Archive for the ‘Saints of the 650s’ 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. Flavian and Anatolius of Constantiople, St. Agatho, St. Leo II, and St. Benedict II (July 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT FLAVIAN OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED AUGUST 449)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast transferred from February 17

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SAINT ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 300S-458)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast = July 3

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SAINT AGATHO (DIED JANUARY 10, 681)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT LEO II (DIED JULY 3, 683)

Bishop of Rome

His feast = July 3

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SAINT BENEDICT II (DIED MAY 8, 685)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from May 7

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DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

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INTRODUCTION

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Sometimes the most effective way to tell the story of a saint’s life or a portion thereof is to include other saints.  This generalization applies to St. Anatolius of Constantinople and St. Leo II, who have separate feasts on this day, according to the Roman Catholic calendar.

These five saints lived in times when theological debates were political.  Christological disputes were matters of imperial policy, frequently with negative consequences for those who opposed the Emperor at Constantinople.

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PATRIARCHS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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St. Flavian of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople from 446 to 449, opposed monophysitism, the heresy that Jesus had just one nature–divine.  The Patriarch excommunicated Eutyches, the founder of that heresy.  Eutyches had political allies, though.  He managed to turn Dioscorus, the Bishop of Alexandria, to his side.  Thus Dioscorus presided over the “Robber Council,” which acquitted Eutyches, condemned St. Flavian, and ended with Dioscorus and monks physically abusing St. Flavian, binding him in chains, and sending him into exile.  St. Flavian died in August 449.

St. Anatolius of Constantinople presided over the posthumous exoneration of St. Flavian.  St. Anatolius, born in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 300s, was a man who lived simply and aided the poor.  He also stood on the side of Christological orthodoxy.  In 431 he and his mentor, St. Cyril of Alexandria, who had ordained him to the diaconate, attended the Council of Ephesus, which affirmed that Christ had two natures, called St. Mary of Nazareth the Mother of God (not just the Mother of Christ), and therefore condemned the Nestorian heresy.  As the Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458) St. Anatolius attended the Council of Chalcedon (451), convened by Pope St. Leo I “the Great” (in office 440-461), which refuted the monophysite heresy.  That council also canonized St. Flavian of Constantinople.  St. Anatolius, who also composed liturgical hymns, experienced much political difficulty due to his orthodoxy.  He might even have been a martyr at the hands of heretics.

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BISHOPS OF ROME

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The monothysite heresy remained an issue into the seventh century.  Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV (reigned 668-685) had used the monothelitist heresy (that Jesus had just one will–divine) to maintain peace with the monophysites in his realm.  He decided to abandon that strategy.

Pope Donus (in office November 2, 676-April 11, 678) died.  His successor was St. Agatho, in office from June 27, 678, to January 10, 681.  St. Agatho, once a monk, was a Sicilian who knew Latin and Greek well.  In 678 St. Agatho received a letter (addressed to Donus) proposing a conference to discuss how many wills Jesus had and whether the churches should reunite.  The Pope agreed to the conference, but held synods in the West prior to the Third Council Constantinople (680-681).  The papal delegation carried a condemnation of monothelitism signed by 150 bishops, as well as a document affirming Rome as the custodian of the Christian faith.  The Third Council of Constantinople, with Constantine IV presiding, affirmed that Jesus had two wills and anathematized monothelitist leaders.

St. Agatho, a kind and cheerful man, died on January 10, 681, while the council was in progress.  His successor was St. Leo II, elected in January 681 yet not installed until August 17, 682, due to imperial politics.  Emperor Constantine IV delayed the ratification of St. Leo II’s election due to the process of ratifying the decrees of the council.  St. Leo II, during his brief papacy, ratified the decrees of the council and ordered their translation from Greek into Latin.  He also readmitted repentant former monothelitists to the Church.

St. Leo II, also a Sicilian, like his predecessor, was a cultured and eloquent man with a fine singing voice.  He, a patron of the poor, asserted papal control over the bishops of Ravenna, autonomous since 666.  St. Leo II died on July 3, 683, after less than a year as the Pope.

St. Benedict II was a gentle and humble man who cared for the poor also.  He, elected Pope in July 683, did not enter into that office until June 26, 684, due to Constantine IV delaying the ratification of the election.  St. Benedict II, a Roman, not a Sicilian, secured an agreement by which the Exarch of Ravenna ratified papal elections, thereby preventing such long delays between papal elections and installations.  The Pope died on May 8, 685, after less than a year in office.

The spirit of cooperation with Constantinople broke down during the reign of Emperor Justinian II (reigned 685-695, 705-711).

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CONCLUSION

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The challenges faithful Christians face vary, depending on who, when, and where one is.  One can study the lives of one’s ancient predecessors in the faith, ponder the challenges they confronted, and take comfort in the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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Almighty God, you have raise up faithful bishops of your church, including

Saint Flavian of Constantinople,

Saint Anatolius of Constantinople,

Saint Agatho,

Saint Leo II, and

Saint Benedict II,

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

We pray that, following their example and the teaching of their holy lives,

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), 60

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of St. Germanus I of Constantinople (May 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Germanus I of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT GERMANUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE (CIRCA 640-MAY 12, 733/740)

Patriarch of Constantinople

Byzantine Imperial politics affected the life of St. Germanus I, mostly negatively.  He, born at Constantinople circa 640, was a son of Senator Justinian, whom Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatus (reigned 668-685) ordered executed.  The cruel emperor also ordered the emasculation of St. Germanus.  Our saint went on to become a priest then the Bishop of Cyzicus.  As the Bishop of Cyzicus he attended the Synod of Constantinople (712), which decreed Monothelitism, the heresy that Christ, despite having two natures (human and divine) yet just one will.  St. Germanus criticized that heresy.  Our saint, the Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 730, also opposed iconoclasm.  This caused him to lose favor with Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (reigned 717-741), who forced him out of office in 730 and into exile at a monastery at Platonium then appointed an obedient patriarch.  St. Germanus died in the monastery between 733 and 740.

St. Germanus wrote histories, homilies, and hymns.  Some hymns have survived.

So have varieties of iconoclasm, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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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 servant Saint Germanus I of Constantinople,

and we pray that, by his 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.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–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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