Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1430s’ Category

Feast of Margery Kempe (November 9)   3 comments

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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MARGERY BRUNHAM KEMPE (CIRCA 1373-CIRCA 1440)

English Roman Catholic Mystic and Pilgrim

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Well-behaved women seldom make history.

–Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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The General Convention of The Episcopal Church added Margery Kempe to the side calendar of saints in 2009.  Her feast day, shared with Richard Rolle and Walter Hilton, became September 28.  That feast day from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), carried over into the successor volume, A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016).  The General Convention of 2018 kept the composite feast yet moved it to January 19, per Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, actually the official calendar of saints for the denomination, and successor to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007).  I have, however, been breaking up the composite feast while renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  That process has brought me to this post, in which I have assigned Kempe’s feast to November 9, her feast day in The Church of England.

Margery Kempe, born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, England, circa 1373, was devout.  She also proved perplexing to certain ecclesiastical leaders.

Kempe, born Margery Brunham, came from a wealthy family.  Her father, John Brunham, was, at different times, the mayor, a Member of Parliament, a coroner, a justice of the peace, and a chamberlain.

Circa 1393, at the age of 20 years, Margery married John Kempe (d. 1431).  For two decades she bore fourteen children, wore fine clothing, and, for a time, operated a brewery.  Our saint also desired a celibate life and reported visions.  She finally took a vow of chastity at the age of 40 years; her husband was not enthusiastic about her decision.

Kempe, eccentric and devout, violated gender norms.  She sobbed frequently, reported visions of the Passion of Jesus, pondered Heaven nearly continuously, and made pilgrimages.  Our saint confessed her sins going back to childhood.  She also visited various places–Assisi, the Holy Land, Santiago de Compostela, Rome, et cetera.  Most ecclesiastical figures Kempe consulted thought she was out of her mind, but orthodox, at least.  Blessed Julian(a) of Norwich offered encouragement and support to our saint.

Kempe endured official opposition from elements of the Church.  She even received threats of violence sometimes.  Certain bishops questioned her orthodoxy; they accused her of being a Lollard, until clearing her of that alleged offense.  Lollards, who also criticized Kempe, did not mistake her for being one of their tribe.

Kempe died circa 1440.  She was about 67 years old.

Kempe, able neither to read nor write, dictated The Book of Margery Kempe, long at the Carthusian Mount Grace Priory, near Northallerton, Yorkshire.  Later, the book became the possession of the Butler-Bowden family.  Since the book’s rediscovery in 1934, many people have read translations of it.

I remember one particular commentary on the Song of Songs.  The exegete emphasized the presence of God in the details of human lives, especially those details we do not consider holy, but perhaps merely mundane.

We spend our lives in the presence of God, made manifest in ways both mundane and extraordinary.  Much of the time we are oblivious to the presence of God in our lives.

Margery Kempe nourished the awareness of the presence of God in her life.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANSKAR AND RIMBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF ALFRED DELP, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SEYMOUR ROBINSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNOLOGIST

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS KASATKIN, ORTHODOX ARCHBISHOP OF ALL JAPAN

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Gracious God, we give you thanks for the life and work of Margery Kempe,

a mystic, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld your glory.

Help us, after her example, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly,

in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Job 26:1-14

Psalm 63:1-8

Romans 11:33-12:12

Matthew 5:43-48

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 611

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Feast of St. Joan of Arc (May 30)   1 comment

Above:  St. Joan of Arc

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOAN OF ARC (JANUARY 6, 1412-MAY 30, 1431)

Roman Catholic Mystic, Visionary, and Martyr

Also known as Saint Jeanne d’Arc

The Roman Catholic Church lists St. Joan of Arc as a virgin, not a martyr.  That is because Holy Mother Church martyred her.  The Episcopal Church, which added her feast in 2009, lists her as a mystic and a soldier.  The Church of England lists St. Joan as a visionary.

St. Joan was pious throughout her brief life.  She, born in Greux-Domremy, Lorraine, France, was an illiterate child of Jacques d’Arc, a peasant farmer.  At the age of 13 years, in the summer of 1425, she reported receiving her first vision, a voice accompanied by a blaze of light.  Over the next few years Sts. Margaret of Antioch, Catherine of Alexandria, Michael the Archangel, and other holy figures seem to have appeared and spoken to St. Joan.

Above:  France in 1422

Image scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

By May 1428 St. Joan had become convinced that God wanted her to help king and country, then suffering during the Hundred Years’ War (1437-1453).  Since 1422 the claimant to the French throne had been Charles (VII).  Our saint, after much persistence, finally reached the Dauphin at Chinon in March 1429.  She proved to be a capable military commander until May 1430, when Burgundians captured her at Compiègne.  In the meantime, St. Joan ad made the coronation of the Dauphin as King Charles VII possible. The ungrateful and probably embarrassed Charles VII did not help our saint after she became a prisoner of the English.  The verdict of the trial on the charges of being a witch and a heretic was a fait accompli as long as St. Joan refused to enter a false plea.  Our saint, convicted, burned alive at the stake at Rouen on May 30, 1431.

The Church cleared her name in 1456, beatified her in 1905, and canonized her in 1920.

Robert Ellsberg, writing in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), observed:

An illiterate peasant girl, a shepherd, a “nobody,” she heeded a religious call to save her country when all the “somebodies” of her time proved unable or unwilling to meet the challenge.  She stood up before princes of the church and state and the most learned authorities of her world and refused to compromise her conscience or deny her special vocation.  She paid the ultimate price for her stand.  And in doing so she won a prize far more valuable than the gratitude of the Dauphin or the keys of Orleans.

–Page 238

Organized religion has long had a difficult relationship with mysticism, which bypasses official channels, much to the consternation of people invested in those channels.  This was one of the points of controversy relative to St. Joan of Arc.  Another was gender; she dressed like a man.  Both of these points obsessed her dubious inquisitors, who acted in the name of God and the Church yet glorified only themselves, and only in the short term.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF GEORG FRIEDRICH HELLSTROM, DUTCH-GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOWER, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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Holy God, whose power is made perfect in weakness:

we honor you for the calling of Jeanne d’Arc, who, though young,

rose up in valor to bear your standard for her country,

and endured with grace and fortitude both victory and defeat;

and we pray that we, like Jeanne, may bear witness

to the truth that is in us to friends and enemies alike,

and, encouraged by the companionship of your saints,

give ourselves bravely to the struggle for justice in our time;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Judith 8:32-9:11

Psalm 144:1-12

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Matthew 12:25-30

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 395

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Feast of Blessed Gemma of Goriano Sicoli (May 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Gemma of Goriano Sicoli

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED GEMMA OF GORIANO SICOLI (CIRCA 1375-MAY 13, 1439)

Italian Roman Catholic Anchoress

In Goriano Sicoli, Italy, is the Church of Santa Gemma, the destination of a pilgrimage from San Sebastiano dei Marsi every May 11-13.  The church is a place in a story from World War II.  That story tells us that, when a soldier was preparing to store ammunition in the building, he changed his mind after a young woman (the apparition of Blessed Gemma) appeared to him and said,

Go away; this is my house.

Regardless of the truth or fiction of that story, Blessed Gemma, born circa 1375, in San Sebastiano dei Marsi, was devout.  She raised Roman Catholic, came from an impoverished family on a farm.  That family eventually sought improved financial circumstances in the village of Goriano Sicoli, in the Diocese of Sulmona.  When Blessed Gemma was young her parents died during an epidemic.  Subsequently relatives raised our saint, who worked as a shepherdess and spent much time in prayer in the fields.

Blessed Gemma, a beauty, understood that she had a vocation to the religious life.  She attracted the attention of Count Ruggero of Celano, who eventually abandoned his pursuit of her and financed the construction of her cell next to the Church of San Giovanni, Goriano Sicoli.  The arrangement was such that our saint could see the high altar.  She, an anchoress for the remaining 42 years of her life, provided spiritual counseling to all who sought it from her.  Blessed Gemma died, aged about 64 years, died of natural causes on May 13, 1439.

Devotion to the memory of Blessed Gemma (beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1890) grew over time.  The space beneath the high altar of the Church of Santa Gemma, built on the site of the former Church of San Giovanni, became her tomb in 1613.  A similar reburial occurred in 1818, on the occasion of the construction of the second Church of Santa Gemma.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, by whose grace your servant Blessed Gemma of Goriano Sicoli,

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

Grant that we may also 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), page 723

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Feast of St. Nicholas of Flue and Blessed Conrad Scheuber (March 21)   Leave a comment

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Above:  St. Nicholas of Flue

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT NICHOLAS OF FLUE (MARCH 21, 1417-MARCH 21, 1487)

Swiss Hermit and Statesman

Also known as Brother Klaus and Saint Nicholas von Flue

His feast day = March 21

Alternative feast day = September 25

grandfather of 

BLESSED CONRAD SCHEUBER (1481-MARCH 5, 1559)

Swiss Hermit

His feast transferred from March 5

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My Lord and my God,

remove from me

whatever keeps me from you.

My Lord and my God,

confer upon me

whatever enables me to reach you.

My Lord and my God,

free me from self

and make me wholly yours.

–St. Nicholas of Flue

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The vocation to be a hermit is a legitimate one–one which many people do not have yet which certain ones do.  May no person whom God has chosen not to grant that calling ridicule or underestimate it in those whom God has called to become hermits.

St. Nicholas of Flue lived for 70 years to the day.  He, born on March 21, 1417, in Sachsen, Switzerland, came from a relatively wealthy peasant family.  He was a farmer and a councilor and a judge in the canon of Unterwalden.  He also rejected an opportunity to become the governor.  During a war against the secessionist canon of Zurich our saint commanded soldiers.  He also condemned wars of aggression and the slaughter of non-combatants as immoral.

At the age of 30 St. Nicholas married Dorothy Wiss.  The couple had 10 children in 20 years.  Shortly after the birth of his youngest child our saint discerned a vocation to become a hermit.  He reported a vision of a harnessed draft horse (representing his life as a farmer) eating a lily (representing his spiritual life).  With his family’s consent he became a hermit.  St. Nicholas spent most of his time as a hermit in the Ranft Valley.  Each day he assisted with the Mass and spent most of his time in prayer.  The hermit, renowned for his piety, attracted many spiritual students.  In 1481 he left his hermitage long enough to mediate a dispute that threatened to lead to a civil war.  Once our saint had ensured national unity, he resumed his routine as a hermit.  St. Nicholas died, surrounded by his family, in 1487.

Pope Innocent X beatified St. Nicholas in 1649.  Pope Pius XII canonized him in 1947.

St. Nicholas is the patron of Switzerland, councilmen, separated spouses, difficult marriages, Swiss Guards, large families, parents of large families, and magistrates.

One of the descendants of St. Nicholas was a grandson, Blessed Conrad Scheuber, born at Altfallen, Switzerland, in 1481.  He was a hermit first at the hermitage of St. Nicholas then at Wolfenschiessen.  He died at Bettelrutti, Switzerland, on March 5, 1559.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MIROCLES OF MILAN AND EPIPHANIUS OF PAVIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ALBAN ROE AND THOMAS REYNOLDS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GASPAR DEL BUFALO, FOUNDER OF THE MISSIONARIES OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN YI YON-ON, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN KOREA

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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 servants Saints Nicholas of Flue and Blessed Conrad Scheuber,

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 St. Frances of Rome (March 9)   Leave a comment

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Above:  St. Frances of Rome

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCES OF ROME (1384-MARCH 9, 1440)

Foundress of the Collatines

St. Frances of Rome, a native of that city, came from an aristocratic family.  Her parents were Paul Bussa and Jacobella de’ Roffredeschi.  At the age of 12 years our saint married Lorenzo de’ Ponziani, to whom she remained wedded for 40 years.  The couple had three children.  St. Frances, as a widow , became a Benedictine nun.  She continued to do what she had done as a laywoman–to serve the sick and the poor.  In 1433 she founded the Oblates for the Tor de’ Specchi (the Collatines).  Our saint also founded the first home for abandoned children in Rome.  Furthermore, she reported 97 visions, in which she saw, among other things, Hell and Purgatory.  Our saint died on March 9, 1440.  She was about 56 years old.

Pope Paul V canonized her in 1608.

St. Frances is the patron of women, Rome, motorists, motorcyclists, aviators, Roman housewives, taxi cab drivers, and people ridiculed for their faith.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 13, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HILARY OF POITIERS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS, “ATHANASIUS OF THE WEST,” AND HYMN WRITER; MENTOR OF SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN KEIMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT KENTIGERN, A.K.A. MUNGO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GLASGOW

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGUERITE BOURGEOYS, FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME

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O God, by whose grace your servant Saint Frances of Rome,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and 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), page 723

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Feast of Blessed Christopher Macassoli of Vigevano (March 5)   Leave a comment

northern-italy

Above:  Northern Italy, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

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BLESSED CHRISTOPHER MACASSOLI OF VIGEVANO (CIRCA 1415-MARCH 5, 1485)

Franciscan Priest

Alternative feast day = March 11

Blessed Christopher Macassoli, born at Milan circa 1415, came from Italian nobility.  He became a Franciscan at the age of 20 years.  This was indeed his vocation.  Our saint, ordained, became a famous and popular preacher who attracted large audiences.  Circa 1475 Macassoli founded the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Vigevano, near Milan.  The abbey became a destination for pilgrims seeking his sage counsel.  He died at Vigevano on March 5, 1485, aged about 70 years.

Pope Leo XIII beatified him in 1890.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 5, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN NEPOMUCENE NEUMANN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA

THE FEAST OF ANTONIO LOTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GENOVEVA TORRES MORALES, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS AND THE HOLY ANGELS

THE FEAST OF MARGARET MACKAY, SCOTTISH HYMN WRITER

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant

Blessed Christopher Macassoli of Vigevano,

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

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

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

Psalm 84

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

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

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Thomas a Kempis (July 24)   1 comment

Thomas a Kempis

Above:  Thomas à Kempis

Image in the Public Domain

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THOMAS À KEMPIS (CIRCA 1380-JULY 25, 1471)

Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, and Spiritual Writer

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The Episcopal Church observes the life and legacy of Thomas à Kempis on July 24.

Thomas Hemerken was a native of Kempen, now on the German side of the Rhine River and near the Dutch border.  In the late 1300s the political structure was that of the Holy Roman Empire.  He studied with the Brethren of the Common Life at Deventer, Holland, for seven years.  The Brethren lived simply and communally.  They operated influential schools, supported themselves financially by copying manuscripts, emphasized the inner life and virtuous living, emphasized practical theology, and practiced moderation with regard to ascetic and penitential practices.  The founder of the order was Gerhard Groote (1340-1384), who had come from a wealthy family and renounced his worldly ways.  In 1399 our saint joined the Brethren at Mount St. Agnes, near Zwolle, Holland.   His brother was the prior there.  Kempis took monastic vows in 1407, became a priest six years later, and advanced to the rank of subprior in 1425.  He was an introvert who was more comfortable in the company of books than people. (I respect that.) Kempis enjoyed copying the scriptures, works of the Church Fathers, and books about asceticism.

Kempis died at Mount St. Agnes on July 25, 1471.

Our saint’s enduring legacy is Of the Imitation of Christ, or the Imitation of Christ for short, a book whose authorship many people have doubted for a long time.  In my copy, dated 1891, for example, Anglican priest, poet, and educator Frederic W. Farrar (1831-1903) argued in his introduction that the authorship of the Imitation of Christ was an impossible question to answer.  Other scholars have been certain, however, that Kempis wrote the book.  The author of an old Encyclopedia Britannica article argued that the preponderance of evidence affirmed that our saint wrote the book, for example.

The text builds on orthodox Christology and Trinitarian theology and emphasizes, as its title indicates, imitating Christ:

“He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness,” saith the Lord.  These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished how we ought to imitate His life and manners, if we will be truly enlightened, and be delivered from all blindness of heart.

Let therefore our chiefest endeavor be, to meditate upon the life of JESUS CHRIST.

–Page 13 in my copy, published in 1891

Kempis favored frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist as a spiritual practice.  Daily reception is best, he wrote.  The sacrament and the scriptures are both essential for Christian living, he insisted:

In the mean time I will walk in faith, strengthened by the examples of the Saints.

I have also holy books for my comfort and for the glass of my life; and above all these I have Thy most Holy Body and Blood for a singular remedy and refuge.

–Page 305 in my copy, published in 1891

The Imitation of Christ has become the second most influential work in Western Christianity and the Christian book translated into the second greatest number of languages.  The Bible occupies the first rank in both categories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

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

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Holy Father, you have nourished and strengthened your Church

by the inspired writings of your servant Thomas a Kempis:

Grant that we may learn from him to know what is necessary to be known,

to live what is to be loved,

to praise what rightly pleases you,

and always to seek to know and follow your will;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 9:11-18

Psalm 33:1-5, 20-21

Ephesians 4:32-5:2

Luke 6:17-23

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 483

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