Archive for the ‘Henry II of England’ Tag

Feast of St. Thomas Becket (December 29)   2 comments

Above:  King Henry II and St. Thomas Becket

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT THOMAS BECKET (DECEMBER 21, 1118-DECEMBER 29, 1170)

Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1170

++++++++++++++++++++++

For the Name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to embrace death.

–The last words of St. Thomas Becket, December 29, 1170

++++++++++++++++++++++

St. Thomas Becket was a controversial figure during his lifetime.  He has continued to be one.

(“Controversial” is a word that prompts me to roll my eyes.  Who or what is not controversial during polarized times?)

Many of the details of Becket’s family have not survived in the historical record we have.  Becket, born in London on December 21, 1118, was a son of Gilbert Becket, apparently prosperous and well-connected.  Gilbert was, at different stages of life, a knight and a merchant.  Our saint grew up distracted from his studies; courtly pursuits including hunting, were more interesting.

Becket made his own important connections.  Circa 1142, he joined the household of Theobald, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Our saint became Theobald’s clerk.  The two men attended the Council of Rheims (1148).  Becket also studied canon law at Bologna and Auxerre before becoming a deacon in 1154.  He served as the Archdeacon of Canterbury to the new king, Henry II (reigned 1154-1189).  Theobald had secured the position for his former clerk.

Theobald regretted his decision.  Becket, as Chancellor, befriended Henry II and sided with the monarch in church-state controversies.  Henry II disagreed with the independence of the Church, a large landowner with its own court system.  The Church answered to the Bishop of Rome, not the Plantaganet monarch.  Theobald died in 1161.  Henry II recognized the opportunity to appoint a compliant Archbishop of Canterbury.

The elevation of Becket, a priest for just one day in 1162, to the highest clergy office in England was a political move.  Henry II soon realized that Becket would not take orders from him.  When Becket became the Archbishop of Canterbury, he became a new man.  He lived austerely, ate simply, and defended ecclesiastical privileges against actions of the crown.  The relationship between Becket and Henry II deteriorated rapidly.  In 1164, the Archbishop of Canterbury, labeled a traitor and stripped of his financial assets, fled to France.

Becket was busy during his exile.  Aside from continuing his studies of canon law, he corresponded with allies and foes regarding his case.  Our saint asserted his rights and sought a negotiated settlement, in which Pope Alexander III was instrumental.

Becket returned to England in 1170.  His reconciliation with Henry II was brief.  Becket excommunicated Archbishop of York Roger de Pont LEvêque, who had crowned Henry, the heir-apparent.  (Crowning the heir-apparent was a task reserved for the Archbishop of Canterbury.)  On December 25, 1170, Henry II, livid, shouted,

Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?

Some knights took him literally.  Four days later, they murdered the Archbishop at Canterbury Cathedral.

Becket’s cultus started immediately.  The murder at the cathedral backfired on the monarch and tainted his reputation permanently.  Pope Alexander III canonized Becket as a martyr in 1173.

In a way, Henry II won, though.  The office of Archbishop of Canterbury remained vacant for years at a time.  Furthermore, Becket’s immediate successors generally did the monarch’s bidding.

The stain on Henry II’s reputation has remained as stubbornly as the “damned spot” on the hands of Lady MacBeth.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONIO MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NIEBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, our strength and our salvation, you called your servant Thomas Becket

to be a shepherd of your people and a defender of your Church:

Keep your household from all evil and raise up among us

faithful pastors and leaders who are wise in the ways of the Gospel;

through Jesus Christ the shepherd of our souls,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 125

1 John 2:3-6, 15-17

Mark 11:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), 145

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Feast of St. Hugh of Lincoln (November 17)   1 comment

Above:  St. Hugh of Lincoln

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT HUGH OF LINCOLN (1135-NOVEMBER 16, 1200)

Roman Catholic Bishop and Abbot

++++++++++++++++++

If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift up his head against them.

–King Richard I

++++++++++++++++++

St. Hugh of Lincoln, a reluctant abbot then a reluctant bishop, served God, confronted his king, and left a fine legacy.

St. Hugh was noble in two senses of that word.  His father was William, Lord of Avalon.  Our saint, born in Avalon Castle, Burgundy, France, in 1135, was eight years old when his mother, Anna, died.  St. Hugh, educated at a monastery in Villard-Benoit, France, became a monk at the age of 15 years and a deacon four years later.  Our saint, a Carthusian since 1160, became a priest five years later, having already been the Prior of Saint-Maxim since 1159.

St. Hugh reluctantly became the abbot of the new monastery (the first Carthusian abbey in England) at Witham, Somerset, in 1175.  King Henry II (reigned 1154-1189), penitent over the murder of St. Thomas Becket (December 29, 1170), had ordered the construction of that monastery.  St. Hugh, renowned for his piety, actively cared for the poor and attracted many recruits to the Carthusian order.

St. Hugh was an even more reluctant Bishop of Lincoln (1186-1200).  He was no less faithful, though.  After an earthquake destroyed the cathedral, St. Hugh presided over the reconstruction of the structure.  He also helped to transform the cathedral school into one of the greatest institutions of learning in England.  St. Hugh fearlessly confronted King Richard I (reigned 1189-1199), criticizing him for mistreating subjects.  Our saint also refused to raise funds for foreign wars.  Furthermore, St. Hugh criticized the monarch for leaving certain sees vacant, for the sake of collecting income.  Our saint also risked his life to resist the persecution of Jews (1190-1191); he confronted mobs and forced the release of captives.

St. Hugh died in London on November 16, 1200.  His health had been failing since the previous year, after a diplomatic mission for King John (reigned 1199-1216) to France.

The Church recognized St. Hugh in 1220, when Pope Honorius III made him the first canonized Carthusian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA SKOBTSOVA, ORTHODOX MARTYR

THE FEAST OF ERNEST TRICE THOMPSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND RENEWER OF THE CHURCH

THE FEAST OF JOHN DONNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF JOHN MARRIOTT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy God, our greatest treasure, you blessed Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln,

with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of your Word to rich and poor alike;

Grant that all who minister in your Name may serve with diligence, discipline, and humility,

fearing nothing but the loss of you and drawing all to you through Jesus Christ our Savior;

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

Micah 4:1-4

Psalm 61

Titus 2:7-8, 11-14

Luke 12:35-44

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 685

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Margaret of Scotland (November 16)   2 comments

Above:  St. Margaret of Scotland

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND (CIRCA 1045-NOVEMBER 16, 1093)

Roman Catholic Queen, Humanitarian, and Ecclesiastical Reformer

Also known as Saint Margaret of Wessex

Alternative feast day = June 16

Former feast day = June 10

St. Margaret of Scotland, who began live as a political exile, became a prominent and historically important figure–a humanitarian, a queen, an ecclesiastical reformer, and the mother of several Kings of Alba/the Scots, as well as a great-grandmother of King Henry II of the Plantaganet Dynasty.

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

St. Margaret was a member of the royal house of Wessex–Anglo-Saxon rulers.  Her grandfather was King Ethelred the Unready (reigned 978-1016), who was actually poorly advised, not unready.  Ethelred’s successor was Edmund II Ironside (reigned April 23-November 30, 1016), who preceded the reign (1016-1035) of King Canute of Denmark in England.  St. Margaret’s father was Edward the Exile (1016-1057).  Her mother was Agatha (before 1030-1057).  Our saint, born in Hungary circa 1045, was a great-niece of King St. Stephen I of Hungary I (reigned 1000-1038).  She spent her earliest years in the court of King Andrew I of Hungary (reigned 1046-1060).  The family returned to England in 1057, during the reign (1042-1066) of Edward the Confessor.  After the Norman Conquest (1066), the family found refuge in the Kingdom of Alba (now Scotland) in 1068.

St. Margaret was Queen of Alba from 1070 to 1093.  King Malcolm III Canmore (reigned 1058-1093) was a widower with children.  He was also illiterate, impious, and uncouth.  St. Margaret was devout and persuasive, however.  She and Malcolm had eight children, including several kings (one of them St. David I), St. Edith/Matilda (the mother of Holy Roman Empress then English Queen Matilda, the mother of King Henry II of England and France), and Blessed Edmund of Scotland (circa 1071-1100, a monk from 1097).  St. Margaret convinced her husband to found schools, orphanages, and hospitals.  She used her influence to have Iona Abbey rebuilt and to cause the founding of Dumferline Abbey.  Our saint urged her husband to improve the quality of life for the people of Alba.  She was less successful in her efforts to reduce interclan warfare, though.

St. Margaret encouraged greater piety at home and in the realm.  She was the spiritual director of her household and the royal court.  Our saint, dismayed with the custom of beginning Lent on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, insisted on starting the season on Ash Wednesday.  Furthermore, Eucharistic rites were to follow the Latin Rite, she said.  Sunday was to be a true sabbath, St. Margaret insisted.  She also encouraged frequent communion.

St. Margaret died at Edinburgh Castle on November 16, 1093, a few days after Malcolm and their son Edward died during civil conflict.

Pope Innocent IV canonized St. Margaret in 1251.

St. Margaret understood that temporal power is a great responsibility, never properly a tool for enriching oneself and feeding one’s ego.  She left Alba/Scotland better than she found it.

Wherever you are, O reader, may you leave it better than you found it.  And, to the extent you have any power or influence, may you use if for good, not selfish, purposes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 29, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD, COMPOSER, ORGANIST, AND CONDUCTOR

THE FEAST OF DORA GREENWELL, POET AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN KEBLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JONAS AND BARACHISIUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, you called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom,

and gave her zeal for your Church and love for your people:

Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works,

and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

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

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Psalm 112:1-9

2 John 1-9

Luke 4:16-22a

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 683

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of St. Aelred of Hexham (January 12)   1 comment

St. Aelred

Above:  St. Aelred

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ST. AELRED OF HEXHAM (1109/1110-JANUARY 12, 1167)

Roman Catholic Abbot of Rievaulx

St. Aelred of Hexham became a major figure in the English Roman Catholic Church.  He came from a family in which men served as treasurers of the shrine of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (lived circa 634-687) at Durham.  Our saint’s father was Eliaf, a priest and treasurer of the shrine.  His father, another Eliaf, was also a treasurer of the shrine.  Young St. Aelred served in the court of King St. David I of Scotland (reigned 1124-1153) for up to a decade (perhaps from ages 14 to 24 years), rising to the rank of steward.  Our saint became disillusioned with court politics, so he entered the monastery at Rievaulx at age 24, in 1133 or 1134.

The monastic life was St. Aelred’s vocation.  In 1142 and 1143 he served as the novice master at Rievaulx.  In 1143 he became the first abbot of the new daughterhouse at Revesby, Lincolnshire.  Four years later he became the abbot at Rievaulx, an office he held for the rest of his life.  St. Aelred increased the number of monks at Rievaulx (to about 600 at the time of his death) and the number of daughterhouses.  Toward the end of his life our saint suffered from arthritis and kidney stones.  He died on January 12, 1167.

St. Aelred, a spiritual writer, hagiographer, and historian, became involved in politics, such as a controversy about the appointment of the Archbishop of York, St. William of York (died in 1154), son of the treasurer to King Henry I (reigned 1100-1135).  Our saint also used some of his writings to advise King Henry II (reigned 1133-1189) on how to govern properly.  Some of St. Aelred’s sermons have survived.  His other major works were, in chronological order:

  1. The Mirror of Charity (1142), which he wrote at the request of St. Bernard of Clarivaux (1090-1153);
  2. The Life of David, King of the Scots (1153);
  3. Genealogy of the Kings of the English (1153-1154);
  4. On the Account of the Standard (1153-1154);
  5. The Life of Saint Ninian (1154-1160);
  6. On the Miracles of the Church of Hexham (1155);
  7. A Certain Wonderful Miracle (1160);
  8. Jesus at the Age of Twelve (1160-1162);
  9. The Formation of the Anchoresses (1160-1162);
  10. The Life of Saint Edward, King and Confessor (1161-1163);
  11. Pastoral Prayer (1163-1167);
  12. On the Soul (1164-1167); and
  13. Spiritual Friendship (1164-1167).

St. Aelred understood friendship as a divine gift and a human creation.  Love is a universal gift from God, he wrote, but friendship requires a human effort.  Our saint encouraged expressions of friendship among his monks.  He was correct.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF AARON ROBARTS WOLFE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM MORTON REYNOLDS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, EDUCATOR, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, you endowed the abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship

and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness:

Grant to your people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another,

we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of your eternal goodness;

through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns

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

Ruth 1:15-18

Psalm 36:5-10

Philippians 2:1-4

Mark 12:28-34a

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 167

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++