Archive for the ‘Saints of 1880-1889’ Category

Feast of Blessed Vladimir Ghika (May 16)   2 comments

Above:  Blessed Vladimir Ghika

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED VLADIMIR GHIKA (DECEMBER 25, 1873-MAY 16, 1954)

Romanian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr, 1954

Also known as Blessed Vladimir Ghica

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Lord, do not abandon me.  I embrace your love to triumph over the hate of my enemies.

–Blessed Vladimir Ghika, January 1954

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Blessed Vladimir Ghika served God and the “least of these,” first as a layman then as a priest.

Ghika came from Romanian nobility.  He, born in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, on December 25, 1873, was a son of Alexandrina Moret de Blaremberg (Ghika) and diplomat John Ghika.  Our saint’s grandfather was Grigore Alexandru Ghica (died in 1857), the penultimate (not last, as many online sources erroneously claim) Prince of Moldavia (reigned 1849-1853 and 1854-1856).  The Ghika family moved to Toulouse, France, in 1878.  Our saint, seemingly destined to become a diplomat, also, graduated with his law degree in Paris in 1895.  He then studied history, political science, philosophy, medicine, literature, botany, and art, first in France then in Romania.

Ghika, raised in Eastern Orthodoxy, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1898.  That year he matriculated at the College of Saint Thomas, Rome, to study theology and philosophy.  Our saint graduated in 1905.

As the catechism of The Episcopal Church, as found in The Book of Common Prayer (1979), teaches,

The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

–855

Ghika, as a layman, became a pioneer of the lay apostolate.  He, having pondered becoming a monk or a priest, heeded the advice of Pope Pius X not to become priest or monk yet.  Our saint, back in Romania, ministered to the impoverished and the ill.  He founded Mariae Bethlehem, the first free clinic in Bucharest.  Ghika also founded a sanitorium, the first free hospital in Romania, and the first free ambulance service in Romania.  Our saint, risking contracting cholera, provided health care in Zimnicea, Romania, during the Balkan wars, in 1913.

Ghika, ordained a priest in Paris on October 7, 1923, continued to minister to vulnerable people.  He made history by becoming a bi-rite (Latin and Byzantine) priest–the first bi-rite Romanian priest.  He chose to live in Villejuif, a shantytown and a Parisian suburb, from 1924 to 1939.  Our saint returned to Romania on August 3, 1939.  Ghika ministered to the sick and the poor, including wartime refugees, during World War II.  When Communists came to power, he remained in the country voluntarily.

Government agents arrested Ghika on November 18, 1952, as he ministered to a dying man.  The charge was treason, or remaining pro-Rome and opposing the government’s control of organized religion.  Ghika suffered from abuse, which hastened his death in prison in Jilava (near Bucharest) on May 16, 1954.  He was 80 years old when he received the crown of martyrdom.

Pope Francis declared Ghika a Venerable and beatified him in 2013.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, ANGLICAN AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE GIROTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHN GRAY, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, MYTHOLOGIST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND PROFESSOR OF HEBREW AND SEMITIC LANGUAGES

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDOVICO PAVONI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SYRAGIUS OF AUTUN AND ANARCHARIUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINTS VALERY OF LEUCONE AND EUSTACE OF LUXEUIT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

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Almighty God, who gave to your servant Blessed Vladmir Ghika

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ

before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith:

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

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

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

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

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

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Feast of 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 St. Basil Martysz (May 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of Poland, 1919-1927

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BASIL MARTYSZ (FEBRUARY 20, 1874-MAY 4, 1945)

Polish Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1945

Also known as Saint Vasily Martysz

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I have done no harm to anyone and I will not run away from anyone.  Christ did not run away.

–St. Basil (Vasily) Martysz, May 4, 1945

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St. Basil (Vasily) Martysz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church (which canonized him in 2003) and the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), which also observes his feast day.

Above:  Partitioned Poland in Europe, 1871

Image in the Public Domain

Martysz was originally a subject of the Russian Empire and a baptized member of the Russian Orthodox Church.  He, born in Teratyn, Poland, Russia, on February 20, 1874, was a son of Alexander Martysz, a judge.  Alexander later retired from the bench and became a priest.  Our saint and his father visited New York, New York, in 1884.  Vladimir, Russian Orthodox Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska, and therefore in charge of Russian Orthodox Church work in the United States, from 1887 to 1891, noticed young Basil’s beautiful singing voice.  Bishop Vladimir predicted that the boy would become a priest.  Furthermore, the bishop predicted that he (the bishop) would invite St. Basil to serve in the American diocese.  Our saint did become a priest.  He studied theology under St. Tikhon of Moscow (1865-1925) at the seminary in Chelon, Russia.  Martysz, ordained to the diaconate in the summer of 1899, married Olga Nowik.  He, ordained a priest in in December 1900, departed for Alaska with Olga.  He served under St. Tikhon, who had become the Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska in 1898.  St. Tikhon changed the name of the diocese to the Diocese of the Aleutians and North America in 1900.  This became the Archdiocese of the Aleutians and North America in 1905.

Martysz remained in North America until 1912.  He served first in Alaska.  Our saint was responsible for churches and chapels on Spruce and Woody Islands, near Kodiak.  He and his family sacrificed in frontier conditions.  Our saint spent weeks away from home, traveling by kayak, as Olga raised their first two children, daughters born in 1902 and 1904.  The family lived in Afognak then in Kodiak.  Martysz also taught in the church school and in two ecclesiastical homes for poor children.  The family left the wilds of Alaska for the contiguous United States.  A son joined the family in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania, in 1906.  A third daughter arrived two years later.  Then the family lived in, in order:  Old Forge, Pennsylvania; Waterbury, Connecticut; West Troy, New York; Edmonton, Alberta; and Wostok, Alberta.  Our saint became the archdiocesan dean for Alberta and Manitoba while at Wostok.

The Martysz family returned to Poland in 1912.  They settled in Sosnowiec.  Our saint served as the parish priest and as a teacher at the local girls’ high school.  Then World War I broke out in the summer of 1914.  Russian Orthodox priests were technically civil servants with orders to evacuate.  Bishop Vladimir, back in Russia, provided the Martysz family with an apartment at St. Andronicus Monastery, Moscow.  Our saint taught religious education classes in Valdai until the Bolshevik Revolution (1917f).  Then he earned his living unloading railroad cars and became a target for the Red Army.

Above:  Poland in Europe, 1919

Image in the Public Domain

The Martysz family returned to Poland, newly independent, in 1919.  They went back to Sosnowiec briefly.  That September, they moved to Warsaw, for our saint accepted a new position.  He was in charge of Orthodox Affairs in the Religious Ministry of the War Department.  He forced and organized the Orthodox chaplaincy in the Polish Army.  Martysz, promoted to colonel in 1921, became that head of that chaplaincy.  He also received the title of archpriest from the Church.

Martysz also aldvised Metropolitans of Warsaw and All Poland.  Metroplitan George and our saint worked for the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church from the Moscow Patriarchate.  After the assassination of Metropolitan George on February 8, 1923, Martysz continued to work for Polish Orthodox autocephaly with Metropolican Dionysius.  The Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church in 1925.  St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (1917-1925), died on April 25.  The office of Patriarch of Moscow remained vacant until 1943.  The Moscow Patriarchate recognized Polish autocephaly in 1948.

Martysz remained the head of the Orthodox chaplaincy in the Polish Army until he retired in 1936.  During the years he held this job, he labored faithfully.  For example, he supervised ministry to Ukrainian internees along the Polish border immediately after World War I.  Our saint appointed and trained chaplains for them.  Martysz also celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian for more than 5,000 internees at one camp on July 8, 1921.

Our saint, Olga, and their widowed mothers settled in Teratyn in 1936.  Retirement was peaceful for a few years.  During World War II life became difficult.  The village dwindled.  Both mothers died.  Olga died in 1943.  Helen (our saint’s youngest daughter), her husband, and their daughter moved in, to support the retired archpriest.  In the final days of World War II, bandits searching for wealth were breaking into homes and killing the inhabitants.  Our saint, 71 years old, refused to leave his home.  He suffered terribly before he died.  The men who killed him kicked and nearly killed his pregnant daughter, who miscarried.

The Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church in America list Martysz as a martyr.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO, PROPHET OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF ELLEN GATES STARR, U.S. EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEFA SANCHO DE GUERRA, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL RODIGAST, GERMAN LUTHERAN ACADEMIC AND HYMN WRITER

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

in the heart of your holy martyr Saint Basil Martysz:

Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,

that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example:

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Psalm 124 or 31:1-5

1 Peter 4:12-19

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 715

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Feast of Ruth Byllesby (April 26)   2 comments

Above:  Christ Church, Augusta, Georgia

Image Source = Google Earth

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RUTH ELLIS BYLLESBY (1865-APRIL 25, 1959)

Episcopal Deaconess in Georgia

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia declared Deaconess Ruth Byllesby a saint and established her feast day as April 25, the anniversary of her death, in 2012.

Her feast day here, on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is April 26.  April 25 is the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist.  Per my policy regarding feast days of Biblical saints, I reserve April 25 for St. Mark.

The Episcopal Church used to have an order of deaconesses.  In the 1970s, when the denomination approved the ordination of women to all three orders of ordained ministry (diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate), it folded the order of deaconesses into the Sacred Order of Deacons.

Byllesby, born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1865, was a deaconess for most of her life.  She, a daughter of an Episcopal priest, trained at St. Faith’s School for Deaconesses, New York.  She worked as a deaconess in the North from 1902 to 1927.  Over the years, she and relatives wintered in Augusta.  Our saint spent much time at Christ Church, Augusta, and in the adjacent Harrisburg mill village.  (Textile mills paid low wages.)  Two cousins, interested in outreach, endowed a fund for such ecclesiastical work.  Byllesby, in charge of outreach in the community, made Christ Church her base of operations in 1927.

There she remained until 1943.  Harrisburg, long poor, became more impoverished during the Great Depression.  Deaconess Byllesby moved into the rectory (next to the church building), and transformed the rectory into Neighborhood House.  From Neighborhood House Byllesby dispensed assistance.  She provided necessities for many families, started a club for young mothers, advocated for child labor laws, and insisted that girls receive good educations.  Her sole requirement to receive aid was to be or to become active in a church of one’s choosing.

Byllesby left Augusta in 1943.  She, aged 94 years, died in Connecticut on April 25, 1959.

Christ Church, Augusta, remains active in community outreach.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARIE-JOSEPH LAGRANGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT AGRIPINNUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT GERMANUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; AND SAINT DROCTOVEUS OF AUTUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF FOLLIOT SANDFORD PIERPOINT, ANGLICAN EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OGLIVIE, SCOTTISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1615

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACARIUS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty God, you chose your servant Ruth Ellis Byllesby

to serve the poor, feed the hungry, and clothe your children:

give us grace to pattern our lives after the shining example of Blessed Ruth,

that we may spread the Gospel by helping those in need,

with humility and the heart of a servant,

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

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Philippians 2:1-7 (8-10)

Psalm 112

Matthew 25:31-46

–The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia

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Feast of Blessed Teresa Maria of the Cross (April 23)   1 comment

Above:  Blessed Teresa Maria of the Cross

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS (MARCH 2, 1846-APRIL 23, 1910)

Foundress of the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa of Florence

Born Teresa Adelaide Cesina Manetti

Teresa Adelaide Cesina Manetti, born in Florence on March 2, 1846, learned piety at a young age.  She was a daughter of Salvatore Manetti and Rosa Bigagli (Manetti).  Salvatore died when our saint was three years old.  Teresa’s piety led her, eighteen years old, to organize a group of young women to live in common and to teach poor children.  She derived much inspiration from the writings of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582).  Our saint became a Carmelite tertiary, as Teresa Maria of the Cross, on July 16, 1876.  She took her vows as a Discaled Carmelite on July 12, 1888.  She started Carnmelite-run schools in other Italian cities.  She did this work through spiritual doldrums and many slanders.  The work our saint began when she was eighteen years old culminated in 1904, when Pope Pius X approved the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa of Florence.  Blessed Teresa Maria of the Cross, aged 64 years, died in Florence, Kingdom of Italy, on April 23, 1910.

The Roman Catholic Church recognized our saint formally.  Pope Paul VI declared her a Venerable in 1975.  Pope John Paul II beatified her in 1986.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HARRIET TUBMAN, U.S. ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF EMANUEL CRONENWETT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCES OF ROME, FOUNDRESS OF THE COLLATINES

THE FEAST OF JOHANN PACHELBEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SOPHRONIUS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Teresa Maria of the Cross,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we we also may be aflame with the spirit of live 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 Mary C. Collins (April 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Mary C. Collins

Image in the Public Domain

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MARY CLEMENTINE COLLINS (APRIL 18, 1846-MAY 25, 1920)

U.S. Congregationalist Missionary and Minister

Mary C. Collins 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).

Collins represented the best tradition of Christian missionary work among indigenous people; she served the Kingdom of God, not any earthly power.  Our saint defended her flock and opposed their oppression.

One may ask, “Of course, she did.  Why would she not have done so?”  I reply that the historical record contains many examples of “Christian” missionaries who really worked for the empires or countries, thereby aiding and abetting racism and cultural destruction.  I assert that this behavior contradicted the Golden Rule, a commandment Collins took seriously.

Mary Clementine Collins, born in Upper Alton, Illinois, on April 18, 1846, developed her interest in missionary work at an early age.  She, a daughter of Ephraim and Margaret Collins, grew up in Keokuk, Iowa.  A Sunday School teacher sparked our saint’s interest in becoming a missionary.  Collins, a graduate of Ripon College, Ripon, Wisconsin, applied to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.  That agency accepted her in 1875.  However, a lung condition prevented Collins from receiving approval to go to Melanesia, her first choice of destination.  Therefore, she went to work for the American Missionary Association and evangelized Lakota Sioux in the Dakota Territory then in South Dakota instead.

Collins spent 1875-1910 among the Lakota Sioux.  Her time among them coincided with some of the tribe’s most difficult years at the hands of the federal government and American settlers.  She mastered the language, obtained high status within the tribe, and practiced medicine.  Collins also became a close friend of Sitting Bull in 1885.  Our saint spoke out on behalf of the Lakota Sioux, who suffered at the hands of ranchers, railroad companies, and the federal government.  She opposed residential schools, part of a plan to destroy the Lakota Sioux culture.  Our saint, ordained in 1899, supervised eight staffers, four churches, three meeting houses, and two chapels.

Collins, who never married, retired in 1910, due to failing health.  She returned to Keokuk, Iowa, and moved in with a sister.  Our saint, aged 74 years, died on May 25, 1920.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT KATHARINE DREXEL, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONIO FRANCESCO, JOHANNES LAURENTIUS WEISS, AND MICHELE PRO FASOLI, FRANSCAN MISSIONARY PRIESTS AND MARTYRS IN ETHIOPIA, 1716

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERVINUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HENRY ELIAS FRIES, U.S. MORAVIAN INDUSTRIALIST; AND HIS WIFE, ROSA ELVIRA FRIES, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA EUSTOCHIO VERZERI, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Mary C. Collins,

who made the good news known among the Lakota Sioux.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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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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