Archive for the ‘Saints of the 890s’ Category

Feast of Sts. Ludmilla of Bohemia, Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, Agnes of Prague, Clare of Assisi, Agnes of Assisi, and Hortulana of Assisi (March 2)   Leave a comment

premyslid-dynasty-coat-of-arms

Above:  Coat of Arms of the Premyslid Dynasty

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT LUDMILLA OF BOHEMIA (CIRCA 860-SEPTEMBER 16, 921)

Duchess of Bohemia and Martyr

Her feast transferred from September 16

grandmother of

SAINT WENCESLAUS I OF BOHEMIA (907-SEPTEMBER 28, 929)

Duke of Bohemia and Martyr

His feast transferred from September 28

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SAINT AGNES OF PRAGUE (1205-MARCH 6, 1282)

Bohemian Princess and Nun

Also known as Saint Agnes of Bohemia

Her feast day = March 2

Alternative feast days = March 6 and June 8

corresponded with

SAINT CLARE OF ASSISI (JULY 16, 1194-AUGUST 11, 1253)

Foundress of the Poor Clares

Her feast transferred from August 11

Alternative feast days = August 12, September 23, and October 3

sister of

SAINT AGNES OF ASSISI (1197-NOVEMBER 16, 1253)

Abbess at Monticelli

Her feast transferred from November 16

daughter of

SAINT HORTULANA OF ASSISI (DIED CIRCA 1238)

Poor Clare Nun

Also known as Saint Ortulana of Assisi

Her feast transferred from January 2

Alternative feast days = January 5 and August 18

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One of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is to emphasize influences and relationships.  This post, with family functioning as the connective tissue, is consistent with that goal.

St. Methodius (circa 815-885), a great missionary bishop, converted Duke Borivoj I of Bohemia (reigned 867-889) and his wife, St. Ludmilla of Bohemia (circa 860-921) to Christianity.  The sovereigns’ attempts to convert their subjects prompted much opposition, even an exile.  Their oldest son, Spythinev I (reigned 894-915), preceded his younger brother, Vratislaus I (reigned 915-921), who seems to have died during a pagan uprising, in power.  The Dukes of Bohemia at the time had to contend with the domestic policy issue of Christianity vs. paganism and the foreign policy issue of whether to align the duchy with the East or with the West.  These issues created much turmoil in Bohemia.  Vratislaus I’s widow was Drahomira (circa 877 or 890-died after 934), daughter of a pagan chief.  She had made baptismal vows on her wedding day yet did not take them seriously.

Two princes–both of them minors–stood to succeed to the throne.  St. Ludmilla, who supervised the education of St. Wenceslaus I (907-929), her grandson, served as regent for him briefly until Drahomira ordered her assassination and took over as regent.  Drahomira instituted a program of persecuting Christians.  The following year, however, St. Wenceslaus I reached the age of majority, assumed power, exiled his mother, and reversed her policies.  He also allied the Duchy of Bohemia with Germany, which sent enough priests to serve in long-vacant parishes.  Our saint’s reign was brief, for his brother, Boleslav I “the Cruel” (reigned 929-972), ordered and participated in his assassination at a church door in 929.

Centuries later, when the same dynasty still governed Bohemia, another Wenceslaus I (reigned 1230-1253) wielded power as the King (not Duke).  He was a kinsman of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231).  The king had a sister, St. Agnes of Prague (1205-1282), who avoided a series of arranged marriages and became a nun.  She built a Franciscan hospital on land her brother (the King of Bohemia) donated.  St. Agnes also founded the Confraternity of the Crusaders of the Red Star to staff the hospital and its clinics.  In 1234, with the help of St. Clare of Assisi, with whom she corresponded for about 20 years, St. Agnes founded the Convent of St. Saviour, Prague.  (St. Clare sent five nuns.)  St. Agnes became the abbess of that abbey.  The good works to which she devoted herself included cooking for other nuns and mending the clothes of lepers.

St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) also came from a privileged family and devoted her life to serving God in the poor.  She was a daughter of Count Favorino Sciffi of Sasso-Rosso and St. Hortulana of Assisi (died circa 1238) and a sister of St. Agnes of Assisi (1197-1253).  St. Clare also preferred monastic life to an arranged marriage.  In 1212 the 15-year-old saint made her vows before St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1226) and founded the Poor Clares, who lived austerely and helped the poor.  A few weeks later, her younger sister, St. Agnes of Assisi, joined her.  Both monastic vocations prompted strong opposition in certain relatives, who eventually became resigned to the fact of their monastic lives.  St. Clare led the order, partially a family matter, for the rest of her life.  St. Agnes founded Poor Clare communities.  She also became the abbess at Monticelli in 1221.  The widowed St. Hortulana joined the order too.  St. Agnes also tended to the dying St. Clare, whom she followed in death shortly after her older sister’s demise.

Families are, when they function as they ought to do, nurseries of faith and kindness.  One might wonder what kind of man St. Wenceslaus I might have become without the positive influence of his grandmother.  One might also recognize that Sts. Clare and Agnes of Assisi learned their faith at home and in church, and that they influenced their mother in turn.  One might also wonder if St. Agnes of Prague would have been as successful in her vocation without the aid of her brother (the King of Bohemia) and St. Clare of Assisi.

May we support and encourage each other in our vocations from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth:

Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by the fellowship of love and prayer,

and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.

We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit,

and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:7-11

Psalm 1

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 25:1-13

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 726

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Feast of Alfred the Great (October 26)   Leave a comment

England 878

Above:  Map of England in 878

Image in the Public Domain

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ALFRED THE GREAT (849-OCTOBER 26, 899)

King of the West Saxons

An old saying tells that power wears down those who do not have it.  That is certainly true in the Turkish Republic.  Even before the recent failed coup President (previously Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the judiciary to imprison journalists whose reporting was critical of him.  He thereby proved that he lacked respect for the freedom of the press.  Now, after the coup, he is targeting not only soldiers but journalists, judges, academics, and civil servants en masse.  It is a witch hunt.  The republic is really a dictatorship.  Erdogan’s power wears down those who do not have it.  Patriotism and law and order are the last refuges of a scoundrel, to paraphrase Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784).

Power need not wear down those who lack it, however.  If the right person uses power for proper purposes it builds up the nation–or, in the case, of King Alfred the Great, the only monarch in English history to be “the Great,” the kingdom as a whole.

Alfred the Great was the last King of the West Saxons (alternatively, the King of Wessex) and the first King of the Anglo-Saxons (from 878).  His mother was Osburh/Osburga (died in 854), a noblewoman.  Our saint’s father was King Aethelwulf (reigned 839-858).  Alfred, born in 849, was the youngest of five children who survived to adulthood.  Aethelwulf sent his four-year-old son to visit Rome, where Pope St. Leo IV (reigned April 10, 847-July 17, 855) sponsored the prince at his confirmation.  Two years later Alfred accompanied Aethelwulf on a pilgrimage to Rome.  The prince learned to read English prior to his twelfth birthday.  He did not learn to read Latin until 887, when he had been king for some time.  Aethelwulf’s three elder sons succeeded him, in order, prior to Alfred’s accession:

  1. Aethelbald (reigned 858-860),
  2. Aethelberht (reigned 860-865), and
  3. Aethelred I (reigned 865-871).

Alfred’s public life spanned 866-899.  That public life began with Alfred assisting his elder brother, Aethelred I, resist Danish invaders, a persistent threat for generations.  In 868 the prince married Ealhswith/Ealswitha (died 902), from the Mercian royal family.  Alfred succeeded Aethelred I in 871, becoming the King of the West Saxons (alternatively, the King of Wessex).  The fight against Danish invaders continued throughout his reign.  One phase of that struggle ended in 878, when Alfred took the title “King of the Anglo-Saxons.”  In that year Alfred did not kill Guthrum, the leader of the Danish invaders; no the monarch forced Guthrum to convert to Christianity and stood as his godfather.  Another stage of that struggle ended in 896.  Alfred left behind a military legacy, including a naval fleet and reorganized militias.  He was, in fact, the “Father of the English Navy.”

Alfred did more than maintain the independence of his realm and became one of the greatest early English monarchs.  He also built up his realm and improved the lives of his subjects.  The monarch, for example, issued a law code, joining the ranks of Hammurabi (reigned 1792-1750 B.C.E.) and Justinian I (reigned 527-565 C.E.).  He also encouraged art, architecture, education, and monasticism.  Alfred recruited experts from the continent of Europe to revitalize learning.  He also ordered that children in his court learn both English and Latin.  Furthermore, the king, in 892, began to translate major Latin texts in theology and philosophy.  Other also translated major Latin texts.  Over time confusion regarding which of these Alfred translated has developed.  The monarch also founded a convent and a monastery.  His attempt to revive monasticism failed, however, due to a lack of public interest.  Alfred was ahead of his time in that regard.

Alfred died on October 26, 899.  He was about 50 years old.  His son, Edward the Elder (reigned 899-924), succeeded him.

George P. Knapp, late Professor of English at Columbia University, wrote:

It should be borne in mind, however, that it is not the magnitude of Alfred’s military achievements, nor the extent of the country which he governed, that lift him into the ranks of the world’s great men, but the beauty and moral grandeur of his character.  In him were combined the virtues of the scholar and the patriot, the efficiency of the man of affairs with the wisdom of the philosopher and the piety of the true Christian.  His character, public and private, is without a stain, and his whole life was one of enlightened and magnanimous service to his country.

–Quoted in The Encyclopedia Americana (1962), Volume 1, page 380

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FLORA MACDONALD, CANADIAN STATESWOMAN AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF NANCY BYRD TURNER, POET, EDITOR, AND HYMN EDITOR

THE FEAST OF THE PIONEERING FEMALE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS, 1974 AND 1975

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O Sovereign Lord, you brought your servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might

establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people:

Awake in us also a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world,

and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Wisdom 6:1-3, 9-12, 24-25

Psalm 21

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Luke 6:43-49

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 653

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Feast of Nokter Balbulus (April 6)   2 comments

Abbey of St. Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Image Source = picswiss

BLESSED NOKTER OF ST. GALL, A.K.A. NOKTER THE STAMMERER, NOKTER OF ST. GALL, NOKTER THE POET, NOTKER, AND NOTKAR (CIRCA 840-912)

Roman Catholic Monk

His Feast Transferred from April 6

Blessed Nokter possessed a brilliant and trained mind, as well as a deep love of God and great spiritual wisdom.  Eloquent speech was not one of his gifts, but profundity was.

Born to a prominent Swiss family, Nokter studied under St. Tutilo (Feast Day = March 28) at the Abbey of St. Gall.  The Blessed became a monk at that monastery, where he served as a librarian, a teacher, a chronicler of martyrs, an author of chant sequences, and a poet.  According to  his biographer, Ekkehard IV, Nokter was “delicate of body, but not of mind, stuttering of tongue but not of intellect, pushing boldly forward in things Divine, a vessel of the Holy Spirit without equal in his time.”

Partition of the Carolingian Empire, 843 C.E.

During Blessed Nokter’s lifetime the political map shifted around St. Gallen.  Keeping up with all these changes and several ephemeral kingdoms requires great patience, and more than one king named Charles reigned in the region.  One of these Charleses visited the Abbey of St. Gall from time to time to seek Nokter’s advice.  (The king chose not to follow much of this counsel, so why did he make the trips?)  One piece of Nokter’s advice was this:  “Take care of your garden as I am taking care of mine.”  In other words, take care of your kingdom and your spiritual life.  The royal chaplain objected to Nokter’s counsel.  One day he challenged the monk, saying, “Since you are so intelligent, tell me what God is doing right now.”  The Blessed replied, “God is doing right now what he has always done.  He is pushing down those who are proud and raising up the lowly.”

The Roman Catholic Church beatified Nokter Balbulus in 1512.

Blessed Nokter was able to achieve his potential and compensate for his deficiencies because of the combination of his efforts and the support of his faith community, which benefited from his spiritual gifts.  May you, O reader, help others do their best for God and their fellow human beings, including you.  And may others do the same for you.

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Loving God, we thank you for the example of the holy life of your servant, Blessed Nokter Balbulus.  May we, supported by each other, likewise fulfill our vocations, to your glory and the benefit of many.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Exodus 6:26-7:7

Psalm 98

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

Luke 1:46-56

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 6, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF MARCUS AURELIUS CLEMENS PRUDENTIUS, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE VI, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND (Another Stammerer)

Feast of St. Tutilo (March 28)   4 comments

Abbey of St. Gall, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Image Source = Roland Zumbuhl, of Picswiss

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SAINT TUTILO (DIED IN 915)

Roman Catholic Monk, Scholar, Artist, and Composer

While an undergraduate at Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, I spent considerable amounts of time at the Wesley Foundation.  I had ceased to be a United Methodist by then, having already converted to The Episcopal Church.  But I moonlighted at the Wesley Foundation.  Long conversations with the Director have influenced my thinking profoundly.  Gene, now retired, was (and presumably remains) a committed Christian who dared to ask great questions and to contradict the local prevailing “wisdom.”  So he was correct about a great many things, I am convinced.  Yet he was quite mistaken regarding the matter of monasticism.  Monks and nuns, he said, were useless.

To the contrary, they are some of the most useful people on the planet.  Historically they have devoted their lives to prayer, medicine, education, scholarship, and the care of orphans and of children whose parents could not care for them adequately.  Today many faithful monks and nuns devote their lives to prayer.  That is an excellent way to spend one’s time on Earth.

Consider the case of St. Tutilo.  He spent much of his life at the Abbey of St. Gall, a center of learning, music, and art during the Middle Ages.  (Monasteries and convents developed and preserved such treasures during that difficult period of time.)  At the abbey St. Tutilo was in his element.  There he worked on illuminated manuscripts, many of them books of Gregorian Chants, many of which he composed.  Details of his life remain sketchy, but, according to surviving accounts, all of the following words described him:  scholar, teacher, monk, composer, school master, goldsmith, builder, sculptor, builder, painter, poet, musician, genius, and humorist.

The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question #1, says it best:

What is the chief and highest end of man?

Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

St. Tutilo fulfilled that description.  May you do so also, as God directs.

May we never underestimate the power of a holy life.  Names may fade into history and documentary evidence may crumble and become lost forever, but God remembers.  The full record of the holy saints of God is not lost; it is merely not entirely accessible in this life.

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Loving God, the memory of most of those who have trusted in your promises is lost to recorded history, if ever it was part of the historical record.  And most of us who live today and affirm you with our faith will join them in historical anonymity.  Of others, such as St. Tutilo, there is scant available information.  We thank you for the examples of St. Tutilo and all others who are nearly or entirely forgotten to us.  People understood their witness in their times; may we likewise function as beacons of divine light, for your glory and the benefit of others.  Amen.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 44:1-15

Psalm 29

Philippians 4:2-9

Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 26, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND SILAS, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULA, CONFIDANTE OF SAINT JEROME

THE FEAST OF CHARLES MATHIAS, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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