Archive for the ‘Saints of 1790-1799’ Category

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 Guy Ignatius Chabrat and Pierre Joseph Lavialle (November 21)   1 comment

Above:  The Old Seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Image in the Public Domain

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GUY IGNATIUS CHABRAT (DECEMBER 27, 1787-NOVEMBER 21, 1868)

Roman Catholic Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown then of Louisville, Kentucky

cousin of

PIERRE JOSEPH LAVIALLE (JULY 15, 1820-MAY 11, 1867)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Louisville, Kentucky

Also known as Peter Joseph Lavialle

Bishop Guy Ignatius Chabrat comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Bishop Benedict Joseph Flaget (1763-1850)Bishop Pierre (Peter) Joseph Lavialle comes here via his cousin, Bishop Chabrat.

Guy Ignatius Chabrat was French.  He, born in La Chambre, Savoie, on December 28, 1787, was a son of Pierre Chabrat and Louise (Lavialle) Chabrat.  Our saint matriculated at the Sulpician seminary in Clermont.  Ordained a subdeacon in 1809, Chabrat accepted the newly-appointed Bishop Flaget‘s invitation to come to the new Diocese of Bardstown, Kentucky.  Chabrat sailed with Flaget in 1810 and arrived with him in Bardstown on June 9, 1811.  Flaget ordained him a priest on Christmas Day, 11, making Chabrat the first Roman Catholic priest ordained west of the Allegheny Mountains.

Chabrat ministered in Kentucky.  He served at, in order:

  1. St. Michael’s Church, Fairfield;
  2. St. Clare’s Church, Colesburg; and
  3. St. Pius Church, Georgetown.

In 1824, Father Charles Nerinckx (b. 1761), founder of the Sisters of Loretto, a teaching order, died.  Chabrat succeeded him as the superior of that order.

Pope Gregory XVI appointed Chabrat the Bishop Coadjutor of Bardstown and the Titular Bishop of Bolina on March 21, 1834.  Consecrated on July 20, our saint served for more than a decade.  He functioned as the chief administrator in lieu of the aged Flaget.  The Diocese of Bardstown became the Diocese of Louisville in 1837, so Chabrat became the Bishop Coadjutor of Louisville.

In 1842, Chabrat invited his maternal cousin, Pierre (Peter) Joseph Lavialle, to join the Diocese of Louisville.  Lavialle, born in Mauriac, Cantal, on July 15, 1820, was a Sulpician seminarian in 1842.  He completed his theological education at St. Thomas Seminary, Bardstown, Kentucky.  Lavialle, ordained to the priesthood on February 2, 1844, served as the Curate of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville, until 1849.

Meanwhile, Chabrat’s eyesight was failing.  He resigned in 1847, returned to France, and lived on a generous pension.

Above:  The Basilica of St. Joseph and the Former St. Thomas Seminary, Bardstown, Kentucky

Image Source = Google Earth

Lavialle remained in the United States of America.  He taught theology at St. Thomas Seminary, Bardstown (next to the Basilica of St. Joseph) from 1849 to 1856,  Then our saint was the President of St. Mary’s College, St. Mary, Kentucky (1856f).  He refused an appointment as Archbishop of New Orleans in 1860.

Above:  The Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville, Kentucky (Completed in 1852)

Image Source = Google Earth

However, on September 24, 1865, Lavialle received consecration as the Bishop of Louisville.  He succeeded Martin John Spalding (1810-1872), who had transferred to become the Archbishop of Baltimore (1864-1872).  Lavialle’s tenure as the Bishop of Louisville was brief yet fruitful.  He did much to build up the diocese before he, aged 46 years, died on May 11, 1867,

Chabrat, aged 80 years, died in Mauriac, Cantal, France, on November 21, 1868.

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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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops and leaders of your Church.

May the memory of their lives be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve you and confess your name before the world;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  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

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 Elizabeth Fry (October 12)   2 comments

Above:  Elizabeth Fry

Image in the Public Domain

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ELIZABETH GURNEY FRY (MAY 21, 1780-OCTOBER 12, 1845)

English Quaker Social Reformer and “Angel of Prisons”

Elizabeth Fry comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via four sources.  The first is Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  The other three sources are The Church of England; the Scottish Episcopal Church; and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Elizabeth Gurney, born in Norwich, England, on May 31 1780, grew up in a prosperous Quaker family.  Both parents, John Gurney and Catherine Barclay Gurney, had ties to banking.  John was a partner in Gurney’s Bank.  Catherine belonged to the family that founded Barclays Bank.  Our saint’s family was relatively lax, by Quaker standards.  They (gasp!) sang and danced.  The family also (horrors!) wore bright clothing to the meeting house.  Catherine died when Elizabeth was 12 years old.  Therefore, our saint subsequently helped to raise her younger siblings.  She also felt the calling to godly social service and greater personal austerity.

Elizabeth married Joseph Fry, a banker and a Quaker of Bristol, on August 19, 1800, when she was 20 years old.  The couple moved to London.  They raised twelve children (ten of whom lived to adulthood), born between August 1801 and October 1822.  Our saint eventually felt that her life, full of domestic duties, was distracting her from a higher calling.  Twelve years into married life, she wrote in her diary:

I feel that my life is slipping away to little purpose.

In 1813, our saint began her efforts in prison reform.  She visited Newgate Prison, where the inhumane conditions appalled her.  Women and their children shared cells and wore rags.  Some slept on old straw.  Others did not have even straw on which to sleep.  The next day, Fry returned with clothing and fresh straw for inmates.  Guards told her that the prisoners and children were savages who did not deserve such alleged luxuries.  After helping female prisoners and their children in these ways for years, Fry began to help them in another way in 1816; she founded a prison school for the mostly illiterate prisoners and their children.

Above:  Newgate Prison

Image in the Public Domain

Fry’s prison reforms were controversial at the time.  Many conservatives accused her of being soft on crime.  If conditions in prisons were humane, what deterrent value would prisons have?  Our saint founded the Association for the Reformation of Female Prisoners in Newgate in 1817.  Female inmates learned skills they could use to support themselves and their children financially in the outside world.  This approach led to the founding of the British Ladies’ Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners in 1821.  Our saint’s emphasis on rehabilitation was allegedly soft on crime.  Fry, who visited various prisons, worked to provide jailers and provide sufficient food as well as Bibles and care packages for long transport journeys on ships.  She also visited prisoner transport vessels, in use even after they became illegal in 1837.  Fry also lobbied for human conditions for prisoners throughout the realm.

Fry engaged in other humanitarian work, too.  In 1824, she founded the Brighton District Visiting Society.  Volunteers visited the homes of the poor, to assist them.  Across the island, this model of social work duplicated.  Our saint also campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade.  The school for nurses Fry founded in 1840 provided nurses to Florence Nightingale’s humanitarian effort during the Crimean War.

Despite much criticism from the right, our saint had prominent admirers and supporters.  Among these were King Frederick William IV of Prussia (reigned 1840-1861) and Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901).  Queen Victoria contributed financially, too.  Also, Fry’s work inspired prison reform legislation in Europe.

Fry cared deeply about the poor and sought to address that perpetual poverty.  She started a nightly homeless shelter in London in 1820.  She and brother Joseph John Gurney (her business manager, and her financial benefactor after husband Joseph Fry went bankrupt in 1828) studied systemic and widespread poverty in Ireland.  Brother and sister wrote a report then published it.

Fry helped other populations, too.  Mental asylums have long been cruel and notorious places.  Fry worked to reform and improve the treatment of the insane and the mentally ill in Britain, too.  Our saint also helped seamen.  In 1836, she helped to provide libraries in Coast Guard stations and some naval hospitals.

Fry’s main literary legacy may be her Texts for Every Day in the Year, Principally Practical and Devotional (1831).

Our saint, aged 65 years, died in Ramsgate, England, on October 12, 1845.  Seamen at Ramsgate flew their flag at half-staff in her honor.  This showed great respect, for, to that point, they had only honored deceased British sovereigns in this way.

For further reading, I refer you, O reader, to archive.org, from which books about Fry are available for free.

Do we see the image of God in the poor, vulnerable, and despised?  Elizabeth Gurney Fry did.  Do we care enough about others to reach out to them?  Elizabeth Gurney Fry did.  Her faith found expression in her actions.  She, being a Quaker, affirmed that the “Inner Light” of God exists in each human being.

The challenge the legacy of Elizabeth Gurney Fry poses to the rest of us is great and morally proper.  This is the challenge to believe–really believe–that each human being bears the image of God and contains the divine Inner Light.  Those who really believe this act accordingly.  They make political enemies, create controversy, and improve lives.  They challenge exploitative social attitudes, structures, and institutions.  They live the Golden Rule.  How this looks varies according to circumstances, such as time and place.  The principle is constant, though.

The Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979) includes the following text:

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May we–you, O reader, and I–do so, with God’s help.

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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Gracious and loving God,

you bring good tidings to the afflicted,

bind up the broken-hearted,

and proclaim liberty to the captives;

we thank you for sending Elizabeth Fry into the prisons

with words of comfort and deeds of care:

grant that all who minister to those in prison

may be filled with your compassion

and be bearers of your hope;

through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

Blessed are you, Jesus our good shepherd,

in Elizabeth your minister.

Year after year she visited women

in prisons and asylums.

May we too understand and care for people unconditionally.  Amen.

Genesis 39:20-23

Psalms 41 or 82

Romans 12:9-21

Matthew 25:31-45

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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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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