Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1220s’ Category

Feast of St. Hedwig of Andechs and Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica (October 16)   2 comments

Above:  Family Tree of St. Hedwig of Andechs

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT HEDWIG OF ANDECHS (1174-OCTOBER 15, 1243)

Silesian Roman Catholic Princess of and Nun

Also known as Saint Hedwig of Silesia

Alternative feast day = October 15

mother of

BLESSED GERTRUDE OF TRZEBNICA (CIRCA 1200-DECEMBER 1268)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from March 17

One of my goals in the continuing process of renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships.  That is my rationale for merging the feasts of St. Hedwig of Andechs and Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica, not that I need one, given that the Ecumenical Calendar is my project.

These saints came from nobility.  St. Hedwig was a daughter of Berthold IV, Duke of Merania (reigned 1185-1204)St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) was on her nieces.  St. Hedwig, born in Castle Andechs, Bavaria (now Germany), married Prince Henry I “the Bearded,” Duke of Silesia (r. 1201-1238) and the Duke of Greater Poland (r. 1231-1238) when she was 12 years old.  The couple had seven children, including Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica (c. 1200-December 1268).  Blessed Gertrude, betrothed to Count Palatine Otto of Wittelsbach, who died prior to the wedding day, became a nun instead.  St. Hedwig, a widow from 1238, founded hospitals, helped orphans, and cared for the sick.  She gave away her fortune before becoming a nun in the convent at Trzebnica, where Blessed Gertrude was the abbess.

St. Hedwig died at the abbey at Trzebnica, Silesia (now Poland), on October 15, 1243.

Pope Clement IV canonized her in 1267.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICETIUS OF TRIER, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND BISHOP; AND SAINT AREDIUS OF LIMOGES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF KRATIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, BISHOP, AND HERMIT

THE FEAST OF HENRY USTICK ONDERDONK, EPISCOPAL BISHOP, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS OF MYRA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by whose grace your servants Saint Hedwig of Andechs and Blessed Gertrude of Trzebnica,

kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights 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 Robert Grosseteste (October 9)   1 comment

Above:  Robert Grosseteste 

Image in the Public Domain

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ROBERT GROSSETESTE (CIRCA 1168-OCTOBER 9, 1253)

English Roman Catholic Scholar, Philosopher, and Bishop of Lincoln

This project, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is an exercise in the Great Man (and Woman) School of History.  I make no apology for this.  Social History and Cultural History have their vital roles to fill in historical analysis, but I remain a devotee of the emphasis on the great people–those who have made their marks on the world.

Grosseteste, born circa 1168, was a Christian intellectual and a bishop.  He, educated at Oxford and perhaps at Paris, also, taught at Oxford prior to 1209.  Our saint, a priest, held various ecclesiastical position through 1232.  He resigned all but one–Prebendary of Lincoln–that year.  The former Chancellor of Oxford University (circa 1215-1221) taught at the Franciscan house of studies, Oxford, from 1224 to 1235.  Then he became the Bishop of Lincoln.

Grosseteste had a fine mind.  He, an Aristotelian with Neoplatonist influences, translated works of Aristotle and some ancient saints, wrote commentaries on the Bible and works of Aristotle.  Our saint, whose life ended as the worst outbreak of the Black Death was ending and the Renaissance was about to begin, was an active encourager of the spread of knowledge–philosophy, science, mathematics, and the Bible.  He accepted truth, as he recognized it, regardless of its source or manner of transmission.

Grosseteste, author of theological and devotional works, was a pious bishop who took his spiritual responsibilities seriously.  He was a man of his time, for he affirmed the supremacy of the Church over the state.  This opinion caused some political problems for him.  Grosseteste also had political conflicts with various bishops and at least one Pope; our saint was an uncompromising critic and opponent of ecclesiastical corruption.

Grosseteste died in Buckdon, Buckinghamshire, England, on October 9, 1253.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Robert Grosseteste 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 St. Francis of Assisi (October 4)   10 comments

Above:  St. Francis Beneath a Tree, Praying, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-102921

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GIOVANNI FRANCESCO PIETRO DI BENRADONE (1181/1182-OCTOBER 3, 1226)

Founder of the Order of Friars Minor

Beatified in 1228

I have done my part.  May Christ teach you to do yours.

–St. Francis of Assisi, as he lay dying

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular saints.  Statues of him populate many gardens and other public places.  St. Francis seems harmless, friendly, and inoffensive in the imaginations of many people.  Yet the testimony of his life is revolutionary.

I have decided not to write a biography of St. Francis.  I have reasoned that (1) those are easy to find, and (2) most of them are superior to any biography I might compose.  (Here is one.)  I have decided, however, to reflect on some lessons from his life for modern people and societies.

St. Francis renounced the idol of materialism.  In so doing, he found liberation to follow God, whom he found liberation to follow, and whom he recognized in the poor and in nature.

Economies depend on materialism.  They do so because (1) some people created economies this way, and (2) other people have retained these systems.  The industry of advertising tells people that they cannot live without that which they can live–and have lived.  Advertising often convinces people that material goods will solve their spiritual problems.  It also converts the Seven Deadly Sins into virtues.  Materialism is one of the most popular idols.

I think about this matter perhaps most often at the end of each year.  The commercialization of Christmas is the real “War on Christmas.”  Ironically, it is a campaign many U.S. Protestants favored in the 1800s, rather than celebrate a Roman Catholic feast day.  I seek few Christmas gifts, just as I give few.  I do most of my Christmas shopping at thrift stores, too.  I know that many jobs depend directly and indirectly on the orgy of materialism at the end of the year, and I manage to avoid most of that madness, but I also know that, if most people were to behave as I do, the consequences for many working people would be dire.  This is an example of what economists call the paradox of thrift.

Poverty, which St. Francis chose for himself, comes with a stigma in much of the world.  Many of the hardest working people are poor, contrary to much rhetoric.  In much of the world many of the poor are impoverished because the economic-political system is one rigged against them.  This is a truth as old as antiquity, as well as one against which certain Biblical prophets railed.  Whenever policy is to keep much of the population in poverty, government retards the progress and well-being of a society, to the common detriment.

We are part of nature, of which we have a divine mandate to be good stewards.  Science tells us that species have evolved in nature, and that they continue to do so.  Yet many of us seem not to have evolved spiritually in relation to nature, for evidence of disrespect for the created order is ubiquitous.  From littering to pollution to global warming to the driving of species to extinction, humanity’s record of damaging the planet and ecosystems is long and shameful.  It also harms us, for we are part of nature, too.

The legacy of St. Francis of Assisi should stand in the minds of more people as a call to moral, social, economic, and political revolution, for the glory of God and the common good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT-NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world;

that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you,

delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy;

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

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 22:13-16

Psalm 148:7-14

Galatians 6:14-18

Matthew 11:25-30

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 623

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O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart;

grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis,

we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified,

who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 505

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Gracious and merciful God, you kindled in the heart of Francis such a flame of love that he became wholly yours;

increase in us a whole-hearted trust in you and a humble love of all your creatures,

that we may know the joy the gospel brings; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

Holy Jesus, give us something of Francis’ simplicity,

something of his recklessness,

something of his obedience;

give us the courage to understand what you say and do it.  Amen.

Song of the Three Young Men 52-65

Psalm 119:145-152 or Psalm 148

Galatians 6:14-18

Matthew 11:25-30

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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God of creation, we thank you for all that you have made and called good:

Grant that we may rightly serve and conserve the earth, and live at peace with all your creatures;

through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation,

in whom you are reconciling the whole world to yourself.  Amen.

Job 14:7-9

Psalm 104:24-31

Romans 1:20-23

Mark 16:14-15

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 732

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Bountiful Creator, you open your hand to satisfy the needs of every living creature:

Make us always thankful for your loving providence,

and grant that we, remembering the account we must one day give,

may be faithful stewards of your abundance, for the benefit of the whole creation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom all things were made,

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

1 Kings 4:29-30, 33-34

Psalm 145:1-7, 22

Acts 17:24-31

John 1:1-5, 9-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 731

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Feast of St. Dominic (August 8)   1 comment

Above:  Saint Dominic, by Fra Angelico

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT DOMINIC DE GUZMÁN (CIRCA 1170-AUGUST 6, 1221)

Founder of the Order of Preachers

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Fight the good fight against our ancient foe, fight him insistently with fasting, because no one will win the crown of victory without engaging in the contest in the proper way.

–St. Dominic, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 339

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St. Dominic was one of four children of Felix de Guzmán (the lord of the manor at Caleruya, Castille) and Blessed Juana de Aza (d. circa 1190; beatified in 1828).  The noble family also included holy siblings of St Dominic.  Venerable Anthony de Guzmán was a priest.  Blessed Mamés de Guzmán (c. 1170-1234; beatified in 1834; feast day = July 30), was a prior of a monstery in Paris, the founder of a convent in that city, and one of the original Dominicans.

St. Dominic, who studied at Palencia and became an Augustinian monk at Osma, became aware of the Albigensian heresy (revived Manicheanism of a sort) while traveling with Diego de Azevedo, the Bishop of Osma, on a royal mission abroad in 1203.  Pope Innocent III (in office 1198-1216) launched a campaign of preaching to combat the heresy in southern France.  This was both political and religious, for some local leaders were siding with the Cathars, and civil strife ensued.  St. Dominic was eager preach orthodoxy.  In 1206 he and the Bishop of Osma established rules for the preachers; they were to live austerely and in poverty.  The following year, at Prouille, our saint foun…ded a convent for nuns converted from heresy.

The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1218), a bloodbath and a land grab, was one of the most notorious scandals in Church history.  It began after the assassination of Peter Castelnau, the papal legate, in 1208.  St. Dominic argued against the crusade; he condemned the violence in the name of Christ and advocated for preaching instead.  From his preaching emerged the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans and the Black Friars, which received papal approval in 1216.

St. Dominic spent his final years technically based in Rome, but actually walking on long journeys, and organizing the Order of Preachers.  In 1221 he set out for Hungary, to preach against heresy, but failing health forced him to turn back.  He died at Bologna on August 6, 1221.  Biographer Jordan of Saxony wrote of our saint,

…he loved everyone, so everyone loved him.

Pope Gregory IX canonized St. Dominic in 1234.

Ironically, Dominicans helped to staff the Inquisition, founded in 1232.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND THE “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, whose servant Dominic grew in knowledge of your truth

and formed an order of preachers to proclaim the good news of Christ:

Give to all your people a hunger for your Word and an urgent longing to share the Gospel,

that the whole world may come to know you as you are revealed in your Son Jesus Christ;

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

2 Samuel 22:22-29

Psalm 112:4-9

Romans 10:13-17

John 7:16-18

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 515

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Feast of St. Bonaventure (July 15)   4 comments

Above:  St. Bonaventure

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BONAVENTURE (1217-JULY 15, 1274)

Second Founder of the Order of Friars Minor

Born Giovanni di Fidanza

St. Bonaventure was one of the most influential Medieval Roman Catholic theologians.

The traditional birth year given for St. Bonaventure has been 1221.  However, Dr. Ewert Cousins, Professor of Theology at Fordham University, as well as translator and editor of the St. Bonaventure volume (1978) for the Paulist Press’s Classics of Western Spirituality series, cited scholars who insisted on 1217 instead.

Giovanni di Fidanza, a native of Bagnoregio (near Viterbo), Italy, was a son of Giovanni di Fidanza (Sr.), a wealthy physician, and Maria di Ritello.  Circa 1234 the 17-year old saint matriculated at the University of Paris, where he studied under the great Franciscan scholar Alexander of Hales.  Our saint joined the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans) in 1243 and became Bonaventure.  His theological teachers until their deaths in 1245 were Alexander of Hales and John of La Rochelle.  Afterward St. Bonaventure’s theological teachers were Eudes Rigaud and William of Middleton.

St. Bonaventure embodied intellectual rigor, Roman Catholic piety, and Franciscan simplicity.  He, a Bachelor of Scripture in 1248 and a Master of Theology in 1253/1254, lectured on the Bible in 1248-1250 and led the Franciscan school in Paris from 1253/1254 to 1257.  Then our saint became the Minister General of the Order of Franciscans Minor, after Pope Alexander IV had ordered John of Parma, suspected of heterodoxy, to resign.  As the Minister General for 17 years St. Bonaventure became the “Second Founder” of the order, balancing foundational principles with the necessity of adaptation to changing circumstances.  Our saint never wanted to be a bishop, so he rejected offers until 1273, when Pope Gregory X ordered him to become the Cardinal Archbishop of Albano.  St. Bonaventure, a famously humble man, kept a papal representative bearing news of the appointment waiting; the Minister General was washing dishes.

St. Bonaventure also liked to think and write profoundly.  He wrote prolifically.  Works included biographies of St. Francis of Assisi, theological treatises. lectures, and Biblical commentaries.  Titles included The Soul’s Journey into God and The Tree of Life.  (Jesus was the Tree of Life.)  Elevation into the episcopate and the College of Cardinals greatly reduced the time St. Bonaventure had to write.

St. Bonaventure died on July 15, 1274, while attending the Second Council of Lyons, which dealt with the unification of the Eastern and Western Churches.  Prelates from across the Christian world mourned him.

The Roman Catholic Church has honored St. Bonaventure.  Pope Sixtus IV canonized him in 1482.  Pope Sixtus V declared our saint a Doctor of the Church in 1588.

The legacy of St. Bonaventure has continued to enrich the Church and the world.  One vehicle has been the Order of Friars Minor.  Furthermore, his writings have continued to be available, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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Almighty God, you gave to hour servant Saint Bonaventure

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of St. Celestine V (May 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Celestine V

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CELESTINE V (1215-MAY 19, 1296)

Bishop of Rome

Also known as St. Peter Celestine

Pietro di Murrone preferred that the conclave had never elected him Pope.  He, Supreme Pontiff for five months and eight days, was eager to leave the office and the unholy politics associated with it behind.

Pietro di Murrone was a monk by nature.  He, the eleventh child of southern Italian peasants, entered the world in 1215.  Our saint joined the Order of St. Benedict when he was 17 years old.  Pietro, later ordained a priest at Rome, eventually became a hermit at Mount Majella, taking St. John the Baptist as his model.  The hermit attracted followers, however.  The result was the Celestines, a suborder of the Benedictines with 600 monks and 36 monasteries in May 1296.

After Pope Nicholas IV died on April 4, 1292, the Papacy remained vacant for 27 months while the College of Cardinals deadlocked.  Meanwhile, international politics came to bear on the Cardinals.  King Charles II (by title the King of Sicily but really the King of Naples; reigned 1285-1309) sought to regain control of Sicily for his southern Italian kingdom.  (He was ultimately unsuccessful.)  The College of Cardinals elected Pietro, who had no idea he was even a candidate and had no desire for the position, Pope on July 5, 1294.  They hoped that he would be the “angel Pope” who would solve many problems.

The 79-year-old monk was not a magical “angel Pope,” however; there was no such person.  He accepted election only reluctantly.  St. Celestine V, consecrated on August 29, 1294, became the unhappy puppet of Charles II, who was no holy man.  Our saint, residing in Naples, not Rome, did show some initiative as Pope.  He, for example, favored the Celestines and allowed the radical Franciscan Spirituals to live as hermits under the Rule of St. Francis.  St. Celestine V wanted to resign then to return to Mount Majella, to live as a monk again.  He concluded that being the Pope was dangerous both to his soul and to the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint resigned on December 13, 1294, but he did not return to Mount Majella.

The next Pope was Boniface VIII, elected on Christmas Eve 1294.  The former Benedetto Cardinal Caetani was, according to J. N. D. Kelly, author of The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986),

singularly unsympathetic, combining exceptional ability with arrogance and cruelty, insatiable acquisitiveness for his family and insensitive contempt for his fellow-men; feared and hated, he could not keep a friend.

–Page 210

Boniface VIII did not permit St. Celestine V to enjoy liberation as a monk.  The new Supreme Pontiff ordered the arrest of his reluctant predecessor, who had to become a fugitive for a time.  St. Celestine V spent his final nine months incarcerated in the tower of Castle Fumone, east of Ferentino.  He died, aged 81 years, on May 19, 1296.

Boniface VIII had troubles of his own.  He, having threatened to excommunicate King Philip IV “the Fair” of France (reigned 1285-1314), found himself that monarch’s prisoner for two days in 1303.  Boniface VIII, having decided not to excommunicate Philip the Fair after that, died later in 1303.  Philip the Fair, seeking to twist the proverbial knife into the corpse of the legacy of Boniface VIII, petitioned the French Pope Clement V (in office 1305-1314), an Avignon Pope, to canonize St. Celestine V as a martyr.  Clement V canonized his reluctant predecessor, but as a confessor, in 1313.

The political nature of the canonization of St. Celestine V need not delegitimize it.  One can recognize Pietro di Murrone as a holy man who found himself transformed into a pawn and who took the proper course of action–to resign.  One can respect a man for finding the courage to quit when that was the right decision.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH O’FLAHERTY, “SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF THE VATICAN”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLUS THE CENTURION, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF PAUL SHINJI SASAKI, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF TOKYO; AND PHILIP LENDEL TSEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF HONAN

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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 Saint Celestine V,

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 Luke 9:57-62

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

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Feast of Sts. Ludmilla of Bohemia, Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, Agnes of Prague, Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Assisi, and Hortulana of Assisi (March 2)   Leave a comment

premyslid-dynasty-coat-of-arms

Above:  Coat of Arms of the Premyslid Dynasty

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT LUDMILLA OF BOHEMIA (CIRCA 860-SEPTEMBER 16, 921)

Duchess of Bohemia and Martyr

Her feast transferred from September 16

grandmother of

SAINT WENCESLAUS I OF BOHEMIA (907-SEPTEMBER 28, 929)

Duke of Bohemia and Martyr

His feast transferred from September 28

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SAINT AGNES OF PRAGUE (1205-MARCH 6, 1282)

Bohemian Princess and Nun

Also known as Saint Agnes of Bohemia

Her feast day = March 2

Alternative feast days = March 6 and June 8

corresponded with

SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI (JULY 16, 1194-AUGUST 11, 1253)

Foundress of the Poor Clares

Her feast transferred from August 11

Alternative feast days = August 12, September 23, and October 3

sister of

SAINT AGNES OF ASSISI (1197-NOVEMBER 16, 1253)

Abbess at Monticelli

Her feast transferred from November 16

daughter of

SAINT HORTULANA OF ASSISI (DIED CIRCA 1238)

Poor Clare Nun

Also known as Saint Ortulana of Assisi

Her feast transferred from January 2

Alternative feast days = January 5 and August 18

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One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize influences and relationships.  This post, with family functioning as the connective tissue, is consistent with that goal.

St. Methodius (circa 815-885), a great missionary bishop, converted Duke Borivoj I of Bohemia (reigned 867-889) and his wife, St. Ludmilla of Bohemia (circa 860-921) to Christianity.  The sovereigns’ attempts to convert their subjects prompted much opposition, even an exile.  Their oldest son, Spythinev I (reigned 894-915), preceded his younger brother, Vratislaus I (reigned 915-921), who seems to have died during a pagan uprising, in power.  The Dukes of Bohemia at the time had to contend with the domestic policy issue of Christianity vs. paganism and the foreign policy issue of whether to align the duchy with the East or with the West.  These issues created much turmoil in Bohemia.  Vratislaus I’s widow was Drahomira (circa 877 or 890-died after 934), daughter of a pagan chief.  She had made baptismal vows on her wedding day yet did not take them seriously.

Two princes–both of them minors–stood to succeed to the throne.  St. Ludmilla, who supervised the education of St. Wenceslaus I (907-929), her grandson, served as regent for him briefly until Drahomira ordered her assassination and took over as regent.  Drahomira instituted a program of persecuting Christians.  The following year, however, St. Wenceslaus I reached the age of majority, assumed power, exiled his mother, and reversed her policies.  He also allied the Duchy of Bohemia with Germany, which sent enough priests to serve in long-vacant parishes.  Our saint’s reign was brief, for his brother, Boleslav I “the Cruel” (reigned 929-972), ordered and participated in his assassination at a church door in 929.

Centuries later, when the same dynasty still governed Bohemia, another Wenceslaus I (reigned 1230-1253) wielded power as the King (not Duke).  He was a kinsman of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231).  The king had a sister, St. Agnes of Prague (1205-1282), who avoided a series of arranged marriages and became a nun.  She built a Franciscan hospital on land her brother (the King of Bohemia) donated.  St. Agnes also founded the Confraternity of the Crusaders of the Red Star to staff the hospital and its clinics.  In 1234, with the help of St. Clare of Assisi, with whom she corresponded for about 20 years, St. Agnes founded the Convent of St. Saviour, Prague.  (St. Clare sent five nuns.)  St. Agnes became the abbess of that abbey.  The good works to which she devoted herself included cooking for other nuns and mending the clothes of lepers.

St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) also came from a privileged family and devoted her life to serving God in the poor.  She was a daughter of Count Favorino Sciffi of Sasso-Rosso and St. Hortulana of Assisi (died circa 1238) and a sister of St. Agnes of Assisi (1197-1253).  St. Clare also preferred monastic life to an arranged marriage.  In 1212 the 15-year-old saint made her vows before St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1226) and founded the Poor Clares, who lived austerely and helped the poor.  A few weeks later, her younger sister, St. Agnes of Assisi, joined her.  Both monastic vocations prompted strong opposition in certain relatives, who eventually became resigned to the fact of their monastic lives.  St. Clare led the order, partially a family matter, for the rest of her life.  St. Agnes founded Poor Clare communities.  She also became the abbess at Monticelli in 1221.  The widowed St. Hortulana joined the order too.  St. Agnes also tended to the dying St. Clare, whom she followed in death shortly after her older sister’s demise.

Families are, when they function as they ought to do, nurseries of faith and kindness.  One might wonder what kind of man St. Wenceslaus I might have become without the positive influence of his grandmother.  One might also recognize that Sts. Clare and Agnes of Assisi learned their faith at home and in church, and that they influenced their mother in turn.  One might also wonder if St. Agnes of Prague would have been as successful in her vocation without the aid of her brother (the King of Bohemia) and St. Clare of Assisi.

May we support and encourage each other in our vocations from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by the fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726

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