced and killed prophets, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COWPER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ROBERT HUNT, FIRST ANGLICAN CHAPLAIN AT JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA

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O God, your justice continually challenges your Church to live according to its calling:

Grant us who now remember the work of John Wyclif

contrition for the wounds which our sins inflict on your Church,

and such love for Christ that we may seek to heal the divisions which afflict his Body;

through the same Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:26-33

Psalm 33:4-11

Hebrews 4:12-16

Mark 4:13-20

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 659

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Faithful God, you gave John Hus the courage to confess your truth

and recall your Church to the image of Christ.

Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear witness against corruption

and never cease to pray for our enemies,

that we may prove faithful followers of our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Job 22:21-30

Psalm 119:113-120

Revelation 3:1-6

Matthew 23:34-39

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 455

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Feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (July 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Elizabeth of Portugal

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY (1271-JULY 4, 1336)

Peacemaker and Queen

Also known as Saint Elizabeth of Aragon

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Do not forget that when sovereigns are at war they can no longer busy themselves with their administration; justice is not distributed; no care is take of the people; and this alone is your sovereign charge, this is the main point of your duty as kings.

–Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Compay, 1997), 293

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St. Elizabeth of Portugal, born into the royal family of Aragon, had a fine pedigree.  Her great-aunt was St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231).  Our saint’s grandfather was Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (reigned 1220-1250), also the King of Sicily (1198-1250), the King of Germany (1212-1250), and the King of Jerusalem (1229-1250).  St. Elizabeth’s parents were Constantia (Constance) of Sicily and Pedro (Peter) III “the Great” of Aragon (reigned 1276-1285).

Our saint, raised a pious Roman Catholic, led a holy life.  In 1282 she entered into an arranged marriage to King Diniz (Denis) of Portugal (reigned 1279-1325), a man known for interest in and patronage of the arts, for hard work, and for immorality.  Diniz cheated on and abused St. Elizabeth, fathering children out-of-wedlock.  She and Diniz had two children–Constantia and the future King Alfonso IV “the Brave” (reigned 1325-1357).  Diniz’s favorite child, though, was Alfonso Sanches, not in line to succeed to the throne.  For many years St. Elizabeth prayed for Diniz’s conversion.  He reformed his life toward the end of it.  St. Elizabeth also founded convents, orphanages, monasteries, hospitals, and halfway houses for former prostitutes.

During her lifetime St. Elizabeth had a reputation as a peacemaker.  In 1323 she rushed to the battlefield, where she ended the civil war between King Diniz and his heir, the future Alfonso IV.  After Diniz died in 1325, our saint became a Franciscan tertiary and retired to the Poor Clares convent (which she had founded) at Coimbra.  At the end of St. Elizabeth’s life she went to another battlefield–this time at Estremoz, Portugal–to reconcile her son, Alfonso IV, and his son-in-law, King Alfonso IX of Castille (reigned 1313-1350).  The two were locked in combat in 1336, for Alfonso IX, husband of Alfonso IV’s daughter, Maria, had cheated on her and imprisoned her in a castle.  At Estremoz St. Elizabeth made peace once more.  There she died of a fever on July 4, 1336.

Pope Urban VIII canonized her in 1625.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace:

Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity.

Grant us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided,

that forgiven and forgiving, we may be one in Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever, one holy and undivided Trinity.  Amen.

Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22

Psalm 51:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

Luke 23:32-43

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 737

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Feast of St. Ivo of Kermartin (May 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Triptych of St. Ivo of Kermartin

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT IVO OF KERMARTIN (OCTOBER 17, 1253-MAY 19, 1303)

Roman Catholic Attorney, Priest, and Advocate for the Poor

Also known as Saint Ives, Yves, and Yvo of Kermartin

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Saint Ivo was a Breton and a lawyer,

But not dishonest–

An astonishing thing in people’s eyes.

–A description of St. Ivo from the 1300s

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St. Ivo of Kermartin was an honest, decent, and devout man.  He, born in Kermartin (near Treguier, Brittany) on October 17, 1253, came from nobility.  He, educated in civil law, canon law, theology, and philosophy, studied law in Paris and Orleans.  St. Ivo practiced law in both civil and ecclesiastical courts, doing much of his work pro bono, for many of his clients were poor.  He was also a Franciscan tertiary and an ascetic, as well as a priest from 1284.  Our saint, who ministered to prisoners awaiting trial, was an incorruptible diocesan judge who broke with common practice by refusing to accept bribes.  In 1287 St. Ivo resigned his legal position to focus on his priestly duties at Tredez and Lovannec, Brittany.

St. Ivo earned his reputation for being kind to the poor.  Aside from doing what I have described in the previous paragraph, he also financed the construction of a hospital, ministered to the sick in it, and donated harvests from his land to feed the impoverished.  He was also allegedly a miracle worker, for he supposedly fed hundreds of people with one loaf of bread.

St. Ivo died of natural causes on May 19, 1303 (the Eve of the Feast of the Ascension of Christ), after delivering a sermon at Lovannec.  He was 49 years old.  Pope Clement VI canonized him in 1347.

St. Ivo is the patron saint of orphans, notaries, attorneys, judges, canon lawyers, bailiffs, Brittany, and abandoned people.

…”Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

–Matthew 25:40, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

St. Ivo of Kermartin internalized that lesson and acted on it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH O’FLAHERTY, “SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF THE VATICAN”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL SHINJI SASAKI, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF TOKYO; AND PHILIP LENDEL TSEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF HONAN

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the trouble,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Posted October 30, 2017 by neatnik2009 in May 19, Saints of 1250-1299, Saints of 1300-1349

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Feast of Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius (April 14)   Leave a comment

Icon of Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANTHONY OF VILNIUS (BORN NEZHILO)

Brother of

SAINT JOHN OF VILNIUS (BORN KUMETS)

Relative of

SAINT EUSTATHIUS (BORN KRUGLETS)

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MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347

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This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from the Russian Orthodox Church.

These three saints, young men, were courtiers of Algirdas (reigned 1345-1377), Grand Duke of Lithuania.  They had converted to Christianity and received new names at baptism.  They were safe until 1346, when Grand Duchess Maria Yaroslavna, the Christian wife of Algirdas, died.  Algirdas had converted (at least officially) to Christianity years prior, but he reverted to paganism as a widower.  The Grand Duke outlawed evangelism.  Nevertheless, Sts. Anthony and John preached in public.  The prisoners then refused to eat meat on a holy fast day.  The Grand Duke, therefore, had St. Anthony hanged on April 14, 1347, and St. John strangled and hanged ten years later.  Their relative, St. Eustathius, later also refused to eat meat on a holy fast day, so he be joined his relatives in martyrdom on December 13, 1347.

Jogaila (reigned 1377-1381, 1382-1392), the son and immediate successor of Algirdas, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1386 and united Lithuania and Poland.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saints Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius

triumphed over suffering and were faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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