Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1520s’ Category

Feast of Desiderius Erasmus, St. John Fisher, and St. Thomas More (June 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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DESIDERIUS ERASMUS ROTERDAMUS (OCTOBER 1466-JULY 12, 1536)

Dutch Roman Catholic Priest, Biblical and Classical Scholar, and Controversialist

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SAINT JOHN FISHER (1469-JUNE 22, 1535)

English Roman Catholic Classical Scholar, Bishop of Rochester, Cardinal, and Martyr

Alternative feast day = July 6 (The Church of England)

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SAINT THOMAS MORE (FEBRUARY 7, 1487-JULY 6, 1535)

English Roman Catholic Classical Scholar, Jurist, Theologian, Controversialist, and Martyr

Alternative feast day = December 1 (as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University)

Alternative feast day = July 6 (The Church of England)

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A TRIPLE BIOGRAPHY OF THREE GREAT MEN

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On the Roman Catholic calendar the feasts of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More fall on June 22.  They also share a feast day (July 6) in The Church of England.  To their commemoration at this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I add their friend and colleague, Desiderius Erasmus.

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THE EARLY LIFE OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS

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Above:  Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam with Renaissance Pilaster, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Desiderius Erasmus, a great scholar and historically influential man, was a native of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  He, born in 1466, was a son of a priest and the brother of Peter.  After Gerard, the father, died, guardians directed the educations of Desiderius and Peter.  After Peter became a monk at a monastery near Delft our saint joined the Augustinian order.  Erasmus, ordained to the priesthood on April 25, 1492, left the monastery in 1494 and pursued his scholarly work in the world.

Erasmus was a Christian Humanist in the style of the Northern Renaissance.  As such he objected to the dogmatic theology he encountered at the University of Paris.  In Paris our saint became a teacher and began writing.  Apparently Erasmus had a distinctive speaking style, for William Tyndale (1494-1536) described our saint as one

whose tongue maketh of little gnats great elephants, and laudeth up above the skies, whosoever giveth him a little exhibition.

Erasmus, whose English patrons included St. John Fisher and disciples included St. Thomas More (whom he met in 1497), visited England periodically, starting in 1499-1500.  Erasmus thought, despite the cumulative time he spent in England, that the weather and beer there were bad, and that More was the only genius in the realm.

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THE EARLY LIFE OF SAINT THOMAS MORE

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Above:  Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

St. Thomas More was a jurist and a classical scholar.  He, born in London on February 7, 1487, was a son of Sir John More, a judge.  Our saint, educated at St. Anthony’s School, Threadneedle Street, London, then in the household of Archbishop of Canterbury John Morton, continued his studies at Oxford University before studying law at New Inn (1494-1496) then Lincoln’s Inn (1496f).  More was a reader at Furnival’s Inn then butler at Lincoln’s Inn (as his father had been) in 1507.  Our saint was also reader at Lincoln’s Inn in 1511 and 1515.

Meanwhile More was studying theology and Latin and Greek literature.  He met Erasmus, his longtime friend, in 1497.  More also translated classical works into English and composed English poetry.

More was a devout man.  For about four years he had lived at the London Charterhouse.  Although he never took monastic vows, he learned certain lifelong austere habits.  More did make wedding vows, however.  In 1505 he married Jane Colt (d. 1511).  The couple had four children.  His second wife was Alice Middleton, a widow.  Her daughter became part of the blended family.  More was a pioneer in the education of women in England, for his daughters were well-educated people.

More was a longtime Member of Parliament and a negotiator.  He, the Undersheriff of London (1510-1518), was also an officer in various companies.  In various capacities he settled disputes in England and France through 1529.

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THE EARLY LIFE OF SAINT JOHN FISHER

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Above:  John Fisher, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Fisher was a scholar and a priest.  He, born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England, in 1469, graduated from Cambridge University in 1487 and 1491.  He, ordained a priest in 1491, served as a parish priest in Northallerton from 1491 to 1494.  Fisher, a tutor to the young Henry VIII (born in 1491; reigned from 1509 to 1547), was, from 1497, the confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), mother of King Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509).  At Fisher’s urging she founded readerships in divinity at Oxford and Cambridge (1503) then at Christ’s College, Cambridge (1505).  Fisher, the Vice-Chancellor (1501-1504) then Chancellor (1504-1534) of Cambridge University and Bishop of Rochester (1504-1534), for all intents and purposes founded St. John’s College, Cambridge, for which he hired Erasmus as Lecturer in Greek in 1511.  As a bishop Fisher was also devoted to his diocese–unusually so, by the standards of the period.

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ERASMUS THE BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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Erasmus was a classical scholar and a man of letters. His volumes (1516-1536) on various Church Fathers were masterpieces of scholarship.  Or saint spent much time on St. Jerome (347-419) and his works in particular.  In 1504 Erasmus commenced his work on the Greek New Testament.  The influential volume, published in 1516, was epoch-making.  Our saint, who prioritized Patristic sources and the best Greek texts available to him, was more reliable than St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.  Erasmus dedicated the work to Pope Leo X.  The Holy Father accepted the dedication, but some powerful factions in the Church opposed the scholarly work.  Martin Luther, however, admired it.

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SAINT THOMAS MORE, 1514-1532

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St. Thomas More, a devout man and a gentle father, was also an influential writer, a statesman, and a controversialist.  The author of Utopia (1515-1516) produced many other works, including The History of Richard III (1514), which influenced William Shakespeare’s treatment of the monarch.  More held a series of positions in the 1520s.  He was, for example, the Speaker of the House of Commons and a Justice of the Peace from 1523.  The following year he became a High Steward of Oxford University.  In 1525 he became a High Steward of Cambridge University and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.  Then, from 1529 to 1532, he served as the Lord Chancellor.

The position of Lord Chancellor, although of high rank, was still one of a royal servant.  The position increased More’s wealth.  He gave more to charity.  The duties of the job also required More to present the royal position to the House of Lords, even when this left him with an uneasy conscience, as in the “King’s great matter” involving Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.  Our saint, citing health concerns, resigned in 1532.

More was a devout Roman Catholic who considered Protestantism heretical.  In 1525 and 1526 he wrote German Lutheran theologian Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558) in defense of papal authority.  More abhorred both Protestantism and violence.  As much as More argued with and prayed for the conversion of his Lutheran son-in-law, William Roper, Roper recalled never seeing his father-in-law “in a fume.”

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SAINT JOHN FISHER, 1511-1533

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St. John Fisher, a devout Roman Catholic, honored God in various ways.  A devout and simple life was a moral imperative, he preached, to the consternation of some powerful men.  Fisher also honored God with his intellect.  The great man, who undertook the study of Greek at the age of 50 years, encouraged the study of Hebrew at Cambridge University.  Like More, Fisher considered Protestantism heretical, and argued vigorously against it and for Roman Catholicism.

Fisher also opposed the interference of the state in ecclesiastical affairs.  He, a consistent defender of Queen Catherine of Aragon, starting in 1527, opposed the annulment of that marriage as well as the granting to Henry VIII the title of Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England.

Fisher’s conscience was about to lead him to his martyrdom.

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THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINTS JOHN FISHER AND THOMAS MORE

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More and Fisher opposed the Act of Supremacy (1534).  Thus, on April 13, 1534, when summoned, both men refused to swear an oath accepting the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, recognizing the succession of their issue, and repudiating papal authority.  Their refusal was officially treasonous.  From April 17, 1534, to the end of their lives they were prisoners in the Tower of London.  The circumstances of their incarceration were inhumane.

Pope Paul III created Fisher a Cardinal on May 20, 1535.  The infuriated Henry VIII, referring to a Cardinal’s red hat, said,

Mother of God!  He shall wear it on his shoulders, for I will leave him never ahead to set it on.

Fisher, tried and sentenced to death on June 17, 1535, died via beheading at Tower Hill, London, five days later.

More wrote in prison.  He began and completed A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulacyon (1534), in which he also argued against the idea that any head of state can dictate religious belief.  More also began a treatise on the Passion of Jesus, but his jailers did not permit him to famish it.  Our saint, tried on July 1, 1535, died via beheading at Tower Hill five days later.

The Roman Catholic Church has recognized these saints.  Pope Leo XIII beatified them in 1886.  Pope Pius XI canonized them in 1935.

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ERASMUS AND THE CHURCH

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Erasmus was a devout Roman Catholic from his cradle to his grave.  Nevertheless, he had both admirers and detractors in Protestant and Roman Catholic circles.  Furthermore, Erasmus was openly critical of some aspects of an powerful people in Holy Mother Church.  For example, he wrote anonymously then denied having written Julius Exclusus (1514), a satire about the late Pope Julius II (in office 1503-1513) attempting to gain entry into Heaven.  Julius II deserved strong criticism, for he was, in the words of scholar J. N. D. Kelly,

a forceful ruler, ruthless and violent.

The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986), page 255

Erasmus criticized certain Popes, but not the Papacy.  He condemned abuses in the Church, but not the Church itself.  He avoided committing schism, although some especially defensive Catholics accused him of being worse than Martin Luther, who did commit schism, albeit only after the Church forced the matter.  In fact, Luther and Erasmus, who never met, carried on a literary debate.  Furthermore, Erasmus was critical of more than one Protestant Reformer.

Erasmus, more at home at Basel, Switzerland, than anywhere else, lived there in 1514-1517, 1521-1529, and 1536.  At the end of his life Erasmus really became a Cardinal, but he died at Basel on July 12, 1536, instead.  His heir, Boniface Amerbach, wrote of the great man’s passing:

As was his life, so was the death of this most upright of men.  Most holy was his living, most holy was his dying.

The last words of Erasmus, in Dutch, were:

Dear God.

After his death the Church added his writings to the Index of Forbidden Books.

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CONCLUSION

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These three saints of God were scholars, friends, and colleagues.  They left the world better than they found it and entrusted it with their intellects and piety.  Two of these men died rather than betray their consciences and, they believed, God.  Erasmus also remained faithful to God, as he understood God.  All of these men did this nonviolently.

As I have prepared this post, I have arrived at another conclusion:  I like Erasmus most of all.  The punchiness of his personality has appealed to part of my personality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT AND HIS PUPIL, SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD FREDERICK LITTLEDALE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of Desiderius Erasmus, Saint John Fisher, and Saint Thomas More,

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. Philip Neri (May 26)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Philip Neri

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PHILIP ROMOLO NERI (JULY 22, 1515-MAY 27, 1595)

The Apostle of Rome and the Founder of the Congregation of the Oratory

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No bond but the bond of love.

–St. Philip Neri

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St. Philip Neri was a humble man given to self-deprecating humor and practical jokes.  He came from Italian nobility who had fallen on hard times; Francesco Neri, the father, was a notary at Florence who barely earned a living.  St. Philip was a pious young man who learned the humanities under the tutelage of Dominicans at Florence.  At the age of 16 years our saint went to San Germano, near Monte Cassino, to assist his father’s cousin, a businessman.  St. Philip, who frequently prayed in a Benedictine chapel, was on track to become the cousin’s heir when he left his family behind and went, penniless, to Rome, to pursue a religious calling.

For 17 years St. Philip lived as a layman in the Eternal City.  During much of that time he worked as the tutor to the sons of Galeotto Caccia, late of Florence.  In charge for those services our saint lived in a room and received an allowance of flour.  He also wrote poetry.  Furthermore, St. Philip studied philosophy at the Sapienza and theology with the Augustinians.  Eventually he sold his books and gave the money to the poor.  In 1544 or so St. Philip befriended St. Ignatius Loyola (1491/1495-1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus.  In the middle and late 1540s our saint lived as a hermit and an ascetic.  He reported occasional visions, which affected him profoundly.  One vision, from 1544, was of a globe of fire entering his heart.  This meant to our saint that God had enlarged his heart.  One piece of evidence of that compassion was the founding of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity, to care for convalescents and pilgrims, by St. Philip and his confessor, Persiano Rosa, in 1548.

Then, in 1551, at the urging of Rosa, St. Philip became a priest.  He took an interest in the lives of others, for their benefit.  In the mornings our saint heard confessions at the Church of San Girolamo.  On some mornings he heard 40 confessions before dawn.  In the afternoons St. Philip met informally with men and boys, engaging in leisure with them.  Our saint became the center of a religious community.  At meetings of this community, which consisted mostly of laymen, lay people spoke at length.  This fact led to false allegations of heresy–Protestantism, to be precise–against St. Philip.  Ecclesiastical authorities cleared him of charges.  In 1575 Pope Gregory XIII recognized this community as the Congregation of the Oratory.  Priests of the Congregation devoted themselves to preaching and teaching.

Along the way, while in Rome, other spiritual developments occurred in the life of St. Philip.  In the 1550s he pondered leaving the Eternal City for India.  With help he concluded that God was not calling him to serve as a missionary in the subcontinent.  Also, in 1562-1564 our saint struggled with an invitation to become the Rector of the Church of San Giovanni, Rome, the parish of Florentines there.  A papal compromise in 1564 led to St. Philip finally accepting that invitation while remaining at the Church of San Girolamo and sending five priests to represent him.

Meanwhile, the Church of San Maria, Vallicella, had been part of the holdings of the Congregation of the Oratory since 1575.  St. Philip, obeying a papal command, left the Church of San Girolamo, Rome, for Vallicella in 1583.  Pope Gregory XIV offered St. Philip the status of Cardinal in 1590; our saint politely declined.  St. Philip, aged 79 years, died of natural causes in Vallicella in 1595.

Pope Paul V beatified St. Philip in 1615.  Pope Gregory XV canonized him seven years later.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PHILIP AND DANIEL BERRIGAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF ANNE ROSS COUSIN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GERALD THOMAS NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER; BROTHER OF BAPTIST WRIOTHESLEY NOEL, ANGLICAN PRIEST, ENGLISH BAPTIST EVANGELIST, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS NIECE, CAROLINE MARIA NOEL, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARIA JOSEPHA ROSSELLO, COFOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF OUR LADY OF PITY

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Saint Philip Neri,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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Feast of Blesseds John Forest and Thomas Abel (May 22)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JOHN FOREST (1471-MAY 22, 1538)

English Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Alternative feast day = December 1 (as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University)

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BLESSED THOMAS ABEL (CIRCA 1497-JULY 30, 1540)

English Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

His feast transferred from July 30

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These two saints died because they refused to recognize the supremacy of the Crown over the English Church.

Blessed John Forest, born in Oxford, England, in 1471, was a member of the Friars Minor of the Regular Observance, or the Observants.  He joined that Franciscan order at Greenwich when he was 20 years old.  Forest went on to study theology at Oxford University then to become the confessor of Queen Catherine of Aragon.  In 1525 our saint began to serve as the Observant Provincial in England.  Six years later King Henry VIII suppressed the order.  In 1532-1534 Forest preached against Henry VIII and the government.  This activity led to government surveillance then to his arrest in 1534.  Incarceration in Newgate Prison followed.  In prison Forest corresponded with Catherine of Aragon and Blessed Thomas Abel, a prisoner in the Tower of London.

Abel, born in England circa 1497, also became a chaplain to Queen Catherine of Aragon.  First, however, he earned his Doctor of Divinity degree at Oxford University and served as a priest.  In 1532 he publicly opposed the annulment of the marriage between King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon.  This led to a brief period of incarceration in the Tower of London.  Abel’s alleged involvement in the Holy Maid of Kent Affair led to a second period of imprisonment, starting the following year.  Sister Elizabeth Barton, a Benedictine nun at Kent, apparently taught in favor of the Mass in particular and the Roman Catholic Church in general whenever she saw an image of St. Mary of Nazareth.  That was sufficient to lead to Barton’s execution in 1534.  Abel got off relatively lightly; he spent 1533-1539 in the Tower of London.  The warden released him in 1539.  Our saint’s freedom was brief, however.  Authorities rearrested him and turned the warden into an inmate.

Forest, sentenced to death for refusing to recognize the supremacy of King Henry VIII over the English Church on April 8, 1538, died by hanging and burning at Smithfield on July 22 of that year.  He was 66 or 67 years old.

Abel, guilty of the same offense, died by handing, drawing, and quartering at Smithfield on July 30, 1540.  He was about 43 years old.

Pope Leo XIII declared moth men Blessed on December 29, 1886.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 21, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS TALLIS AND HIS STUDENT AND COLLEAGUE, WILLIAM BYRD, ENGLISH COMPOSERS AND ORGANISTS; AND JOHN MERBECKE, ENGLISH COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DITLEF GEORGSON RISTAD, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, LITURGIST, AND EDUCATOR

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Almighty God, who gave your servants Blesseds John Forest and Thomas Abel

boldness to confess the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of their world,

and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the faith 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), page 713

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Feast of Johann Walter (April 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Luther Rose

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHANN WALTER (1496-MARCH 25, 1570)

“First Cantor of the Lutheran Church”

Also known as Johann Walther and Johannes Walter

The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod celebrates the life and legacy of Johann Walter on April 24.  On my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, his feast day is April 23.

Walter was a native of Kahla, Thuringia.  He, born in 1496, studied in Kahla and Rochlitz before matriculating at the University of Leipzig in 1521.  He, who had experience as a chorister, sang bass in the court of Frederick III “the Wise,” Elector of Saxony (reigned 1486-1525).  In 1524 and 1525 Walter collaborated with Martin Luther.  He edited the Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn (1524), a collection of polyphonic motets.  Our saint also adapted music for use in the reformer’s German Mass.  In 1526 Walter started a new job–cantor at Torgau, with duties to teach music to boys and to direct music in the parish church.  He did that until 1548, when he became the kappelmeister to Maurice, Elector of Saxony (reigned 1547-1553).  Walter’s last job ended in 1554, when he, aged 60 years, became a pensioner.  Then he returned to Torgau, where he died on March 25, 1570.

Walter’s main contribution to Lutheran hymnody was musical.  He did, however, compose some texts, such as the one translated into English as “The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us,” originally 33 stanzas in German.  English translations, however, have been much briefer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 16, 2017 COMMON ERA

PROPER 10:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALEN POSTEL, FOUNDER OF THE POOR DAUGHTERS OF MERCY

THE FEAST OF GEORGE ALFRED TAYLOR RYGH, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN MOORE WALKER, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Johann Walter)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

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

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Johannes Bugenhagen (April 20)   2 comments

Above:  Johannes Bugenhagen

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN (JUNE 24, 1485-APRIL 20, 1558)

German Lutheran Theologian, Minister, Liturgist, and “Pastor of the Reformation”

Also known as Johannes Pomeranus

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If you know Christ well, it is enough, though you know nothing else; if you know not Christ, what else you learn does not matter.

–Motto of Johannes Bugenhagen

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Johannes Bugenhagen, whose Latinized surname was Pomeranus, was a foundational figure for the Lutheran Church.

His feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from the calendar of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Bugenhagen, born at Wollin, Pomerania (now Wolin, Poland) on June 24, 1485, converted from Roman Catholicism.  He, educated at the University of Greifswald from 1502 to 1504, joined the Premonstratensian Canons, also known as the Norbertines and the White Canons.  Our saint, rector of the school at Treptow, Pomerania (now Trzebiatow, Poland), from 1504, became a priest in 1509 then began to serve as vicar of the church.  In 1520 Bugenhagen converted under the direct influence of Martin Luther.  Our saint arrived in Wittenberg the following year and lectured on the Psalms.  The following year he married Walpurga (original surname unknown).  The couple had three children–Johannes the Younger, Martha, and Sara.  That year Bugenhagen, through Luther’s influence, became the pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Wittenberg, a post he held for the rest of his life.  In 1523 our saint became Luther’s confessor.  Two years later Bugenhagen acquired another portfolio–professor of theology.  Our saint and Luther also collaborated on the Low German translation of the Bible.

Bugenhagen was a liturgist and organizer of the Lutheran Church.  He and Luther prepared the simplified German Mass (1526), intended for the benefit of uneducated lay people, not to replace the Latin order permanently.  Our saint was crucial in the organization of Lutheranism in Denmark, Brunswick, Hamburg, Lubeck, and Pomerania.  Early Lutheranism had a variety of liturgical forms; Bugenhagen’s influential Brunswick Order (1528), more informal than the Brandenburg-Nuremburg type of service, provided for Matins, Vespers, and a Sunday Mass.  The Brunswick Order was still relatively conservative; it approved of traditional vestments (not deeming them mandatory, though), required the retention of traditional elements of the old Latin Mass, and forbade unnecessary novelties.  Bugenhagen, a superintendent (functionally a bishop) since 1533, accepted the invitation of King Christian III (reigned 1534-1559) in 1537 to reorganize the Danish church along Lutheran lines.  Our saint did so, consecrating seven superintendents, establishing the liturgy, and crowning the King and the Queen.

Bugenhagen, who preached Luther’s funeral (1546) then took care of the reformer’s wife and children, wrote Biblical commentaries, became a figure of controversy within Lutheranism during his final years.  In 1548 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V issued the Augsburg Interim, which would have reimposed Roman Catholicism on the Lutherans of Saxony.  Bugenhagen and Philipp Melancthon made a counter-offer.  They proposed the Leipzig Interim, according to which, the affected Lutherans would maintain their core beliefs while following many Medieval Roman Catholic practices.  Charles V approved.  Gnesio-Lutherans (literally, Genuine Lutherans), for whom any compromise was excessive, objected strenuously.

Bugenhagen died at Wittenberg on April 20, 1558.  He was 72 years old.

His liturgies have been influential for centuries.  They have, however, proven to be less influential in North America since the introduction of the Common Service in 1888.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 12, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN GUALBERT, FOUNDER OF THE VALLOMBROSAN BENEDICTINES

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES RENATUS VERBEEK, MORAVIAN MINISTER AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF PETER RICKSECKER, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER; STUDENT OF JOHANN CHRISTIAN BECHLER, MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER; FATHER OF JULIUS THEODORE BECHLER, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Johannes Bugenhagen,

through whom you have called the church to its task and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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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 Sebastian Castellio (March 20)   1 comment

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Above:  Sebastian Castellio 

Image in the Public Domain

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SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO (1515-DECEMBER 29, 1563)

Prophet of Religious Liberty

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To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man.

–Sebastian Castellio, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York, NY:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), page 126

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Certain officially recognized saints of the Reformation era trouble me.  For example, I consult Anglican calendars and read about prominent churchmen who denied the existence of the right to dissent theologically.  Some of these churchmen went so far as to order the execution of dissenters or at least to consent to these judicial killings.  (It is not technically murder if it is legal.)  And that is what I find within my faith tradition, now one so tolerant that some accuse it of having become too liberal.  Better too liberal than likely to persecute dissenters, I say!  I also ponder the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and find the names of similarly troubling people there.  Overall, I have generally negative opinions of Thomas Cranmer, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and the Popes at the time–all of whom cover much theological ground collectively.  I have generally low opinions of them because they proceeded from the ubiquitous assumption that

error has no rights,

so they persecuted those who disagreed with them or consented to the persecution of those who held other beliefs.  This did not glorify God.

I can, however, respect Sebastian Castellio without any reservations.

Castellio, born at Saint-Martin-du-Frene, France, in 1515, was a scholar and a man ahead of his time.  He, educated at the University of Lyons, was a master of six languages:  French, Italian, German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.  In January 1540 our saint, then in his mid-twenties, witnesses the execution of three Lutherans as heretics at Lyons.  This “act of faith” had such an effect on him that he left France for Switzerland and the Roman Catholic Church for the Reformed Church.  In 1542 John Calvin, the theocrat of Geneva, appointed Castellio the Rector of the College of Geneva.  The following year, during an outbreak of plague, our saint did what many clergymen refused to do–minister to the sick and the dying.  Despite his lived piety, Castellio’s request for ordination met with rejection.  Perhaps jealousy among clergymen he had embarrassed by ministering to victims of plague was among the reasons for this result.  Officially Castellio was heterodox and too liberal.  In layman’s terms, he rejected the doctrine of Double Predestination, which he considered abhorrent.  Our saint had to leave Geneva.  He moved to Basel, Switzerland.  After years of grinding poverty Castellio finally became a professor of Greek in that city, where he spent the rest of his life.

In 1553, at Geneva, John Calvin ordered theologian Michael Servetus, who had denied the Holy Trinity, burned at the stake on the charge of heresy.  The reformer and theocrat reasoned that one function of the magistrate was to defend true doctrine and therefore to glorify God.  This execution troubled many, including Castellio.  He expressed his objections in On Heretics:  Whether They Should Be Punished by the Magistrate, which he published under a pseudonym.  He argued that to kill a person in the name of God is a blasphemous act.  A Christian’s first duty is to love his neighbor as he loves himself, our saint wrote; to execute heretics (alleged or actual) violates this principle.  Furthermore, Castellio wrote, the competing sects of Christianity not only disagreed with each other, but each of them operated from the assumption that it was obeying the Word of God.  Everyone was a heretic, according to others:

I can discover no more than this, that we regard those as heretics with whom we disagree.

–Quoted in Ellsberg, All Saints (1997), page 127

The pseudonym did not hide Castellio’s identity for long.  When he died on December 29, 1563, legal proceedings against him were underway.  The Religious Wars had begun.  Many people would have lived longer had religious toleration been the rule.  Furthermore, slaughtering people in the name of Jesus did not glorify God.

In this post I describe Castellio as a “Prophet of Religious Liberty.”  In so doing I quote Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints (1997).  I understand that there is no such thing as absolute religious liberty, even in a pluralistic society with a (properly) secular state; we all must, for the common good, sacrifice some rights without trampling individual rights either.  As long as one does not endanger public health and safety or the most basic civil rights and liberties in the name of religious liberty, I have no objection.  Certainly the statement that one should not execute or incarcerate heretics (alleged or actual) should receive widespread support.

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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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Sebastian Castellio,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

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

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