Archive for the ‘Saints of the 910s’ 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 St. Dunstan of Canterbury (May 19)   1 comment

Glastonbury Abbey, 1890

Above:  Ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-08401

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SAINT DUNSTAN OF CANTERBURY (909-MAY 19, 988)

Abbot of Glastonbury and Archbishop of Canterbury

St. Dunstan of Canterbury lived and worked in a political context different from that of the modern Western world.  Ideas such as constitutional government and the separation of church and state were foreign to the England of the 900s.  The Magna Carta, hardly the most democratic of documents, was centuries away, as was the concept that the monarch should not play an active role in ecclesiastical affairs.  Indeed, the United Kingdom has adopted religious toleration yet not the separation of church and state in contemporary times.

St. Dunstan, born in Baltonsborough in 909, came from a West Saxon noble family.  He studied at Glastonbury Abbey, where he learned music composition, painting, and mechanical arts, in which he was proficient.  Our saint, as a young man, entered the service of Athelstan, King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 then King of the English from 927 to 939.  Petty jealousies in the royal court led to our saint’s exile from it.  False allegations of practicing the black arts constituted the pretext for the exile; violent intimidation enforced it.

At this point St. Dunstan’s life took a crucial turn.  He found refuge with a relative, Alphege, who served as the Bishop of Winchester from 934/935 to 951.  Our saint, recovering from an attack of brain fever, became a monk and began to live as a hermit.

In time St. Dunstan’s life intersected with royalty again.  King Edmund I (reigned 939-946) appointed him the royal treasurer.  During the reign (946-955) of Edred our saint was the de facto ruler of the kingdom, governing ably and well.  These duties overlapped with St. Dunstan’s job as the Abbot of Glastonbury (starting in 943).  In that capacity our saint made the abbey school famous and renewed monastic life.  Edred’s successor was Edwy (reigned 955-959), whose incestuous marriage St. Dunstan denounced.  Our saint spent his exile (955-957) in Flanders.  A rebellion among the Mercians and the Northumbrians made Edgar a rival monarch in 957-959 before he ruled as sole King of the English (959-975).  Edgar recalled St. Dunstan and appointed him Bishop of Worcester (957-959), Bishop of London (958-960), and Archbishop of Canterbury (960-988), as well as a royal advisor.

St. Dunstan made his mark as Archbishop of Canterbury.  He replaced married and other non-celibate priests with monks when possible.  Our saint also reformed monasticism strictly according to the Rule of St. Benedict, rebuilt churches, and promoted education.  His time as archbishop overlapped with the reign of King Edward the Martyr (reigned 975-978), the cause of death was murder.  St. Dunstan retired shortly after participating in the coronation of Ethelred II the Unready (reigned 978-1013 and 1014-1016).  England descended into political chaos despite St. Dunstan’s best efforts during the preceding decades to improve the kingdom.

St. Dunstan enjoyed a quiet and productive retirement.  He lived in Canterbury, where he taught at the cathedral school, painted, composed music, made musical instruments, founded bells, and practiced calligraphy.  He died on May 19, 988.

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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O God of truth and beauty, you richly endowed your bishop Dunstan

with skill in music and the working of metals,

and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal:

Teach us, we pray, to see you in the source of all our talents,

and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship

and the advancement of true religion,

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns

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

Job 1:6-8

Psalm 57:6-11

Ephesians 5:15-20

Matthew 24:42-47

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 377

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Feast of Sts. Adalbero and Ulric of Augsburg (July 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  Southern Germany in 919 C.E.

SAINT ADALBERO OF AUGSBURG (DIED 909)

Roman Catholic Monk, Abbot, and Bishop

His feast transferred from April 28

uncle of 

SAINT ULRIC OF AUGSBURG (890-973)

Roman Catholic Bishop

His feast = July 4

Our story begins with his uncle, St. Adalbero of Augsburg (died 909).  St. Adalbero, who had become a Benedictine at Dillengen in 850, served as Abbot of Ellswangen then as Abbot of Lorsch; he restored the latter abbey.  Sometime after 887 St. Adalbero became Bishop of Augsburg.  Aside from his episcopal tasks, St. Adalbero functioned as an adviser to German King and Holy Roman Emperor Arnulf (reigned 887-899), as tutor to Arnulf’s son and successor, Louis III the Child (born 893; reigned 899-911), the last Carolingian ruler, and functioned as Louis III’s regent for a few years.

St. Adalbero also educated his nephew, St. Ulric of Augsburg (890-973), a native of Augsburg.  St. Ulric, as Bishop of Augsburg form 923 until his retirement, led the populace of the city in rebuilding the city and the cathedral after Magyars raided and plundered Augsburg.  He retired to St. Gall Abbey in modern-day Switzerland, having named his nephew, Henry I of Augsburg (died 982), to succeed him.  This seems to have been a bad choice, but some realities become clear only after the fact.  Pope John XV canonized St. Ulric in 993.  This was the first recorded canonization by a Bishop of Rome.

Each of us faces a unique set of challenges.  You have yours, O reader, as I have mine.  They overlap yet the sets of challenges are not identical.  And Sts. Adalbero and Ulric of Augsburg had their unique sets of challenges.  What matters is how each of us meets then.  Do we, trusting in God, do our best?  We are fallible, of course.  We will have some good intentions and undesirable consequences of actions.  Yet God knows this about us and works through us anyway.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 5, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT FRANCIS KENNEDY, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL AND SENATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONIFACE OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servants Saints Adalbero and Ulric of Augsburg.

May the memory of their lives be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through 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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of St. Gerard of Brogne (October 3)   Leave a comment

A Statue of St. Gerard of Brogne

SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE (DIED IN 959)

Abbot

St. Gerard, born in Staves, Namur (now part of Belgium), became a page to the Count of Namur, who sent him on a special mission to the court of King Charles III (“the Simple”) of France (reigned 879-929) in 918.  The saint, who remained in France after completing his mission, joined the Benedictines of St. Denis.  There he was a monk for eleven years before returning to his home estate at Brogne to found an abbey.  At Brogne St. Gerard served as an abbot for twenty-two years, and from there he introduced the Rule of St. Benedict into many monasteries in what is now France and Belgium.  He also reformed the practices of a group of monasteries for two decades.  This was not universally popular among the affected monks, some of whom left for monasteries over which St. Gerard had no jurisdiction.

St. Gerard was a capable monastic administrator, and therefore a man who had necessary gifts.  At this tumultuous time in European history, the monasteries and convents of the Roman Catholic Church did preserve knowledge and provide essential social services.  This crucial work required orderly practices.  Yet, as good an administrator as St. Gerard was, he often found that his duties interfered with his need for contemplative prayer.

Kristen E. White, in A Guide to the Saints (New York:  Ballantine, 1991), summarizes the saint’s greatest quality:  “He was known especially for his sweetness of temper.”  This was certainly essential to his success as an abbot for how one deals with others affects how well one leads them.

This quality of sweetness of character impresses me.   I have known and known of theologically orthodox people who were perpetually grumpy.  No matter how much I agreed with them, I did not want to associate with them or lend them much, if any, support.  They drove people–sometimes including me–away from them, and would have accomplished much more had they possessed sunny dispositions and sweet spirits.

If we are on God’s side, why should we not have “sweetness of temper”?  In other words, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, if God is for us, who can be against us?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA

THE FEAST OF SAINT  NINIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GALLOWAY

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Common of a Monastic II

From Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church

O God, by whose grace your servant St. Gerard of Brogne, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning 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 and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:108 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

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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