Archive for the ‘Saints of the 780s’ Category

Feast of St. Paulinus II of Aquileia (January 11)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Paulinus II of Aquileia

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PAULINUS II OF AQUILEIA (CIRCA 726-JANUARY 11, 802/804)

Roman Catholic Patriarch of Aquileia

Also known as Saint Paulinus of Aquileia

Alternative feast days = January 28, February 9, and March 2

I include “II” in this saint’s name for the sake of accuracy.  The historical record tells of Paulinus I of Aquileia, who served as the first Patriarch of Aquileia from 557 to 571.

St. Paulinus II of Aquileia was a bishop, a scholar, a poet, a missionary, and a defender of theological orthodoxy.  He, born circa 726 in Cividale, when the Lombards ruled that part of the Italian peninsula, received a fine education in pagan and Christian classics.  During the lifetime of St. Paulinus II, the Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, survived in the East.  The dominant power in the West was the Frankish Kingdom/Carolingian Empire, the most famous ruler of which was Charles the Great (Charlemagne, in Latin), who reigned from 768 to 814.  His realm was an antecedent to modern-day nation-states such as France and Germany; his territory ranged from northern Spain into central Europe and into northern Italy.

The patronage of Charlemagne made the career of St. Paulinus II possible.  St. Paulinus II, a priest, was also a scholar of the Bible, theology, and patristics.  He was the kind of man Charlemagne wanted to hire to participate in the Carolingian Renaissance.  From 776 to 786 St. Paulinus II was the Master of Grammar in the court at Aix-en-Chapelle.  Our saint mentored other key figures of the Carolingian Renaissance.  One of these, St. Alcuin of York (c. 735-804), a friend of our saint, guided the rebirth of education in much of the Carolingian Empire.

The final job title of St. Paulinus II was Patriarch of Aquileia.  Charlemagne secured that position for him in 787, after the previous Patriarch had died.  Aquileia was a village on the Adriatic coast of Italy, but the basilica was there and the patriarchate was prestigious.  St. Paulinus II established his headquarters in Cividale instead.  Our saint was active in arguing against Adoptionism, which originated in Spain in the 700s.  The Adoptionist heresy stated that Jesus was the Son of God only because God had adopted him. (Adoptionism has persisted, unfortunately.  I have heard someone affirm it.)  St. Paulinus II also helped Charlemagne’s son, Pepin, King of the Lombards (reigned 781-810).  The Patriarch supported Pepin’s military campaign against the Avars, nomads of Eurasian ancestry who fought both the Carolingian and Roman (Byzantine) Empires.  After Pepin’s forces won, St. Paulinus II oversaw the peaceful conversion of the Avars and many Slavs in what has become Slovenia.  St, Paulinus II also represented Charlemagne to Pope Leo III (in office 795-816).

St. Paulinus II died on January 11, 802 or 804.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNADINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [St. Paulinus II 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. Wastrada and Her Family (July 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gaul in 714 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT WASTRADA (DIED CIRCA 760)

mother of

SAINT GREGORY OF UTRECHT (703-776)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Utrecht

His feast transferred from August 25

uncle of 

SAINT ALBERIC OF UTRECHT (DIED AUGUST 21, 784)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Utrecht

His feast transferred from November 14 and August 21

One of my goals is renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize relationships and influences.  That emphasis is consistent with telling family stories, such as this one.

This family was nobility related to the Carolingian Dynasty.  Alberic and St. Wastrada (d. 760) were a married couple.  After Alberic died St. Wastrada became a nun.  Their son was St. Gregory of Utrecht, born in Trier in 703.  He, educated at the monastery at Pfalzel, met his mentor, the visiting St. Boniface of Mainz (675-754), there in 722.  St. Gregory became the Abbot of St. Martin’s Abbey, Utrecht, a center of missionary activities.  In 754 St. Eoban (feast day = July 7), Bishop of Utrecht for about a year, died, having become a martyr with St. Boniface.  St. Gregory, without formal consecration, served as the Bishop of Utrecht from 754 to 775, until failing health forced him to step down.  He died in 776.  St. Gregory, habitually quick to forgive, served as a mentor to many saints, including St. Ludger (742-809).

The next Bishop of Utrecht was St. Alberic of Utrecht, St. Gregory’s nephew.  St. Alberic, renowned for his great intellect, deep piety, and evangelistic zeal, had been a Benedictine monk in Utrecht and the Prior of the cathedral in that city.  He reorganized the school, evangelized pagan Teutons, and directed the missionary work of St. Ludger in Ostergau.  (St. Ludger had been a student of St. Alcuin of York, a friend of St. Alberic.)  St. Alberic died on August 2, 784.

We know little about St. Wastrada, but we can learn something about her faith by pondering her son and his nephew.  We can know that the direct and indirect influences of St. Wastrada were profound, surviving her for many generations.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 5:  THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES OF NISIBIS, BISHOP; AND SAINT EPHREM OF EDESSA, “THE HARP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT”

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GETULIUS, AMANTIUS, CAERAELIS, AND PRIMITIVUS, MARTYRS AT TIVOLI, 12O; AND SAINT SYMPHOROSA OF TIVOLI, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDERICUS OF PARIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF THOR MARTIN JOHNSON, U.S. MORAVIAN CONDUCTOR AND MUSIC DIRECTOR

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Wastrada,

Saint Gregory of Utrecht, and

Saint Alberic of Utrecht,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may attain with them to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

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

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 724

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Feast of St. Methodius I of Constantinople and St. Joseph the Hymnographer (June 14)   1 comment

Above:  The Expansion of Islam, 700-900

Scanned from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (Philadelphia, PA:  The Publishers Agency, Inc., 1957), H-11

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SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 700S-847)

Defender of Icons and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

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SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER (LATE 700S-886)

Defender of Icons and the “Sweet-Voiced Nightingale of the Church”

Alternative feast day = April 3

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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

–Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées

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A DUAL BIOGRAPHY OF ALMOST CERTAINLY THREE MEN

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On the Roman Catholic calendar Sts. Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer, contemporaries, share a feast day yet not a feast.  My process of preparing this post reveals that the fact they their stories contain many of the same background characters, however, so merging the feasts is efficient and feasible.

FROM SICILY TO ROME

Above:  St. Methodius I of Constantinople

Image in the Public Domain

St. Methodius I, born in Syracuse, Sicily, in the late 700s, came from a wealthy family.  He, educated in Syracuse, traveled to Constantinople for the purpose of seeking a position in the Byzantine imperial court.  He founded a monastery on the island of Chinos and supervised construction of that monastery instead.  St. Methodius I left Chinos soon after the the completion of the construction of that monastery, for St. Nicephorus I, from 806 to 815 the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, summoned him to the imperial capital and appointed him the apokrisiares, or church advocate, during the reign (813-820) of the Iconoclastic Emperor Leo V the Armenian.

Above:  St. Joseph the Hymnographer

Image in the Public Domain

St. Joseph the Hymnographer, frequently and perhaps hopelessly confused by many hagiographers with St. Joseph of Thessalonica, brother of St. Theodore Studites, also made his way to Constantinople.  St. Joseph the Hymnographer, born on the island of Sicily in the late 700s, came from a Christian family.  His parents were Plotinos and Agatha.  He moved to Thessalonica, where he became a monk.  There St. Gregory the Dekapolite, also a defender of icons, met our saint, whom he took to the imperial capital during the reign (813-820) of Leo V the Armenian.

IN ROME

St. Nicephorus I sent St. Methodius I on a mission to Rome.  During that time Leo the Armenian dismissed the Ecumenical Patriarch and exiled the absent St. Methodius I.

St. Gregory also sent St. Joseph to Rome, to deliver a message to Pope Leo III (in office 795-816).  St. Joseph remained in Rome for years.

BACK TO CONSTANTINOPLE

Both of our featured saints returned to Constantinople after Leo the Armenian died in 820 and during the reign (820-829) of Emperor Michael II the Stammerer.  Although Michael II initially halted the Iconclastic persecution and freed the political prisoners, he eventually resumed the persecution and imprisoned St. Methodius I, who had continued to resist Iconoclasm.  St. Joseph, a priest by this time, was back in the imperial capital also.  There he founded a church and an associated monastery.  In his absence St. Gregory had died.  St. Joseph transferred relics of his mentor to the new church.

THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR THEOPHILUS (829-842)

The next ruler was Theophilus (reigned 829-842), an Iconclast.  The Emperor freed St. Methodius I, who persisted in resisting Iconoclasm.  Theophilus tolerated this until he became convinced that leniency toward St. Methodius I angered God, who supposedly punished the empire with defeats to Arab armies.  So, in 835, the Emperor ordered the arrest and torture of St. Methodius I, who had retorted that God was angry not over the veneration of icons but the destruction of them.  Byzantine guards broke St. Methodius I’s jaw and permanently scarred his face.  They also kept him incarcerated with two robbers in a cave on the island of Antigonus for seven years.

St. Joseph also resisted the Iconclastic policy of Theophilus.  Our saint therefore spent eleven years in exile in the Cheronese, in Crimea.

EXIT SAINT METHODIUS I

The reign of Emperor Michael III the Drunkard spanned from 842 to 867.  Until 856, however, the regent was his mother, the Empress Theodora.  She ordered defenders of icons freed.  The Empress also elevated St. Methodius I to the office of Ecumenical Patriarch.  In that capacity he presided over the church council that restored the veneration of icons.  He lived peacefully during his final years, dying in 847.

St. Methodius I also wrote some hymns.

EXIT SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER

St. Joseph’s fortunes under Theodora were mixed.  In 842 she made him the keeper of the sacred vessels at the Church of Hagia Sophia, Constantinople.  He had to go into exiles again, however, due to the political consequences of his condemnation of the cohabitation of Bardas, brother of Theodora.  St. Joseph returned from exile in 867, after the death of Bardas.

St. Joseph, back in Constantinople, ended his days as the Father-confessor for all priests in the city.  He died in 886.

St. Joseph wrote about 1000 hymns and liturgical poems of the Orthodox Church.  Some of them have come to exist in English-language translations, in hymnals of various denominations, usually Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, and Presbyterian.

THE MATTER OF CHRONOLOGY; OR, PEOPLE LEAD THEIR LIVES FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD

I have endeavored to write as accurately as possible.  As I have mentioned, hagiographers have long confused St. Joseph the Hymnographer with St. Joseph of Thessalonica.  This fact has complicated my task.  Even Orthodox Church resources I have consulted have offered untrustworthy information.  I have discerned some of this via simple mathematics.  According to some sources, the birth of St. Joseph the Hymnographer occurred in 816 and his family fled Sicily when he was 15 years old (in 831), due to the Arab invasion.  Also according to these sources, some years later St. Joseph arrived in Constantinople and carried a message to the Pope during the reign of Emperor Leo V the Armenian.  The reign of Leo the Armenian was 813-820, however.  ST. JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER DID NOT MOVE BACKWARD IN TIME.  I have also read of mutually exclusive exiles of St. Joseph during the reign of the Emperor Theophilus.  I have utilized Ockham’s Razor when making decisions about what to write.

I acknowledge readily, O reader, that my biography of St. Joseph the Hymnographer almost certainly contains elements of the life of St. Joseph of Thessalonica instead, due to the sources available to me.

CONCLUSION

Sts. Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer were faithful servants of God who suffered for their faith, due to imperial politics.  Their legacies have survived, fortunately.  The Orthodox Church has continued to venerate icons.  Also, many Christians, in their successive generations, to the present day, have sung hymns by St. Joseph.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE ALMSGIVER, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIACH OF ALEXANDRIA

THE FEAST OF CASPAR NEUMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILLIPS BROOKS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MASSACHUSETTS

THE FEAST OF THOMAS A. DOOLEY, PHYSICIAN AND HUMANITARIAN

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants

Saints Methodius I of Constantinople and Joseph the Hymnographer,

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

Raise up in our won 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. Megingaud of Wurzburg (March 16)   Leave a comment

megingaudus

Above:  St. Megingaud of Wurzburg

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT MEGINGAUD OF WURZBURG (710-783)

Roman Catholic Monk and Bishop

St. Megingaud, born in Franconia in 710, was a student of St. Boniface of Mainz (675-754), the Apostle to the Germans and the founder of Fritzlar Abbey.  St. Megingaud became a monk there in 738.  He also taught at the abbey school.  In 754 St. Megingaud became the second Bishop of Wurzburg, in Germany.  In that capacity he was active in the affairs of state of the Frankish Empire.  Fifteen years later he founded Neustadt Abbey and retired there.  He spent the rest of his life as a monk devoted to prayer.  St. Megingaud died, aged 72 or 73 years, in 783.

I have heard certain Protestants, regardless of where they fall on the liberal-conservative spectrum, speak of monastics as being useless people.  This has not made sense to me, for, I have reasoned, if one truly affirms the power of prayer, one should not speak of men and women who devote their lives to it as being useless.  St. Megingaud of Wurzburg, whether in or out of a monastery, was a useful man.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 20, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT SAINT GALLEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

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O God, by whose grace your servant St. Megingaud of Wurzburg,

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

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

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

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Feast of Sts. Aengus the Culdee and Maelruan (March 11)   Leave a comment

aengus

Above:  St. Aengus the Culdee

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT AENGUS THE CULDEE (DIED MARCH 11, 824)

Hermit and Monk

Also known as Saint Angus the Culdee, Oengus the Culdee, Oengus the Culdee, Oengus of Clonenagh, Dengus, et cetera

His feast day = March 11

co-author with

SAINT MAELRUAN (DIED IN 791)

Abbot

His feast transferred from July 7

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St. Aengus, born near Clonenagh, Ireland, became a culdee, or hermit, near the River Nore.  There he allegedly communed with angels.  Eventually St. Aengus became a monk at his home town.  He attracted so many disciples that he decided to transfer to Tallaght Abbey, near Dublin.  The founder and abbot of that monastery was St. Maelruan.  The two saints wrote the Rule of the Celidhe De (a monastic rule for hermits) and the Martyrology of Tallaght.  St. Aengus also composed the Feilire, a version of the martyrology in verse.  After St. Maelruan died in 791 St. Aengus left Tallaght Abbey and returned to life as a hermit.  Eventually he became a bishop.  St. Aengus died on March 11, 824.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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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 Aengus the Culdee and Maelruan,

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 9:57-62

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

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Feast of Sts. John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma (December 4)   1 comment

st-john-of-damascus

Above:  St. John of Damascus

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS (675 or 676-December 4, 749 or 754 or 780)

Theologian and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint John Damascene

Also known as Saint John Chrysorrhoas (or “Gold-Streaming”)

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SAINT COSMAS OF MAIUMA (DIED 760 OR 773 OR 794)

Theologian and Hymnodist

Also known as Saint Cosmas the Melodist

His feast transferred from October 14 (Julian Calendar) and October 27 (Gregorian Calendar)

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The Feast of St. John of Damascus is December 4 in the Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of England, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, among other denominations.  In Holy Mother Church his feast has fallen on December 4 since 1969; prior to that it was March 27.  (The Book of Catholic Worship, from 1966, confirms this date, which I found on several websites.  I prefer to confirm information via primary sources as much as possible.)  The transfer of the Feast of St. Cosmas of Maiuma from October to December is due to the overlap of his life and that of St. John, who were brothers in all but genetics and partners in various literary and theological projects.

Sergius Mansur, the biological father of St. John of Damascus and the adoptive father of St. Cosmas of Maiuma, held a prominent post in the Caliphate.  (Aside:  Sources have proven contradictory regarding his position.  The two main versions are tax collector and chief representative to the Christians.)  Sergius, a Christian, raised our two saints in the faith.  He also liberated one Cosmas the Monk from slavery and had the monk instruct young John and Cosmas in theology and philosophy.  St. John succeeded his father in government and exercised authority for years.

St. John’s destiny lay elsewhere, however.  Circa 716 he resigned his post, sold his possessions, sold his possessions, and donated the proceeds to the poor.  Then he and St. Cosmas became monks at the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified, near Jerusalem, in 726.  That year Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (reigned 717-741) decreed Iconoclasm.  Our two saints wrote treatises condemning that heresy.  They also worked together on defenses of Christianity against Manichaeism.  St. John’s The Feast of Knowledge, containing “On the Orthodox Faith,” has proven especially influential.  Perhaps their longest-lasting legacies have been hymn texts and tunes for chants.  Due primarily to John Mason Neale (1818-1866) and John Brownlie (1859-1925) some of these texts have entered into English-language hymnody.  Neale translated the texts in various editions of Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862).  Brownlie’s volumes of translations included Hymns of the Greek Church (1900) and Hymns of the Early Church (1896).  Although one of our saints received credit for a particular poem, chant, or treatise, both of them worked so closely that one may assume reasonably that both were partially responsible, until the death of St. John.

St. Cosmas left the monastery in 743 and became the Bishop of Maiuma, a port city in Gaza.  He held that post for the rest of his long life and outlived St. John.  According to tradition, St. Cosmas lived to the age of 100 years, give or take a few years.

The three main greatest hits of St. John of Damascus in Episcopal Church hymnody are Easter texts:

  1. Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain;”
  2. Thou Hallowed Chosen Morn of Praise;” and
  3. The Day of Resurrection.”

These are present in The English Hymnal (1906).  So is a fourth text, “What Sweet of Life Endureth,” a funeral hymn.

These two saints left fine legacies, for the glory of God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CAMPBELL SHAIRP, SCOTTISH POET AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JUSTUS FALCKNER, LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PHILANDER CHASE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS OF VILLANOVA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF VALENCIA

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Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power

by your servants Saints John of Damascus and Cosmas of Maiuma;

that we, with them, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man,

and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection,

attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

Psalm 29

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

John 5:24-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 101

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Feast of St. Alcuin of York (May 20)   5 comments

Carolingian Empire 843

Above:  The Carolingian Empire, 843

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK (CIRCA 735-MAY 19, 804)

Abbot of Tours

Stating that one stands on the shoulders of giants is accurate is many contexts, including the life and legacy of St. Alcuin of York, a scholar, educator, and theologian.

St. Alcuin, a native of York, Northumbria, entered the world in the 730s.  Sources have proven to be inconsistent regarding the year, with some offering 732 and others stating 735, always with the caveat “circa.”  He attended the cathedral school at York, the most renowned institution of learning in England.  Our saint taught there form 766 to 778, became a Roman Catholic deacon in 770, and served as the headmaster from 778 to 782.

St. Alcuin made his greatest contribution in the Frankish Kingdom/Carolingian Empire.  In 781 he was returning from a visit to Rome when he met King Charles I “the Great,” a.k.a. Charlemagne (reigned 768-814; Holy Roman Emperor, 800-814) at Parma, Italy.  Our saint accepted the monarch’s offer to lead the Palace School at Aix-en-Chapelle.  St. Alcuin made that school the center of learning in the kingdom and organized schools throughout the realm.  He also encouraged the study of secular liberal arts as means of spiritual edification, taught members of the nobility and the royal family, wrote works on education and grammar, and played a crucial role in preserving knowledge and reviving education in Western Europe after the demise of the Western Roman Empire.

St. Alcuin was also an important liturgist.  He revised the liturgy of the Frankish Church, basing his revision on the Georgian and Gelasian sacramentaries.  Our saint also introduced the sung creed into the Frankish liturgy and arranged notive masses for each day of the week.  St. Alcuin’s work led the the Roman Missal and to liturgical uniformity in Roman Catholicism.  He was also responsible for preserving many prayers, including the Collect of Purity:

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from you no secrets are hid:  Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 355

Many of St. Alcuin’s written works have survived.  There were, for example, 310 Latin letters, a treasure trove for historians who study the 700s.  He also left theological works (often refutations of heresies), hagiographies, and commentaries on the Bible.  His revision of the Vulgate has not survived, however.

St. Alcuin served as the Abbot of Tours, presiding over Marmoutier Abbey in Alsace, from 796 to 804.  The roles (if any) he played in politics during his final years have been unclear for a long time.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NEW MARTYRS OF LIBYA, 2015

THE FEAST OF ALEXANDER VIETS GRISWOLD, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

THE FEAST OF FRANCIS HAROLD ROWLEY, NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BRAY, ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Almighty God, in a rude and barbarous age you raised up

your deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning:

Illumine our minds, we pray, that amid the uncertainties and confusions

of our own time we may show forth your eternal truth;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 39:1-9

Psalm 37:3-6, 32-33

Titus 2:1-3

Matthew 13:10-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 379

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