Archive for the ‘Saints of 1840-1849’ Category

Feast of Blessed Maria Catalina Troiani (May 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Maria Catalina Troiani 

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA CATALINA TROIANI (JANUARY 19, 1813-MAY 6, 1887)

Foundress of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Also known as Blessed Maria Teresa of Saint Rose

Blessed Maria Catalina Troiani, a missionary in Egypt, educated impoverished girls.

Our saint came from an Italian Roman Catholic family.  She born in Guiliano di Roma on January 19, 1813, was one of four children of Tommaso Troiani and Teresa Panici (Troiani).  Teresa died when Blessed Maria Catalina was six years old.

Our saint, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, became a Francican tertiary.  On December 8, 1829, she made her vows as Sister Maria Teresa of Saint Rose, after St. Rose of Viterbo (1234-1252).  Blessed Maria Catalina spent much time educating girls.  On September 14, 1859, she, four other nuns, and Father Giuseppe Moden arrived in Cairo, Egypt, on a mission that had received person Papal approval.  They established a school for poor girls in that city.

From this undertaking arose the Third Order Franciscan Sisters of Cairo, official as of July 5, 1868.  The order later became the Franciscan Sisters of Cairo then the Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Our saint served as its first Mother Superior, until she died.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 1982 then beatified her in 1985.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT DEOGRATIAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CARTHAGE

THE FEAST OF EMMANUEL MOURNIER, PERSONALIST PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF JAMES DE KOVEN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HUGHES, BRITISH SOCIAL REFORMER AND MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM EDWARD HICKSON, ENGLISH MUSIC EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL REFORMER

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the example of your servant Blessed Maria Catalina Troiani,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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

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

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or 9:57-62

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

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Feast of Blessed Caterina Cittadini (May 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sanctuary of St. Jerome Emiliani, Somasca, Italy

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED CATERINA CITTADINI (SEPTEMBER 28, 1801-MAY 5, 1857)

Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca

Blessed Caterina Cittadini devoted her adult life to the service of God in girls and young women, especially orphans.

Blessed Caterina came from a devout family.  She, born in Bergamo, Kingdom of Italy, on September 28, 1801, was a daughter of Giovanni Battista Cittadini and Magherita Lanzani (Cittadini).  Magherita died when our saint was seven years old.  Then Giovanni left our saint and her younger sister, Giuditta (1803-1840), in the care of nuns at Bergamo.  The nuns taught young Caterina devotion to St. Mary of Nazareth and St. Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537).  The Cittadini Sisters left the care of the nuns in 1823; they went to live with their cousins, Antonio (d. 1841) and Giovanni Cittadini, priests.

Blessed Caterina began her teaching career in 1824.  That year she became a teacher at a public school for girls.  Our saint earned her reputation as a fine educator.  Blessed Caterina and Giuditta opened three private boarding schools, one each in 1826, 1832, and 1836.  Our saint directed the first school; Giuditta directed the other two.  A few female helpers worked with the Cittadini sisters, to keep the schools operational.  These women were the core of what became the Ursuline Sisters of Somasca.  A series of deaths (sister Giuditta, cousin Antonio, et cetera) caused stress that damaged Blessed Caterina’s health.  She credited the intercession of St. Jerome Emiliani for her recovery.  Our saint also assumed the management of all three schools in 1845.

The Ursuline Sisters of Somasca became an official religious order, with the approval of Pietro Luigi Speranza, Bishop of Bergamo, on December 14, 1857.  Our saint had applied for ecclesiastical recognition of her nascent order in 1851.  Three years later, Speranza, the new bishop, had encouraged Blessed Caterina to write a rule then had approved her second draft.  Then our saint had died in Somasca on May 5, 1857.

Pope Pius XI approved the order on July 8, 1927.

The Ursuline Sisters of Somasca have continued the good work in Italy and beyond.

Pope John Paul II declared our saint a Venerable in 1996 then beatified her in 2001.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, AND JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH, COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF JOHN S. STAMM, BISHOP OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH THEN THE EVANGELICAL UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF FLÜE AND HIS GRANDSON, SAINT CONRAD SCHEUBER, SWISS HERMITS

THE FEAST OF SAINT SERAPION OF THMUIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF UMPHREY LEE, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER AND MINISTER OF SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Caterina Cittadini,

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

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

and walk before you as children of light;

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

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

Acts 2:42-47a

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

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

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

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Feast of Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey (April 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY (OCTOBER 13, 1831-APRIL 16, 1917)

African-American Episcopal Deacon

First African-American ordained in The Episcopal Church in the western United States, 1866

Husband of

ANNIE BESANT CASSEY (DIED SEPTEMBER 5, 1875)

African-American Episcopal Educator

The Episcopal Church added the Casseys to Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 2018.

That source lists Peter Williams Cassey as a priest.  This contradicts other sources, which insist that he was a perpetual deacon.  To confuse the point, some of my sources contradict themselves, claiming that Cassey never became a priest the referring to him as a priest.  I feel confident in writing of him as a deacon, for the website of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, St. Augustine, Florida, refers to Cassey as “Father” (a title usually reserved for a male priest) and as “deacon-in-charge.”  My critique of the profile of the Casseys in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018 is that it is misleading in referring to Peter Williams Cassey as a priest and that the wording in other places is inexact and confusing.

Peter Williams Cassey, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 13, 1831, came from a family of abolitionists.  His grandfather was the Reverend Peter Williams, Jr., an abolitionist, the first African-American Episcopal priest in New York, and the first Rector (1826-1840) of St. Philip’s Church, Harlem, New York, New York.  Our saint’s parents were Joseph and Amy Cassey, prominent and wealthy members of their community, as well as abolitionists.  They gave their son opportunities for a fine, classical education.  He accepted those opportunities and made the most of them; he became fluent in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

Cassey spent 1853-1881 in California.  After he arrived in San Francisco, he chose to work as a barber.  Our saint was also active in civil life; he helped to organize an association to protect African Americans and other people of color in that racist society.  He moved to San Jose in the late 1850s.  There he helped to free slaves and taught African-American children, excluded from public schools.

Peter Williams Cassey was half of a team; the other half was Annie Besant (Cassey), his wife.  She also came from a prominent African-American family.  The couple had a daughter, Amy (baptized on April 12, 1863).  They adopted another daughter, Emma Louise (baptized on November 26, 1864).  The couple became charter members of Trinity Episcopal Church, San Jose, in 1862.  Trinity Church had an African-American mission, St. Philip’s Church, with St. Philip’s Academy attached to it.  St. Philip’s Academy operated for a decade, from the early 1860s to the early 1870s.  It educated children of color (African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American), excluded from public schools.  The Casseys lived on the grounds and kept the Academy running.

William Ingram Kip, the first Episcopal Bishop of California, ordained Peter to the diaconate on August 13, 1866.  This was the first ordination of an African American in The Episcopal Church in the western United States.

While Annie kept St. Phiip’s Academy, San Jose, running, into the early 1870s, Bishop Kip assigned Peter to found and lead Christ Mission, for people of color, in San Francisco, at the beginning of the decade.  Peter divided his time between San Francisco and San Jose until 1875.  Financial difficulties and a relatively transient congregation forced St. Philip’s Academy to close in the early 1870s.  Annie died on November 5, 1875.  Afterward, Peter, Amy (14), Emma, and Henrietta Lockwood (Annie’s grandmother) moved to Alumeda.

Christ Mission, San Francisco, was the forerunner of the present Christ Episcopal Church Sei Ko Kai (Japanese-American) and the present St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church (African-American).

Cassey left California in 1881.  Although he never became a priest, he held the title of rector in four churches and two dioceses.  Our saint was the Rector of St. Cyprian’s Church, New Bern,  North Carolina, from 1881 to 1884.  He was also the first African-American rector in the state.  Then he served in the Diocese of Florida.  Cassey was the Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Fernandina (1884-1897); St. Philip’s Church, Jacksonville (1897-1900); and St. Cyprian’s Church, St. Augustine (1900-1917).

Cassey, aged 85 years, died on April 16, 1917.  Edwin Gardner Weed, the Bishop of Florida, eulogized him:

…no other clergyman in the diocese came close to the theological maturity and scholarship that Peter Williams Cassey exhibited in his ministry and teachings.  We should be proud of these great souls that helped lay the foundations of this diocese.

Think, O reader, about how many lives Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey improved.  Then think about how many lives those people improved, and how many lives those people improved, et cetera.  The Casseys’ legacy continues.

I also approve of The Episcopal Church formally recognizing both Casseys.  I think of what Father Joseph Warrilow, the subject of Father Joe:  The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004) told Tony Hendra:  the Roman Catholic Church should canonize more married couples.  The Episcopal Church does not canonize people, in the sense of formally attaching “St.” to front of their names.  It does, however, add them to one calendar or another, or perhaps to both.  (I admit that my denomination having two calendars of saints–Lesser Feasts and Fasts and A Great Cloud of Witnesses–confuses me.  I recall when we had just one, Lesser Feasts and Fasts.)  I find that, when I write posts for this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, plans for a post frequently expand by following relationships.  Why not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA OF OXENHALL AND HER FAITHFUL DESCENDANTS, SAINTS WENNA THE QUEEN, NON, SAMSON OF DOL, CYBI, AND DAVID OF WALES

THE FEAST OF EDWIN HODDER, ENGLISH BIOGRAPHER, DEVOTIONAL WRITER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WISHART, SCOTTISH CALVINIST REFORMER AND MARTYR, 1546; AND WALTER MILNE, SCOTTISH PROTESTANT MARTYR, 1558

THE FEAST OF JEAN-PIERRE DE CAUSSADE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROGER LEFORT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF BOURGES

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God of justice and mercy, who sent your Son to preach, to teach, and to give hope to those in need:

We remember before you this day your servants Peter Williams Cassey and Annie Besant Cassey,

who, in the face of slavery and discrimination,

sought to give the blessings of education and a spiritual haven for those pushed to the margins.

May we strive in our own lives to be fearless in the face of injustice

and to work for blessings that will touch those whom the world does not count of value;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives forever and ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 22:1-12

Psalm 112

Matthew 5:13-16

Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, 236

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Feast of George Augustus Selwyn (April 11)   4 comments

Above:  George Augustus Selwyn

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE AUGUSTUS SELWYN (APRIL 5, 1809-APRIL 11, 1878)

Anglican Bishop of New Zealand, Primate of New Zealand, and Bishop of Lichfield; Missionary

Bishop George Augustus Selwyn comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church of Canada, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Selwyn was English.  He, born in London on April 5, 1809, studied at Eton then at St. John’s College, Cambridge.  Selwyn, a fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, became an Anglican deacon in 1833 then a priest the following year.  Our saint, simultaneously a curate at Windsor and a tutor at Eton, married Sarah Richardson (d. 1907) in 1839.  During a time of political and societal upheaval, Selwyn advocated for the autonomy of The Church of England and for ecclesiastical responsibilities in society.  He spent much of his time working in education.

Selwyn became the first Bishop of New Zealand in October 1841, after his brother William had declined the offer.  Our saint arrived in New Zealand in 1842.  He organized the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Melanesia, as well as the Church Missionary Society work in Melanesia.  He founded schools, especially for the Maori.  One of these institutions was St. John’s School, which ultimately settled in Auckland, New Zealand.  Our saint also established ministries to miners, homeless people, and itinerant workers.  Furthermore, Selwyn forged the constitution of the Anglican Church in his missionary realm.  He modeled the ecclesiastical constitution after the constitutions of The Episcopal Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church.  The constitution Selwyn crafted created a synod with three houses–bishops, clergy, and laity.  The empowerment of the laity was crucial.

Selwyn’s ministry overlapped with that of John Coleridge Patteson (1827-1871).  Selwyn created the first missionary system in Melanesia.  Indigenous youth spent summers at St. John’s School then returned to their communities as Christian influences.  Patteson, who arrived in 1855, inherited this system.  Patteson, whom Selwyn had consecrated the first Bishop of Melanesia on February 24, 1861, found that conducting missionary work directly in indigenous languages was more effective.

Selwyn oversaw the expansion of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Melanesia.  As the church expanded, the number of dioceses increased.  He went from being the Bishop of New Zealand to the Primate of New Zealand yet still based in Auckland.

Selwyn was, compared to many colonists, radically progressive regarding indigenous people.  He respected the dignity of the Maori and pled with colonists to treat them justly.  Many colonists ignored these pleas, however.  Maori uprisings resulted during the 1860s.  Selwyn’s position cost him the support of many settlers.  On the other hand, the bishop served as a Royal Army chaplain.  This cost him much Maori support.

Selwyn was, according to purist standards of 2020, defective; he was, to some extent, a cultural imperialist.  Yet, as I wrote in the previous paragraph, he was radically progressive, according to the standards of his time.

Without justifying the unjustifiable, I ask, why not focus on the positive?

The orthodoxy of cultural anthropology teaches that two opposite fallacies exist.  One is ethnocentrism, the idea that the observer’s culture sets the standards by which to evaluate all other cultures.  Ethnocentrism leads one to ignore faults in one’s culture and virtues in other cultures.  The other fallacy is cultural relativism, or the absence of standards.  Cultural relativism leads one to turn a blind eye to offenses against human dignity in the name of respecting diversity.  The truth is in the middle, of course.  Standards do exist, and every culture falls short of them in some ways.  Furthermore, members of different cultures can learn from each other.

Selwyn was somewhere in the middle, between ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.

Selwyn served as the Bishop of Lichfield, in England, from 1868 to 1878.  He reluctantly accepted that offer at the Lambeth Conference of 1867.

Selwyn died in Lichfield on April 11, 1878.  He was 69 years old.

The Church of the Province of New Zealand reorganized in 1992.  It became The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

The reorganized church respects cultural differences and has three primates.

The Anglican Church of Melanesia became a separate province of the Anglican Communion in 1975.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRI DE LUCAC, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, CARDINAL, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SHELDON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, AUTHOR, CHRISTIAN SOCIALIST, AND SOCIAL GOSPEL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF GREGORIO ALLEGRI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, COMPOSER, AND SINGER; AND HIS BROTHER, DOMENICO ALLEGRI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC COMPOSER AND SINGER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAWA RODZINSKA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT WULFRIC OF HASELBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

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Almighty God, you called George Augustus Selwyn

to be bishop of the church in New Zealand

and to lay a firm foundation for its life;

grant that, building on his labours

and encouraged by his gifts of heart, hand, and mind,

we too may extend your kingdom,

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

or

Jesus, Jewish Saviour, served by George, the English bishop in Aotearoa,

give us grace to build on his foundations.  Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-6, 13

Psalm 16 or 126

1 Corinthians 3:7-13

John 4:31-38

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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Almighty God, hear our prayers and supplications

as we remember your servant George Augustus Selwyn

and enrich your Church in every land with the manifold gifts of service,

that by constant witness and selfless devotion we may share with one another,

and with all the world, the immeasurable wealth of your salvation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

1 Corinthians 12:4-13

Psalm 96:1-7

Matthew 10:7-16

–The Anglican Church of Canada

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant George Augustus Selwyn,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of New Zealand and Melanesia,

and to lay a firm foundation for the growth of your Church in many nations.

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.

Genesis 12:1-4

Ephesians 2:11-18

Psalm 28:7-11

Matthew 10:7-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 323

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Feast of Emily Ayckbowm (April 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mother Superior Emily Ayckbowm

Fair Use

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EMILY AYCKBOWM (NOVEMBER 14, 1836-JUNE 5, 1900)

Foundress of the Community of the Sisters of the Church

April 5 is the feast day of Emily Ayckboum in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Ministry to marginalized people is as Christian as Jesus,  It is also almost always controversial, especially among many professing Christians.

Emily Ayckboum was a daughter of The Church of England.  Her father was Frederick Ayckboum, an Anglican rector.  Her birth occurred in Heidelberg on November 14, 1836, when her parents were visiting that center.

Our saint became famous in the  1860s and remaind either famous or infamous, depending on one’s perspective, for the rest of her life.  She began by volunteering during an outbreak of cholera in Chester.  In 1864 Ayckboum founded the Church Extension Association, which performed good works among those respectable Victorian society marginalized.  This Association was the forerunner of the Community of the Sisters of the Church, which Ayckboum founded in 1870.  The ultimate purpose of the order was, in the words of Ayckboum’s biography in For All the Saints (2007),

the reconciliation and redemption of all God’s creation.

–786

Ayckboum founded then led (as the first Mother Superior) an order devoted to contemplative prayer (individually and collectively), education, pastoral support, hospitality, and spiritual retreats.  She died in Broadstairs, England, on June 5, 1900.  She was 63 years old.

The Community of the Sisters of the Church continues its contemplative prayers and good works.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 6, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCUS AURELIUS CLEMENS PRUDENTIUS, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CORNELIA HANCOCK, U.S. QUAKER NURSE, EDUCATIOR, AND HUMANITARIAN; “FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE OF NORTH AMERICA”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MATEO CORREA-MAGALLANES AND MIGUEL AGUSTIN PRO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS, 1927

THE FEAST OF ORANGE SCOTT, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, ABOLITIONIST, AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE WESLEYAN METHODIST CONNECTION

THE FEAST OF SAINT VEDAST (VAAST), ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF ARRAS AND CAMBRAI

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O God, by whose grace Emily Ayckboum became a light in your Church:

may we, like her, devote ourselves to the fulfillment of your will in a life of adoration and service;

through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

1 John 4:7-12

Psalm 34:1-8

Matthew 25:31-40

–Stephen Reynolds, compiler, For All the Saints:  Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days (2007), 787

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Feast of James Rendel Harris, Robert Lubbock Bensly, Agnes Smith Lewis, Samuel Savage Lewis, Margaret Smith Gibson, and James Young Gibson (March 26)   1 comment

Above:  St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai Desert, Egypt, 1898

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-09674

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JAMES RENDEL HARRIS (JANUARY 27, 1852-MARCH 1, 1941)

Anglo-American Congregationalist then Quaker Biblical Scholar and Orientalist

Also known as J. Rendel Harris

worked with

ROBERT LUBBOCK BENSLY (AUGUST 24, 1831-APRIL 23, 1893)

English Biblical Translator and Orientalist

worked with

AGNES SMITH LEWIS (JANUARY 11, 1843-MARCH 26, 1926)

English Biblical Scholar and Linguist

wife of

SAMUEL SAVAGE LEWIS (JULY 13, 1836-MARCH 31, 1891)

Anglican Priest and Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England

brother-in-law of

MARGARET DUNLOP SMITH GIBSON (JANUARY 11, 1843-JANUARY 11, 1920)

English Biblical Scholar and Linguist

wife of

JAMES YOUNG GIBSON (FEBRUARY 19, 1826-OCTOBER 2, 1886)

Scottish Literary Translator and United Presbyterian Minister

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INTRODUCTION

Ecclesiastical history–especially early ecclesiastical history–is a topic of little or no interest to many Low Church Protestants.  Common gaps in knowledge and interest include the time between the Apostles and the Crusades, as well as the centuries between the Crusades and the Reformation.  I recall, as a youth in rural United Methodist congregations in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the 1980s, hearing elders refer to “old songs.”  I also remember checking the dates of those “old songs” and frequently learning that they were from the early twentieth century.  Sixty or seventy years are nothing compared to two millennia.  Historical perspective is useful.

This cluster of six saints had a firm grasp of historical perspective, however.

They come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via their connection to F. Crawford Burkitt (1864-1935), an Anglican scholar, theologian, hymn writer, and hymn translator.

THE WESTMINSTER SISTERS AND THEIR HUSBANDS

The central figures were twin sisters, Agnes Smith and Margaret Dunlop Smith, born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, on January 11, 1843.  Our saints never knew their mother, who died two weeks after their birth.  The father was John Smith, a solicitor who studied languages.  He raised his daughters to be linguists and sent them to private schools.  The family also traveled throughout England.  The sisters eventually settled in London and joined the Presbyterian Church at Clapham Road.  They traveled in Europe and the Middle East, and expanded their linguistic range.  Eventually the two sisters mastered at least twelve languages, including German, Italian, Greek, Arabic, and Syraic.

Agnes and Margaret, known as the Westminster Sisters, had a positive relationship with Greek Orthodoxy.  This relationship helped them to complete the main work that has brought them to this Ecumenical Calendar, in the 1890s.

Margaret married James Young Gibson on September 11, 1883, in Germany.  He, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, was a son of merchant William Gibson.  James, educated at the University of Edinburgh (1842-1846), pursued divinity studies (1847-1852) for the United Presbyterian Church.  After working for the Henry Birkbeck family as a tutor at Keswick Hall, Gibson served as a parish minister at Melrose (1853-1859).  Failing health forced him to leave that post.  Gibson traveled and studied in Europe and the Middle East.  He also translated Spanish masterworks, including Don Quixote, into English.  The marriage to Margaret was brief; he died at Ramsgate on October 2, 1886.  He was 60 years old.

Agnes married Samuel Savage Lewis on December 12, 1887.  Lewis, born in Bishopsgate, London, on July 13, 1836, was a son of surgeon William Jonas Lewis.  Poor eyesight complicated and delayed Samuel’s education at St. John’s College, Cambridge.  Surgeries improved his eyesight, however, so Lewis completed his formal education.  He, ordained a deacon (1872) then a priest (1873) in The Church of England, was the Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, from 1870 to 1891, when he died.  Lewis, a classicist, traveled in Europe and the Middle East, mastered many languages, and collected ancient seals and coins.  He, Agnes, and Margaret formed a household.  Lewis died of heart failure on a train near Oxford on March 31, 1891.  He was 54 years old.

JAMES RENDEL HARRIS

The twin sisters, widows living in Cambridge, read J. Rendel Harris‘s account of his discovery of the Syraic text of the Apology of Aristides at St. Catherine’s Monastery, in the Sinai Desert, Egypt.  This inspired them them to visit the monastery in 1892.

James Rendel Harris opened the floodgates for the Westminster Sisters.  His story was interesting in its own right.  Harris, born in Plymouth, Devon, England, on January 27, 1852, grew up with ten siblings.  The father, Henry Marmaduke Harris, decorated houses.  The mother, Elizabeth Corker (Harris), operated a shop selling baby clothes.  Harris, who grew up a Congregationalist, studied at Plymouth Grammar School then at Clare College, Cambridge.

Harris’s life changed in 1880, when he married Helen Balkwell (d. 1914), a Quaker from Plymouth.  She influenced him to convert in 1885, three years after he had come to the United States, where she was working as a missionary.  From 1882 to 1885 Harris was Professor of New Testament Greek at Johns Hopkins University.  His criticism of vivisection at the university created a backlash that prompted him to resign.  Then the couple spent some time in 1885-1886 in England.

Harris was Professor in Biblical Studies at Haverford College, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1886 to 1891.  In 1888 and 1889 he bought 47 codices in various ancient languages in Egypt and Palestine.  He donated these codices to Haverford College.  One of these texts, which he discovered at St. Catherine’s Monastery, was the Syraic text of the Apology of Aristides.

ST. CATHERINE’S MONASTERY, 1892 AND 1893

The Westminster Sisters visited St. Catherine’s Monastery in 1892.  They discovered the earliest Syraic version of the Gospels known to exist at the time.  The sisters were just getting started.  The following year they returned with F. Crawford Burkitt, Robert Lubbock Bensly, and J. Rendel Harris.  By then Harris had become Lecturer in Palaeography at Cambridge.

Robert Lubbock Bensly was an Orientalist and a Biblical translator.  He, born in Eaton, Norwich England, on August 24, 1831, was a son of Robert Bensly and Harriet Reeve (Bensly).  Young Robert studied at King’s College, London, then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, as well as in Germany.  He was, in order, Lecturer in Hebrew and Syraic at Gonville and Caius College then, in 1887, Lord Almoner’s Professor of Arabic.  Bensly helped to translate the Old Testament (1885) of the Revised Version of the Bible.  On the personal side, Bensly married Agnes Dorothee von Blomberg in Halle on August 14, 1860.  She and their three children outlived him.

At St. Catherine’s Monastery in 1893 the Westminster Sisters et al transcribed the Syraic version of the Gospels.  Agnes and Margaret also cataloged the monastery’s collection of Arabic and Syraic texts.  They began to collect about 1,700 fragments of manuscripts, now called the Lewis-Gibson Collection.

Bensly died in Cambridge, England, on April 23, 1893.  He was 63 years old.

J. RENDEL HARRIS AND THE WESTMINSTER SISTERS

Harris became a mentor to Agnes and Margaret.  He, Lecturer in Palaeography at Cambridge (1893-1903), wrote about ancient texts, including the Didache, the Acts of Perpetua, the Odes of Solomon, the Psalms of Solomon, and the Gospel of Peter.  His course in palaeography helped Agnes to become an internationally-renowned Syraic scholar.

Agnes and Margaret, despite their accomplishments, held only honorary degrees.  The reason for this was sexism.  The University of Cambridge, for example, did not give degrees to women at the time.

Harris, also an author of devotional works, left Cambridge.  After teaching theology in Leiden (1903-1904), he became the first Principal and Director of Studies at the Friends’ Settlement for Social and Religious Study, Woodbrooke College, Selly Oak, Birmingham, England.  Then, from 1918 to 1925, Harris was the Curator of Eastern Manuscripts at the John Rylands Library, Manchester.  He, aged 89 years, died in Selly Oak, Birmingham, on March 1, 1941.

Agnes and Margaret remained active scholars into the 1910s.  One of their later achievements was to make possible the discovery of an ancient Hebrew manuscript of Sirach/Ecclesiasticus.  The sisters, members of St. Columba’s Presbyterian (now United Reformed) Church, Cambridge, constituted the core of a religious and intellectual circle.  The Westminster Sisters also endowed Westminster College, Cambridge, and assisted in the founding of the Presbyterian student chaplaincy at the University of Oxford.

Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson died on January 11, 1920., her seventy-seventh birthday.

Agnes Smith Lewis died on March 26, 1926.  She was 83 years old.

CONCLUSION

These six saints stood in the spiritual lineage of St. Clement of Alexandria (died circa 210/215) and his protégé, Origen (185-254).  St. Clement was the “Pioneer of Christian Scholarship.  He and Origen wedded faith and intellect, not without controversy, then and subsequently.  Opponents and critics have included those infected with indifference or anti-intellectualism.

To honor God with one’s intellect is to act consistently with the commandment to love God fully with one’s being.

James Rendel Harris, Robert Lubbock Bensly, Agnes Smith Lewis, Samuel Savage Lewis, Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson, and James Young Gibson did that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of

[James Rendel Harris,

Robert Lubbock Bensly,

Agnes Smith Lewis,

Samuel Savage Lewis,

Margaret Dunlop Smith Gibson

James young Gibson. and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Blessed Maria Barbara Maix (March 17)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of Brazil (1822-1870)

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED MARIA BARBARA MAIX (JUNE 27, 1818-MARCH 17, 1873)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Also known as Maria Barbara of the Most Holy Trinity

Blessed Maria Barbara Maix is one of the more recent additions to the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.

Maix was Austrian by birth.  She, born in Vienna on June 27, 1818, was a daughter of Joseph Maix and Rosalia Mauritz (Maix).  Our saint was physically frail, suffering from asthma.  She, as a youth, worked as a maid at the Schönbrunn Palace.  She, orphaned at the age of 15 years, went to work as a seamstress.  Several years later, in 1836, our saint and her sister Maria opened a home for poor people in Vienna.  Blessed Maria Barbara established a Marian order for women, the origin of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in 1843.  She had an appointment to meet with Pope Gregory XVI, to ask for papal approval of the order, in 1846, but he died one day prior to the appointment.

1848-1849 was a revolutionary time in much of Europe, including Austria.  In late 1848 the Austrian government expelled Maix and the other 21 members of her order.  Maix decided at the last minute to depart for Brazil, not the United States, from Hamburg.  The women arrived in Rio de Janeiro on November 8, 1848.  The Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary formally came into existence on May 8, 1849.

Our saint and the other members of her order fulfilled their vocation.  They worked with street children, operated a school for orphaned girls, fought slavery (legal in Brazil until 1888), and tended to soldiers during the Paraguayan War/War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870).

Pope Benedict XVI declared our saint a Venerable in 2008 then beatified him in 2010.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN JULIAN, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER MEN, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1990

THE FEAST OF LADISLAO BATTHÁNY-STRATTMANN, AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PHYSICIAN AND PHILANTHROPIST

THE FEAST OF LOUISE CECILIA FLEMING, AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY AND PHYSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, THE UNION OF CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE, AND THE SISTERS OF THE CATHOLIC APOSTOLATE

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O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich:

Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we,

inspired by the devotion of your servant Blessed Maria Barbara Maix,

may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come;

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

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

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Psalm 34

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or 9:57-62

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

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