Archive for the ‘Saints of 1560-1579’ Category

Feast of St. Robert Southwell (February 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ROBERT SOUTHWELL (1561-FEBRUARY 21, 1595)

English Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1595

Alternative feast day (as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales) = October 25

Alternative feast day (as one of the Martyrs of Douai) = October 29

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They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,

And his love made them strong;

And they followed the right, for Jesus’ sake,

The whole of their good lives long.

And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,

And one was slain by a fierce wild beast;

And there’s not any reason–no, not the least–

Why I shouldn’t be one too.

–Lesbia Scott (1898-1986), 1929

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St. Robert Southwell led a pious and relatively brief life.  He, born in Horsham Saint Faith, Norfolk, England, in 1561, grew up in a Roman Catholic family.  He studied in Douai (1576f) and Paris, joined the Society of Jesus (1580), served as the Prefect of Studies at the English College in Rome, and became a priest (1584).

Southwell sealed his fate when he returned to England in 1586.  He was free for about six years–longer than the average, which was three years.  Our saint worked with Jesuit priest Henry Garnet (1555-1606) [Note:  Garnet’s opposition to violence did not prevent authorities from scapegoating him for the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a conspiracy to assassinate King James I.  Garnet became a martyr in 1606.]  Southwell was also the chaplain to Anne Howard, wife of St. Philip Howard (1557-1595), another martyr.  Our saint, author of pamphlets about pious living, became a prisoner in 1592.  He spent three years enduring torture in the Tower of London.  Southwell’s family knew he was going to die; they preferred a swift trial and execution to a long, drawn-out torture.  Between tortures, Southwell studied the Bible and wrote religious poetry.

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat, which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe, all burning bright, did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such flood of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames, with which His tears were fed.
“Alas!” quoth He, “but newly born, in fiery hearts I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel My fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorn;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metals in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am, to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in My Blood.”
With this He vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas Day.

Our saint, finally convicted of treason (of being a priest, and one who had administered sacraments), died via hanging, drawing, and quartering in London, on February 21, 1595.

Holy Mother Church recognized Southwell formally.  Pope Pius X declared our saint a Venerable and beatified him in 1929.  Pope Paul VI canonized Southwell in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 1, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, LORD SHAFTESBURY, BRITISH HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH AUBERT, FOUNDRESS OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF COMPASSION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMANUS THE MELODIST, DEACON AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT THÉRÊSE OF LISIEUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MYSTIC

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

in the heart of your holy martyr Saint Robert Southwell:

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, one God, 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 Blessed Thomas Pormort (February 21)   2 comments

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED THOMAS PORMORT (CIRCA 1560-FEBRUARY 20, 1592)

English Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1592

Alternative feast day (as one of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales) = November 22

Alternative feast day (as one of the Martyrs of Douai) = October 29

I do not keep statistics regarding this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Given that my Ecumenical Calendar is, with a few breaks, frequently a work in progress, with more than one update per week, any statistics I would collect would become obsolete quickly.  However, I attest that martyrs constitute one of the major categories of saints on my Ecumenical Calendar.  Unfortunately, many of these martyrs’ biographies reveal that other professing Christians killed them or were complicit in their deaths.  As a bumper sticker reads,

JESUS, SAVE ME FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS.

Blessed Thomas Pormort lived dangerously; he was a Roman Catholic priest in Elizabethan England.  He, born in Little Limber, Lincolnshire, England, circa 1560, studied at Cambridge then at Douai (1581-1582) and Rome (1582f).  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in 1587, served in the Diocese of Cassano (in Italy) and as the Prefect of Studies at the Swiss College, Milan.  Then he returned to his homeland.  He arrived on April 25, 1590, under the pseudonym Thomas Whitgift.  (“Whitgift” was the surname of the Archbishop of Canterbury.)  Authorities arrested Pormort in London on July 25, 1591.  His crime was being a Roman Catholic priest–treason, officially.  He escaped, but became a prisoner again after about two months on the lam.  Authorities tortured Pormort in prison.  Our saint, convicted of treason (being a priest–in this case, of hearing the confession of a penitent), on February 8, 1592, died via hanging, in London, twelve days later.

Pope John Paul II declared Pormort a Venerable in 1986 then beatified him the following year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HONORIUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Thomas Pormort

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713

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Feast of St. John of the Cross (December 14)   2 comments

Above:  St. John of the Cross

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS (JUNE 24, 1542-DECEMBER 14, 1591)

Spanish Roman Catholic Mystic and Carmelite Friar

Born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez

Also known as John of Saint Matthias

St. John of the Cross was a mystic, a Carmelite friar, a controversial reformer. and, for eight months, a prisoner of some of his fellow friars.

Juan de Yepes y Álvarez, born in Fontineros, Spain, on June 24, 1542, grew up in a poor family.  His father, Gonzago (d. 1545), was an accountant for wealthy relatives.  Our saint’s mother, Catalina, came from an impoverished family.  One of our saint’s brothers, Luis, died of malnutrition related to poverty.  Another brother, Francisco, survived, though.  Our saint attended a school for poor children in Medina (now Medina-Sidonia) then studied at a Jesuit school (1559-1563).

St. John was a friar for most of his life.  He became a Carmelite friar, John of Saint Matthias, in 1563.  The following year, he made his first profession and began theological studies at the University of Salamanca.  Our saint joined the ranks of priests in 1567.

Monastic rigor appealed to St. John.  He pondered joining the Carthusians, a strict order.  St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) dissuaded him, though.  He became enamored of her reforms among Carmelite nuns.  With her support he introduced similar reforms into the lives of Carmelite friars.  St. John founded his first monastery in 1568, at Duruelo, and became St. John of the Cross.  These strict reforms caused controversy within the Carmelite friar order in 1575-1578.  Ecclesiastical and imperial protection of St. John expired in 1577, so our saint spent December 2, 1577-August 15, 1578 as a prisoner at the Carmelite monastery in Toledo.  After St. John escaped, he spent months recovering from the negative health effects of the poor conditions.  While in captivity, he wrote The Spiritual Canticle.

The Church recognized a new Carmelite order–a discaled one–in 1580.  St. John spent the rest of this life founding monasteries and building up the order.  Nevertheless, controversy followed him into the Discaled Carmelite order of friars.  He died in 1591, after losing his job as prior at Segovia.

St. John was a mystical poet.  His works included the Dark Night of the Soul, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, and Living Flame of Love.

The Church recognized St. John.  Pope Clement X beatified him in 1675.  Pope Benedict XIII canonized our saint in 1726.  Pope Pius XI declared St. John a Doctor of the Church in 1926.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Judge eternal, throned in splendor, you gave Juan de la Cruz

strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul:

Shed your light on all who love you, in unity with Jesus our Savior;

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

Song of Solomon 3:1-4

Psalm 121

Colossians 4:2-6

John 16:12-15, 25-28

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 117

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Feast of Richard Hooker (November 3)   1 comment

Above:  Richard Hooker

Image in the Public Domain

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RICHARD HOOKER (MARCH 25, 1554-NOVEMBER 2, 1600)

Anglican Priest and Theologian

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…sorrow conceived for sins committed, with hope and trust to obtain remission by Christ, with a firm and effectual promise of amendment, and to alter the things that have been done amiss.

–Richard Hooker’s definition of repentance, in Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V (1597)

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Richard Hooker was one of the most important Anglican theologians and a great intellectual.

Hooker, born in Heavitree, near Exeter, on March 25, 1554, manifested his brilliance at an early age.  He, a fine student at Exeter, benefited from the patronage of the schoolmaster, John Jewel (1552-1571), the Bishop of Salisbury from 1559 to 1571.  In 1568 our saint matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.  One of his tutors was John Rainoldes, who became a life-long friend.  Hooker, still a student, became a tutor.  He tutored George Cranmer (1563-1600) and (Sir) Edwin Sandys (1561-1629).  Cranmer’s uncle was Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533 to 1555.  Sandys (Jr.) was a son of Edwin Sandys (Sr.) (1519-1588), the Bishop of Worcester (1559-1570), the Bishop of London (1570-1576), and the Archbishop of York (1576-1588).  Sandys (Jr.) went on to serve in the House of Commons, help to found the Virginia Company, and become a critic of King James VI of Scotland/I of Great Britain (reigned 1567-1625 in Scotland and 1603-1625 in England, Wales, and Ireland).  Hooker graduated with his B.A. in 1574 and his M.A. in 1577.  He, a fellow since 1579, taught Hebrew and logic at Corpus Christi College.

Hooker joined the clerks of the clergy.  He, ordained a deacon in 1579 and a priest in 1581, was the absentee Vicar of Drayton-Beauchamp, Buckingham.  Our saint left for London in 1584.  There he was, off-and-on, a member of the household of merchant John Churchman from 1584 to 1595.  Hooker married Joan Churchman in 1588.  His literary assistants were George Cranmer, (Sir) Edwin Sandys, and Benjamin Pullen, a Churchman family servant.

The Travers Controversy prompted Hooker to begin to write his influential treatise, Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.  In 1585 Queen Elizabeth I appointed our saint to the Temple Church, London.  His new position made him the chief pastor of the Inns of Court, a prominent legal center in the city.  Hooker preached in the morning, but Walter Travers regularly preached to overflow crowds in the afternoon, despite his silencing by Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift in 1584.  Travers, a Puritan, condemned priestly vestments, the sign of the cross, the practice of kneeling for communion, the episcopacy, and the status of the Sovereign as the Head of the Church.  Hooker, needing more time to write his treatise, left the Temple Church in 1591.  From 1591 to 1595, he, residing in London, was the absentee Vicar of Boscombe, Whitshire, near Salisbury.  During this time our saint visited Salisbury.  In 1595 Hooker and his family became resident in his new cure; he became the Vicar of Bishopsbourne, Kent, near Canterbury.

In an age of religious extremism and rampant intolerance, Hooker was relatively tolerant and irenic.  He, critical of both Puritanism and Roman Catholicism, considered the Roman Catholic Church to be Christian.  Our saint reserved his most pointed barbs for the margins of pages.  In his copy of A Christian Letter to Certaine English Protestants (1599), a Puritan text, Hooker wrote,

How this arse runneth kicking up his heels as if a summerfly had stung him.

Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (Books I-IV published in 1593, Book V published in 1597, Books VI and VIII published in 1648, and Book VII published in 1662) was the first important work of philosophy, theology, and political theory in the English language.

  1. Hooker defended the Elizabethan Settlement.
  2. Hooker argued against the Calvinist Regulative Principle of Worship.
  3. Hooker argued against the Papacy and for national churches, with the Sovereigns as heads of national churches.
  4. Hooker accepted the Lutheran doctrine of Sola Scriptura, the idea that nothing outside scripture is necessary for salvation.
  5. Hooker defended the episcopacy.
  6. Hooker rejected the Divine Right of Kings.  He did, however, accept that God may give some kings commissions to govern, and that monarchs are accountable both to God and the consent of the governed.
  7. Hooker gave the world the Three-Legged Stool:  scripture, tradition, and reason.

Hooker, aged 46 years, died on November 2, 1600.  He, hardly obscure in life, became more renowned posthumously.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C:  THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS, “ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST” AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS PROTÉGÉ, SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENTIGERN (MUNGO), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

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O God of truth and peace, you raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy

to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion:

Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace,

but as a comprehension for the sake of truth;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 44:10-15

Psalm 19:1-11

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 667

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Feast of Philipp Nicolai (October 25)   1 comment

Above:  Philipp Nicolai

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIPP NICOLAI (AUGUST 10, 1556-OCTOBER 26, 1608)

German Lutheran Minister and Hymn Writer

Born Philipp Rafflenboel

His feast transferred from October 26

Philipp Nicolai was one of the greatest German Lutheran hymn writers.  One hymn, translated as “How Bright Appears the Morning Star,” has become known as “the Queen of Chorales.”  Another, “Wake, O Wake!  With Tidings Thrilling,” has become known as “the King of Chorales.”

Philipp Rafflenboel, who changed his surname to “Nicolai,” or “son of Nicoalus,” was a son of Lutheran minister Nicolaus Dietrich Rafflenboel.  Our saint seemed destined for a devout life.  As a child, he presided at funerals for pets and preached at funerals for pets and preached to children in the neighborhood.  He studied at the Universities of Erfurt and Wittenberg before, at the age of 20 years, became a Lutheran minister.  Our saint’s first parish was in his hometown, Mengeringhausen, Waldeck, Hesse.

Nicolai was a man of strong opinions.  He, pastor at Herbecke (in the Ruhr area) from 1583 to 1586, had to leave.  During the age of the Religious Wars in Europe, when the separation of church and state was not the rule, (Roman Catholic) Spanish and Bavarian forces neared Herdecke.  In that context Lutheran pastor Johann Tacke, a former priest, dressed in priestly vestments and presided over a mass.  Nicolai criticized Tacke in strong terms.  This led to a politically difficult situation for our saint.

Political difficulties continued for Nicolai.  In 1586-1587 he was a pastor in Cologne, a stronghold of Roman Catholicism.  At Niederwildungen, Waldeck, as pastor (1587-1596), our saint also tutored the young Count Wilhelm Ernst, son of the dowager Countess Margarethe.  There were, however, prominent Calvinists in the court; Nicolai clashed with them.

From 1596 to 1601 Nicolai was pastor in Unna, Westphalia.  A plague struck the town in 1597-1598; more than 1,300 people died in less than a year.  Our saint ministered faithfully to his flock during that difficult time.  On a happier note, he published Mirror of Joy of Eternal Life, including his hymns and hymn tunes, in 1599.  Nicolai also married Catherine von der Recke, a widow with two children, in 1600.

Nicolai was pastor of St. Catherine’s Church, Hamburg, in 1601-1608.  He, renowned for his eloquent preaching, wrote and published his systematic theology, On God’s Mystical Temple.  Our saint died in Hamburg on October 26, 1608.  He was 56 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C:  THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS WINDOW MAKER

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Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Philipp Nicolai and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

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Feast of St. Teresa of Avila (October 15)   8 comments

Above:  St. Teresa of Avila, by Peter Paul Rubens

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF AVILA (MARCH 28, 1515-OCTOBER 4, 1582)

Spanish Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Reformer

Born Teresa de Cepeda

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Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you.  All things are passing, God never changes.  Patient endurance attains all things….God alone suffices.

–St. Teresa of Avila, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 448

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St. Teresa of Avila had many reasons to become dismayed, had she decided to permit them to dismay and disturb her.

Teresa de Cepeda, born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, came from a wealthy, well-educated family.  Her father was a merchant.  Her mother died when our saint was 14 years old.  St. Teresa became a Carmelite novice at the age of 21 years.  Her father objected, but she persisted.

Carmelite spiritual practice in that convent was quite lax; it was more like a boarding house than a nunnery.  Our saint, in her early twenties, was an invalid for several years.  During that time she read deeply in spiritual classics and became enamored of mental prayer, which she described as

friendly conversation with Him who we know loves us.

However, St. Teresa, having recovered her health, spent the next fifteen years neglecting her spiritual life.

St. Teresa, having renewed her spiritual life in 1555, had St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572) as a spiritual director.  In 1562, with the support of her bishop and the Pope, opened St. Joseph’s Abbey, the first of her new, rigorous convents.  More followed, starting in 1567; she founded 17 convents in all.  A friend, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), whom she met in 1567, founded rigorous Carmelite monasteries.

St. Teresa had to contend with opposition from ecclesiastical officialdom–bishops and the Spanish Inquisition–as well as from within her order.  Inquisitors were suspicious of her reported visions; mysticism alarmed the theological enforcers.  More opposition came from within our saint’s Discaled Carmelite order.  For a number of years St. Teresa was in internal exile, forbidden to found new convents.  That internal exile ended, though.

For years St. Teresa traveled through Spain on official business.  During one such journey, from Avila to Burges, she suffered her fatal cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.  She, aged 67 years, died at the Alba de Tormes Convent on October 4, 1582.

St. Teresa’s writings have continued to enrich seekers of God.  The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, the Life, Spiritual Relations, Exclamations of the Soul to God, and Conceptions on the Love of God have joined the ranks of spiritual classics.

The Church has honored St. Teresa.  Pope Gregory XV canonized her in 1622.  Pope Paul VI declared our saint the first female Doctor of the Church in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST DAY OF ADVENT:  THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE FREEMAN PALMER, U.S. EDUCATOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection:

Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching,

and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness;

through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 4:12-16

Psalm 42:1-7

Romans 8:22-27

Matthew 5:13-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 639

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This is post #1650 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale (October 6)   1 comment

Above:  William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale

Images in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM TYNDALE (1497-OCTOBER 6, 1536)

English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Martyr

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MILES COVERDALE (1488-JANUARY 20, 1569)

English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Bishop of Exeter

Also known as Myles Coverdale

October 6 is, on many Anglican calendars, the Feast of William Tyndale.  It is also Tyndale’s feast in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).  October 7 is an alternative feast day for Tyndale, as in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

At the General Convention of 2009, when The Episcopal Church approved Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), supplemental to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007), it added Coverdale to Tyndale’s feast.  The combined feast transferred into A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), successor to Holy Women, Holy Men.  Neither Tyndale nor Coverdale have transferred to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, however.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016) remains an approved resource, of course.

Miles Coverdale, born in Yorkshire circa 1488, collaborated with William Tyndale, born in Gloucestershire in 1497.  Tyndale, influenced indirectly by the late John Wycliffe (circa 1320-1384), while growing up, studied at Oxford (B.A., 1512; M.A., 1515) then at Cambridge.  Other influential figures in his life included Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), who had published the first published Greek New Testament in 1516, as well as Martin Luther (1483-1546), who had published his German translation of the Bible in 1522.  Tyndale, in 1522-1523 the tutor in the household of Sir John Walsh in Gloucestershire, became an alleged heretic by debating visiting clergymen.  He became convinced of the necessity of an English translation of the Bible.

Coverdale had been an Augustinian friar.  His mentor and prior had been Robert Barnes (circa 1495-1540).  At Cambridge Coverdale had begun to adopt Lutheran opinions.  He almost certainly met Tyndale at the White Horse tavern, where many Protestants gathered for discussion.

Tyndale, having left the Walsh household, to protect them, arrived in Wittenberg on May 27, 1524.  He spent the rest of his life in Europe.  By 1525 he was in Cologne.  There he planned to publish the new translation of the New Testament.  However, he and his secretary had to flee when Johannes Cochlaeus, archfoe of Luther, acted to prevent the publication of the English-language New Testament in that city.  Tyndale published his New Testament in Worms in 1526, though.  English ecclesiastical authorities, including St. Thomas More (1487-1535), ordered the burning of copies.

Meanwhile, Coverdale continued his Biblical studies at Cambridge.  He also became a radical.  His mentor, Robert Barnes, tried for heresy in 1526, recanted under pressure.  Coverdale left the abbey in 1528.  He, dressed as a secular priest, preached against images, confession, and the Mass.  He was in Hamburg the following year.  There, at Tyndale’s invitation, Coverdale was helping to translate the Torah.  Both men subsequently moved to Antwerp.  Tyndale published the new translation of the Torah in 1530 (Julian Calendar)/1531 (Gregorian Calendar).  Before he died Tyndale had translated the Old Testament through Nehemiah, as well as Jonah.  Some of his translation choices were controversial and purposefully contrary to current orthodoxy.  He preferred “congregation” to “church” and “love” to “charity,” for example.

Tyndale wrote original texts, too.  Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue (1530) was a polemic.  The Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1528) argued for justification by faith.  The Obedience of a Christian Man (1528) influenced the English Reformation.  More, a staunch Roman Catholic who, like Tyndale, opposed the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII to Queen Catherine of Aragon, identified Tyndale as one of the leaders of the Reformation.

Meanwhile Coverdale was translating and writing, also.  He translated the Book of Psalms from Latin to English in 1534 then translated more of the Old Testament.  The following year Coverdale published the complete English Bible, dedicated to Henry VIII.  Coverdale worked from five translations, including Tyndale’s.  He was a fine stylist of the English language; his Psalter graced editions of The Book of Common Prayer from the first one (1549) into the twentieth century.  The Coverdale and Tyndale translations constituted at least half of the Thomas Matthew Bible (1537) and therefore influenced the Great Bible (1539), the Bishop’s Bible (1568), the Authorized Version (1611), and its successors, including the American Standard Version (1901) and the branching lines of translations derived from it, starting with the Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; Old Testament, 1952; Apocrypha, 1957; RSV II, 1971).

Tyndale, betrayed in Antwerp by Henry Phillips in May 1535, spent the final phase of his life as a prisoner at the castle of Vilvoorde, near Brussels.  There he died by strangling on October 6, 1536.  Authorities burned his corpse.

Coverdale was in peril, also.  He, moving back and forth between England and the continent, compiled the concordance (1535) to Tyndale’s New Testament and edited the Great Bible (1539), placed in every church in the realm.  In 1539 he fled Paris, to escape the French Inquisition.  Then, in 1540, Henry VIII began to preside over a crackdown.  Barnes died via burning at the stake that year.  Coverdale and his wife, Elizabeth Macheson (Sutherland) spent 1540-1543 in Strasbourg.  There he translated tracts and earned his D.D. degree from Tübingen University.  The Coverdales spent 1543-1548 in Bergzabern, 40 miles away from Strasbourg.  There Coverdale served as the headmaster of the town school and the assistant minister of the town church.  Meanwhile, in 1546, English authorities were burning his writings.

1548-1559 were years of changing political fortunes for Coverdale.  The Coverdales spent 1548-1553 in England.  Henry VIII had died and Edward VI had succeeded his father.  Coverdale, a royal chaplain, helped to suppress a rebellion before becoming the Bishop of Exeter (1551-1553).  Then Edward VI died and his sister, Mary I, succeeded him.  The Coverdales spent 1553-1559 in exile in Europe.  They eventually settled in Switzerland, where Coverdale helped to translate the Geneva Bible (1560).

Coverdale spent his final years back in England.  In 1558 Mary I had died and her sister, Elizabeth I, had succeeded her.  The course of the English Reformation changed; Elizabeth I presided over the birth of Anglicanism per se.  Coverdale, who had become a leading Puritan, declined to become the Bishop of Exeter again.  He had evolved theologically to the point that he could no longer approve of the ritual.  Coverdale, a much sought-after preacher, stayed busy, if not prosperous.  Elizabeth, his first wife, died in 1565.  He married Katharine the following year.

Coverdale, aged 80 or 81 years, died on January 20, 1569.

Tyndale and Coverdale were pioneers in the development of the English Bible.  Many generations of English-speaking Christians have been in their debt.

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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Almighty God, you planted in the heart of your servants William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale

a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue,

and endowed them with the gift of powerful and graceful expression

and with strength to persevere against all obstacles:

Reveal to us your saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures,

and hear them calling us to repentance and life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Proverbs 8:10-17

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

John 12:44-50

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 625

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