Archive for the ‘Desiderius Erasmus’ Tag

Feast of Fritz Eichenberg (October 24)   Leave a comment

FRITZ EICHENBERG (OCTOBER 24-NOVEMBER 30, 1990)

German-American Quaker Wood Engraver

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It is my hope that in a small way I have been able to contribute to peace through compassion and also to the recognition, as George Fox has said…”That there is that of God in everyone,” a conception of the sanctity of human life which precludes all wars and violence.”

–Fritz Eichenberg, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 463

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Fritz Eichenberg comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via All Saints (1997).

Eichenberg expressed his Quaker faith in his art.  He, born in Cologne, Germany, on October 24, 1901, grew up in a secular Jewish family.  He studied graphic arts in Cologne and Leipzig before working as an artist in Berlin (1923-1933).  World War I and its aftermath influenced Eichenberg’s pacifism.  The rise of Nazism forced Eichenberg and his family to emigrate.  He arrived in the United States of America in 1933.  Subsequently he worked in the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, taught at the New School for Social Research and at the Pratt Institute, and chaired the Department of Art of The University of Rhode Island.  His wife’s death in 1938 preceded an emotional breakdown.  Eichenberg, after resorting to Zen meditation, converted to Quakerism in 1940.

Eichenberg created wood engravings of both secular and sacred subjects.  He illustrated classic works of literature and depicted Christ and saints.  Subjects included Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas Merton, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, and Cesar Chavez, as well as Eichenberg’s favorite saint, Francis of Assisi.  Images of Jesus included Christ of the Breadlines (1953) and Christ of the Homeless (1982).  In Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men (1954), our saint depicted an angel with a dove on one side of a the cross and gas-masked soldier holding a bomb on the other.  Our saint, who met Dorothy Day in 1949, created images for the Catholic Worker newspaper.

Eichenberg died of complications of Parkinson’s Disease at Peace Dale, Rhode Island, on November 30, 1990.  He was 89 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C:  THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF GUSTAF AULEN, SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FILIP SIPHONG ONPHITHAKT, ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR IN THAILAND

THE FEAST OF MAUDE DOMINICA PETRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MODERNIST THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF RALPH ADAMS CRAM AND RICHARD UPJOHN, ARCHITECTS; AND JOHN LAFARGE, SR., PAINTER AND STAINED GLASS WINDOW MAKER

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Fritz Eichenberg and all those

who with images have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

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

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale (October 6)   1 comment

Above:  William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale

Images in the Public Domain

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WILLIAM TYNDALE (1497-OCTOBER 6, 1536)

English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Martyr

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MILES COVERDALE (1488-JANUARY 20, 1569)

English Reformer, Bible Translator, and Bishop of Exeter

Also known as Myles Coverdale

October 6 is, on many Anglican calendars, the Feast of William Tyndale.  It is also Tyndale’s feast in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).  October 7 is an alternative feast day for Tyndale, as in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

At the General Convention of 2009, when The Episcopal Church approved Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), supplemental to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 (2007), it added Coverdale to Tyndale’s feast.  The combined feast transferred into A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), successor to Holy Women, Holy Men.  Neither Tyndale nor Coverdale have transferred to Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, however.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016) remains an approved resource, of course.

Miles Coverdale, born in Yorkshire circa 1488, collaborated with William Tyndale, born in Gloucestershire in 1497.  Tyndale, influenced indirectly by the late John Wycliffe (circa 1320-1384), while growing up, studied at Oxford (B.A., 1512; M.A., 1515) then at Cambridge.  Other influential figures in his life included Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), who had published the first published Greek New Testament in 1516, as well as Martin Luther (1483-1546), who had published his German translation of the Bible in 1522.  Tyndale, in 1522-1523 the tutor in the household of Sir John Walsh in Gloucestershire, became an alleged heretic by debating visiting clergymen.  He became convinced of the necessity of an English translation of the Bible.

Coverdale had been an Augustinian friar.  His mentor and prior had been Robert Barnes (circa 1495-1540).  At Cambridge Coverdale had begun to adopt Lutheran opinions.  He almost certainly met Tyndale at the White Horse tavern, where many Protestants gathered for discussion.

Tyndale, having left the Walsh household, to protect them, arrived in Wittenberg on May 27, 1524.  He spent the rest of his life in Europe.  By 1525 he was in Cologne.  There he planned to publish the new translation of the New Testament.  However, he and his secretary had to flee when Johannes Cochlaeus, archfoe of Luther, acted to prevent the publication of the English-language New Testament in that city.  Tyndale published his New Testament in Worms in 1526, though.  English ecclesiastical authorities, including St. Thomas More (1487-1535), ordered the burning of copies.

Meanwhile, Coverdale continued his Biblical studies at Cambridge.  He also became a radical.  His mentor, Robert Barnes, tried for heresy in 1526, recanted under pressure.  Coverdale left the abbey in 1528.  He, dressed as a secular priest, preached against images, confession, and the Mass.  He was in Hamburg the following year.  There, at Tyndale’s invitation, Coverdale was helping to translate the Torah.  Both men subsequently moved to Antwerp.  Tyndale published the new translation of the Torah in 1530 (Julian Calendar)/1531 (Gregorian Calendar).  Before he died Tyndale had translated the Old Testament through Nehemiah, as well as Jonah.  Some of his translation choices were controversial and purposefully contrary to current orthodoxy.  He preferred “congregation” to “church” and “love” to “charity,” for example.

Tyndale wrote original texts, too.  Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue (1530) was a polemic.  The Parable of the Wicked Mammon (1528) argued for justification by faith.  The Obedience of a Christian Man (1528) influenced the English Reformation.  More, a staunch Roman Catholic who, like Tyndale, opposed the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII to Queen Catherine of Aragon, identified Tyndale as one of the leaders of the Reformation.

Meanwhile Coverdale was translating and writing, also.  He translated the Book of Psalms from Latin to English in 1534 then translated more of the Old Testament.  The following year Coverdale published the complete English Bible, dedicated to Henry VIII.  Coverdale worked from five translations, including Tyndale’s.  He was a fine stylist of the English language; his Psalter graced editions of The Book of Common Prayer from the first one (1549) into the twentieth century.  The Coverdale and Tyndale translations constituted at least half of the Thomas Matthew Bible (1537) and therefore influenced the Great Bible (1539), the Bishop’s Bible (1568), the Authorized Version (1611), and its successors, including the American Standard Version (1901) and the branching lines of translations derived from it, starting with the Revised Standard Version (New Testament, 1946; Old Testament, 1952; Apocrypha, 1957; RSV II, 1971).

Tyndale, betrayed in Antwerp by Henry Phillips in May 1535, spent the final phase of his life as a prisoner at the castle of Vilvoorde, near Brussels.  There he died by strangling on October 6, 1536.  Authorities burned his corpse.

Coverdale was in peril, also.  He, moving back and forth between England and the continent, compiled the concordance (1535) to Tyndale’s New Testament and edited the Great Bible (1539), placed in every church in the realm.  In 1539 he fled Paris, to escape the French Inquisition.  Then, in 1540, Henry VIII began to preside over a crackdown.  Barnes died via burning at the stake that year.  Coverdale and his wife, Elizabeth Macheson (Sutherland) spent 1540-1543 in Strasbourg.  There he translated tracts and earned his D.D. degree from Tübingen University.  The Coverdales spent 1543-1548 in Bergzabern, 40 miles away from Strasbourg.  There Coverdale served as the headmaster of the town school and the assistant minister of the town church.  Meanwhile, in 1546, English authorities were burning his writings.

1548-1559 were years of changing political fortunes for Coverdale.  The Coverdales spent 1548-1553 in England.  Henry VIII had died and Edward VI had succeeded his father.  Coverdale, a royal chaplain, helped to suppress a rebellion before becoming the Bishop of Exeter (1551-1553).  Then Edward VI died and his sister, Mary I, succeeded him.  The Coverdales spent 1553-1559 in exile in Europe.  They eventually settled in Switzerland, where Coverdale helped to translate the Geneva Bible (1560).

Coverdale spent his final years back in England.  In 1558 Mary I had died and her sister, Elizabeth I, had succeeded her.  The course of the English Reformation changed; Elizabeth I presided over the birth of Anglicanism per se.  Coverdale, who had become a leading Puritan, declined to become the Bishop of Exeter again.  He had evolved theologically to the point that he could no longer approve of the ritual.  Coverdale, a much sought-after preacher, stayed busy, if not prosperous.  Elizabeth, his first wife, died in 1565.  He married Katharine the following year.

Coverdale, aged 80 or 81 years, died on January 20, 1569.

Tyndale and Coverdale were pioneers in the development of the English Bible.  Many generations of English-speaking Christians have been in their debt.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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Almighty God, you planted in the heart of your servants William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale

a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue,

and endowed them with the gift of powerful and graceful expression

and with strength to persevere against all obstacles:

Reveal to us your saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures,

and hear them calling us to repentance and life;

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

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

Proverbs 8:10-17

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

John 12:44-50

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 625

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Feast of Desiderius Erasmus, St. John Fisher, and St. Thomas More (June 22)   3 comments

Above:  The Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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DESIDERIUS ERASMUS ROTERDAMUS (OCTOBER 1466-JULY 12, 1536)

Dutch Roman Catholic Priest, Biblical and Classical Scholar, and Controversialist

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SAINT JOHN FISHER (1469-JUNE 22, 1535)

English Roman Catholic Classical Scholar, Bishop of Rochester, Cardinal, and Martyr

Alternative feast day = July 6 (The Church of England)

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SAINT THOMAS MORE (FEBRUARY 7, 1487-JULY 6, 1535)

English Roman Catholic Classical Scholar, Jurist, Theologian, Controversialist, and Martyr

Alternative feast day = December 1 (as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University)

Alternative feast day = July 6 (The Church of England)

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A TRIPLE BIOGRAPHY OF THREE GREAT MEN

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On the Roman Catholic calendar the feasts of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More fall on June 22.  They also share a feast day (July 6) in The Church of England.  To their commemoration at this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I add their friend and colleague, Desiderius Erasmus.

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THE EARLY LIFE OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS

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Above:  Portrait of Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam with Renaissance Pilaster, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Desiderius Erasmus, a great scholar and historically influential man, was a native of Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  He, born in 1466, was a son of a priest and the brother of Peter.  After Gerard, the father, died, guardians directed the educations of Desiderius and Peter.  After Peter became a monk at a monastery near Delft our saint joined the Augustinian order.  Erasmus, ordained to the priesthood on April 25, 1492, left the monastery in 1494 and pursued his scholarly work in the world.

Erasmus was a Christian Humanist in the style of the Northern Renaissance.  As such he objected to the dogmatic theology he encountered at the University of Paris.  In Paris our saint became a teacher and began writing.  Apparently Erasmus had a distinctive speaking style, for William Tyndale (1494-1536) described our saint as one

whose tongue maketh of little gnats great elephants, and laudeth up above the skies, whosoever giveth him a little exhibition.

Erasmus, whose English patrons included St. John Fisher and disciples included St. Thomas More (whom he met in 1497), visited England periodically, starting in 1499-1500.  Erasmus thought, despite the cumulative time he spent in England, that the weather and beer there were bad, and that More was the only genius in the realm.

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THE EARLY LIFE OF SAINT THOMAS MORE

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Above:  Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

St. Thomas More was a jurist and a classical scholar.  He, born in London on February 7, 1487, was a son of Sir John More, a judge.  Our saint, educated at St. Anthony’s School, Threadneedle Street, London, then in the household of Archbishop of Canterbury John Morton, continued his studies at Oxford University before studying law at New Inn (1494-1496) then Lincoln’s Inn (1496f).  More was a reader at Furnival’s Inn then butler at Lincoln’s Inn (as his father had been) in 1507.  Our saint was also reader at Lincoln’s Inn in 1511 and 1515.

Meanwhile More was studying theology and Latin and Greek literature.  He met Erasmus, his longtime friend, in 1497.  More also translated classical works into English and composed English poetry.

More was a devout man.  For about four years he had lived at the London Charterhouse.  Although he never took monastic vows, he learned certain lifelong austere habits.  More did make wedding vows, however.  In 1505 he married Jane Colt (d. 1511).  The couple had four children.  His second wife was Alice Middleton, a widow.  Her daughter became part of the blended family.  More was a pioneer in the education of women in England, for his daughters were well-educated people.

More was a longtime Member of Parliament and a negotiator.  He, the Undersheriff of London (1510-1518), was also an officer in various companies.  In various capacities he settled disputes in England and France through 1529.

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THE EARLY LIFE OF SAINT JOHN FISHER

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Above:  John Fisher, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

St. John Fisher was a scholar and a priest.  He, born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England, in 1469, graduated from Cambridge University in 1487 and 1491.  He, ordained a priest in 1491, served as a parish priest in Northallerton from 1491 to 1494.  Fisher, a tutor to the young Henry VIII (born in 1491; reigned from 1509 to 1547), was, from 1497, the confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort (1443-1509), mother of King Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509).  At Fisher’s urging she founded readerships in divinity at Oxford and Cambridge (1503) then at Christ’s College, Cambridge (1505).  Fisher, the Vice-Chancellor (1501-1504) then Chancellor (1504-1534) of Cambridge University and Bishop of Rochester (1504-1534), for all intents and purposes founded St. John’s College, Cambridge, for which he hired Erasmus as Lecturer in Greek in 1511.  As a bishop Fisher was also devoted to his diocese–unusually so, by the standards of the period.

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ERASMUS THE BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

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Erasmus was a classical scholar and a man of letters. His volumes (1516-1536) on various Church Fathers were masterpieces of scholarship.  Or saint spent much time on St. Jerome (347-419) and his works in particular.  In 1504 Erasmus commenced his work on the Greek New Testament.  The influential volume, published in 1516, was epoch-making.  Our saint, who prioritized Patristic sources and the best Greek texts available to him, was more reliable than St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate.  Erasmus dedicated the work to Pope Leo X.  The Holy Father accepted the dedication, but some powerful factions in the Church opposed the scholarly work.  Martin Luther, however, admired it.

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SAINT THOMAS MORE, 1514-1532

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St. Thomas More, a devout man and a gentle father, was also an influential writer, a statesman, and a controversialist.  The author of Utopia (1515-1516) produced many other works, including The History of Richard III (1514), which influenced William Shakespeare’s treatment of the monarch.  More held a series of positions in the 1520s.  He was, for example, the Speaker of the House of Commons and a Justice of the Peace from 1523.  The following year he became a High Steward of Oxford University.  In 1525 he became a High Steward of Cambridge University and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.  Then, from 1529 to 1532, he served as the Lord Chancellor.

The position of Lord Chancellor, although of high rank, was still one of a royal servant.  The position increased More’s wealth.  He gave more to charity.  The duties of the job also required More to present the royal position to the House of Lords, even when this left him with an uneasy conscience, as in the “King’s great matter” involving Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.  Our saint, citing health concerns, resigned in 1532.

More was a devout Roman Catholic who considered Protestantism heretical.  In 1525 and 1526 he wrote German Lutheran theologian Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558) in defense of papal authority.  More abhorred both Protestantism and violence.  As much as More argued with and prayed for the conversion of his Lutheran son-in-law, William Roper, Roper recalled never seeing his father-in-law “in a fume.”

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SAINT JOHN FISHER, 1511-1533

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St. John Fisher, a devout Roman Catholic, honored God in various ways.  A devout and simple life was a moral imperative, he preached, to the consternation of some powerful men.  Fisher also honored God with his intellect.  The great man, who undertook the study of Greek at the age of 50 years, encouraged the study of Hebrew at Cambridge University.  Like More, Fisher considered Protestantism heretical, and argued vigorously against it and for Roman Catholicism.

Fisher also opposed the interference of the state in ecclesiastical affairs.  He, a consistent defender of Queen Catherine of Aragon, starting in 1527, opposed the annulment of that marriage as well as the granting to Henry VIII the title of Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England.

Fisher’s conscience was about to lead him to his martyrdom.

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THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINTS JOHN FISHER AND THOMAS MORE

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More and Fisher opposed the Act of Supremacy (1534).  Thus, on April 13, 1534, when summoned, both men refused to swear an oath accepting the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, recognizing the succession of their issue, and repudiating papal authority.  Their refusal was officially treasonous.  From April 17, 1534, to the end of their lives they were prisoners in the Tower of London.  The circumstances of their incarceration were inhumane.

Pope Paul III created Fisher a Cardinal on May 20, 1535.  The infuriated Henry VIII, referring to a Cardinal’s red hat, said,

Mother of God!  He shall wear it on his shoulders, for I will leave him never ahead to set it on.

Fisher, tried and sentenced to death on June 17, 1535, died via beheading at Tower Hill, London, five days later.

More wrote in prison.  He began and completed A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulacyon (1534), in which he also argued against the idea that any head of state can dictate religious belief.  More also began a treatise on the Passion of Jesus, but his jailers did not permit him to famish it.  Our saint, tried on July 1, 1535, died via beheading at Tower Hill five days later.

The Roman Catholic Church has recognized these saints.  Pope Leo XIII beatified them in 1886.  Pope Pius XI canonized them in 1935.

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ERASMUS AND THE CHURCH

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Erasmus was a devout Roman Catholic from his cradle to his grave.  Nevertheless, he had both admirers and detractors in Protestant and Roman Catholic circles.  Furthermore, Erasmus was openly critical of some aspects of an powerful people in Holy Mother Church.  For example, he wrote anonymously then denied having written Julius Exclusus (1514), a satire about the late Pope Julius II (in office 1503-1513) attempting to gain entry into Heaven.  Julius II deserved strong criticism, for he was, in the words of scholar J. N. D. Kelly,

a forceful ruler, ruthless and violent.

The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (1986), page 255

Erasmus criticized certain Popes, but not the Papacy.  He condemned abuses in the Church, but not the Church itself.  He avoided committing schism, although some especially defensive Catholics accused him of being worse than Martin Luther, who did commit schism, albeit only after the Church forced the matter.  In fact, Luther and Erasmus, who never met, carried on a literary debate.  Furthermore, Erasmus was critical of more than one Protestant Reformer.

Erasmus, more at home at Basel, Switzerland, than anywhere else, lived there in 1514-1517, 1521-1529, and 1536.  At the end of his life Erasmus really became a Cardinal, but he died at Basel on July 12, 1536, instead.  His heir, Boniface Amerbach, wrote of the great man’s passing:

As was his life, so was the death of this most upright of men.  Most holy was his living, most holy was his dying.

The last words of Erasmus, in Dutch, were:

Dear God.

After his death the Church added his writings to the Index of Forbidden Books.

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CONCLUSION

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These three saints of God were scholars, friends, and colleagues.  They left the world better than they found it and entrusted it with their intellects and piety.  Two of these men died rather than betray their consciences and, they believed, God.  Erasmus also remained faithful to God, as he understood God.  All of these men did this nonviolently.

As I have prepared this post, I have arrived at another conclusion:  I like Erasmus most of all.  The punchiness of his personality has appealed to part of my personality.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT AND HIS PUPIL, SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIANS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES KINGSLEY, ANGLICAN PRIEST, NOVELIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARNBY, ANGLICAN CHURCH MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF RICHARD FREDERICK LITTLEDALE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of Desiderius Erasmus, Saint John Fisher, and Saint Thomas More,

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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