Archive for the ‘Saints of the 960s’ Category

Feast of St. Bernard of Menthon (May 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  Part of Europe, 962 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT BERNARD OF MENTHON (CIRCA 923-1008)

Roman Catholic Priest and Archdeacon of Aosta

Apostle of the Alps

Alternative feast day = June 15

St. Bernard, patron saint of skiers, mountaineers, mountain climbers, travelers in the mountains, dwellers in the Alps, and Campiglia Cerva (in Italy), came from nobility.  He, born in a castle in Menthon, Savoy (now France), circa 923, received a fine education.  Then he rejected the marriage his father had arranged for him.  St. Bernard prepared for the priesthood instead.  Our saint proved to be an effective evangelist in the region of Aosta for 42 years.

The mountain pass from the Valley of Aosta into Valois canton, Switzerland, was perilous.  That pass, now named for St. Bernard, was prone to avalanches and a haunt for robbers.  Our saint founded two monasteries (the first one in 962) along the pass and staffed them with Augustinian monks.  They provided shelter for religious pilgrims and religious pilgrims.  The monks, assisted by dogs, also searched for people lost in the snow.  St. Bernard also founded a patrol to rid the pass of robbers.

St. Bernard served on the diocesan level also.  He, the Archdeacon of Aosta (starting in 996), also held the position of Vicar-General of the diocese.

St. Bernard died in Novara, Italy, in 1008.  He was about 85 years old.  Starting in the 1300s he was informally a saint, until Pope Innocent XI canonized him in 1681.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; FATHER OF MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER FOURIER, “THE GOOD PRIEST OF MATTAINCOURT;” AND SAINT ALIX LE CLERC, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME OF CANONESSES REGULAR OF SAINT AUGUSTINE

THE FEAST OF SAINT WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

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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 servant Saint Bernard of Menthon,

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

until at last we may with him attain 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), page 724

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Feast of St. Alphege (April 19)   1 comment

Above:  St. Alphege

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ALPHEGE (953-1012)

Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012

The Feast of St. Alphege comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints and Holy Days via Roman Catholic and Anglican calendars.

St. Alphege, or Aelfheah, was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to wear the crown of martyrdom.  He, from a noble family, entered Deerfield Abbey, Gloucestershire.  During ensuing years our saint was a monk, an anchorite, and the abbot at Bath Abbey.  In 984 St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury from 960 t0 988, secured St. Alphege’s appointment as Bishop of Winchester.  Our saint, an effective bishop, supervised an effective system of caring for the poor.  He also negotiated a peace treaty with the recently baptized Norse King Olaf Tryggvason in 994.  Eleven years later St. Alphege succeeded to the See of Canterbury.  In 1011 Danish forces captured him.  Our saint refused to permit the collection of a large ransom from the over-burdened population.  So it came to pass that, after several months, his captors executed him in 1012.

Archbishop of Canterbury St. Anselm, whom St. Alphege had mentored, argued for the definition of our saint’s death as a form of martyrdom.  To die for the sake of justice, St. Anselm contended, is to die as a martyr.

Pope Gregory VII canonized St. Alphege in 1078.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 11, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NATHAN SODERBLOM, SWEDISH ECUMENIST AND ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA

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O loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death

when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people:

Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd,

who laid down this life for the sheep; and who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Samuel 24:7b-19

Psalm 49:1-9

Philemon 1-9a

Luke 23:1-9

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 333

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Feast of St. Casilda of Toledo (April 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Saint Casilda of Toledo, by Francisco de Zurbaran

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CASILDA OF TOLEDO (950-1050)

Roman Catholic Anchoress

St. Casilda of Toledo was a daughter of a Muslim king in Toledo, on the Iberian peninsula.  As such she grew up in a wealthy family.  Our saint, sympathetic to Christian prisoners, smuggled food for them in her clothes.  St, Casilda, when a young woman, visited the shrine of San Vicente, near Buezo. There she found healing in the spring at the shrine.  Our saint, thereafter baptized at Burgos, dedicated her life to God and became an anchoress near the shrine.  She lived to the ripe old age of 100.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BLESSED OSCAR ROMERO AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC

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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 servant Saint Casilda of Toledo,

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 Luke 9:57-62

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

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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 Sylvester II (May 13)   3 comments

Vatican Flag

Above:  Vatican Flag

SYLVESTER II (CIRCA 945-MAY 12, 1003)

Also Known as Gerbert of Aurillac

Bishop of Rome

Today I add Pope Sylvester II (reigned April 2, 999-May 12, 1003) to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  The Roman Catholic Church has not seen fit to canonize him; that constitutes an oversight.

I have been pondering adding Pope Sylvester II to my Ecumenical Calendar since the St. Abbo of Fleury post.  Part of the discipline inherent in working of these saints posts is staying on track and not chasing rabbits; one must return to some people later.  I have concluded that Sylvester II deserves a place on a place on my Ecumenical Calendar with one caveat:  My political theories are post-Enlightenment; he were pre-Enlightenment.  Thus I favor the separation of church and state for the benefit of the church, but Sylvester II supported theocracy.  That fact about him troubles me, but the rest of his life offsets that matter.  And he was a product of his times, just as I am a product of mine.

Gerbert of Aurillac was a great intellectual who accepted accurate knowledge wherever he found it.  For this reason many opponents within the Church accused him of being in league with Satan.  These anti-intellectuals shunned the classics of Greek and Roman philosophy and literature, calling them “vermin.”  But the works of Virgil, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Horace, etc. were not “vermin.”  No, for Gerbert, born into humble origins and educated at Aurillac monastery, they were essential works.  One needed to master the classics and to hone one’s abilities to be an excellent orator, he claimed.

Gerbert was a Renaissance man who lived before the Renaissance.  He studied the night sky with a telescope regularly and mastered mathematics.  He knew how to use an abacus well.  He built clocks and pipe organs.  And, 972 forward, as head of the Rheims Cathedral School, he built up that institution’s reputation as a center of intellectual inquiry.  For Gerbert astronomy, mathematics, Greek classics, good morals, and excellent oratory went hand-in-hand:

With my efforts to lead a good life, I have always tried to speak well, as philosophy does not separate these two things.  While to live a good life is more important than to be a good speaker, still to those of us in public affairs, both powers are necessary.  For it is of the highest advantage to be able to persuade by well-fashioned speech, and by sweet words to restrain angry souls from violence.

–quoted in James Reston, The Last Apocalypse:  Europe at the Year 1000 A.D. (New York:  Doubleday, 1998), page 211

Gerbert’s intellectual reputation in 980 threatened that of Otric, head of the Magdeburg Cathedral School and tutor of German Emperor Otto II (reigned 973-983).  Otric had heard that Gerbert had promoted physics as a branch of mathematics, not as a separate discipline.  Otto II and a rapt audience observed as the intellectuals debated.  Gerbert won the debate and Otto II’s favor.

It was good to have a royal patron, Gerbert learned.  Otto II appointed Gerbert to lead the monastery at Bobbio, which had a vast library, in 983.  Yet mutual misunderstandings led to opposition to Gerbert as abbot.  Otto II died later that year, leaving a three-year-old Otto III (reigned 983-1002), whose throne Gerbert saved from a usurper.  Then, in 984, Gerbert returned to Rheims, where he helped make Hugh Capet (reigned 987-996) then King of France.

Royal and papal politics played major roles in Gerbert’s life in the 990s.  He succeeded to the Archbishopric of Rheims in 991 yet had to vacate that post four years later in favor of one Arnoul.  This was the same Arnoul whom Gerbert had succeeded.  There had been no papal approval for Gerbert’s appointment in 991.  Gerbert argued against such a necessity yet Arnoul favored it.  In 996 Gerbert became the tutor and advisor to his friend, Otto III, who appointed him Archbishop of Ravenna in 998 and pulled strings the next year to make him the Pope.

Gerbert, now Sylvester II, took his regnal name from St. Sylvester I (reigned 314-335), an ally of Roman Emperor Constantine I “the Great.”  From this pontiff Sylvester II drew inspiration for papal-imperial cooperation.  The new Pope dreamed of uniting Europe with the full cooperation of Otto III.

Sylvester II used the powers of the office.  He opposed simony, punished priests who lapsed in their vows of chastity, called for the election of abbots by their monks, and expanded the reach of the Church into Poland, Norway, and Hungary.  He also reversed a previous position, supporting Arnoul’s claim to be Archbishop of Rheims and affirming the papal right to appoint bishops.

Sylvester II’s brief tenure and his shared dream with Otto III faced a great challenge in 1001, when a rebellion forced both of them to flee Rome.  Otto III died in 1002 and Henry II (reigned 1002-1024), son of the usurper from 983, succeeded to the throne.  Sylvester II returned to Rome that year as a purely spiritual leader.

Sylvester II, Bishop of Rome, was a fearless intellectual who challenged the anti-intellectual prejudices of his day.  For that fact I honor him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2013 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF KAROL SZYMANOWSKI, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING

THE FEAST OF HANS NIELSEN HAUGE, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN LAY PREACHER

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of Pope Sylvester 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

Feast of St. Abbo of Fleury (November 13)   1 comment

Above:  The Sword of Orion

Image Source = Jet Propulsion Library

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SAINT ABBO OF FLEURY (CIRCA 945-NOVEMBER 13, 1004)

Roman Catholic Abbot

St. Abbo of Fleury was a great Christian intellectual, a scholar of philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy.  He also wrote a biography of St. Edmund , martyred King of East Anglia.

The saint, born at Orleans, studied there and at Reims before becoming a Benedictine monk at Fleury-sur-Loire.  From 986 to 987 he served as abbot at the new monastery at Ramsey, England, serving also as head of the school there.  In 988 he was elected Abbot of Fleury.  A political dispute followed, for another monk, one with royal connections, claimed the post.  Yet Gerbert (the future Pope Sylvester II, 999-1004) settled the dispute in St. Abbo’s favor.

As abbot St. Abbo became caught up in the difficult church-state politics of his time; there was no way for him to stay out of it.  In 991 he attended the Synod of Basel, which deposed Arnoul as Archbishop of Reims, a vacancy which Gerbert filled for a few years.  This deposition was political, and St. Abbo helped to reinstate Arnoul in 999.  The saint also stood with Pope Gregory V (reigned 996-999) against Antipope John XVI (reigned 997-998) and tried to make peace between the Pontiff and King Robert II of France (reigned 996-1031), who wound up being excommunicated for marrying this cousin Bertha.

End-of-the-world hysteria is not new.

There was a wave of it across Europe in 999.  St. Abbo worked to calm fears at that time.

Unfortunately, the scholar-saint died violently of wounds suffered during a violent confrontation at the monastery at LaReole, in Gascony, in November 1004. He was trying to reform the monastic life there.  The fact that two groups of monks were attacking each other indicated the need for such reform.  The saint tried to end the confrontation and got stabbed for his trouble.

The more I know about St. Abbo, the  more I like him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 1, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servant Saint Abbo of Fleury.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our 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),  61

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