Archive for the ‘Saints of the 640s’ Category

Feast of St. Hilda of Whitby (November 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hilda of Whitby

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT HILDA OF WHITBY (614-680)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Roman Catholic and New Zealand Anglican feast day = November 17

Episcopal feast day = November 18

Church of England feast day = November 19

St. Hilda of Whitby, born in Northumbria, England, in 614, crossed paths with a number of other canonized saints.  Her sister, St. Hereswitha (d. 690), was a princess.  Our saint’s grand-uncle was St. Edwin (reigned 616-633), the first Christian King of Northumbria.  Her grand aunt was St. Ethelburga, Queen of Northumbria.  Bishop St. Paulinus of York (584-644) baptized St. Hilda at age 13, in 627.  Our saint, a single lay woman until the age of 33 years, became a Benedictine nun at Challes, France.  Later, she became the abbess of Hartepool.  Then, in 657, she became the founding abbess of Whitby.  St. Caedmon (d. circa 670), a foundational English poet, was one of her monks and a recipient of her mentoring.  St. Hilda was also the abbess to future bishops St. Wilfrid of York (d. circa 744) and St. John of Beverley (d. 721).

St. Hilda was a reconciling figure.  She had made sure that her monastic houses followed the Celtic liturgy.  The Synod of Whitby (664), at which the Roman Catholic Church took over the Celtic Church, met at her abbey at Whitby.  After that synod, St. Hilda followed the Latin Rite instead.

St. Hilda died in 680.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

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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O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength

to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household,

and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church:

Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women,

that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Proverbs 6:20-23

Psalm 113

Ephesians 4:1-6

Matthew 19:27-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 687

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Feast of Sts. Magnus and Agricola of Avignon (August 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of Gaul in 628

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MAGNUS OF AVIGNON (DIED IN 660)

father of

SAINT AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON (CIRCA 625-CIRCA 700)

His feast transferred from September 2

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Roman Catholic Bishops of Avignon

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Writing about some saints from antiquity can prove challenging, given the dearth of information available much of the time.  Nevertheless, gathering the proverbial crumbs and analyzing them can be useful.

St. Magnus of Avignon (d. 660) was a husband, a father, and a public official.  During the post-Roman times in Gaul, when members of the Merovingian Dynasty kept drawing lines on maps and fighting each other, chaos was routine.  St. Magnus was the governor of the region of Avignon.  After his wife died, he became a Benedictine monk at Lérins Abbey.  In 646 he began to serve as the Bishop of Avignon.

St. Magnus’s son was St. Agricola of Avignon (circa 625-circa 700).  The 16-year-old St. Agricola entered monastic life at Lérins Abbey.  St. Magnus, toward the end of his episcopate and life, appointed his son, then in his early thirties, the Bishop Coadjutor of Avignon.  When St. Magnus died in 660, St. Agricola became the Bishop of Avignon.  St. Agricola, a holy man, was a famous preacher and a defender of the poor against civil authority figures.  He also oversaw the construction of a church (staffed by monks) and a Benedictine monastery at Avignon.

St. Agricola is the patron saint of the city of Avignon and the Archdiocese of Avignon.

We have more information about St. Agricola than we do about his father–and certainly about his mother.  Yet we might learn about the parents by pondering their son.  If we accept the axiom that the apple does not fall far from the tree as being useful in considering this family, we must also arrive at positive conclusions regarding St. Magnus of Avignon and his wife.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALOYSIUS GONZAGA, JESUIT

THE FEAST OF BERNARD ADAM GRUBE, GERMAN-AMERICAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, COMPOSER, AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF CARL BERNHARD GARVE, GERMAN MORAVIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN JONES AND JOHN RIGBY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servants

Saint Magnus of Avignon and Saint Agricola of Avignon

to be bishops and pastors in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ

and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

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

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Feast of Sts. John Cassian and John Climacus (February 29)   2 comments

Vatican Flag

Above:  The Vatican Flag

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN CASSIAN (360-435)

Roman Catholic Monk, Priest, and Spiritual Writer

His feast = February 29

influenced

SAINT JOHN CLIMACUS (CIRCA 570 OR 579-MARCH 649)

Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Spiritual Writer

Also known as Saint John of the Ladder, Saint John Scholasticus, and Saint John the Sinaita

His feast transferred from March 30

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st-john-cassian

Above:  St. John Cassian

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Cassian was an influential figure in both Eastern and Western Christianity.  He, from what is now Romania, entered the world in 360.  Our saint came from a wealthy family and received an excellent education.  For about three years he and Germanus, a friend, were monks at Bethlehem.  Next the duo pursued monastic life in Egypt.  Circa 399 they and about 300 other monks left for Constantinople after St. Theophilus, the Pope of Alexandria (reigned 384-412) and successor of St. Mark the Apostle, wrote a letter opposing Origen‘s noncorporeal understanding of God.  The monks sought the protection of the Alexandrian Pope’s rival, St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch of Constantinople.  At the imperial capital St. John Cassian became a deacon.  In 404, following the deposition of St. John Chrysostom, St. John Cassian traveled to Rome to defend the patriarch to the Bishop of Rome.

St. John Cassian spent the rest of his life in the West.  He, ordained to the priesthood, settled at Marseilles, Gaul.  Circa 415 our saint founded a monastery and a convent at that city.  He also wrote about monasticism in the Institutes and the Conferences.  St. Benedict of Nursia (circa 480-circa 550) was so impressed with the Conferences that he listed it as one of the books for reading aloud after supper.

the-ladder-of-divine-ascent

Above:  Icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Cassian, who died at Marseilles in 435, influenced St. John Climacus, born in Syria circa 579.  He became a monk at Mt. Sinai at the age of 16 years.  Eventually our saint became an anchorite then an abbot there.  Finally, shortly before his death, St. John Climacus resigned his abbotcy to become a hermit again.  His second name, “Climacus,” came from his influential book, translated into English as The Ladder to Paradise and as The Ladder of Divine Ascent.  He wrote of the 30 steps to moral perfection, with each step corresponding to a year of Christ’s life from birth to baptism.  The steps were:

  1. On the renunciation of the world;
  2. On detachment;
  3. On exile or pilgrimage;
  4. On blessed and ever-memorable obedience;
  5. On painstaking and true repentance which constitute the life of holy convicts; and about the prison;
  6. On remembrance of death;
  7. On mourning which causes joy;
  8. On freedom from anger and on meekness;
  9. On remembrance of wrongs;
  10. On slander or calumny;
  11. On talkativeness and silence;
  12. On lying;
  13. On despondency;
  14. On the clamorous, yet wicked monster–the stomach;
  15. On incorruptible purity and chastity to which the corruptible attain by toil and sweat;
  16. On the love of money or avarice;
  17. On poverty (that hastens heavenward);
  18. On insensibility, that is, deadening the soul and the death of the mind before the death of the body;
  19. On sleep, prayer, and psalm-singing in the chapel;
  20. On bodily vigil and how to use it to attain spiritual vigil and how to practice it;
  21. On unmanly and puerile cowardice;
  22. On the many forms of vainglory;
  23. On mad pride, and, in the same Step, on unclean blasphemous thoughts;
  24. On meekness, simplicity, guilelessness which come not from nature but from habit, and about malice;
  25. On the destroyer of the passions, most sublime humility, which is rooted in spiritual feeling;
  26. On discernment of thoughts, passions and virtues;
  27. On holy solitude of body and soul;
  28. On holy and blessed prayer, mother of virtues, and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer;
  29. Concerning heaven on earth, or godlike dispassion and perfection, and the resurrection of the soul before the general resurrection; and
  30. Concerning the linking together of the supreme trinity among the virtues.

Climacus, who died in March 649, became an influential figure in both Eastern and Western monasticism via his book.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 11, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF LUKE OF PRAGUE AND JOHN AUGUSTA, MORAVIAN BISHOPS AND HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF BLESSED KAZIMIERZ TOMAS SYKULSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF LARS OLSEN SKREFSRUD, HANS PETER BOERRESEN, AND PAUL OLAF BODDING, LUTHERAN MISSIONARIES IN INDA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED SEVERIN OTT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom, and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servants Sts. John Cassian and John Climacus,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth we have seen

in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Feast of St. Aldhelm of Sherborne (May 25)   1 comment

England in 700 CE

Above:  England in 700

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALDHELM OF SHERBORNE (639-MAY 25, 709)

Poet, Literary Scholar, Abbot of Malmesbury, and Bishop of Sherborne

St. Aldhelm comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from the Roman Catholic Church and The Church of England.

St. Aldhelm was a scholar, poet, and churchman.  Our saint, a relative–perhaps a brother–of King Ine of Wessex (reigned 688-726), studied at Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, where Maildubh (died in 675), an Irish monk and scholar was abbot.  For a time St. Aldhelm studied at Canterbury under the tutelage of St. Adrian/Hadrian (died in 710).  Bad health forced our saint to return to Malmesbury, where he served as a monk under Abbot Maildubh until succeeding him in 675.  St. Aldhelm introduced the Rule of St. Benedict to the monastery, made the abbey a center of learning, oversaw the construction of a new church on the grounds, and expanded the land holdings of the monastery.

St. Aldhelm was a literary figure.  He was, as far as historians know, the first Anglo-Saxon to write in Latin.  His Latin writing style reflected his erudition, for it was abstruse and sesquipedalian.  His works were standard in English ecclesiastical schools for centuries, declining after the Norman Conquest (1066).  Our saint also wrote in Old English, but none of his writings in that language have survived.

St. Aldhelm, who had a strong devotion to Mary and the saints, became the first Bishop of Sherborne in 705, after the division of the large Diocese of Winchester.  He held that post until he died at Doulting, Somerset, on May 25, 709.

Archive.org offers several works about our saint:

  1. St. Aldhelm:  His Life and Times, Lectures Delivered in the Cathedral Church of Bristol, Lent, 1902 (1903), by George Forrest Browne;
  2. Life of S. Ealdhelm, First Bishop of Sherborne (1905), by William Beauchamp Wildman; and
  3. Two Ancient English Scholars:  St. Aldhelm and William of Malmesbury:  Being the First Lecture on the David Murray Foundation in the University of Glasgow Delivered on June 9th, 1931 (1931), by Montague Rhodes James.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Saint Aldhelm of Sherborne 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. Aidan of Lindisfarne, Caelin, St. Cedd of Lastingham, St. Cynibil of Lastingham, St. Chad of Mercia, St. Vitalian, St. Adrian of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, and St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (March 2)   4 comments

England in 600 CE

Above:  England in 600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 590-AUGUST 31, 651)

Celtic Missionary Bishop

His feast transferred from August 31

mentor of

CAELIN (600S)

Celtic Priest

brother of

SAINT CEDD OF LASTINGHAM (CIRCA 620-OCTOBER 26, 664)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Bishop of Essex, and Abbot of Lastingham

His feast transferred from October 26

brother of

SAINT CYNIBIL OF LASTINGHAM (CIRCA 622-664)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest and Monk

His feast = March 2

brother of

SAINT CHAD (A.K.A. CEADDA) OF MERCIA (DIED MARCH 2, 672)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Priest, Abbot of Lastingham, Bishop of York/the Northumbrians and of Lichfield/the Mercians and the Lindsey People

His feast day = March 2

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SAINT VITALIAN (DIED JANUARY 27, 672)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 27

consecrated 

THEODORE OF TARSUS (CIRCA 602-SEPTEMBER 19, 690)

Roman Catholic Monk and Archbishop of Canterbury

His feast transferred from September 19

worked with

SAINT ADRIAN (A.K.A. HADRIAN) OF CANTERBURY (DIED JANUARY 9, 710)

Roman Catholic Abbot of Ss. Peter and Paul’s, Canterbury

His feast transferred from January 9

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SAINT CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 635-MARCH 20, 687)

Celtic and Roman Catholic Monk, Hermit, Priest, and Bishop of Lindisfarne

His feast transferred from March 20

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INTRODUCTION

Preparation for this post began with one name–St. Chad of Mercia.  As I took notes and followed leads, the number of saints, canonized and otherwise, increased to nine.  I could have gone beyond that, but (A) I had already written about some of the other related saints, and (B) I chose to draw the proverbial line somewhere.  I also thought seriously about covering the material in more than one post, but I decided that writing just one post would maintain the unity of the narrative, with its overlapping lives of saints.  I therefore invite you, O reader, to follow the proverbial bouncing ball and to draw inspiration from the lives of great men of God as you learn about them.

SAINT AIDAN OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 590-AUGUST 31, 651)

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Above:  St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Image in the Public Domain

Augustine was the Apostle of Kent, but Aidan was the Apostle of the English.

–Joseph Lightfoot (1828-1889), Anglican Bishop of Durham (1879-1889)

The best saint with whom to begin the narrative is St. Aidan of Lindisfarne.  The historical record contains little information about his early life.  It does tell us that he was Irish, ascetic, and, from an early age, a monk at Iona.

St. Aidan belonged to the Celtic Church, which preceded the Roman Catholic Church in the British Isles for centuries and existed alongside it for decades until the Synod of Whitby (664).  St. Oswald, the King of Northumbria from 634 to 641/642, was a devout Christian ruler, but a large proportion of his subjects consisted of pagans.  He contacted the great abbey at Iona and requested missionaries.  The first missionary bishop Iona sent was one Corman, who employed harsh tactics, alienated many people, failed thoroughly, and declared that converting the people was impossible.  Iona recalled him and replaced him with St. Aidan in 635.  St. Aidan, as the first Bishop of Lindisfarne (635-651), with the seat of his see at Bamburgh, used gentle tactics of evangelism.  He and his fellow missionaries converted many people, founded many churches, and built schools and monasteries.  He undertook many missionary journeys in Great Britain.  St. Aidan died at Bamburgh on August 31, 651, after returning from one such journey.

FOUR HOLY BROTHERS:  CAELIN, SAINT CEDD OF LASTINGHAM, SAINT CYNIBIL OF LASTINGHAM, AND SAINT CHAD OF MERCIA

St. Aidan taught four Northumbrian brothers at Lindisfarne.  They were Caelin (600s), St. Cedd of Lastingham (circa 620-October 26, 664), St. Cynibil of Lastingham (622-664), and St. Chad of Mercia (died March 2, 672).  These brothers continued their studies under St. Egbert of Lindisfarne (circa 639-729) in Ireland and became priests in the Celtic Church.

St. Cedd

Above:  St. Cedd of Lastingham

Image in the Public Domain

St. Aidan’s successor as Bishop of Lindisfarne was St. Finan of Lindisfarne (in office 651-661).  In 653 Bishop St. Finan sent four priests, including St. Cedd, to engage in missionary work in Northumbria.  The efforts proved successful, leading to the conversion of many people and the building of churches and monasteries.  In 654 St. Finan consecrated St. Cedd as the Bishop of Essex, with the seat of the see at London.  Four years later St. Cedd expanded his portfolio by founding the abbey at Lastingham and becoming the abbot thereof.

St. Cedd’s three brothers assisted in this founding.  Caelin, a court chaplain, arranged for the royal donation of land.  St. Cedd started a forty-day-long fast to purify the site of the monastery prior to construction.  He held up well until the twenty-ninth day.  St. Cynibil took up the fast on the thirtieth day.  St. Cedd recalled his other brother, St. Chad, from Ireland to help with the founding also.

St. Cynibil lived as a monk at Lastingham until 664, when he died of plague.

Ss. Cedd and Chad attended the Synod of Whitby (664) and accepted its result.  Rome and its customs were supreme.  St. Cedd died of plague on October 26, 664, during a visit to the monastery at Lastingham.  St. Chad succeeded him as abbot.

That year St. Chad became the Bishop of the Northumbrians, with his seat at York.  There was already a bishop-designate, St. Wilfrid (lived 634-709), but, for political reasons, King Oswiu of Northumbria (reigned 642-670) chose St. Chad.  St. Wilfrid, ordained in France, arrived to find a rival claimant to his see.  The resolution of this dispute fell to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus.

SAINT VITALIAN, BISHOP OF ROME (DIED JANUARY 27, 672), AND THEODORE OF TARSUS (CIRCA 602-SEPTEMBER 19, 690)

St. Vitalian

Above:  St. Vitalian

Image in the Public Domain

Historical records tell us little regarding the early life of St. Vitalian.  We do know that his birthplace was Segni, near Rome, and that his father’s name was Anastasius.  Those records are mostly silent regarding the saint’s life prior to becoming the Pope.

St. Vitalian’s papacy started on July 30, 657, and ended with his death on January 27, 672.  His predecessor was St. Eugene I (reigned 654-657), a man with a conciliatory spirit, especially regarding the Eastern Roman Empire and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  St. Vitalian succeeded where St. Eugene I could not; he restored good relations between the Holy See and Constantinople.  Later during his papacy St. Vitalian found an opening (due to internal politics in Constantinople) to insist on what was not previously politically feasible:  an unambiguous statement that Jesus had two wills–not one or three.  Closer to home, St. Vitalian established the singing school at the Lateran to train singers for the new, more elaborate papal rites.

St. Vitalian sought to fill the vacant See of Canterbury.  Deusdedit (reigned 655-664) had died.  The see remained vacant for four years.  Twice St. Vitalian asked St. Adrian (of Canterbury), who declined, claiming to be unworthy.  St. Adrian, a native of northern Africa, had become the Abbot of Narida, Naples, at a young age.  He was indeed an accomplished, capable, and humble man.  Wighard, Archbishop-designate from 666, died of plague in 667.

Theodore of Tarsus

Above:  Theodore of Tarsus

Image in the Public Domain

Finally the Holy Father found his man in Theodore of Tarsus (circa 602-690).  Theodore was a native of Tarsus, Cilicia, Asia Minor, the hometown of St. Paul the Apostle.  He was also a learned monk who had fled his home region because of Islamic conquests in the Eastern Roman Empire.  In 667 Theodore lived in an Eastern Rite monastic community at Rome.  He was also in the sixties.  Theodore had many miles to go before he slept, however.  On March 26, 668, at Rome, St. Vitalian consecrated him the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Pope sent St. Adrian (of Canterbury) and St. Benedict Biscop with him to England.  These three men–Theodore of Tarsus, St. Adrian of Canterbury, and St. Benedict Biscop–left positive and long-term legacies in England.

THEODORE OF TARSUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY (668-690)

England in 700 CE

Above:  England in 700 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

Theodore of Tarsus was among the most important Archbishops of Canterbury.  He arrived in England in May 669 to find a divided Church, for the Synod of Whitby (664) by which the Roman Catholic Church took over the Celtic Church, remained controversial.  Kingdoms divided the island further.  He had much work to do to create a sense of unity.

Immediately the Archbishop addressed the dispute regarding Ss. Chad and Wilfrid.  He deposed St. Chad, declared his consecration irregular and therefore null, and installed St. Wilfrid.  St. Chad took this well and with humility, declaring that he had never thought himself worthy of the office anyway.  Then he returned to the abbey at Lastingham.  This humility impressed Theodore, who re-consecrated him and made him the Bishop of the Mercians and the Lindsey People, with the seat of the see at York.  From 669 to 672 St. Chad fulfilled his duties faithfully.  He died of plague at Lichfield on March 2, 672.  Among his eventual successors was St. Wilfrid, who served in the post from 691 to 709.

Theodore of Tarsus left his mark on the English Church.  He filled vacant sees, created new dioceses, and reorganized the Church.  Along the way he became a party to disputes, including one with St. Wilfrid, whose Northumbrian diocese he divided.  The Archbishop, being a human being, could never please all of the people all of the time, but he did win widespread respect.  The Venerable Bede wrote that Theodore was “the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed.”  Theodore died at Canterbury on September 19, 690.  He was 88 years old.

SAINT ADRIAN OF CANTERBURY IN ENGLAND

Gaul in 628 C.E.

Above:  Gaul in 628 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

Theodore of Tarsus collaborated with St. Adrian of Canterbury (died January 9, 710).  St. Adrian, whom some sources list as St. Hadrian, arrived in England in 671.  Ebroin, the perfidious Mayor of the Palace in Neustria, in Merovingian France, detained St. Adrian for about two years.  The Mayor of the Palace claimed that the saint was on a secret mission for the Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II (reigned 641-668).  Of course our saint was not on any such mission.  Furthermore, Ebroin’s timing was bad, even considering the fact that news traveled more slowly in the 600s than it does in 2015.  Constans II died under suspicious circumstances on July 15, 668.  But who needs facts, right?  Eventually Ebroin released St. Adrian.

The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed St. Adrian the Abbot of Ss. Peter and Paul’s, Canterbury, in 671, succeeding St. Benedict Biscop.  St. Adrian advised and assisted Theodore of Tarsus in bringing liturgical unity to the English Church.  The abbot, a well-educated man, made the School of Canterbury the center of learning in England and established other institutions of learning in England.  From these schools emerged scholars and missionaries who renewed church life in England, France, and Germany.

SAINT CUTHBERT OF LINDISFARNE (CIRCA 635-687)

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne also helped to bring peace to the English Church after the Synod of Whitby (664).  He was probably a native of the environs of Melrose, for, as a young person, he tended sheep near the monastery there.  In 651, when fifteen or sixteen years old, St. Cuthbert reported a vision upon the event of the death of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne.  The young man claimed to have seen angels carrying St. Aidan’s soul to Heaven.  This experience prompted St. Cuthbert to join the monastery at Melrose that year.  There he remained until 664 when St. Eata (died October 26, 686), the Abbot of Melrose from 651 to 678 (and a protegé of St. Aidan), sent St. Cuthbert to Lindisfarne to introduce Roman Catholic customs there.  He also evangelized effectively and demonstrated a strong devotion to the Mass, for he could not celebrate it without tears.  In 676, with permission from the Abbot of Lindisfarne, St. Cuthbert became a hermit and began to deepen his contemplative life.  His first hermitage was the site known today as St. Cuthbert’s Cave.  St. Cuthbert’s’ long-term hermitage was a site on Farne Island, however.

Circumstances removed St. Cuthbert from Farne Island briefly.  In 686 Church officials persuaded him to succeed St. Eata (Bishop of Lindisfarne from 678 to 685 then Bishop of Hexham from 685 to 686) as Bishop of Lindisfarne.  St. Cuthbert’s episcopate was brief.  At Christmas 686 he, knowing that he was dying, resigned and returned to Farne Island.  He died there on March 20, 687.

CONCLUSION

The legacies of these nine saints (not all of them canonized) echo down the corridors of time.  These were foundational figures.  I, as a Christian and, more specifically, an Episcopalian, stand on their shoulders.  These men built up and renewed the Church, to which I belong.

The work of building up and renewing the Church is never finished.  This is especially true in the global West, where much of Christianity is declining and pockets of it are falling into frightened fundamentalism and hateful phobias targeted at people.  Between the extremes of the right (where too much is literal and fixed) and the left (where too much is metaphorical and relative) one finds a middle way of truth and of love for God without denying tolerance, intellectualism, and science.  That broad path of faithful union of healthy spirituality with secular knowledge and respect for the dignity of those who are different also exists in Christian tradition.  It is the best way forward for the Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2015 COMMON ERA

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

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Almighty God, we praise you, for your servants

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne,

Caelin,

St. Cedd of Lastingham,

St. Cynibil of Lastingham,

St. Chad of Mercia,

St. Vitalian,

St. Adrian of Canterbury,

Theodore of Tarsus, and

St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of St. Benedict Biscop (January 12)   2 comments

England 700 CE

Above:  England in 700 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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ST. BENEDICT BISCOP (CIRCA 628-JANUARY 12, 688/689)

Roman Catholic Abbot of Wearmouth

As I read and took notes about the life of St. Benedict Biscop I became increasingly impressed.  I also decided that he was among my kindred spirits separated from me by time and space.  His habit of accumulating a relatively large library spanning a variety of subjects yet focused on service books confirmed that conclusion.

January 12 seems to be an auspicious date for saints from Northumbria.  In the previous post I wrote about St. Aelred of Hexham (circa 1109/1110-1167), an influential abbot and writer.  Now I write about St. Benedict Biscop (circa 628-689/690), also an influential abbot and scholar.

Biscop Baducing came from Northumbrian nobility.  For a time he was a warrior of King Oswiu of Bernicia (reigned 642-670).  Our saint, who traveled to Rome five times (often in part to purchase books), was a friend of St. Wilfrid, Bishop of York (lived 634-709), a predecessor of St. Wilfrid of Ripon (died circa 744), also Bishop of York.  (Some sources identify the first St. Wilfrid as St. Wilfrid the Elder and the second St. Wilfrid, the one from Ripon, as St. Wilfrid the Younger.)  In 665, after returning from his second journey to Rome, Biscop settled on the island of Lerins, where he studied to become a monk for two years then took vows and a new name–Benedict.

Thus St. Benedict Biscop found his calling and pursued it.  In 668 and 669 he accompanied St. Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, from Rome to England.  Upon their arrival the Archbishop appointed our saint the Abbot of Sts. Peter and Paul’s, Canterbury, a post he held for two years.  In 674 King Ecgfirth of Northumbria (reigned 670-685) granted St. Benedict Biscop land on which to build a monastery–St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth.  Our saint traveled in Europe to find the masons to erect the structures in the Pre-Romanesque style.  He also made his final journey to Rome in 679 and returned with books, relics, glaziers, masons, and a papal grant of special privileges for the monastery.  Ecgfirth, impressed, granted more land adjacent to St. Peter’s, Monkwearmouth, in 1182.  Thus St. Paul’s, Jarrow, came to exist.  The priory of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s became a center of learning, due primarily to its library of almost 300 books–an impressive number for the time and place.  (There were no printing presses in Europe yet, although the Chinese had invented one by that time.)  That library proved invaluable to St. Bede of Jarrow, or the Venerable Bede (circa 673-735), a great historian.

St. Benedict Biscop, who did much to influence the world for the better, spent his last two years in pain and confined to his bed.  He died on January 12, 689 or 690, but his legacy has never ceased to live.  The legacies of teachers survive in their students and those whom the students influence.  To this day the writings of St. Bede remain in print, awaiting more readers.  They would not exist without the efforts of St. Benedict Biscop.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF AARON ROBARTS WOLFE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MORTON REYNOLDS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [St. Benedict Biscop 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. Amatus of Luxeuil and St. Romaric of Luxeuil (December 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 628 

SAINT AMATUS OF LUXEUIL (DIED 630)

Also known as Saint Ame

Roman Catholic Monk and Abbot

His feast transferred from September 13

converted

SAINT ROMARIC OF LUXEUIL (DIED 653)

Roman Catholic Monk and Abbot

One of the joys of preparing these posts about lives of saints is discovering for myself the links between and among saints.  Today, with this post, I add two saints to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  These stories converge with the lives of at least four saints of whom I have written already.  Such overlapping holiness gladdens my heart.

This saga of sanctity begins with St. Amatus (died 630).  The monk from Grenoble had grown up in a monastery.  And, in 614, at the urging of St. Eustace of Luxeuil, abbot from 611, he became a monk there.  A few years later, St. Amatus converted St. Romaric (died 653), then a nobleman serving in the court of Lothair II (reigned 584-629), King of Neustria from 584 and King of all Franks from 613.  St. Romaric also became a monk at Luxeuil.  At that monastery both saintly monks were subject to the positive influence of St. Columban/Columbanus, the great evangelist and founder of monasteries.

In 620 Sts. Amatus and Romaric, with the approval of St. Eustace, founded the double monastery of Remiremont Abbey on St. Romaric’s estate at Habendum.  St. Amatus served as the first abbot; St. Romaric succeeded him in 623 and ruled for the next thirty years.  Among the monks there were St. Arnulf of Metz, a nobleman and a bishop, and St. Germanus of Granfel (see the hyperlink for St. Arnulf), later an abbot.

Accounts of St. Romaric’s life as abbot include stories of him becoming involved in Merovingian dynastic politics, which were frequently dangerous, for certain Merovingian monarchs were violent toward their own family members.  The particulars of St. Romaric’s political entanglements are irrelevant and would distract me from my focus, but I do note that he strove for a better society–surely a good cause.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE MOSCATI, PHYSICIAN

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O God, by whose grace your servants Saint Amatus of Luxeuil and Saint Romaric of Luxeuil,

kindled with the flame of your love, became burning and shining lights 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 and 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

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723