Archive for the ‘Saints of 1780-1789’ Category

Feast of Johannes Daniel Falk (February 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Saxe-Weimer-Eisenach

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANNES DANIEL FALK (OCTOBER 28, 1768-FEBRUARY 14, 1826)

German Poet, Hymn Writer, and Social Worker

Also known as Johann Daniel Falk

Johannes Daniel Falk comes to this, A GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES:  AN ECUMENICAL CALENDAR OF SAINTS’ DAYS AND HOLY DAYS, via The Hymnal (1941), of the old Evangelical and Reformed Church.

Falk, born in Danzig, Kingdom of Poland, on October 28, 1768, came from an impoverished family in which education was not a priority.  His father, a wig-maker, wanted our saint to make wigs, not to attend school.  Therefore, young Johannes’s early education was inconsistent.  He, pulled out of school as a boy, wanted to study at night.  The father refused to permit this. Therefore, young Johannes stood under a street light at night–even in cold weather–and read books.  The more the father interfered with our saint’s education, the more young Johannes valued education.  Our saint, desperate, even ran away from home.

Finally, the father relented.  Falk, able to attend school consistently, starting at age sixteen, attended one school for six years.  Then he studied literature and theology at the University of Halle for three more years, through 1793.

Falk made his life in Weimar, starting in 1793.  Thirteen years later, he became the counselor to the legation at the ducal court in the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.  These were the times of the Napoleonic Wars.  Orphaned, homeless children and youth lived on the streets in the city.  And, in 1813, four of Falk’s six children died of a typhoid fever during an epidemic.

Falk’s faith, influenced by his mother’s Moravian Church influence, renewed.  He decided upon a strategy to help street children in Weimar.  Falk convinced his friends to take street children into their homes.  The former street children gathered at Falk’s home for Sunday school each week.  He also helped the boys and girls become productive members of society, according to social conventions.  Some boys learned a trade; others attended a university.  Girls became domestic servants.  Our saint’s program developed into the Falk’sche Institute and became a model for similar work in other German cities.

Falk also wrote.  He composed satires, novels, and poems.  One of his more noteworthy works was Prometheus, a dramatic poem.  Das Vater Unser (1822) was a collection of his Sunday school talks.  Falk wrote hymns, too.  His most popular hymn was Allerdreifeier, translated into English as “O Thou Joyful, O Thou Wonderful,” a Christmas text.

Falk, aged fity-seven years, died in Weimar on February 14, 1826.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN, HUMANITARIAN, AND ECCLESIASTICAL REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF IGNACIO ELLACURIA AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS IN EL SALVADOR, NOVEMBER 15, 1989

THE FEAST OF THE JESUIT MARTYRS OF PARAGUAY, 1628

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

and to give his life for 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 troubled,

and rest to the weary;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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Feast of Thomas Baldwin (December 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Thomas Baldwin

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS BALDWIN (DECEMBER 23, 1753-AUGUST 29, 1825)

U.S. Baptist Minister and Hymn Writer

Thomas Baldwin comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Baldwin was a native and resident of New England.  He, born in Bozrah, Connecticut, on December 23, 1753, moved to Canaan, New Hampshire, when sixteen years old.  He married his first wife, Rebecca Huntington (1755-1812) in 1775.  The couple had one daughter, Rebecca Baldwin (Goble) (1778-1800), who married in 1796.  She gave birth to two children, Andrew (1799-1880) and Anna (1800-1854).  Our saint, a member of the New Hampshire legislature, was also a law student in 1881, when he had a conversion experience and joined a Baptist church.

Baldwin, ordained in 1783, spent seven years as an itinerant evangelist.  Then he spent 1790-1825 as the pastor of Second Baptist Church, Boston, Massachusetts.  He wrote at least seven hymns, helped to organize the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society (1802), edited The Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine (1803f; available at archive.org), promoted foreign missions, wrote defenses of Baptist principles, and served as the chaplain to the General Court of Massachusetts.  Our saint also understood the importance of education.  He served as a trustee of Waterville College, Waterville, Maine (founded in 1813; now Colby College).  Furthermore, Baldwin helped to found Newton Theological Institute, Newton, Massachusetts (1825).  It was the first Baptist theological seminary in the United States of America.  The legacy of this institution has passed to Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Connecticut.

Baldwin, widowed in 1812, married Margaret Duncan (1769-1858) that year.

Our saint died in Waterville, Maine, on August 29, 1825.  He, 71 years old, was as in town, in his capacity as a trustee, for commencement at Waterville College.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 22, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 16:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF JACK LAYTON, CANADIAN ACTIVIST AND FEDERAL LEADER OF THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY

THE FEAST OF JOHN DAVID CHAMBERS, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS HRYHORII KHOMYSHYN, SYMEON LUKACH, AND IVAN SLEZYUK, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC BISHOPS AND MARTYRS, 1947, 1964, AND 1973

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN KEMBLE AND JOHN WALL, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1679

THE FEAST OF SAINTS THOMAS PERCY, RICHARD KIRKMAN, AND WILLIAM LACEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1572 AND 1582

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O God, our Heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Thomas Baldwin,

to be a pastor in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ

and stewards of your divine mysteries;

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

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of Demetrius A. Gallitzin (December 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin

Image Source = Baroness Pauline von Hügel, A Royal Son and Mother (1902)

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DEMETRIUS AUGUSTINE GALLITZIN (DECEMBER 22, 1770-MAY 6, 1840)

Russian-American Roman Catholic Priest

“The Apostle of the Alleghenies”

Born Dmitri Dmitrievich Galitzin

Also known as Augustine Smith

Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Prince Dmitri Dmitrievich Gallitzin, born in The Hague, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, was the son of Prussian Countess Adelheid von Schmettau (1748-1806) and Prince Dmitri Alexeivich Galitzin (1728-1803), at the time, the Russian Imperial Ambassador to the Dutch Republic.  The ambassador was a nominal member of the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Countess was a nominal Roman Catholic.  Both parents were friends of François-Marie Arouet, ak.a. Voltaire (1694-1778) and followers of Denis Diderot (1713-1784).  Our saint grew up a nominal, baptized member of the Russian Orthodox Church, with no religious training.

Our saint, a member of the aristocracy, grew up among political and intellectual elites.  As a young child, he sat on the lap of Czarina Catherine II “the Great” (reigned 1762-1796), in The Hague.  His first language–the tongue of his home–was French.  One childhood friend was the future William I, King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg (reigned 1815-1840).

The Countess returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 1786.  She and those around her influenced her son, confirmed in Holy Mother Church (as Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin) on August 28, 1787.  This development greatly displeased the ambassador, who had planned a military career in Russia for our saint.  The father nearly sent the son back to Russia.  Gallitzin remained in Western Europe and briefly served as an aide-de-camp to the commander of Austrian forces in Brabant in 1792.  Later that year, for political reasons, the Austrian Army dismissed all foreigners from its ranks.

Gallitzin’s parents sent him to the New World; they intended for him to travel in the Western Hemisphere for two years.  Our saint departed Rotterdam on August 18, 1792, and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 28.  He disappointed his father again my matriculating at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice, Baltimore, on November 5, 1792.  The ambassador arranged for the son to receive a commission as a member of the palace guard in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  Gallitzin went AWOL from the Russian Imperial Army and remained in seminary.

Gallitzin, ordained a priest on March 18, 1795, became the first Roman Catholic priest to conduct all of his theological studies in the United States of America.  He served as a missionary in Maryland, Virginia (including what is now West Virginia), and Pennsylvania–mostly in Pennsylvania.  Gallitzin founded Loretto, Pennsylvania, the first Roman Catholic community with resident clergy in that part of that state, in 1799.  The congregation he founded became the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel.  Saint Michael’s was the only Roman Catholic church between Saint Louis, Missouri, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a few years.  Furthermore, ministry left Gallitzin deeply in debt for much of his life.  He paid off his debts before dying, however.  Our saint, a naturalized citizen of the United States (as Augustine Smith) since 1802, damaged his health by traveling in the Allegheny Mountains for years.  In so doing, he helped to build up the Roman Catholic Church in western Pennsylvania.

Somehow, Gallitzin found time to write defenses of Roman Catholicism, in response to attacks from Protestant ministers:

  1. A Defence of Catholic Principles, in a Letter to a Protestant Minister (1816); and
  2. Letter to a Protestant Friend, on the Holy Scriptures, or the Written Word of God (1820).

Gallitzin nearly became a bishop four times:

  1. He was on the short list for Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown, Kentucky, under Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget (1763-1850).  That job went to John Baptist Mary David (1761-1841), Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown (1819-1832) then Bishop of Bardstown (1832-1833).
  2. Our saint declined an offer to become the first Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1821/1822.  The Church had carved the Diocese of Cincinnati from the Diocese of Bardstown in 1821.
  3. Gallitzin was also a candidate to become the first Bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1827.  The Church created the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1843, however.
  4. The Church created the Diocese of Detroit from the Diocese of Cincinnati in 1833.  Gallitzin declined the offer to become the first Bishop of Detroit.

Gallitzin, aged 69 years, died in Loretto, Pennsylvania, on May 6, 1840.

Our saint is on the road to eventual canonization, given that the Roman Catholic Church declared him a Servant of God in 2005.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of western Pennsylvania.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ,

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

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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Feast of Conrad Kocher (December 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of the Duchy of Württemberg

Image in the Public Domain

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CONRAD KOCHER (DECEMBER 16, 1786-MARCH 12, 1872)

German Composer and Music Educator

Reformer of Church Music in Germany

Conrad Kocher comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Hymnal (1941), of the old Evangelical and Reformed Church.

Kocher, born in Dietzingen, Duchy of Württemberg, Holy Roman Empire, on December 16, 1786, was, according to his parents, supposed to become a teacher.  So, he did.  Our saint taught in St. Petersburg, Russian Empire.  While there, Kocher fell in love with the music of Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).  Our saint, therefore, changed his career path.

Kocher abandoned teaching, as he had been doing it, and focused on music.  Our saint studied composition in St. Petersburg and Rome.  He began to compose.  His oeuvre ultimately included operas, sonatas, oratorios, chorales, and hymn tunes.  His most enduring composition was probably a hymn tune, DIX, as in “For the Beauty of the Earth;” “As With Gladness Men of Old” (about the Magi); “Praise to God, Immortal Praise;” “Lord, Set Fire to My Soul;” and “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies.”  Kocher’s studies of the music of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) convinced him to focus on sacred music.  Kocher returned to Germany in 1811.  There he founded the School of Sacred Song, Stuttgart.  In this capacity, our saint helped to reform and improve singing in Protestant churches by popularizing four-part singing.  For this reason, Kocher received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tübingen (1852).

Kocher, aged 85 years, died in Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire, on March 12, 1872.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941; AND JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1965

THE FEAST OF SARAH FLOWER ADAMS, ENGLISH UNITARIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HER SISTER, ELIZA FLOWER, ENGLISH UNITARIAN COMPOSER

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Conrad Kocher)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Justin Heinrich Knecht (December 2)   Leave a comment

Above:  Justin Heinrich Knecht

Image in the Public Domain

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JUSTIN HEINRICH KNECHT (SEPTEMBER 30, 1752-DECEMBER 1, 1817)

German Lutheran Organist, Music Teacher, and Composer

Justin Heinrich Knecht comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Hymnal (1941), of the old Evangelical and Reformed Church.

Above:  Map of the Duchy of Württemberg

Image in the Public Domain

Knecht, born in Biberach, Duchy of Württemberg, on September 30, 1752, became a capable musician and composer.  As a young man, he received a classical education at Esslingen.  Our saint also studied organ, violin, oboe, flute, and trumpet there.  Then Knecht continued his study of organ performance under one Herr Kraemer in Biberach.  Our saint became one of the greatest German organists of his time.  Knecht worked as a professor of literature in Biberach from 1771 to 1792.  In 1792, He became the municipal music director and the organist at St. Martin’s Church, Biberach, which Lutherans and Roman Catholics had shared since 1548.  For the rest of his life, our saint taught music, pioneered the writing of program notes, and wrote about musical theory.  In 1806-1808, Knecht lived and worked in Stuttgart, the royal capital.  After two years of conducting the royal court and theater orchestra, our saint returned to Biberach.  Perhaps Knecht felt unqualified for his royal appointment.  Maybe he tired of a toxic work environment.  Perhaps both reasons informed our saint’s decision.  Anyway, Knecht lived and worked in Biberach until he shuffled off his mortal coil.

Above:  St. Martin’s Church, Biberach

Image Source = Google Earth

William Gustave Polack, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, Second Edition (1942), 533, notes that Knecht

was one of the great organists of his time.

Fred L. Precht, Lutheran Worship Hymnal Companion (1992), 672, describes Knecht as

a brilliant organist.

Albert C. Ronander and Ethel K. Porter, Guide to the Pilgrim Hymnal (1966), 196, noted that:

Knecht’s contemporaries regarded him as one of the best musicians of the day.  As an organist he had only one rival….

Yet, according to the same source:

…his compositions lacked vitality and originality.

Armin Haeussler, The Story of Our Hymns:  The Handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (1952), 748, notes that Knecht

excelled as an organist but ranked much lower as a composer.

I leave any evaluation of Knecht’s skill as a composer to you, O reader.  Recordings of some of his compositions are available on YouTube.

In 1799, Knecht and Lutheran minister Johann Friedrich Christmann (1752-1817) prepared a hymnal, Wirtembergisches Land Gesangbuch, a.k.a., the Württemberger Choralbuch, published in Stuttgart.   Knecht composed 97 of the 266 hymn tunes.  Some of our saint’s hymn tunes included:

  1. AUS GNADEN SOLL ICH SELIG ERDEN;
  2. DAS WALTE GOTT, DER HELFEN KANN;
  3. DOMINE CLAMAVI;
  4. DU GOTT BIST ÜBER ALLEN HERR;
  5. HERR, DIR IST NIEMAND;
  6. ICH BIN IN DIR, UND DU IN MIR;
  7. KOCHER;
  8. MEIN ERST GEFÜHL SEI PREIS UND DANK;
  9. ST. HILDA, a.k.a. ST. EDITH;
  10. VIENNA, a.k.a. RAVENNA; and
  11. WOMIT SOLL ICH DICH WOHL LOBEN, a.k.a. GOTHA.

Knecht composed both sacred and secular music.  He set Psalms to music and composed settings of other liturgical texts.  Our saint wrote operas, operettas, chamber works, orchestral works, chamber works, piano works, and organ works, too.  These have long since fallen into obscurity.  Yet recordings of some of them have become available via YouTube:

  1. Cantabile in D Minor;
  2. Concerto for Horn in D Major;
  3. Dixit Dominus (1800);
  4. Freu Dich Sehr O Meine Seale;
  5. Fugue in C Minor;
  6. Handstück in Galanten Stil;
  7. Le Portrait Musical de la Nature, a.k.a. the Pastoral Symphony (1783);
  8. Organ Sonata in C Major;
  9. Prelude in B-Flat; and
  10. Die Aufenstehung Jesu, Ein Tongemälde.

Knecht, aged 65 years, died in his hometown on December 1, 1817.

Knecht’s legacy, at least with regard to hymn tunes, seems to survive primarily in hymnals of denominations with a strong German heritage.  In the United States of America, his means, primarily, the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum), the United Church of Christ, and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.  Some contemporary hymnals of other denominations include at least one of Knecht’s tunes, but an institutional, Germanic heritage increases the probability of doing so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 30, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE JORDAN, SOUTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF RAVENNA, AND DEFENDER OF ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICENTA CHÁVEZ OROZCO, FOUNDRESS OF THE SERVANTS OF THE HOLY TRINITY AND THE POOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM PINCHON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF SAINT-BRIEUC

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Justin Heinrich Knecht)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Gabriel Richard (October 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Detroit in 1800

Image in the Public Domain

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GABRIEL JACQUES RICHARD (OCTOBER 15, 1767-SEPTEMBER 13, 1832)

French-American Roman Catholic Missionary Priest in Michigan

Father Gabriel Richard comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget (1763-1850), under whom he served.

Gabriel Jacques Richard was French.  He, born in La Ville de Saintes on October 15, 1767, matriculated at the theological seminary in Angers in 1784.  Ordained to the priesthood on October 15, 1790, our saint sailed for the United States of America in 1792.  He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, and began to teach mathematics at St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore.

John Carroll (1735-1815), the Bishop of Baltimore (1789-1807) then the Archbishop of Baltimore (1807-1815), appointed Richard to perform missionary work in Michigan in 1798.  The 31-year-old priest arrived in Detroit on June 16, 1798 (the Feast of Corpus Christi), to begin serving at St. Anne’s Church as assistant priest.   He served as the parish’s pastor from 1802 to 1832.

Detroit was a small town in 1798; the population was about 1,200.  About half of that population was French-born.  Forests and a lack of good roads cut Detroit off from the rest of the world, by land.  The streets were muddy, there were no schools, and the main business was trading liquor for furs from Native Americans.

Richard set about improving the community.  He started schools that taught the “three R’s,” as well as dressmaking, sewing, and weaving.  He helped to organize relief efforts after the great fire of 1805.  Our saint appointed a town crier, who announced the news from the steps of St. Anne’s Church every Sunday.  The priest also posted news for the literate people every week.  Richard founded and published The Michigan Essay, the first newspaper in Michigan, in 1809.  The town crier had a greater audience than the newspaper.  Our saint also published many books, including The Child’s Spelling Book.

Richard accumulated a private library of 240 volumes.  Topics ranged from theology to science, and included navigation, surveying, teaching methods for the deaf and the mute, and mathematics.

About half of the population consisted of Protestants, who had no pastor of their own.  In 1807, Richard accepted their invitation to fill this vacancy.  He served as their pastor (while also serving at St. Anne’s Church) until 1816, when Presbyterian John Monteith (1788-1868) arrived.  Monteith went on to serve as the pastor of the First Protestant Society of Detroit (founded in 1818) then of the First Presbyterian Church, one of its successors.  Richard and Monteith, friends, worked together to improve education in Detroit.  They were two of the founders of the Catholepistemiad (1817-1832), forerunner of the University of Michigan.

Richard, under the authority of Bishop Flaget after the latter’s consecration, functioned as a missionary to local indigenous people.  He won their respect.  During the War of 1812, our saint was a prisoner of war of the British.  The priest, who ministered to indigenous allies of the British Empire, had sworn allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America.  Chief Tecumseh (c. 1768-1813) helped to secure Richard’s release.  The chief promised not to fight for the British unless they freed the priest.

Richard served a term (1823-1825) as the non-voting delegate of the Territory of Michigan (modern-day Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota) in the United States Congress.  Our saint, despite having no vote, helped to get the funds for the Detroit-Chicago road.

Richard nearly became the first Bishop of Detroit.  He had excommunicated a parishioner.  The excommunication had damaged the man’s business, so he sued our saint.  The court sided with the businessman and fined the priest $1,117 (between $31,000 and $35,000 in 2021 currency).  The priest could not pay the fine.  Our saint was, therefore, an involuntary guest in the sheriff’s home until some parishioners arranged for Richard’s release.  Our saint, chosen to be the first Bishop of Detroit before news of the legal matter reached Rome, remained a priest.  The first Bishop of Detroit assumed office in 1833, after Richard had died.

Cholera swept through Detroit in 1832.  Our saint ministered to victims until he contracted the disease.  He, aged 64 years, died on September 13, 1832.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND RELIGIOUS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BOSA OF YORK, JOHN OF BEVERLEY, WILFRID THE YOUNGER, AND ACCA OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF JAMES EDWARD WALSH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP AND POLITICAL PRISONER IN CHINA

THE FEAST OF SIMON B. PARKER, UNITED METHODIST BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF TIMOTHY REES, WELSH ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER AND BISHOP OF LLANDAFF

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant Father Gabriel Richard,

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

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

we may by your grace grow into the full stature of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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

Psalm 84

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

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

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 38

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Feast of Benedict Joseph Flaget (November 7)   5 comments

Above:  Benedict Joseph Flaget

Image in the Public Domain

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BENEDICT JOSEPH FLAGET (NOVEMBER 7, 1763-FEBRUARY 11, 1850)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Bardstown then of Louisville, Kentucky

Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Flaget was French.  He, born at Contournat, near Billom, Auvergne, on November 7, 1763, became an orphan when two years old.  Our saint and his two brothers grew up in the household of an uncle (Canon Benoît Flaget) and an aunt at Billom.  At the age of seventeen years, our saint matriculated at the Sulpician seminary in Clermont.

Flaget became a priest.  He, ordained on All Saints’ Day, 1783, at Issy, taught for years.  Our saint taught theology at Nantes for two years then did the same at Angers.  The anti-clericalism of the French Revolution led to the closing of the seminary at Angers.  Flaget, after returning briefly to Billom in 1791, sailed for the United States of America in January 1792.  He sailed with Étienne (Stephen) Theodore Badin (1768-1853), then a subdeacon, but destined to become the first Roman Catholic priest ordained in the United States of America, on May 25, 1793.  Flaget also sailed with Jean-Baptiste-Marie (John Baptist Mary) David (1761-1841), whom he had recruited to the seminary.

The three future missionaries landed in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 29, 1792.  They proceeded to study English and prepare for their tasks in the New World.  John Carroll (1735-1815), the Bishop of Baltimore (1789-1808) then the Archbishop of Baltimore (1808-1815), assigned Flaget to minister to indigenous people at Fort Vincennes, Northwest Territory (now Indiana).  Our saint arrived on December 21, 1792.  Recalled after two years, he taught at Georgetown College (now University) until 1798.  Then, transferred to Havana, Cuba, in 1798, Flaget eventually returned to Baltimore, in the company of twenty-three students.

Pope Pius VII created the Diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky (out of the Archdiocese of Baltimore), and appointed Flaget the first bishop thereof on April 8, 1808.  Flaget, back in France, initially refused.  Yet he accepted the appointment.  Our saint returned to the United States of America in 1810.  He sailed with friend and colleague Father Simon William Bruté (1779-1839), later the first Bishop of Vincennes.  Another passenger on that vessel was Subdeacon Guy Ignatius Chabrat (1787-1868).  Flaget, consecrated by Archbishop John Carroll in Baltimore on November 4, 1810, arrived in Bardstown on June 9, 1811.

The Diocese of Bardstown was initially vast.  However, as time passed, the Church carved other dioceses out of it.  In 1811, the Diocese of Bardstown included the original Northwest Territory (1787), Kentucky, and Tennessee.  The new diocese was a daunting mission field.  In 1811, after a long and difficult overland journey, Flaget and his entourage arrived in Bardstown.  Shortly after arriving, the new bishop wrote in his journal:

In entering the town, I devoted myself to to all the guardian angels who reside therein, and I prayed to God, with all my heart, to make me an instrument of His glory in this new Diocese.  O my dear brother, have compassion on me, overloaded with so heavy a burden, and pray fervently to God that he would vouchsafe to lighten it.

–Quoted in Cady and Webber. A Year with American Saints (2006), 574

Above:  The Basilica of St. Joseph, Bardstown, Kentucky

Image Source = Google Earth

Flaget was an effective and energetic missionary bishop.  He founded a seminary and parishes.  Construction of his first cathedral, the Basilica of St. Joseph, Bardstown, finished in 1823.  Chabrat became one of Flaget’s missionary priests.  Flaget ordained him, the first Roman Catholic priest ordained west of the Allegheny Mountains, on Christmas Day, 1811.  Flaget also helped to select most of the Roman Catholic bishops consecrated in the United States of America in the 1810-1830s.  John Baptist Mary David (1761-1841), the Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown (1819-1832), succeeded as the Bishop of Bardstown when Flaget retired, in 1832.  Our saint’s age and health were catching up with him.

David served as the Bishop of Bardstown for less than a year (1832-1833).  Whatever and however great his virtues were, the majority of priests and lay people wanted Flaget back.  Therefore, David resigned and Flaget returned.  Our saint’s second tenure lasted from 1833 to 1850.  His next Bishop Coadjutor was Chabrat, consecrated on July 20, 1834.  By then, the diocese spanned only Kentucky and Tennessee.  Flaget and Chabrat continued to found institutions, build up the diocese, and lay the foundations for future dioceses.  And Flaget traveled in France and Italy (1835-1839).  In his absence, the Diocese of Bardstown became the Diocese of Louisville in 1837.  Chabrat, who had taken over most of the administrative work of the diocese, was going blind.  Therefore, he resigned in 1847 and returned to France.  Flaget needed a new Bishop Coadjutor.

Flaget’s third Bishop Coadjutor was Martin John Spalding, a priest in the diocese.  Spalding was a fine choice, for he was already one of the main administrators of the Diocese of Louisville.  Spalding was the effectively the Bishop of Louisville, starting in 1848, for the aged Flaget all-but officially retired while retaining the title “Bishop of Louisville.”

Flaget, aged 86 years, died in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 11, 1850.

His tomb is in the basement of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville.

Spalding served (officially) as the Bishop of Louisville from 1850 to 1864.  He, appointed the Archbishop of Baltimore (1864-1872), was an uncle of John Lancaster Spalding (1840-1816), the Bishop of Peoria (1877-1908).

Flaget, by the grace of God, functioned as an instrument of divine glory.

May you, O reader, do the same in your context.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAROSLAV VAJDA, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOZEF CEBULA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILIUS OF SULMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ALMSGIVER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA, 1841

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints,

and who raised up your servant Benedict Joseph Flaget to be a light in the world:

Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise,

who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Isaiah 49:1-6

Psalm 98 or 98:1-4

Acts 17:22-31

Matthew 28:16-20

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 717

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Feast of Richard Challoner (September 30)   1 comment

Above:  Richard Challoner

Image in the Public Domain

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RICHARD CHALLONER (SEPTEMBER 29, 1691-JANUARY 12, 1781)

English Roman Catholic Scholar, Religious Writer, Translator, Controversialist, Priest, and Titular Bishop of Doberus

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INTRODUCTION

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Bishop Richard Challoner comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via his many works, mainly his 1749-1952 revision of the Douai-Rheims Version of the Bible (1582/1609).

Challoner lived during a time of official persecution of Roman Catholicism in the United Kingdom.  Prior to the Catholic Emancipation Act (1829), Roman Catholics could not participate fully in public life.  For decades after the Catholic Emancipation Act, they still could not participate fully in public life, either.  However, the Catholic Emancipation Act did permit Roman Catholics (except clergy) to sit in the Parliament and serve as members of lay corporations.  Roman Catholics could also hold most crown offices, with a handful of exceptions.  Furthermore, no Roman Catholic cleric was to wear clerical attire outside of church, religious orders were officially under a ban (an unenforced one), and no Roman Catholic prelate was to use a title any Anglican prelate used.  Nevertheless, the Catholic Emancipation Act was a huge step forward for British and Irish Roman Catholics.  The Universities Tests Act (1871) opened universities to Roman Catholics.

Understanding the political-religious climate in which Challoner lived is crucial to grasping his works and their tone.  If one understands why he gave as good as he got, one comprehends our saint and his works in context.

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CONVERT, PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND APOLOGIST

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Challoner, born in Lewes, England, on September 29, 1691, came from a Presbyterian family.  His father was a winecooper.  The father died when our father was a boy.  Then Challoner’s mother became the housekeeper to a Roman Catholic family at Gage, Firle, Sussex.  Our saint joined the Roman Catholic Church when he was about 13 years old, in the household of another Roman Catholic family–the Holmans, of Warkworth, Northamptonshire.  Father John Gother, the Holmans’ chaplain, was also a religious writer and a controversialist.  He taught Challoner Roman Catholic doctrine and helped him get into the English College, Douai, France.

Challoner spent 1705-1730 at the English College, Douai.  He matriculated in July 1705.  Our saint was such a good student that he completed the twelve-year-long course of study in eight years.  In 1708, the pupil committed to return to England on a mission, when required to do so.  Challoner, when twenty-five years old, began to teach the rhetoric and poetry courses.  The following year, he began an eight-year-long appointment as Professor of Philosophy.  Challoner, ordained to the priesthood on March 28, 1716, graduated with his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1719.  The following year, our saint became the Vice President, as well as Professor of Theology and Prefect of Studies.  Challoner received his Doctor in Divinity degree in 1727.  Before our saint left the English College, he published his first book, Think Well On’t; or, Reflections on the Great Truths of the Christian Religion, for Every Day in the Month (1728).

Challoner returned to England, on a mission, in 1730.  He settled in London and began his ministry.  Our saint initially did so disguised as a layman because of the political-religious climate in England.  Challoner said Masses secretly, visited prisons, and performed his priestly duties faithfully.  In his spare time, our saint wrote and translated.  He wrote or translated the following through 1737:

  1. The Grounds of Catholic Doctrine, as Contained in the Profession of Faith (translation, 1732);
  2. Unerring Authority of the Catholic Church (1732);
  3. A Short History of the First Beginning and Progress of the Protestant Religion, Gathered Out of the Best Protestant Writers, By Way of Question and Answer(1733);
  4. A Roman Catholic’s Reasons Why He Cannot Conform (1734);
  5. The Touchstone of the New Religion (1734);
  6. The Young Gentleman Instructed in the Grounds of the Christian Religion (1735);
  7. A Specimen of the Spirit of the Dissenting Teachers (1736); and
  8. The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifice, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church; By Way of Question and Answer (1737).

The latter book got Challoner into legal trouble.  Our saint had criticized Anglican divine Dr. Conyers Middleton (1683-1750), a man whose sarcastic polemics got him in trouble with various people.  Middleton had condemned the Roman Catholic Church.  Then Challoner spared no words regarding Middleton in the preface to The Catholic Christian Instructed.  Next, the querulous Middleton pressed charges against our saint, who returned to Douai.

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BISHOP AND VICAR APOSTOLIC CHALLONER

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What would Challoner’s next promotion be?  Some favored him becoming the President of the English College, Douai.  The previous President had died in 1738, and our saint was qualified for the position.

However, Benjamin Petre (1672-1758) had a different job in mind for Challoner.  Petre, the Titular Bishop of Prusa and the Vicar Apostolic of the London District (March 12, 1734-December 22, 1758), wanted Challoner to serve as the Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of the London District instead.  (The Apostolic Vicarate of the London District existed from 1688 to 1850.)  Petre prevailed; Challoner received his appointment on September 12, 1739.  Challoner was insufficiently Roman Catholic for critics who pointed out that he was a convert from Presbyterianism.  Finally, after a long delay, our saint became the Titular Bishop of Doberus and the Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of the London District on January 29, 1741,

Challoner kept writing in 1738-1740.  His works included:

  1. Rheims Testament (1738), edited with F. Blyth;
  2. a translation of the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo (1740); and
  3. The Garden of the Soul:  A Manual of Spiritual Exercises and Instructions for Christians, Who, Living in the World; Aspire to Devotion; With an Explanation of the Mass (1740).

Challoner had a rigorous travel schedule to maintain in his new position.  He had oversight over ten English counties, the Channel Islands, British North America (mainly Maryland and Pennsylvania), and parts of the West Indies.  Going to the Western Hemisphere was impossible, for practical reasons.  Visiting the ten home counties took three years.

While traveling, Challoner had time to write.  He wrote or translated the following works, among others, from 1741 to 1758:

  1. The Ground of the Old Religion (1742);
  2. A Letter to a Friend Concerning the Infallibility of the Church (1743);
  3. Memoirs of Missionary Priests, as Well Secular as Regular and of Other Catholics of Both Sexes, That Have Suffered Death in England on Religious Accounts from the Year of Our Lord 1577 to 1684 (174_);
  4. Britannia Sancta (1745), with help from Alban Butler;
  5. the revised, modernized version of the Douai-Rheims translation (1582/1609) of the Bible (in stages, 1749-1752);
  6. A Papist Misrepresented and Represented (17__), abridged from Gother;
  7. Remarks on Two Letters Against Popery (1751);
  8. Instructions for the Jubilee (1751);
  9. Meditations for Every Day of the Year (1753);
  10. The Wonders of God in the Wilderness; or, the Lives of the Most Celebrated Saints of the Oriental Deserts (1755);
  11. The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (1757), abridged from Abraham Woodhead; and
  12. Manual of Prayers (1758).

Challoner succeeded as the Vicar Apostolic of the London District on December 22, 1758, upon the death of Bishop Petre.  Our saint, being 67 years old, immediately applied for a Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic.  James Robert Talbot (1726-1790) received his appointment on March 10, 1759.  Talbot became the Titular Bishop of Birtha and the Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic on August 14, 1759.  Neither Challoner nor Talbot knew how long our saint had left–decades, actually.  Challoner remained in London, mostly and his health recovered.  Meanwhile, Talbot traveled.

Challoner tended to his administrative duties well.  These duties included opening two schools for boys, founding a school for poor girls, starting conferences among priests in London, and helping to found the Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Poor.  He did all of this in hiding, evading arrest for being a Roman Catholic cleric.  After the passage of the Catholic Relief Act (1778), being a priest ceased to lead to a sentence of life imprisonment.

Challoner’s final batch of writings and translations included:

  1. A Caveat Against the Methodists (1760);
  2. The City of God of the New Testament (1760);
  3. A Memorial of Ancient British Piety; or, a British Martyrology (1761);
  4. An Abstract of the Old and New Testaments (17__);
  5. The Following of  Christ, in Four Books (17__), a translation of The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis;
  6. The Lord’s Prayer and the Angelic Salutation (17__);
  7. The Morality of the Bible (1762);
  8. Devotion of Catholics to the Blessed Virgin (1764); and
  9. Rules of Life for a Christian (1766).

The final blow to Challoner came from the infamous Gordon Riots (1780).  For three days, an anti-Roman Catholic mob attacked Roman Catholic chapels and the homes of Roman Catholic families in London.  Some members of the mob sought the aged Challoner, to drag him into the street and kill him.  Our saint heard the mob from his hiding place.  He escaped, with help, during the riots.

Challoner never recovered from the shock of this violence.  He, aged 89 years, died in London on January 12, 1781.

Talbot succeeded him as the Vicar Apostolic of the London District and served until 1790.

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CONCLUSION

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Challoner’s greatest literary legacies may be his meditations, hagiographies, and the revision of the Douai-Rheims Version of the Bible.  These have achieved the status of classics.  The Douai-Rheims-Challoner Version of the Bible was the standard Roman Catholic English-language translation of the Bible well into the twentieth century.  It was also the basis of the Confraternity Version (in its stages, 1941-1969), itself the basis of The New American Bible (1970, 1986, 1991), revised into The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011).

I am an Episcopalian.  To be precise, I am an Anglican-Lutheran-Catholic, in that order.  When I hear Roman Catholics speak of an infallible Church, I roll my eyes, at least metaphorically.  I reject the concept of an infallible Church.  I also reject the concepts of an infallible Bible and an infallible Pope.

I respect and admire Challoner while disagreeing with him much of the time.  I recognize him as a member of the Christian family.  I also condemn all those who persecuted Challoner and other Roman Catholics or consented to that persecution.  Furthermore, I deplore the bigotry and violence of those who participated in the Gordon Riots (1780).

Challoner should have been able to operate openly while in England.

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Lord God of love and justice,

thank you for the tireless efforts, faithful witness, and

devout writings of your servant, Richard Challoner.

May we, inspired by his love for you,

rededicate our lives to your service,

and remain faithful despite all obstacles.

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

Jeremiah 38:1-13

Psalm 70

2 Timothy 4:1-8

Luke 9:21-27

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

FRIDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHANN CRUGER, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST, COMPOSER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SAMUEL BEWLEY MONSELL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET; AND RICHARD MANT, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF LYDIA EMILIE GRUCHY, FIRST FEMALE MINISTER IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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Feast of Judith Lomax (September 25)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Virginia

Image in the Public Domain

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JUDITH LOMAX (SEPTEMBER 25, 1774-JANUARY 19, 1928)

Episcopal Mystic and Poet

Judith Lomax comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Judith, born on her father’s plantation at Portobago, Virginia, on September 25, 1774, was a poet and a fervent Evangelical Episcopalian.  Her father was Thomas Lomax.  Our saint’s mother was Ann Lomax.  Judith’s faith was a conventional form of piety for her time and place.  She kept a Sabbath journal, published in 1999.  Our saint never married; she wrote of her “Heavenly Bridegroom.”  Judith also wrote poetry about a wide range of subjects, including nature, friendship, and death.  She made history by becoming the first woman in Virginia to publish a volume of poetry.  The Notes of an American Lyre debuted in 1813.  Our saint, who left her father’s plantation after his death in 1816, lived in Port Royal, Virginia, until 1827.  That year, with her health failing, Judith moved into the home of a sister in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Judith, aged 53 years, died there on January 19, 1828.

History–the of the past, with interpretation–teaches me to contextualize everything and to excuse nothing that is inexcusable.  I chafe against the relativistic notion that X may be wrong–today, at least–but that I ought to excuse it in the past because X was ubiquitous back then.  Societal and social norms and mores change, but right is always right and wrong is always wrong.  “Many people were doing it” does not excuse sin.

Judith supported the American Colonization Society.  The colonization antislavery movement was inherently racist; it affirmed that the United States of America was properly a country of White people.  Therefore, operating within that racism schema, many people, such as Judith Lomax, favored freeing slaves and shipping them out of the country.  Yet many African Americans, such as pioneers in Liberia, welcomed the opportunity the colonization movement provided for them.  

For a period of her life, Judith could not easily get to an Episcopal church.  Yet she had easy access to Baptist and Methodist churches.  She corresponded with missionaries in Africa, read tracts in French, communed ecumenically, and hoped for a post-denominational future.  Judith tended scrupulously to her spiritual life.

May you, O reader, tend scrupulously to your spiritual life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR, 1945

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

THE FEAST OF FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN AND HIS BROTHER, MICHAEL HAYDN, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSE, CARMELITE NUN; AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Judith Lomax.

Teach us to drive from the world the ugliness of chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may not be blind to your glory,

and that at length everyone may know the inexhaustible riches

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978)

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Feast of Hannah More (September 7)   Leave a comment

Above:  Portrait of Hannah More, by Henry William Pickersgill

Image in the Public Domain

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HANNAH MORE (FEBRUARY 2, 1745-SEPTEMBER 7, 1833)

Anglican Poet, Playwright, Religious Writer, and Philanthropist

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I see, by more than Fancy’s mirrow shewn,

The burning village, and the blazing town:

See the dire victim torn from social life,

The shrieking babe, the agonizing wife!

She, wretch forlorn! is dragged by hostile hands,

To distant tyrants sold, in distant lands!

Transmitted miseries, and successive chains,

The sole sad heritage her child obtains!

Ev’n this last wretched boon their foes deny,

To weep together, or together die.

By felon hands, by one relentless stroke,

See the fond links of feeling nature broke!

The fibres twisting round a parent’s heart,

Torn from their grasp, and bleeding as they part.

Hold, murderers, hold! not aggravate distress;

Respect the passions you yourselves possess.

–From “Slavery” (1788), by Hannah More

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INTRODUCTION

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Hannah More comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.  Her feast day in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is September 6.

More was simultaneously of her time and ahead of it.  She was simultaneously a conservative, a social reformer, and a revolutionary.

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BIOGRAPHY

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Our saint, born in Fishponds, Bristol, England, on February 2, 1745, grew up in The Church of England.  Her father, Jacob More, was the master of Fishponds Free School.  He taught his five daughters, and elder daughters taught younger daughters.  The More sisters emerged as young women well-educated in mathematics, Latin, French, and literature, among other topics.  Young Hannah, as a girl, began writing poems.  As a young adult, she taught (1758f) at the girls’ boarding school her father had founded in Bristol.

Like many other well-educated English women of the time, our saint was a literary figure.  She, engaged to William Turner of Belmont Estate, Wraxall Somerset, from 1767 to 1773, never married.  Her fiancé’s unwillingness to commit to a wedding date ended that engagement.  Immediately afterward, More suffered a nervous breakdown.  After she recovered, our saint devoted herself to literary, moral, and social causes.

More wrote plays from 1762 to 1779.  Her earliest plays, for girls at the boarding school to perform, came from her pen while she was a teacher.  Her last play written (yet not published) was The Fatal Falsehood (1779).  When our saint complimented Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) the first time, he dismissed her kind words.  He replied:

Madam, before you flatter a man so grossly to his face, you should consider whether or not your flattery is worth having.

Nevertheless, the Great Moralist eventually changed his mind regarding our saint.  He came to think of her as

the finest versafatrix in the English language.

More, an active member of the female Bluestocking Group, devoted to pursuits of the literary and intellectual variety, became a religious writer, moral activist, and social reformer in the 1780s.  She befriended General James Oglethorpe (1696-1785), the founder of Georgia.  Our saint also befriended William Wilberforce (1759-1833) and other abolitionists.  More became more active in the abolitionist movement; she wrote antislavery prose and poetry.  Our saint, a member of the Evangelical wing of The Church of England, applied her faith to the world around her.  As the decades wore on, subsequent works included Practical Piety (1811), Christian Morals (1813), and The Character of St. Paul (1815).  She also composed pamphlets.  One was Village Politics (1792), a rebuttal of Thomas Paine‘s Rights of Man (1791).  Another anti-French Revolution tract from our saint’s pen was Remarks on the Speech of M. Dumont (1793), which condemned atheism, in particular.  In 1795-1798, More composed tracts for the Association of the Discountenancing of Vice.

More’s conservative streak was decidedly anti-feminist.  Her reaction to the French revolutionary government improving the education of women was telling:

They (women) run to study philosophy, and neglect their families to be present at lectures in anatomy.

When More and her sister Martha founded schools for poor girls, the sisters also established a narrow curriculum.  It included the Bible and the catechism yet not writing.  More opposed transforming her students into

scholars and philosophers.

Yet even these schools were too liberal and revolutionary for many conservatives.  The More sisters contended with allegations that they were, by teaching basic literary, doing too much and, thereby, lifting the girls above their proper station in society.  The More sisters were also allegedly advancing Methodism, according to one conservative Anglican cleric.

Our saint affirmed the “separate spheres” theory.  More accused Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the author of Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792), of possessing a

moral antipathy to reason.

According to our saint, women were not “fit” for government, on the grounds of being unstable.  She also refused an invitation to join the Royal Society of Literature, on the grounds that no woman should belong to it.

More, a philanthropist, donated money to help Bishop Philander Chase (1775-1852) found Kenyon College, which opened in 1825.  In her will, she bequeathed funds to various charities, mostly religious.

More, aged 88 years, died in Clifton, Bristol, on September 7, 1833.

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EVALUATION AND CONCLUSION

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My moral relativism is very limited.  I live in a moral universe with plenty of black, white, and gray.  Furthermore, I, as one trained in historical methodology, grasp the importance of interpreting people’s lives in context.  Nevertheless, I also state that wrong is wrong and right is right.  I ask:

What is wrong with educating poor girls to become scholars, philosophers, and policy-makers?  

I affirm the equality of the sexes, of course.  X chromosomes and Y chromosomes should never function as excuses for not granting social and legal equality.

Hannah More was right more often than she was wrong.  She was correct, for example, to oppose slavery.  She was right to draw attention to its immorality via her writing.  And she was correct when she donated to Kenyon College.  More was correct when she established Sunday schools, too.

Being right more often than one is wrong is good and wonderful.  At the end of your life, O reader, may an honest evaluation of you be that you were right more often than you were wrong.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD

THE FEAST OF SAINT DISMAS, PENITENT BANDIT

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Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son led captivity captive:

Multiply among us faithful witnesses like your servant Hannah More,

who will fight for all who are oppressed or held in bondage;

and bring us all, we pray, into the glorious liberty

that you have promised to all your children;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Exodus 3:1-12

Psalm 146:4-9

John 15:5-16

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018

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