As we have shown in other pages, the ancient Hebrews were Black people. Consequently Jesus and his disciples were also Black, as were the early Prophets and Saints. The following Christian icons are mainly from the Orthodox Christian Church, which unlike the Catholic and Protestant Church's, seems to have resisted the urge to make everyone White, (the Catholic conversion is so complete, that of the six known Black Popes, not even a Whitenized image of any of them is known to exist). The Orthodox Christians seemingly being content with just giving the subjects exaggerated White features (notice the noses are even more narrow than the White Saints - White people are funny!). Yes of course, there are many Blacks who have narrow noses and thin lips - but we suspect that is not what they had in mind. Of course these Black Christians did not really look as depicted here, their iconic images were likely created long after they were dead. One should also not be fooled by the Coptic (descendents of the ancient Greeks of Egypt) image of a Black Jesus, that is a rarity, hidden away in their museum. All of their modern icons have been converted to White.
One can't help but wonder if White Christians, who profess such love for Jesus and Christianity, appreciate the rather gross irony of their practices. Many of the people depicted here, were Martyred in service to, and defense of, their ancestors - thus them. Yet they show these ancient Blacks - Jesus included; and our memories of them, such disrespect and contempt, by depicting them differently than what they proudly were. Apparently no sacrifice is sufficient to dissuade Whites from their natural habits: Greedily gobble up everything of value, then claim that it was they who created it - there is a lesson there somewhere. Saint Piran is included for comparison purposes only.
Meeting of our Lord in the Temple
Apostles and Prophets
The Seventy Disciples or Seventy-two Disciples (known in the Eastern Christian tradition as the Seventy Apostles) were early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24. According to Luke, the only gospel in which they appear, Jesus appointed them and sent them out in pairs on a specific mission which is detailed in the text. In Western Christianity it is usual to refer to them as Disciples while in Eastern Christianity they are usually referred to as Apostles. Using the original Greek words, both titles are descriptive as an apostle is one sent on a mission whereas a disciple is a student, but the two traditions differ on the scope of the word apostle.
The Record by Hippolytus
Hippolytus of Rome was a disciple of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of Apostle John. Because he was the first antipope, and that he wrote in Greek rather than Latin, his works were shunned, neglected and lost to the West, until the discovery at a monastery on Mt. Athos in 1854. While his major work The Refutation of All Heresies was readily accepted (once the false attribution to Origen was resolved), his two small works, On the Twelve Apostles, and On the Seventy Apostles, are still regarded as dubious, put in the appendix of his works in the voluminous collection of Early Church Fathers. Here is the complete list of Hippolytus' On the Seventy Apostles of Christ:
1. James the Lord’s brother, bishop of Jerusalem
2. Cleopas, bishop of Jerusalem.
3. Matthias, who supplied the vacant place in the number of the twelve apostles.
4. Thaddeus, who conveyed the epistle to Augarus.
5. Ananias, who baptized Paul, and was bishop of Damascus.
6. Stephen, the first martyr.
7. Philip, who baptized the eunuch.
8. Prochorus, bishop of Nicomedia, who also was the first that departed, 11 believing together with his daughters.
9. Nicanor died when Stephen was martyred.
10. Timon, bishop of Bostra.
11. Parmenas, bishop of Soli.
12. Nicolaus, bishop of Samaria.
13. Barnabas, bishop of Milan.
14. Mark the evangelist, bishop of Alexandria.
15. Luke the evangelist.
These two belonged to the seventy disciples who were scattered by the offence of the word which Christ spoke, “Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he is not worthy of me.” But the one being induced to return to the Lord by Peter’s instrumentality, and the other by Paul’s, they were honored to preach that Gospel on account of which they also suffered martyrdom, the one being burned, and the other being crucified on an olive tree.
16. Silas, bishop of Corinth.
17. Silvanus, bishop of Thessalonica.
18. Crisces (Crescens), bishop of Carchedon in Gaul.
19. Epænetus, bishop of Carthage.
20. Andronicus, bishop of Pannonia.
21. Amplias, bishop of Odyssus.
22. Urban, bishop of Macedonia.
23. Stachys, bishop of Byzantium.
24. Barnabas, bishop of Heraclea
25. Phygellus, bishop of Ephesus. He was of the party also of Simon.
26. Hermogenes. He, too, was of the same mind with the former.
27. Demas, who also became a priest of idols.
28. Apelles, bishop of Smyrna.
29. Aristobulus, bishop of Britain.
30. Narcissus, bishop of Athens.
31. Herodion, bishop of Tarsus.
32. Agabus the prophet.
33. Rufus, bishop of Thebes.
34. Asyncritus, bishop of Hyrcania.
35. Phlegon, bishop of Marathon.
36. Hermes, bishop of Dalmatia.
37. Patrobulus,1 bishop of Puteoli.
38. Hermas, bishop of Philippi.
39. Linus, bishop of Rome.
40. Caius, bishop of Ephesus.
41. Philologus, bishop of Sinope
42, 43. Olympus and Rhodion were martyred in Rome.
44. Lucius, bishop of Laodicea in Syria.
45. Jason, bishop of Tarsus.
46. Sosipater, bishop of Iconium
47. Tertius, bishop of Iconium.
48. Erastus, bishop of Panellas.
49. Quartus, bishop of Berytus.
50. Apollo, bishop of Cæsarea.
52. Sosthenes, bishop of Colophonia.
53. Tychicus, bishop of Colophonia.
54. Epaphroditus, bishop of Andriace.
55. Cæsar, bishop of Dyrrachium.
56. Mark, cousin to Barnabas, bishop of Apollonia.
57. Justus, bishop of Eleutheropolis.
58. Artemas, bishop of Lystra.
59. Clement, bishop of Sardinia.
60. Onesiphorus, bishop of Corone.
61. Tychicus, bishop of Chalcedon.
62. Carpus, bishop of Berytus in Thrace.
63. Evodus, bishop of Antioch.
64. Aristarchus, bishop of Apamea.
65. Mark, who is also John, bishop of Bibloupolis.
66. Zenas, bishop of Diospolis.
67. Philemon, bishop of Gaza.
68, 69. Aristarchus and Pudes.
70. Trophimus, who was martyred along with Paul.
Apostle Nicanor the Deacon of the Seventy
Saints Nicanor, Prochorus, Timon, and Parmenas, Apostles of the Seventy were among the first deacons in the Church of Christ.
In the Acts of the Holy Apostles (6:1-6) it is said that the twelve Apostles chose seven men: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and appointed them to serve as deacons.
They are commemorated together on July 28, although they died at various times and in various places.
Although St Nicanor suffered on the same day that the holy Protomartyr Stephen (December 27) and many other Christians were killed by stoning, he is commemorated on December 28.
The Holy Prophet Nahum
The Holy Prophet Nahum, whose name means "God consoles," was from the village of Elkosh (Galilee). He lived during the seventh century B.C. The Prophet Naum prophesies the ruin of the Assyrian city of Nineveh because of its iniquity, the destruction of the Israelite kingdom, and the blasphemy of King Sennacherib against God. The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal died in 632 B.C., and over the next two decades, his empire began to crumble. Nineveh fell in 612 B.C.
Nahum differs from most of the prophets in as much as he does not issue any call to repentance, nor does he denounce Israel for infidelity to God.
Details of the prophet's life are unknown. He died at the age of forty-five, and was buried in his native region. He is the seventh of the Twelve Minor Prophets
The Prophet Nahum and St Nahum of Ochrid (December 23) are invoked for people with mental disorders.
Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy
Saint Onesimus, Apostle of the Seventy in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of distinguished lineage, living in the city of Colossae, Phrygia. Guilty of an offense against his master and fearing punishment, St Onesimus fled to Rome, but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison. In prison he encountered the Apostle Paul, was enlightened by him, and was baptized.
In prison St Onesimus served the Apostle Paul like a son. St Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him like a brother. He sent St Onesimus with this letter to his master, depriving himself of help, of which he was very much in need.
After he received the letter, St Philemon not only forgave Onesimus, but also sent him back to Rome to the apostle. St Philemon was afterwards consecrated bishop of the city of Gaza (January 4, February 19, and November 22).
After the death of the Apostle Paul, St Onesimus served the apostles until their end, and he was made a bishop. After the death of the holy apostles he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossae, Patras. In his old age, St Onesimus occupied the bishop's throne at Ephesus, after the Apostle Timothy. When they took St Ignatius the God-Bearer (December 20) to Rome for execution, Bishop Onesimus came to meet with him with other Christians, as St Ignatius mentions in his Epistle to the Ephesians.
During the reign of the emperor Trajan (89-117), St Onesimus was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch Tertillus. He held the saint in prison for eighteen days, and then sent him to prison in the city of Puteoli. After a certain while, the eparch sent for the prisoner and, convincing himself that St Onesimus maintained his faith in Christ, had him stoned, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This took place in the year 109.
The Holy Prophet Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament. He was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.
St Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: "When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames." The name Elijah (the Lord's strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.
During this time the Israelite nation had fallen away from the faith of their Fathers, they abandoned the One God and worshipped pagan idols, the worship of which was introduced by the impious king Jereboam. Jezebel, the wife of king Ahab, was devoted to idol worship. She persuaded her husband to build a temple to the pagan god Baal, which led many Israelites away from the worship of the true God. Beholding the ruin of his nation, the Prophet Elijah began to denounce King Ahab for impiety, and exhorted him to repent and turn to the God of Israel. The king would not listen to him. The Prophet Elijah then declared to him, that as punishment there would be neither rain nor dew upon the ground, and the drought would cease only by his prayer. Indeed, the word of Elijah was a torch (Eccles. 48: 1) The heavens were closed for three and a half years, and there was drought and famine throughout all the land.
During this time of tribulation, the Lord sent him to a cave beyond the Jordan. There he was miraculously fed by ravens. When the stream Horath dried up, the Lord sent the Prophet Elijah to Sarephta to a poor widow, a Sidonian Gentile who suffered together with her children, awaiting death by starvation. At the request of the prophet, she prepared him a bread with the last measure of flour and the remainder of the oil. Through the prayer of the Prophet Elijah, flour and oil were not depleted in the home of the widow for the duration of the famine. By the power of his prayer the prophet also performed another miracle: he raised the dead son of the widow.
After the end of three years of drought the Merciful Lord sent the prophet to appear before King Ahab, and promised to send rain upon the earth. The Prophet Elijah told the king to order all of Israel to gather upon Mount Carmel, and also the priests of Baal. When the nation had gathered, the Prophet Elijah proposed that two sacrificial altars be built: one for the priests of Baal, and the other for the Prophet Elijah who served the True God.
The Prophet Elijah told them to call on their gods to consume the sacrificial animals with fire, and he would call on his. Whichever was first to send fire on the sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true God. The prophets of Baal called out to their idol from morning till evening, but the heavens were silent. Towards evening the holy Prophet Elijah built his sacrificial altar from twelve stones, the number of the tribes of Israel. He placed the sacrifice upon the wood, gave orders to dig a ditch around the altar and commanded that the sacrifice and the wood be soaked with water. When the ditch had filled with water, the prophet turned to God in prayer. Through the prayer of the prophet fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and even the water. The people fell down to the ground, crying out: "Truly, the Lord is God!" Then the Prophet Elijah had all the pagan-priests of Baal put to death, and he began to pray for rain. Through his prayer the heavens opened and an abundant rain fell, soaking the parched earth.
King Ahab acknowledged his error and repented of his sins, but his wife Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet of God. The Prophet Elijah fled into the Kingdom of Judea and, grieving over his failure to eradicate idol worship, he asked God to let him die. An angel of the Lord came before him, strengthened him with food and commanded him to go upon a long journey. The Prophet Elijah traveled for forty days and nights and, having arrived at Mount Horeb, he settled in a cave.
The Lord told him that the next day Elijah would stand in His presence.There was a strong wind that crushed the rocks of the mountain, then an earthquake, and a fire, but the Lord was not in them. The Lord was in "a gentle breeze" (3 Kings 19: 12). He revealed to the prophet, that He would preserve seven thousand faithful servants who had not worshipped Baal.
Later, the Lord commanded Elijah to anoint Elisha into prophetic service. Because of his fiery zeal for the Glory of God the Prophet Elijah was taken up alive into Heaven in a fiery chariot. The Prophet Elisha received Elijah's mantle, and a double portion of his prophetic spirit.
According to the Tradition of Holy Church, the Prophet Elijah will be the Forerunner of the Dread Second Coming of Christ. He will proclaim the truth of Christ, urge all to repentance, and will be slain by the Antichrist. This will be a sign of the end of the world.
The life of the holy Prophet Elijah is recorded in the Old Testament books (3 Kings; 4 Kings; Sirach/Ecclesiastes 48: 1-15; 1 Maccabees 2: 58). At the time of the Transfiguration, the Prophet Elijah conversed with the Savior upon Mount Tabor (Mt. 17: 3; Mark 9: 4; Luke. 9: 30).
Orthodox Christians of all times, and in all places, have venerated the Prophet Elijah for centuries. The first church in Russia, built at Kiev under Prince Igor, was named for the Prophet Elijah. After her Baptism St Olga (July 14) built a temple of the holy Prophet Elijah in his native region, at the village of Vibuta.
In iconography the Prophet Elijah is depicted ascending to Heaven in a fiery chariot, surrounded with flames, and harnessed to four winged horses. We pray to him for deliverance from drought, and to ask for seasonable weather.
Apostle Aristarchus of the Seventy
Saint Aristarchus was one of the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to proclaim the good news of the Gospel (Luke. 10:1-24).
St Aristarchus, a co-worker of the holy Apostle Paul, became bishop of the Syrian city of Apamea. His name is repeatedly mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2) and in the Epistles of St Paul (Col. 4:10, Philemon 1:24). He accompanied St Paul on his travels (Acts 16:29), and was Bishop of Apamea, Syria.
St Aristarchus is also commemorated on April 15 with Sts Pudens and Trophimus and on September 27 together with Sts Mark and Zenas.
|Saint Simon was from Cana in Galilee, and was known to the Lord and His Mother. Tradition says that he was the bridegroom at the wedding where the Savior performed His first miracle. After witnessing the miracle of the water which had been turned into wine, he became a zealous follower of Christ. For this reason, he is known as St Simon the Zealot.
St Simon was one of the twelve Apostles, and received the Holy Spirit with the others on Pentecost. He traveled to many places from Britain to the Black Sea, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. After winning many pagans to the Lord, St Simon suffered martyrdom by crucifixion.
St Demetrius of Rostov says that this St Simon is to be distinguished from the Apostle Simon Peter, and from the Lord's relative Simon (Mt.13:55), who was the second Bishop of Jerusalem.
St Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was the youngest daughter of the priest Nathan from Bethlehem, descended from the tribe of Levi. She married St Joachim (September 9), who was a native of Galilee.
For a long time St Anna was childless, but after twenty years, through the fervent prayer of both spouses, an angel of the Lord announced to them that they would be the parents of a daughter, Who would bring blessings to the whole human race.
The Orthodox Church does not accept the teaching that the Mother of God was exempted from the consequences of ancestral sin (death, corruption, sin, etc.) at the moment of her conception by virtue of the future merits of Her Son. Only Christ was born perfectly holy and sinless, as St Ambrose of Milan teaches in Chapter Two of his Commentary on Luke.The Holy Virgin was like everyone else in Her mortality, and in being subject to temptation, although She committed no personal sins. She was not a deified creature removed from the rest of humanity. If this were the case, She would not have been truly human, and the nature that Christ took from Her would not have been truly human either. If Christ does not truly share our human nature, then the possibilty of our salvation is in doubt.
The Conception of the Virgin Mary by St Anna took place at Jerusalem. The many icons depicting the Conception by St Anna show the Most Holy Theotokos trampling the serpent underfoot.
"In the icon Sts Joachim and Anna are usually depicted with hands folded in prayer; their eyes are also directed upward and they contemplate the Mother of God, Who stands in the air with outstretched hands; under Her feet is an orb encircled by a serpent (symbolizing the devil), which strives to conquer all the universe by its power."
There are also icons in which St Anna holds the Most Holy Virgin on her left arm as an infant. On St Anna's face is a look of reverence. A large ancient icon, painted on canvas, is located in the village of Minkovetsa in the Dubensk district of Volhynia diocese. From ancient times this Feast was especially venerated by pregnant women in Russia.
Oswin (Oswini) (d. 651), king of Deira in Northumbria 644–51 and venerated as a martyr. When Oswin's father Osric, king of Deira (i.e. roughly the territory of the former county of Yorkshire), was killed by the pagan king Cadwalla in 634, Oswin went to the kingdom of Wessex (in southern England) for safety. After the death in battle in 634 of his cousin Oswald (1), who had united the two parts of Northumbria (Bernicia and Deira) into a single kingdom, Oswin returned to the North to be king of Deira, while his cousin Oswiu, who could not live peacefully with him, became king of Bernicia. Oswin's short reign and premature death were due to treachery and dynastic struggles; he was in fact the last king of Deira. All that we know of his life comes from Bede. Greatly loved by all, he ruled his province most successfully. But Oswiu, wishing to regain the land and power held by Oswald, quarrelled with Oswin and they raised armies against each other. Instead of adding one more battle to the long tale of violence in 7th-century Northumbria, Oswin, realizing that he was outnumbered, disbanded his army to avoid bloodshed, hoping to make good his claim at some future date. Accompanied by a single trusted soldier, he hid in the house of his best friend Hunwald. This earl, however, treacherously betrayed him to Oswiu, who ordered Oswin and his soldier to be put to death. This was on 20 August 651. Oswin was a devoted friend of Aidan, apostle of Northumbria, who died only twelve days after him. Bede described him as ‘a man of handsome appearance and great stature, pleasant in speech and courteous in manner. He was generous to high and low alike and soon won the affection of all by his kingly qualities of mind and body so that even men of very high birth came from nearly every province to his service.’
In expiation for his crime, Oswiu built a monastery at Gilling, where Oswin was killed. But he was buried at Tynemouth. Later this church was vulnerable to Viking raiders; the tomb was largely forgotten until its rediscovery in 1065, when the relics were translated. Tynemouth became a cell of St. Albans; Durham tried hard but unsuccessfully to recover it in the 12th century. Like some other Anglo-Saxon kings such as Kenelm and Ethelbert who met a violent death, Oswin was culted as a martyr, because he died, ‘if not for the faith of Christ, at least for the justice of Christ’, as a 12th-century homilist explained. Feast: 20 August; translation, 11 March (kept at Durham, St. Albans, and Tynemouth).
Pabo Post Prydain was a king somewhere in the Hen Ogledd or Old North of sub-Roman Britain.
According to the Old Welsh genealogies of British Library, Harleian MS 3859, he was a son of Cenau ap Coel Hen. Later Welsh genealogies insert two generations between Pabo and Cenau by making the former a son of Arthwys ap Mar ap Cenau ap Coel, but this presents chronological problems.
The genealogies give a him both a royal line of descendants, namely as the father of Dunod Fawr, Sawyl Penuchel and Ardun Benasgell, and a saintly one, as the grandfather of Deiniol, Asaph and Tysilio.
In genealogical and literary sources, he is known by his epithet 'Post Prydain' meaning "the Pillar of Britain".
A later tradition, which is unattested before the 14th century, identifies Pabo with the eponymous founder of St Pabo's Church, Llanbabo (at Llanbabo, Anglesey). The first author to record it is antiquarian Henry Rowlands (d. 1723), who writes that "Pabo, frequently called Post Prydain, i.e. the Support of Britain, for his great valour against the Picts and Scots, retired here [in Anglesey], and built his church at Llan Babo. "The identification appears to go back to at least the 14th century, when a stone cross was erected in the ruler's memory in the abbey's churchyard. Welsh poet Lewis Morris reports that the memorial cross was discovered there around 1650. The monument bears the carved image of a king and an accompanying inscription. The inscription is in part illegible, but the following reading has been suggested:
Hic iacet Pa[bo] Post Priid Co[nf Gr] … [t]el [i]ma[ginem obtulit]
In the absence of any early evidence that the northern ruler ever travelled south or abdicated to devote himself to the church, the tradition is probably spurious. The identity of the historical Pabo who did give his name to the church remains unknown.
Saint Richard the Pilgrim
Saint Richard the Pilgrim (also St Richard of Wessex, St. Richard the King, St. Richard the Saxon, St. Richard of Swabia) is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. He was born in Wessex, England. He was the brother-in-law of Saint Boniface (Archbishop of Mainz) and father of Saints Willibald (Bishop of Eichstätt), Winnebald or Winibald (Abbot of Heidenheim), and Walburga (Abbess of Heidenheim). Richard, his supposed wife Wuna and their three children are depicted together at St Walburga's shrine in Eichstätt.
Richard is said to have obtained the recovery of his grievously sick three-year-old younger son Willibald through his prayers.
Richard renounced his royal estate and set sail with his two sons from Hamblehaven near Southampton about 721. They landed in France and stayed for a while in Rouen before setting off on the pilgrimage route to Italy, making devotions at most of the shrines on the way.
He fell ill with a fever and died in Lucca, in Tuscany, where he was buried in the church of San Frediano (founded by the Irish monk Frigidian). Miracles were reported at his tomb and a cult of veneration grew up. The people of Lucca embellished accounts of his life, describing him as a prince of the English; another unreliable story described him as the Duke of Swabia in Germany.
Richard's niece, a nun called Hugeburc or Huneburc (Huneburc of Heidenheim), wrote an account of the pilgrimage, which Willibald had continued to the Holy Land, under the title Hodoeporicon, some time thought to be between 761 and 786.
Some of Richard's relics were translated to Eichstätt where his son Willibald eventually became bishop.
In religious iconic art Richard is portrayed as a royal pilgrim, in an ermine-lined cloak and with two sons — one a bishop and one an abbot. His crown may be on a book (Roeder). He is venerated at Heidenheim and Lucca (Roeder). A modern icon at the monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in the U.S. depicts him as King of Wessex.
Saint Keby and Saint Seiriol
Seiriol was an early 6th century saint, who created a cell at Penmon Priory on Anglesey, off the coast of north Wales. He later moved to Ynys Seiriol (Puffin Island). He was a son of King Owain Danwyn of Rhos.
According to legend, he and Saint Cybi were good friends, and would meet weekly near Llanerchymedd, at the Clorach wells. Saint Cybi would walk from Holyhead, facing the rising sun in the morning and setting sun in the evening. Saint Cybi was known as Cybi Felyn (Cybi the Tanned), as he was tanned during his journey. Seiriol, travelling in the opposite direction, from Penmon, would have his back to the sun. Thus, he was known as Seiriol Wyn (Seiriol the Fair). Rhyd-y-Saint railway station (English: Ford of the Saints railway station) on the Red Wharf Bay branch line near Pentraeth, was named so as Seiriol and Cybi are said to have met there.
Seiriol was a younger brother of King Cynlas of Rhos and King Einion of Llŷn. His cell at Penmon is said to have been rebuilt by his brothers, as they didn't think his humble residence was good enough. St Seiriol's Well (Ffynnon Seiriol) lies in a small chamber adjoining its remains. Both are protected by Cadw, the publicly-funded body responsible for the historic monuments of Wales. Adjacent to them are the church and ruins of a monastery also dating back to Seiriol's day.
In his old age, Seiriol retired to Ynys Lannog which subsequently became known (in Welsh) as Ynys Seiriol. Later it would be known to the Vikings as Priestholm, and is known as Puffin Island in English since the 19th century.
In the spiritual experience of the Russian Church, veneration of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica is closely linked with the memory of the defense of the nation and Church by the Great Prince of Moscow, Demetrius of the Don (May 19).
St Demetrius of the Don smashed the military might of the Golden Horde at the Battle of Kulikovo Field on September 8, 1380 (the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos), set between the Rivers Don and Nepryadva. The Battle of Kulikovo, for which the nation calls him Demetrius of the Don, became the first Russian national deed, rallying the spiritual power of the Russian nation around Moscow. The "Zadonschina," an inspiring historic poem written by the priest Sophronius of Ryazem (1381), is devoted to this event.
Prince Demetrius of the Don was greatly devoted to the holy Great Martyr Demetrius. In 1380, on the eve of the Battle of Kulikovo, he solemnly transferred from Vladimir to Moscow the most holy object in the Dimitriev cathedral of Vladimir: the icon of the Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica, painted on a piece of wood from the saint's grave. A chapel in honor of the Great Martyr Demetrius was built at Moscow's Dormition Cathedral.
The St Demetrius Memorial Saturday was established for the churchwide remembrance of the soldiers who fell in the Battle of Kulidovo. This memorial service was held for the first time at the Trinity-St Sergius monastery on October 20, 1380 by St Sergius of Radonezh, in the presence of Great Prince Demetrius of the Don . It is an annual remembrance of the heroes of the Battle of Kulikovo, among whom are the schemamonks Alexander (Peresvet) and Andrew (Oslyab).
Otto I, the Great (23 November 912 in Wallhausen – 7 May 973 in Memleben), son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan. While Charlemagne had been crowned emperor in 800, his empire had been divided amongst his grandsons, and following the assassination of Berengar of Friuli in 924, the imperial title had lain vacant for nearly forty years. Otto succeeded his father as king of the Saxons in 936, on February 2, 962, Otto was crowned Emperor of what would later become the Holy Roman Empire.
Edith of England (910 – 26 January 946), also spelt Eadgyth or Ædgyth, was the daughter of Edward the Elder, King of England and Ælfflæd. Her paternal grandparents were Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, and his wife Ealhswith. (The obvious corollary is that Edith came from a long line of Black British royalty).
In order to seal an alliance between two Saxon kingdoms, her half-brother, King Athelstan of England, sent two of his sisters to Germany, instructing the Duke of Saxony (later Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor) to choose whichever one pleased him best. Otto chose Edith and married her in 929. The remaining sister Algiva or Adiva was married to a "king near the Jupiter mountains" (the Alps). The precise identity of this sister is debated. She may have been Eadgifu of England, who married King Charles III of France, or another sister otherwise unknown to history.
As queen, Eadgyth undertook the usual state duties of a Queen: when she turns up in the records it is generally in connection with gifts to the state's favoured monasteries or memorials to female holy women and saints. In this respect she seems to have been more diligent than her now widowed and subsequently sainted mother-in-law Queen Matilda whose own charitable activities only achieve a single recorded mention from the period of Eadgyth's time as queen. There was probably rivalry between the Benedictine Monastery of St Maurice founded at Magdeburg by Otto and Eadgyth in 937, a year after coming to the throne and Matilda's foundation at Quedlinburg Abbey, intended by her as a memorial to her husband, the late King Henry I. Like her brother, Athelstan, Edith was devoted to the cult of Saint Oswald and was instrumental in introducing this cult into Germany after her marriage to the emperor. Her lasting influence may have caused certain monasteries and churches in Saxony to be dedicated to this saint. Eadgyth died at a relatively young age.
Her tomb is located in the Cathedral of Magdeburg, Germany. A lead coffin inside a stone sarcophagus with her name on it was found and opened in 2008 by archaeologists during work on the building. An inscription recorded that it was the body of Eadgyth, reburied in 1510. It was examined in 2009, then brought to Bristol, England, for tests in 2010. Professor Mark Horton of Bristol University said that "this may prove to be the oldest complete remains of an English royal."
|John the Apostle, (also known as the Apostle whom Jesus most loved or John the Beloved Disciple), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles. Christian tradition holds he was the last surviving of the Twelve Apostles and died around the age of 94—the only apostle to die naturally.
The Church Fathers identify him as the author of several New Testament works: the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John, and the Book of Revelation. All three are very different in nature from the Canonical gospels. It was said that the Bishops of Asia, requested him to write his Gospel to deal with dogma of the Ebionites, who asserted that Christ did not exist before Mary. It was also said that he composed his work because Matthew, Mark, and Luke, (of which he approved) had given the history of Jesus for only one year ie (the year which followed the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist).
Some modern scholars have raised the possibility that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John of Patmos were three separate individuals. Certain lines of evidence suggest that John of Patmos wrote Revelation, but neither the Gospel of John nor the Epistles of John. For one, the author of Revelation identifies himself as "John" several times, but the author of the Gospel of John never identifies himself directly. Roman Catholic scholars state that "vocabulary, grammar, and style make it doubtful that the book could have been put into its present form by the same person(s) responsible for the fourth gospel." This is an area of ongoing scholarly debate.
|Russian Orthodox icon of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia)||Byzantine illumination depicting John dictating to his disciple, Prochorus (c. 1100)|
|John the Evangelist from a 12th-century minuscule||Eastern Orthodox icon John the Baptist — the Angel of the Desert (Stroganov School, 1620s) Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.|
Saint Piran is included for comparison of depiction purposes only.
SAINT PIRAN - Bishop of Padstowe, Cornwall (died 480). In Cornwall and Brittany March 5th is observed as the feast of St. Piran or Perran and many scholars have identified him with St.Ciaran. Of these John of Tynmouth, who wrote his medieval biography, ascribes similar stories to the two saints, (if indeed they are two).
What is certain is that Piran was one of the missionaries which came to Cornwall from Ireland and Wales and it seems sensible for us to merely record what we know of this saint, who is the most popular of Cornish saints and the patron, if not of the Duchy at least of the miners.
Perranporth is the traditional place of Piran's arrival, in true Celtic style on a mill stone according to legend. Inland among the sand dunes, lies buried one of the oldest churches in these islands, his chapel at Perranzabuloc. In the Middle Ages relics of the saint who lay entombed beneath the altar were shown to pilgrims and it was, with St Michaels's Mount, the most frequented of holy places. In the twelfth century however the sands were engulfing the ancient edifice and the relics had to be removed to another church although the old standing cross remained among the dunes. In 1834 the walls were discovered and excavated and in 1910 they were encased in a concrete shell to protect them but they are now again hidden beneath the sand.
The preaching of this holy man and the miracles granted through him brought so many people to God that there are numerous dedications to him in Cornwall and in Brittany and South Wales. As you might expect, in Cornwall, the places associated with him are in the region of the Fal estuary, which was the usual embarkation place for Brittany. Perrarworthal has a Perran well and then there are Perrannthnoe and Perran Downs. In Brittany Saint Perran is a small place south of Saint Brienc.
St. Piran is believed to have been interested in stones and collected various mineral bearing rocks, one particularly large black one he used as the hearth for his fire and was amazed when it got very hot a flow of metal came out white in colour and in the shape of a cross. This appearance of tin not only made him the patron of tinners but also suggested his flag, a silver cross on a black ground which is often used as the standard of Cornwall and symbolizes the Christian Gospel, light out of darkness, good from evil.
Piran died at his little hermitage near the beach. His relics were a great draw to pilgrims but, due to inundation by the sands, they were moved inland to the Parish Church of Perran-Zabulo, built to house them.
SAINT DAVID (died 601) was born in the sixth century in Wales. As a young man he became a monk and studied for many years as a priest. According to one tradition he was consecrated Bishop by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, when David went on pilgrimage there. He worked extensively to spread Christianity in Wales, especially in south-west Wales in what is now Pembrokeshire. Here he founded a monastery at Mynyw (Menevia), now St David's, and he is honoured as the first Bishop of St David’s.
David and his monks followed a very austere rule, drinking only water and eating only bread and vegetables. Emulating the customs of the monks of the Egyptian desert with a regime of manual labour and study, his monastery became a nursery of saints. Personally, David was a most merciful man and practised frequent prostrations. As a favourite ascetic act he would often immerse himself in cold water while repeating the Psalms by heart.
We know that he attended the Church Council of Brevi in c. 545 and here by common consent it is said that he was made Archbishop and his monastery proclaimed the Mother-Church of all Wales. He is said to have founded twelve monasteries, one of which may have been at Glastonbury in Somerset, the place where the Apostle Aristobulus of the Seventy and Righteous Joseph of Arimathea had, by tradition, first preached the Gospel in Britain and built the first church centuries before.
|ST AUGUSTINE - Archbishop of Canterbury (died 604) was from Italy, and a disciple of St Felix, Bishop of Messana. St Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, chose him to lead a mission of forty monks to evangelize the people of Britain. They arrived at Ebbsfleet (on the isle of Thanet) in Kent in 597.
King Ethelbert, whose Frankish wife Bertha was a Christian, welcomed them. They were allowed to base their mission at the ancient church of St Martin in Canterbury, which was restored for their use. This church had been built during the Roman occupation of Britain, and the queen often went there to pray. At first, the king was reluctant to give up his pagan beliefs, but he promised not to harm them, and to supply them with whatever they needed. He also promised that he would not prevent them from preaching Christianity. St Augustine later converted the king to Christianity, along with thousands of his subjects.
St. Bede says that St Augustine was consecrated as Archbishop of Britain by Archbishop Etherius of Arles (others say that it was his successor St Virgilius of Arles who consecrated St Augustine). Returning to Britain, he committed himself to the work of evangelizing the country with renewed zeal.
St Augustine built a church dedicated to Christ the Saviour, the predecessor of the present cathedral at Canterbury, consecrated on June 9, 603 (according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle). He also founded the monastery of Sts Peter and Paul east of the city. Here St Augustine, the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the Kings of Kent were buried. The monastery, now in ruins, was later known as St Augustine's Monastery.
The saint was instrumental in founding the dioceses of Rochester and London. In 604 he consecrated St Justus and St Mellitus as bishops for those Sees. St Augustine also helped the king draft the earliest Anglo-Saxon laws, and founded a school in Canterbury.
Known in his lifetime as a wonderworker, St Augustine fell asleep in the Lord on May 26, 604. He was laid to rest at the entrance of the unfinished church of Sts Peter and Paul. When the church was dedicated in 613, his holy relics were placed inside. An epitaph was composed for his tomb. In part, it reads: ‘Here lies the Lord Augustine, first Archbishop of Canterbury, sent here by blessed Gregory, bishop of the city of Rome, who with the help of God, and aided by miracles, guided King Ethelbert and his people from the worship of idols to the Faith of Christ.
Saint Eudokia Martyr of Heliopolis
Holy Monastic Martyr Eudokia was a Samaritan, a native of the city of Heliopolis in Phoenicia (modern Baalbek), who lived during the reign of Trajan (98-117). Her pagan impiety took her off the good path, and for a long time she led a sinful life. Her soul was deadened and her heart hardened.
Eudokia awoke one night at midnight and heard singing from the house of a Christian woman next to hers. A monk was reading from a book which described the Last Judgment, the punishment of sinners, and the reward of the righteous. The grace of God touched Eudokia's heart, and she grieved because of her great wealth and for her sinful life.
In the morning Eudokia hastened to call on the man whose rule of prayer she heard the previous night. This was a monk named Germanus, returning from pilgrimage to the holy places to his own monastery. Eudokia listened for a long time to the guidance of the Elder, and her soul was filled with joy and love for Christ. She asked Germanus to stay in her home for a week, during which she secluded herself in her room, and spent her time in fasting and prayer.
The Elder Germanus told her to give away her wealth and to forget her previous life. Eudokia received holy Baptism from Bishop Theodotus of Heliopolis. She entered a monastery and took upon herself very strict acts of penitence. The Lord granted forgiveness to the penitent sinner and endowed her with spiritual gifts.
After she had become the head of the monastery, the young pagan Philostrates (one of her former lovers) heard of her conversion to Christ and longed to see her again. Aflame with impious passion, he came into the monastery in the guise of a monk and began to urge Eudokia to return to Heliopolis, and resume her former life. "May God rebuke you and not allow you to leave these premises," Eudokia cried. Then the impostor fell down dead. Fearing that she had served as an accomplice to murder, the sisters intensified their prayer and besought the Lord to reveal to them His will.
The Lord appeared to St Eudokia in a vision and said: "Arise, Eudokia, and pray for the resurrection of the dead man." Through Eudokia's prayers, Philostrates revived. Having been restored to life, the pagan begged the nun to forgive him. After he was baptized, he went back to Heliopolis. From that time he never forgot the mercy of God shown him, and he started onto the way of repentance.
Some time passed, and another situation occurred. Inhabitants of Heliopolis reported to the governor Aurelian, that Eudokia had taken gold and silver out of the city and concealed it at the monastery. Aurelian sent a detachment of soldiers to confiscate these supposed treasures. For three days the soldiers tried in vain to approach the walls of the monastery, but an invisible power of God guarded it.
Aurelian again sent soldiers to the monastery, this time under the command of his own son. But on the very first day of the journey Aurelian's son injured his leg and soon died. Then Philostrates counseled Aurelian to write to Mother Eudokia, imploring her to revive the youth. And the Lord, in His infinite mercy, and through the prayers of St Eudokia, restored the youth to life. Having witnessed this great miracle, Aurelian and his close associates believed in Christ and were baptized.
When persecutions against Christians intensified, they arrested Eudokia and brought her to the governor Diogenes to be tortured. While torturing the saint, the military commander Diodorus received news of the sudden death of his wife Firmina. In despair he rushed to St Eudokia with a plea to pray for his departed wife. The monastic martyr, filled with great faith, turned to God with prayer and besought Him to return Firmina to life. As eyewitnesses of the power and grace of the Lord, Diodorus and Diogenes believed in Christ and were baptized together with their families. St Eudokia lived for awhile at the house of Diodorus and enlightened the newly-illumined Christians.
Once,the only son of a certain widow, who was working in the garden, was bitten by a snake and died. The mother wept bitterly for her dead son, and asked Diodorus to resurrect him. Learning of her grief, St Eudokia said to Diodorus, "The time is at hand for you to show faith in the Almighty God, Who hears the prayers of penitent sinners and in His mercy grants them forgiveness."
Diodorus was distressed, not considering himself worthy of such boldness before the Lord, but he obeyed St Eudokia. He prayed and in the name of Christ he commanded the dead one to rise, and before the eyes of everyone present the youth revived.
St Eudokia returned to her monastery, where she lived in asceticism for fifty-six years.
After Diogenes died the new governor was Vicentius, a fierce persecutor of Christians. Having learned of the accomplishments of the saint, he gave orders to execute her. The holy martyr was beheaded on March 1, 107.
Saint Angus (Oengus, Aengus) of Keld,
Hermit, Abbot, Bishop (died 824)
To Aengus many ascribe the reform of Irish monasticism and its emergence as an ordered ascetic and scholastic movement. He is called the Culdee because this reform produced the groups of monks in Ireland and Scotland, who were really anchorites but lived together in one place, usually thirteen in number after the example of Christ and His Apostles. The name Culdee probably comes from the Irish Ceile Dee (companion) rather than the Latin Cultores Dei (worshippers of God).
The Culdees produced the highly decorated High Crosses and elaborately illuminated manuscripts which are the glory of the Irish monasteries.
Aengus was born of the royal house of Ulster and was sent to the monastery of Clonenagh by his father Oengoba to study under the saintly abbot Maelaithgen. He made great advances in scholarship and sanctity but eventually felt he had to leave and become a hermit to escape the adulation of his peers. He chose a spot some seven miles away for his hermitage which is still called Dysert.
He lived a life of rigid discipline, genuflecting three hundred times a day and reciting the whole of the Psalter daily, part of it immersed in cold water, tied by the neck to a stake. At his dysert he found he got too many visitors and went to the famous monastery of Tallaght near Dublin, without revealing his identity, and was given the most menial of tasks. After seven years a boy sought refuge in the stable where Aengus was working because he was unable to learn his lessons. Aengus lulled him to sleep and when he awoke he had learnt his lesson perfectly.
When the abbot of St. Maelruain heard of this monk's great teaching gifts he recognised in him the missing scholar from Clonenagh and the two became great friends. It was at Tallaght that Aengus began his great work on the calendar of the Irish saints known as the Felire Aengus Ceile De. As for himself he thought that he was the most contemptible of men and is said to have allowed his hair to grow long and his clothing to become unkempt so that he should be despised. Besides the Felire one of his prayers asking for forgiveness survives, pleading for mercy because of Christ's work and His grace in the saints.
Like all the holy people of God, Aengus was industrious and had a supreme confidence in His power to heal and save. On one occasion when he was lopping trees in a wood he inadvertently cut off his left hand. The legend says that the sky filled with birds crying out at his injury, but St. Aengus calmly picked up the severed hand and replaced it. Instantly it adhered to his body and functioned normally.
When St. Maelruain died in 792, St. Aengus left Tallaght and returned to Clonenagh succeeding his old teacher Maelaithgen as abbot and being consecrated bishop. As he felt death approaching he retired again to his hermitage at Dysertbeagh, dying there about 824. There is but scant evidence of the religious foundations at Clonenagh or Dysert but he will always be remembered for his Feliere, the first martyrology of Ireland.
Saint Donnán (Donan, Dounan) Martyr of Eigg, Scotland (died 617)
Saint Donnan, († 617), also known as Donan and Donnán of Eigg, was a Celtic priest, likely from Ireland, who attempted to introduce Christianity to the Picts of north-western Scotland during the Dark Ages.
Saint Donnán is the patron saint of Eigg, an island in the Inner Hebrides.
He was martyred on April 17, 617 at Eigg by a pagan Pictish Queen who burnt him and 150 others.
He is thought to be buried at Kildonan, Isle of Arran.
Saint Tysilio (died 640) was a Welsh bishop, prince and scholar, son of the reigning King of Powys, Brochwel Ysgithrog, maternal nephew of the great Abbot Dunod of Bangor Iscoed and an ecclesiastic who took a prominent part in the affairs of Wales during the distressful period at the opening of the 7th century.
Prince Tyslio (or Sulio) was the second son of Brochfael Ysgythrog (of the Tusks). He fled his father's court at an early age to throw himself on the mercy of Abbot Gwyddfarch of Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod) and beg to become a monk. A Powysian warband was sent to retrieve him, but King Brochfael was eventually persuaded that his son should be allowed to stay. Tysilio probably started his career in Trallwng Llywelyn (Welshpool) and afterwards took up residence in Meifod where he was associated with Gwyddvarch and St Beuno.
Fearful of further trouble from his family, however, Tysilio set up his base at a hermitage on Ynys Tyslio (Church Island) in the Menai Straits and became a great evangeliser on Ynys Mon (Anglesey). He spent seven years there before returning to Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod) and succeeding as Abbot. Tyslio rebuilt the Abbey Church and things were peaceful for a while. He founded the second church in Meifod - the Eglwys Tysilio. His feast day, or gwyl-mabsant, was the 8th November which was also the date of the patronal festival and "wakes" in the nearby parish of Guilsfield, where a holy well was dedicated to him - the Fons Tysilio.
However, after the death of Tysilio's brother, his sister-in-law, Queen Gwenwynwyn, desired to marry him and place him on the throne of Powys. Objecting to both proposals, the saint refused and found his monastery persecuted by the state. So he resolved to leave for Brittany with a handful of followers. Tysilio travelled through Dyfed and across the Channel to Saint-Suliac where he established a second monastery. Tysilio's is traditionally said to be the original author of the Brut Tysilio, a variant of the Welsh chronicle Brut y Brenhinedd. However, Brynley F. Roberts has demonstrated that the Brut Tysilio originated around 1500 as an "amalgam" of earlier versions of the Brut y Brenhinedd, which itself derives from Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th-century Latin Historia Regum Britanniae.
Tysilio died and was buried at the Abbey of Saint Suliac in 640. Today his name is remembered in several church and place names in north Wales; most famously in the longest place name in the United Kingdom, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which translates into English as "Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave". The name, however, is a late 19th-century invention for the burgeoning tourist industry in the area.
|SAINT BRENDAN the Navigator, Clonfert, Ireland (died 577), was born in 484 in Ciarraighe Luachra near the port of Tralee, in County Kerry, in the province of Munster, in the south west of Ireland. He was baptized at Tubrid, near Ardfert, by Saint Erc. For five years he was educated under Saint Ita, "the Brigid of Munster", and he completed his studies under Saint Erc, who ordained him priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 St Brendan built monastic cells at Ardfert, and, at the foot of Mount Brandon, Shanakeel— Seana Cill, usually translated as "the old church"— also called Baalynevinoorach.
From here he is supposed to have set out on his famous seven years voyage for Paradise. The old Irish Calendars assigned a special feast for the "Egressio familiae S. Brendani", on March 22; and St Aengus the Culdee, in his Litany composed at the close of the eighth century, invokes "the sixty who accompanied St. Brendan in his quest for the Land of Promise".
(Saint Brendan was an early Irish abbot who sailed westward with his band of sailor monks in a square-rigged curragh, made of leather over a basketry frame. They were probably searching for a reputed earthly paradise in the "Isles of the Blessed." They had astonishing adventures; they reported seeing flaming mountains, most likely the volcanoes of Iceland. Continuing westward, they found other landings, one of which was probably Newfoundland - which would make them among the earliest discoverers of America. Although the prevailing winds were against them, they managed to return to Ireland. Saint Brendan lived to be 93 and founded several more monasteries.)
Saint Timothy of Symbola in Bithynia
Saint Timothy of Symbola, was of Italian descent. He became a monk at a young age and pursued asceticism at a monastery called "Symbola," in Asia Minor near Mount Olympus. At that time Theoctistus was the archimandrite of the monastery. St Timothy was the disciple of Theoctistus and also of St Platon of the Studion Monastery (April 5).
Attaining a high degree of spiritual perfection, he received from God the gift of healing the sick and casting out unclean spirits. He spent many years as a hermit, roaming the wilderness, the mountains and forests, both day and night offering up prayer to the Lord God. He died at a great old age, in the year 795.
Saint Colman, Abbot of Oughaval
(died 6th century)
Saint Colman was a disciple of St Columba, Abbot of Iona and St Fintan, Abbot of Clonenangh. In the Martyrology of Tallagh he is included as Colman Mac h Laighsi on 15 May. He was of the family (clan) of Laoighsigh Ceannmoir, son of Conall Cearnach, a celebrated Ultonian hero who lived in the first century. His father was Lugna and his grandfather was Eugene. Their tribe-name was Mac Ua Loighse.
The first mention of St Colman, a pious youth and native of the Portlaoise area in the Province of Leinster, is in the Life of St Fintan of Clonenagh. He desired to dedicate his whole life to the service of Christ in prayer and ascetic labour. To this end he made a pilgrimage to Iona to seek spiritual counsel from the renowned abbot of that holy island, St Columba. He remained at Iona for several years as a novice learning the disciplines of the monastic life.
Later Colman felt the call to return to Ireland and he asked St Columba how it would be possible to live there without being able to confess his sins to his abbot. St Colman said, 'Go to that pious man whom I see standing among the Angels and before the tribunal of Christ, on each Sunday night.' Colman asked, 'Who and what sort of man is he?' and the holy Abbot answered, 'There is a certain saintly and handsome man, in your part of the country, whose complexion is florid, whose eyes are brightly sparkling, and whose white locks of hair are thinly scattered on his head.' To this Colman replied, 'I know of no man answering this description, in my country, except Abbot Fintan.' Then St Columba confirmed, 'He it is, my son, whom I see before the tribunal of Christ, as I have already told you. Go to him, for he is a true shepherd of Christ’s flock and he shall bring many souls with him to the kingdom of Christ.'
Colman received the blessing of St Columba and set out on the journey to his native land. Comimg to St Fintan, Colman told him all that the holy Abbot of Iona had said. On hearing these things the elderly abbot blushed deeply so it seemed as though his face was on fire. He cautioned Colman not to report these things to anyone, at least, during his own lifetime.
Colman selected Oughaval, a town land within the present-day Parish of Stradbally in county Laois, as the site of his monastic settlement. The exact date of the founding of the monastery is unknown but it was shortly before the repose of Saint Fintan in about the year 595. The place can still be identified and the burial ground is still be use. However it is impossible recognise the actual church or monastic building since the stone was reused at the beginning of the 18th century to build a mausoleum. It was a mediaeval church until 18th century. The Mick walls and Tower at West End are very, very old.
Colman is very popular name in Ireland. The Martyrology of Donegal lists 96 saints of this name and the Book of Leinster records no fewer than 209. In addition there seems to be some confusion in ancient texts between Colman (Colmanus in Latin) and Columbanus. Not long before his own death, St Columba of Iona foresaw the death of a certain holy man named Columbanus, a bishop in the Province of Leinster and some hagiographers have identied this saint with St Colman of Oughaval. However, there seems to be no serious historical foundation for this assumption, and indeed we have no evidence that our patron was a bishop. As is well known, Celtic lands in general and Ireland in particular, during this period had few large settlements that could be described as cities or towns. Thus church administration was based more on the local monastery than on a diocesan structure. The abbot of a large monastery therefore had greater influence than most bishops whose basic function was to ordain.
The fate of St Colman’s monastic foundation is something of a mystery. It had ceased to function long before the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. The history of the monastery subsequent to the repose of St Colman is the subject of current research.
Saint Petroc, Celt evangelist, Abbot (died 564)
To Saint Petroc (sometimes spelt Petrock in English, Pedrog in Welsh and Perreux in French) (d. 564) is a 6th century Celtic Christian saint. He was born in Wales but primarily ministered to the Britons of Dumnonia which included the modern counties of Devon (Dewnans), Cornwall (Kernow), and parts of Somerset (Gwlas an Hav) and Dorset. He is also known to have ministered to the people of Brittany.
Old Welsh genealogies record that he was a younger son of King Glywys Cernyw of Glywysing (now Glamorgan), and there are local dedications to him at St Petrox near Pembroke and Ferwig near Cardigan. He has also given his name to Llanbedrog, a village on the Lleyn peninsula. He studied in Ireland (where he was the teacher of Saint Kevin).
After studying, he began his mission to Cornwall, where he founded monasteries at Padstow and Bodmin. Padstow, which is named after him (Pedroc-stowe, or 'Petrock's Place'), appears to have been his base for some time. There are numerous other dedications to him throughout Cornwall and he is even said to have converted its king, Constantine of Dumnonia, to Christianity. After thirty years, legend says that he went on the pilgrimage to Rome by way of Brittany.
Upon his return, Petroc passed through Devon, where ancient dedications to him are even more numerous: a probable seventeen (plus Timberscombe just over the border in Somerset), compared to Cornwall's five. The position of churches bearing his name, nearly always near the coast, reminds us that in those days travelling was done mainly by sea. The North Devon towns of Petrockstow and Newton St Petroc are also named after Saint Petroc and the popularly-adopted unofficial flag of Devon is dedicated to him.
The legendary tales surrounding Petroc are exceptionally vivid and imaginative (giving him a second pilgrimage, travels to India, taming wolves) and may represent interpolation from pagan tales.
In iconography, Petroc is usually shown with a stag. His major shrine was always at St Petroc's Church, Bodmin. In 1177, a Breton stole his relics from Bodmin and gave to the Abbey of St Meen. However, Henry II restored them and, though the relics were thrown out during the English Reformation, their beautiful ivory casket is still on public display in the church. With Saint Piran and Saint Michael, he is patron saint of Cornwall.
Saint Constantine of Cornwall, Abbot, Martyr (died 576 or 588)
Our holy Father Constantine was, according to one tradition, the nephew of the famous King Arthur, to whom the latter bequeathed his crown when he was mortally wounded.
According to another, he was a king of Cornwall who abandoned his kingdom and became a monk in St. David's cell. Then, leaving for another land, he built a monastery there.
The fullest traditions concerning him come from Scotland. They state that he was the son of Paternus, king of Cornwall, and married the daughter of the king of Brittany. But she died, and he, grieving over her death and refusing to be comforted, delivered his kingdom to his son, and bidding farewell to all, left his kingdom and crossed over to Ireland.
Coming to a certain monastery, for seven years he worked humbly carrying grain to and from the monastery mill. One day he was sitting in the mill and said to himself; "Am I Constantine, king of Cornwall, whose head has so often worn the helmet and his body the breastplate? No, I am not." A man who was hiding in the mill overheard this and reported it to the abbot.
He then took him away from the mill, educated him, and raised him to the priesthood. Soon after this, he left the monastery and went to St. Columba; and afterwards he was sent by St. Kentigern, the bishop of Glasgow, to preach the word of God in Galloway, in South-West Scotland. There he was elected abbot of a monastery, where he lived a holy life until old age. According to another tradition, he founded a monastery at Govan on the Clyde. In his extreme old age, St. Constantine prayed God to give him a martyr's death, and he heard a voice from heaven saying that it should be as he had asked. Then he went preaching the word of God throughout the land, and came eventually to the island of Kintyre. There some evil men followed him, and, coming up to his attendant, they cut off his hand. The saint immediately healed him with a touch.
Then the evil men showered blows upon the saint, cut off his arm, and left him for dead. Calling the brethren to him, the saint comforted them with spiritual words. Then he fell asleep in their presence.
St. Constantine was martyred, according to the Scottish tradition, in 576, and according to the Irish tradition in 588.
Saint Birinus (c. 600–649), venerated as a saint, was the first Bishop of Dorchester, and the "Apostle to the West Saxons".
After St. Augustine of Canterbury performed initial conversions in England, Birinus, a Frank, came to the kingdoms of Wessex in 634, landing at the port of "Hamwic", now in the St. Mary's area of Southampton. During Birinus's brief time at Hamwic, St. Mary's Church was founded.
Birinus had been made bishop by Asterius in Genoa, and Pope Honorius I created the commission to convert the West Saxons. In 635, he persuaded the West Saxon king Cynegils to allow him to preach. Cynegils was trying to create an alliance with Oswald of Northumbria, with whom he intended to fight the Mercians. At the final talks between kings, the sticking point was that Oswald, being a Christian, would not ally himself with a heathen. Cynegils then converted and was baptized, and he gave Birinus Dorchester-on-Thames for his episcopal see. Birinus's original commission entailed preaching to parts of Britain where no missionary efforts had reached, and may have included instructions to reach the Mercians, but in the end Birinus stayed in the West Saxon kingdom, or Wessex as it became known.
Birinus was very active in establishing churches in Wessex. After Cynegils' death, the new king, Cenwalh, established a church at Winchester, perhaps under Birinus' direction. He also supposedly laid the foundations for St. Mary's in Reading, Saint Helen's in Abingdon and other churches across old Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Birinus baptised Cynegils's son Cwichelm (d. 636) and grandson Cuthred (d. 661), to whom he stood as godfather.
Saint Eligius (Eloi), Bishop of Noyon (died 660)
Saint Eloi was born to a Christian family near Limoges in Gaul (modern-day France) in 588.
He became a goldsmith, worked for the royal mint, and in time became a trusted counselor of King Chlothar II. Despite (or because of) the honors and riches that surrounded him, Eligius came to despise all of them and gave away all his property but what he considered essential for everyday life.
He devoted all his income to almsgiving and to ransoming prisoners of all nationalities from the slave markets. Many of these became his attendants and disciples in gratitude.
Eligius' compassion became so well-known that when visitors asked for directions to his house, they would be told 'Look for the house surrounded by a crowd of beggars. That is where Lord Eligius lives.'
The Saint washed the feet of the poor who came to him, served them at his own table and fed himself on what they left. If he ran out of money, he would give away furniture or even his clothing.
When King Chlothar died in 629, Eligius became the counselor of his successor King Dagobert I.
He founded monasteries for men at Solignac and for women in Paris, telling the King: 'These are the ladders by which we will both be able to climb up to the Kingdom of Heaven.'
As a royal counselor he helped to re-establish peace between France and Brittany, and improved the law of the kingdom to make it more just.
When Dagobert died in 639, Eligius devoted himself entirely to the service of God as Bishop of Noyon in Flanders. His diocese was still mostly pagan, and Eligius traveled untiringly to preach the Gospel of Christ, often at risk of his life.
Having foreseen his approaching death, Saint Eligius reposed in peace in 660. When his tomb was opened a year later, his body was found incorrupt and gave forth a fragrant scent.
Saint Dyfrig, Archbishop of Caerleon, Wales (died 545)
Saint Dubricius, Bishop (Dubritius, Dubric, Dyfig, Dyfrig, Devereux)
He was born at Moccas (Moch Rhos = Pig's Heath), near Hereford; died c.545. Some old genealogies show Dyfrig as the great-great-grandson of Macsen Wledig and Elen of the Ways.
Saint Dyfrig was an important church leader, a monk, in southeast Wales and western Herefordshire. His earliest foundation was Ariconium (Archenfield, Hereford), but his most important centres were at Hentland (Henllan) and Moccas in the Wye valley. Dyfrig attracted numerous disciples to the two monasteries, and from them founded many other monasteries and churches.
He was associated with Saint Illtyd (f.d. November 6) and, according to the 7th-century "vita" of Saint Samson, with the island of Caldey for whose monastery he appointed Saint Samson (July 28) abbot. Later he consecrated Samson bishop. An ancient, but incomplete, inscription at Caldey reads "Magl Dubr" ("the tonsured servant of Dubricius").
Dyfrig and Saint Deinol (Daniel; f.d. September 11) were the two prelates who convinced Saint David (f.d. March 1) to attend the synod of Brefi. Dyfrig spent the last years of his life at Ynys Enlli (Bardsey) and died there.
[ In later medieval legends he becomes the 'archbishop of Caerleon' (Caerlon-on-Usk) and, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, crowns 'King' Arthur at Colchester (he is the high saint of "Idylls of a King"), and the ecclesiastical politics of the 12th century claimed him as founder of the Normans' see of Llandaff, where he was one of the four titular saints of the cathedral. The later "vita" written by Benedict of Gloucester claims that Dyfrig was a disciple of Saint Germanus of Auxerre (f.d. July 31), but this is unlikely. Legend also states that Saint David resigned in his favour as metropolitan of Wales. ]
The relics of Saint Dyfrig were translated from Bardsey to Llandaff in 1120. He is the 'Dubric the high saint, Chief of the church in Britain' of Tennyson's "Coming of Arthur," and the place-name Saint Devereux in Herefordshire is a corruption of the saint's name.
Church dedications to him at Gwenddwr (Powys) and Porlock (Somerset) suggest that his disciples were active in the expansion of Christianity to the west and southwest, possibly in association with the multitudinous children Saint Brychan of Brecknock (f.d. April 6) (Attwater, Benedictines, Doble, Delaney, Farmer).
In art Saint Dubricius is depicted holding two crosiers and an archiepiscopal cross. He is venerated in Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, and Caldey Island (Roeder).
Born in West Leinster, Ireland, in 543; died at Bobbio, Italy, 21 November, 615.
Irish abbot and missionary. One of the greatest missionaries of the Celtic church, he initiated a revival of spirituality on the European continent. He left Ireland c. 590 with 12 monks, and the Merovingian king Guntram granted him land in the Vosges Mountains in Gaul, where he established several monasteries, including the great intellectual and religious house at Luxeuil. He was disciplined for keeping Easter according to the Celtic usage, and he ran afoul with the Frankish clergy for his indictment of their moral laxity. He was forced into exile for his criticism of the sins of the powerful queen Brunhild and her court and then moved into what is now Switzerland, where he preached to the Alemanni. He later settled in Italy and founded the monastery of Bobbio (c. 612), a centre of medieval culture known for its great library.
Saint Ansgar (Anskar, Anschar, Anscharius, Scharies) of Germany and Evangelist of Scandinavian lands (died 865)
Born near Amiens, Picardy, France in 801, died in Bremen, Germany on February 3, 865.
With the coming of the barbarians after the death of Charlemagne, darkness fell upon Europe. From the forests and the fjords of the north, defying storm and danger, came a horde of pirate invaders, prowling round the undefended coasts, sweeping up the broad estuaries, and spreading havoc and fear. No town, however fair, no church, however sacred, and no community, however strong, was immune from their fury. Like a river of death the Vikings poured across Europe.
It's hard to believe that there would be an outbreak of missionary activity at such a time, but in Europe's darkest hour there were those who never faltered, and who set out to convert the pagan invader. St.Ansgar was such a man. As a young boy of a noble family he was received at Corbie monastery in Picardy and educated under Saint Abelard and Paschasius Radbert. Once professed, he was transferred to New Corbie at Westphalia. He once said to a friend, " One miracle I would, if worthy, ask the Lord to grant me, and that is, that by his grace, he would make me a good man."
In France a call was made for a priest to go as a missionary to the Danes, and Ansgar, a young monk, volunteered. His friends tried to dissuade him, so dangerous was the mission. Nevertheless, when King Harold, who had become a Christian during his exile, returned to Denmark, Ansgar and another monk accompanied him. Equipped with tents and books, these two monks set out in 826 and founded a school in Denmark. Here Ansgar's companion died, and Ansgar was obliged to move on to Sweden alone when his success in missionary work led King Bjørn to invite him to Sweden.
On the way his boat was attacked by pirates and he lost all his possessions, arriving destitute at a small Swedish village. After this unpromising start, he succeeded forming the nucleus of a church -- the first Christian church in Sweden -- and penetrated inland, confronting the heathen in their strongholds and converting the pagan chiefs.
Ansgar became the first archbishop of Hamburg, Germany and abbot of New Corbie in Westphalia c. 831. The Pope Gregory IV appointed him legate to the Scandinavian countries and confides the Scandinavian souls to his care. He evangelized there for the next 14 years, building churches in Norway, Denmark and northern Germany.
He saw his accomplishments obliterated when pagan Vikings invaded in 845, overran Scandinavia, and destroyed Hamburg. Thereafter the natives reverted to paganism. Ansgar was then appointed archbishop of Bremen around 848, but he was unable to establish himself there for a time and Pope Nicholas 1 united that See with Hamburg. Nicholas also gave him jurisdiction over Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Ansgar returned to Denmark and Sweden in 854 to resume spreading the Gospel. When he returned to Denmark he saw the church and school he had built there, destroyed before his eyes by an invading army.
His heart almost broke as he saw his work reduced to ashes" The Lord gave," he said, "and the Lord have taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." With a handful of followers he wandered through his ruined diocese, but it was a grim and weary time. "Be assured my dear brother, " said the primate of France, who had commissioned him to this task, "that what we have striven to accomplish for the glory of Christ will yet, by God's help, bring forth fruit."
Heartened by these words, and with unfailing courage, Ansgar pursued his Swedish mission. Though he had but four churches left and could find no one willing to go in his place, he established new outposts and consolidated his work.
King Olaf had cast a die to decide whether to allow entrance of Christians, an action that Ansgar mourned as callous and unbefitting. He was encouraged, however, by a council of chiefs at which an aged man spoke in his defense. "Those who bring to us this new faith," he said" by their voyage here have been exposed to many dangers. We see our own deities failing us. Why reject a religion thus brought to our very doors? Why not permit the servants of God to remain among us? Listen to my council and reject not what is plainly for our advantage."
As a result, Ansgar was free to preach the Christian faith, and though he met with many setbacks, he continued his work until he died at the age of 64 and was buried at Bremen. He was a great missionary, an indefatigable, outstanding preacher, renowned for his austerity, holiness of life, and charity to the poor. He built schools and was a great liberator of slaves captured by the Vikings. He converted King Erik of Jutland and was called the "Apostle of the North", yet Sweden reverted completely to paganism shortly after Ansgar's death.
Ansgar often wore a hair shirt, lived on bread and water when his health permitted it, and added short personal prayers to each Psalm in his Psalter, thus contributing to a form of devotion that soon became widespread.
Miracles were said to have been worked by him. After Ansgar's death, the work he had begun came to a stop and the area reverted to paganism. Christianity did not begin to make headway in Scandinavia until two centuries later with the work of Saint Sigfried and others. A life story was written about Ansgar by his fellow missionary in Scandinavia, Saint Rembert (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Fanner, Gill, Robinson, White)
In art Ansgar is shown with converted Danes with him (White), wearing a fur pelisse (Roeder). He may sometimes be shown otherwise in a boat with King Harold and companions or in a cape and miter Hamburg Cathedral (Roeder).
Saint Ansgar is the patron of Denmark, Germany and Iceland (White). He is venerated in Old Corbie (Picardy) and New Corbie (Saxony) as well as in Scandinavia (Roeder).
|Saint Severinus, Apostle of Austria
St. Severinus came to the borderland of present-day Germany and Austria from the east — possibly the Egyptian desert — to care for the Roman Christians who were endangered by invading barbarians during the collapse of the Roman Empire.
He remained there until the end of his life. While he was there he advised both common people and kings to put eternal life first, and taught them to be generous to one another and to lead a true Christian life.
He built a monastery and protected from harm those who gathered around him. As he foretold, the monks and other Christians who had followed him escaped to saftety in Italy, taking St. Severinus' incorrupt relics with them.
Saint Lambert, Bishop of Maastricht, Belgium, Martyr
Saint Lambert was born to a noble family in Maastricht (in modern-day Belgium).
When his spiritual father Bishop Theodard was killed in 671, St Lambert was elected Bishop of Maastricht despite his youth. He was loved by his flock for his holiness, ascetic labors and almsgiving, but was driven from his see in 675 after his patron King Childeric II was assassinated.
He withdrew to the Monastery of Stavelot where he lived for seven years as one of the brethren, claiming no privileges despite his office. Once, getting up to pray during the night, he accidentally disturbed the monastic silence.
The Abbot called out for whoever was responsible to do penance by standing barefoot in the snow before a cross outside the monastery church. In the morning the Abbot was dismayed to see the Bishop standing barefoot, covered with snow, before the cross, his face shining. The Abbot sought to apologize, but Lambert replied that he was honored to serve God like the Apostles, in cold and nakedness.
When King Pepin of Heristal took power in 681, he restored Lambert to his See, despite the Saint's desire to remain in obscurity.
The holy bishop renewed his pastoral labors with vigor, visiting the most distant parishes and preaching the Gospel to the pagans who still inhabited the area, despite danger and threats. But when King Pepin put away his wife and replaced her with his concubine Alpais, St Lambert was the only Bishop who dared to rebuke him. For this he incurred the wrath of Alpais, who ordered his death. His assassins carried out their evil commission, even though they found a cross shining above the humble dwelling where he was staying.
Saint Lambert is one of the best-loved Saints of Belgium, where many parish churches are dedicated to him.
|Saint Gallus (Gall), enlightener of Switzerland
Saint Gallus (Gall) was born in Ireland to wealthy parents, who sent him to be educated at the Monastery of Bangor.
There he embraced the ascetical life and became a monk. He was one of the twelve monks who traveled with his spiritual father St Columbanus (November 23) as missionaries to Gaul.
In time some of the group traveled into pagan lands, up the Rhine river to Lake Zurich. The monks settled on Lake Constance around a chapel dedicated to St Aurelia, which had been taken by the pagans as a shrine; they cleansed and re-consecrated the chapel, which became the center of their new monastery.
Saint Gall lived as a hermit, serving the brethren by making nets and catching fish.
In 612 Saint Columbanus went on to Italy with most of his disciples, leaving Saint Gall and a few others to continue their life.
When Saint Gall delivered Frideburga, the daughter of a local duke, from a demon, he offered the saint a tract of land on the shores of Lake Constance; here was founded the monastery that in later times bore Saint Gall's name.
At various times, the holy Gall refused calls to become a bishop, or to take over the abbacy of the great monastery at Luxeuil. To all such requests he answered that he would rather serve than command.
He continued living in his isolated monastic community until he reposed in peace in 640, at the age of ninety-nine.
In later years, and continuing well into the middle ages, the Monastery of Saint Gall became famed for the holiness of its monks and for its library.
Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours, France
This holy and beloved Western Saint, the patron of France, was born in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary) in 316, to a pagan military family stationed there. Soon the family returned home to Italy, where Martin grew up.
He began to go to church at the age of ten, and became a catechumen. Though he desired to become a monk, he first entered the army in obedience to his parents.
One day, when he was stationed in Amiens in Gaul, he met a poor man shivering for lack of clothing. He had already given all his money as alms, so he drew his sword, cut his soldier's cloak in half, and gave half of it to the poor man. That night Christ appeared to him, clothed in the half-cloak he had given away, and said to His angels, "Martin, though still a catechumen, has clothed me in this garment."
Martin was baptised soon afterward. Though he still desired to become a monk, he did not obtain his discharge from the army until many years later, in 356.
He soon became a disciple of Saint Hilary of Poitiers (commemorated January 13), the "Athanasius of the West." After travelling in Pannonia and Italy (where he converted his mother to faith in Christ), he returned to Gaul, where the Arian heretics were gaining much ground.
Not long afterward became Bishop of Tours, where he shone as a shepherd of the Church: bringing pagans to the faith, healing the sick, establishing monastic life throughout Gaul, and battling the Arian heresy so widespread throughout the West.
Finding the episcopal residence too grand, he lived in a rude, isolated wooden hut, even while fulfilling all the duties of a Bishop of the Church.
His severity against heresy was always accompanied by love and kindness toward all: he once traveled to plead with the Emperor Maximus to preserve the lives of some Priscillianist heretics whom the Emperor meant to execute.
As the holy Bishop lay dying in 397, the devil appeared to tempt him one last time. The Saint said, "You will find nothing in me that belongs to you. Abraham's bosom is about to receive me." With these words he gave up his soul to God.
He is the first confessor who was not a martyr to be named a Saint in the West. His biographer, Sulpitius Severus, wrote of him: "Martin never let an hour or a moment go by without giving himself to prayer or to reading and, even as he read or was otherwise occupied, he never ceased from prayer to God. He was never seen out of temper or disturbed, distressed or laughing. Always one and the same, his face invariably shining with heavenly joy, he seemed to have surpassed human nature. In his mouth was nothing but the Name of Christ and in his soul nothing but love, peace and mercy."
Saint Brigid of Kildare, Ireland (died 524)
According to tradition, Saint Brigid (Brigit, Bridget) was born at Fochart (or Fothairt), near Dundalk of County Louth in Ulster, of a noble Irish family, which had been converted by Saint Patrick (17 Mar.). A wonderful striving for virtue was seen in her from her earliest years. Being uncommonly beautiful, she had many suitors and her father tried to marry her to the King of Ulster. At the age of sixteen, she implored Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom alone she desired as her spouse, to make her unattractive, so that no longer would anyone want to marry her. Her prayer was heard; she lost an eye, and was allowed to enter a monastery. However, on the very day that she took the veil, she was miraculously healed and recovered her original loveliness, which was now set off by spiritual beauty.
Some miles from Dublin she was granted possession of a plain called the Curragh, where she built herself a cell under a large oak tree, thence called Kill-dara, or Cell of the oak. Seven other girls soon placed themselves under her direction establishing the monastery of Kill-dara, which gave its name to the later cathedral city of Kildare. The community grew rapidly thanks to the renown of the holy Abbess, and became a double monastery, with the Abbess ranking above the Abbot, and branched out into several others all over Ireland.
Saint Brigid was often journeying to visit these foundations, and she wrought miracles everywhere along her way. She drove out demons simply by the sign of the Cross; she healed the sick, converted sinners, and her presence inspired love of God in the whole people. All the leading people of the day knew her and presented her with tokens of their admiration.
Having predicted the day of her decease, she fell asleep in peace on 1 February 524, bequeathing to her disciples a monastic Rule, which epitomized her teaching. She is regarded, on a par with Saint Patrick, as patroness of Ireland, and is venerated there as a Saint, second only to the Mother of God. During the Middle Ages the veneration of Saint Brigid spread throughout Europe.
Saint Deiniol (died 584) was the first Bishop of Bangor in the Kingdom of Gwynedd, Wales. He is also venerated in Brittany as Saint Denoual. In English, the name is translated as Daniel but this is rarely used.
Very little is known of the saint's life, but the tradition that he was the first Bishop of Bangor is very strong. He was apparently consecrated in 545 by Saint David. The present Bangor Cathedral is dedicated to Deiniol and is said to be on the site where Deiniol's first monastery stood. His feast day is September 11.
A Latin life of Deiniol has been preserved in Peniarth MS226 transcribed by Sir Thomas Williams of Trefriw in 1602. He was the son of Dunod Fawr, son of Pabo Post Prydain. The family were originally rulers of an area in what is now the North of England, but having lost these were given lands by the king of Powys, Cyngen ap Cadell. Deiniol is said to have studied under Cadoc of Llancarfan and later was given land by Maelgwn Gwynedd king of Gwynedd to found a monastery on the site where Bangor Cathedral now stands.
Berhtwald (also Brihtwald, Beorhtweald, Bertwald, Berthwald, Beorhtwald, or Beretuald) (died 731) was the ninth Archbishop of Canterbury in England. The medieval writer Bede claims that he served as the Abbot of Glastonbury, and documentary evidence names Berhtwald as abbot at Reculver before his election as archbishop. Berhtwald begins the first continuous series of native-born Archbishops of Canterbury, although there had been previous Anglo-Saxon archbishops, they had not succeeded each other until Berhtwald's reign.
Berhtwald's period as archbishop coincided with the end of Wilfrid's long struggle to regain the Archbishopric of York, and the two year delay between Theodore's death and Berhtwald's election may have been due to efforts to select Wilfrid for Canterbury. After his election, Berhtwald went to Gaul for consecration and then presided over two councils that attempted to settle the Wilfrid issue, finally succeeding at the second council in 705. Berhtwald also was the recipient of the first surviving letter close in Western Europe.
Saint Aristobulus of Britannia
Aristobulus of Britannia (Full title, in Greek: Aghios Apostolos Aristovoulos, Martyras, kai Protos Episkopos Vretannias; Welsh: Arwystli Hen Episcob Cyntaf Prydain; Latin: Sanctus Aristobulus Senex, Apostolus, Martyr, Episcopus Primus Britanniae; English: Saint Aristibule the Old, Apostle, Martyr, and First Bishop of Britain. Also, Aristobulus, Apostle to Britain)
Aristobulus was a Jewish Cypriot saint, numbered among the Seventy Disciples. Along with the Apostles Urban of Macedonia, Stachys, Ampliatus, Apelles of Heraklion and Narcissus of Athens he assisted Saint Andrew. St. Aristobulus was also the brother of the Apostle Barnabas. He preached the Gospel in Britain as its first bishop. Previous to this, he preached the Gospel to the Celts of Northern Spain, i.e. Celtiberians, whilst on his way to Britain. His feast days are celebrated on March 16, on October 31 (with Amplias, Apelles, Stachys, Urban, and Narcissus), and on January 4 with the Seventy. Such was the Apostle Aristobulus' acclaim amongst the Brythonic Celts that a region was named after him, i.e. Arwystli, which later became a small medieval British kingdom, and continues to this day as a district, or more precisely, a cantref within the county of Powys, Wales.
|Saint Felix of Burgundy, also known as Felix of Dunwich is a saint widely credited as the man who introduced Christianity to East Anglia in Eastern England.
He arrived in England sometime around AD 615 in the hamlet of Babingley, Norfolk via the River Babingley and made his way to Canterbury where he was ordained as a bishop about 630 or 631 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Honorius, at the request of King Sigebert of East Anglia.
He is recorded by Bede as having formed his episcopal see at Dommoc which is widely taken to mean Dunwich on the Suffolk coast, although other historians have suggested an alternative site at Walton, Suffolk near Felixstowe, where a church and priory were dedicated to him by Roger Bigod in 1105. Soon afterwards, he established a church and school at Domnoc and also founded the abbey of Soham in Cambridgeshire. He was widely seen as being something of a bridge-builder between the Roman and Celtic traditions of Christianity. St Felix is said to have died on 8 March 647 or 648, later celebrated as his feast day. He was bishop for seventeen years.
His body was interred at Soham Abbey but this was pillaged by the Vikings in 869 and his tomb desecrated. During the reign of Cnut his remains were again moved to Ramsey Abbey on the Fens. He was succeeded as Bishop by Thomas, a Fenman.
Saint Nectan, sometimes styled Saint Nectan of Hartland, was a 5th-century holy man who lived in Stoke, Hartland, in the English county of Devon, where the prominent Church of Saint Nectan, Hartland is dedicated to him.
A 12th-century manuscript found in Gotha is the fullest remaining account of the Life of Nectan.
This account holds that Nectan was the eldest of the 24 children of King Brychan of Brycheiniog (now Brecknock in Wales). Having received a vocation to become a monk earlier in his life, he and many of his relatives sailed to north Devon where Nectan settled by a spring (now St Nectan's Well) at Stoke, in the then dense forest of Hartland. Here, in this solitude, he lived as a hermit. Although, he is also associated with St Nectan's Glen and Waterfall (or Kieve) at Trethevy, near Tintagel, in Cornwall, where it is claimed he spent some time as a hermit.
At Hartland, Nectan lived in the solitude of a remote valley where he helped a swineherd recover his lost pigs and in turn was given a gift of two cows. Nectan's cows were stolen and after finding them he attempted to convert the robbers to the Christian faith. In return he was attacked by robbers who cut off his head. The same authority says that he picked his head up and walked back to his well before collapsing and dying.
According to tradition, one of the thieves died and the other went blind. Upon realising what he had done, it is claimed that the thief later returned to bury Nectan's body. Tradition also says that wherever Nectan's blood fell, foxgloves grew.
After Nectan's death, a considerable cult grew up around his shrine and this continued to be popular throughout the Middle Ages, supported both by Saxon kings and Norman lords. Lyfing, Bishop of Crediton, approved the translation of his body as an accomplished fact, providing bells, lead for the roof, and a sculptured reliquary for the church. Furthermore, Nectan's staff was decorated with gold, silver and jewels. Manors were given to the church to endow it against pirates.
The church and shrine were restored and in the possession of the Augustinian secular canons from the adjoining Hartland Abbey from the 12th century until such monastic orders were disestablished during the Reformation. A number of other churches in Devon are dedicated to St Nectan, but only two ancient ones: Welcombe, just south of Hartland, and probably originally Ashton (now St John the Baptist). There is also a medieval chapel of Saint Nectan near St Winnow in Cornwall.
Saint Paul Aurelian (also known, in Breton as Paol Aorelian and, in Latin, as Paulinus Aurelianus) is a 6th century Welsh saint, who became one of the seven founder saints of Brittany.
His hagiographic Life was completed in 884 by a Breton monk named Wrmonoc of Landévennec:
Paul was the son of a Welsh chieftain named Perphirius/Porphyrius ("clad in purple"), from Penychen in Glamorgan (although this is probably due to confusion with King Paul Penychen). He was also brother of three saintly sisters, Juthwara, Sidwell and Wulvela. Paul became a pupil of Saint Illtud at Llantwit Major and on Caldey Island, like Saints Samson of Dol, Gildas and David.
He later visited King Mark of Cornwall and founded the church at Paul, before moving on to Brittany to establish monasteries at Lampaul on the island of Ushant, on the island of Batz (where he later died) and at Ocsimor, now the city of Saint-Pol-de-Léon in Finistère. He was consecrated bishop there under the authority of Childebert, King of the Franks. Paul was a vegetarian.
He was first buried at Saint-Pol-de-Léon, but his relics were later transferred to Fleury near Orléans. His bell is still kept at Saint-Pol however. Gilbert Hunter Doble thought he might be the same man as Saint Paulinus of Wales. His feast day is 12 March.
|Saint Aurelian of Limoges (French: Saint Aurélien) is venerated as a Christian saint. Christian tradition makes him the second bishop of Limoges, and the successor of St. Martial.
According to tradition, Aurelian was originally a pagan priest who wanted to throw Martial into prison. However, Aurelian was struck dead as he attempted to do so. Martial brought him back to life, baptized him as a Christian, ordained him as a priest, and consecrated him as bishop.
A biography of Martial, the Vita Aureliana, is attributed to Aurelian. However, the work was written much later, perhaps by the chronicler Adhémar de Chabannes or earlier, around 955, before the birth of Adhémar. The work was designed to 'prove' that Martial had been present at the Last Supper and at the crucifixion, and was indeed one of the original apostles.
Aurelian’s relics are at the church known as the Chapelle Saint-Aurélien (built between the 14th-17th centuries), in Limoges. It is the property of the Confrérie Saint Aurélien, the successor organization to the ancient guild butchers of Limoges.
Saint Swithin of Winchester
Anglo-Saxon bishop; b. after 802; d. July 2, 862. Educated at Winchester and ordained a priest, he was chosen by King Egbert of Wessex as tutor for his son Ethelwulf. Upon the latter's accession (839) Swithin (Swithun) served as chief spiritual advisor. When Bishop Helmstan died, Swithin was consecrated, with royal approval, for the See of Winchester by Archbishop Ceolnoth of Canterbury on Oct. 30, 852. An energetic and virtuous bishop during very disturbed times, he is remembered especially for a remarkable humility. His cult arose a century after his death in the age of monastic revival. In 971, as the result of a vision.
Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, was born in the year 1296 in Constantinople. St Gregory's father became a prominent dignitiary at the court of Andronicus II Paleologos (1282-1328), but he soon died, and Andronicus himself took part in the raising and education of the fatherless boy. Endowed with fine abilities and great diligence, Gregory mastered all the subjects which then comprised the full course of medieval higher education. The emperor hoped that the youth would devote himself to government work. But Gregory, barely twenty years old, withdrew to Mount Athos in the year 1316 (other sources say 1318) and became a novice in the Vatopedi monastery under the guidance of the monastic Elder St Nicodemus of Vatopedi (July 11). There he was tonsured and began on the path of asceticism. A year later, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and promised him his spiritual protection. Gregory's mother and sisters also became monastics.
After the demise of the Elder Nicodemus, St Gregory spent eight years of spiritual struggle under the guidance of the Elder Nicephorus, and after the latter's death, Gregory transferred to the Lavra of St Athanasius (July 5). Here he served in the trapeza, and then became a church singer. But after three years, he resettled in the small skete of Glossia, striving for a greater degree of spiritual perfection. The head of this monastery began to teach the young man the method of unceasing prayer and mental activity, which had been cultivated by monastics, beginning with the great desert ascetics of the fourth century: Evagrius Pontikos and St Macarius of Egypt (January 19).
Later on, in the eleventh century St Simeon the New Theologian (March 12) provided detailed instruction in mental activity for those praying in an outward manner, and the ascetics of Athos put it into practice. The experienced use of mental prayer (or prayer of the heart), requiring solitude and quiet, is called "Hesychasm" (from the Greek "hesychia" meaning calm, silence), and those practicing it were called "hesychasts."
During his stay at Glossia the future hierarch Gregory became fully embued with the spirit of hesychasm and adopted it as an essential part of his life. In the year 1326, because of the threat of Turkish invasions, he and the brethren retreated to Thessalonica, where he was then ordained to the holy priesthood.
St Gregory combined his priestly duties with the life of a hermit. Five days of the week he spent in silence and prayer, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he come out to his people. He celebrated divine services and preached sermons. For those present in church, his teaching often evoked both tenderness and tears. Sometimes he visited theological gatherings of the city's educated youth, headed by the future patriarch, Isidore. After he returned from a visit to Constantinople, he found a place suitable for solitary life near Thessalonica the region of Bereia. Soon he gathered here a small community of solitary monks and guided it for five years.
In the 1330s events took place in the life of the Eastern Church which put St Gregory among the most significant universal apologists of Orthodoxy, and brought him great renown as a teacher of hesychasm.
About the year 1330 the learned monk Barlaam had arrived in Constantinople from Calabria, in Italy. He was the author of treatises on logic and astronomy, a skilled and sharp-witted orator, and he received a university chair in the capital city and began to expound on the works of St Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3), whose "apophatic" ("negative", in contrast to "kataphatic" or "positive") theology was acclaimed in equal measure in both the Eastern and the Western Churches. Soon Barlaam journeyed to Mt. Athos, where he became acquainted with the spiritual life of the hesychasts'. Saying that it was impossible to know the essence of God, he declared mental prayer a heretical error. Journeying from Mount Athos to Thessalonica, and from there to Constantinople, and later again to Thessalonica, Barlaam entered into disputes with the monks and attempted to demonstrate the created, material nature of the light of Tabor (i.e. at the Transfiguration). He ridiculed the teachings of the monks about the methods of prayer and about the uncreated light seen by the hesychasts.
St Gregory, at the request of the Athonite monks, replied with verbal admonitions at first. But seeing the futility of such efforts, he put his theological arguments in writing. Thus appeared the "Triads in Defense of the Holy Hesychasts" (1338). Towards the year 1340 the Athonite ascetics, with the assistance of the saint, compiled a general response to the attacks of Barlaam, the so-called "Hagiorite Tome." At the Constantinople Council of 1341 in the church of Hagia Sophia St Gregory Palamas debated with Barlaam, focusing upon the nature of the light of Mount Tabor. On May 27, 1341 the Council accepted the position of St Gregory Palamas, that God, unapproachable in His Essence, reveals Himself through His energies, which are directed towards the world and are able to be perceived, like the light of Tabor, but which are neither material nor created. The teachings of Barlaam were condemned as heresy, and he himself was anathemized and fled to Calabria.
But the dispute between the Palamites and the Barlaamites was far from over. To these latter belonged Barlaam's disciple, the Bulgarian monk Akyndinos, and also Patriarch John XIV Kalekos (1341-1347); the emperor Andronicus III Paleologos (1328-1341) was also inclined toward their opinion. Akyndinos, whose name means "one who inflicts no harm," actually caused great harm by his heretical teaching. Akyndinos wrote a series of tracts in which he declared St Gregory and the Athonite monks guilty of causing church disorders. The saint, in turn, wrote a detailed refutation of Akyndinos' errors. The patriarch supported Akyndinos and called St Gregory the cause of all disorders and disturbances in the Church (1344) and had him locked up in prison for four years. In 1347, when John the XIV was replaced on the patriarchal throne by Isidore (1347-1349), St Gregory Palamas was set free and was made Archbishop of Thessalonica.
In 1351 the Council of Blachernae solemnly upheld the Orthodoxy of his teachings. But the people of Thessalonica did not immediately accept St Gregory, and he was compelled to live in various places. On one of his travels to Constantinople the Byzantine ship fell into the hands of the Turks. Even in captivity, St Gregory preached to Christian prisoners and even to his Moslem captors. The Hagarenes were astonished by the wisdom of his words. Some of the Moslems were unable to endure this, so they beat him and would have killed him if they had not expected to obtain a large ransom for him. A year later, St Gregory was ransomed and returned to Thessalonica.
St Gregory performed many miracles in the three years before his death, healing those afflicted with illness. On the eve of his repose, St John Chrysostom appeared to him in a vision. With the words "To the heights! To the heights!" St Gregory Palamas fell asleep in the Lord on November 14, 1359. In 1368 he was canonized at a Constantinople Council under Patriarch Philotheus (1354-1355, 1364-1376), who compiled the Life and Services to the saint.
Saint Athanasius and Saint Cyril
Saints Athanasius and Cyril were Archbishops of Alexandria. These wise teachers of truth and defenders of Christ's Church share a joint Feast in recognition of their dogmatic writings which affirm the truth of the Orthodox Faith, correctly interpret the Holy Scripture, and censure the delusions of the heretics.
St Athanasius took part in the First Ecumenical Council when he was still a deacon. He surpassed everyone there in his zeal to uphold the teaching that Christ is consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and not merely a creature, as the Arians proclaimed.
This radiant beacon of Orthodoxy spent most of his life in exile from his See, because of the plotting of his enemies. He returned to his flock as he was approaching the end of his life. Like an evening star, he illumined the Orthodox faithful with his words for a little while, then reposed in 373. He is also commemorated on May 2 (the transfer of his holy relics).
Hieromartyr Charalampus the Bishop of Magnesia in Thessaly
The Hieromartyr Charalampus, Bishop of Magnesia, the Martyrs Porphyrius and Baptus and Three Women Martyrs suffered in the year 202.
St Charalampus, Bishop of Magnesia (Asia Minor), successfully spread faith in Christ the Savior, guiding people on the way to salvation. News of his preaching reached Lucian, the governor of the district, and the military commander Lucius. The saint was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols.
Despite the bishop's advanced age (he was 113 years old), he was subjected to monstrous tortures. They lacerated his body with iron hooks, and scraped all the skin from his body. During this the saint turned to his tormentors, "I thank you, brethren, that you have restored my spirit, which longs to pass over to a new and everlasting life!"
Seeing the Elder's endurance and his complete lack of malice, two soldiers (Porphyrius and Baptus) openly confessed Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with a sword. Three women who were watching the sufferings of St Charalampus also began to glorify Christ, and were quickly martyred.
The enraged Lucius seized the instruments of torture and began to torture the holy martyr, but suddenly his forearms were cut off as if by a sword. The governor then spat in the face of the saint, and immediately his head was turned around so that he faced backwards.
Then Lucius entreated the saint to show mercy on him, and both torturers were healed through the prayers of St Charalampus. During this a multitude of witnesses came to believe in Christ. Among them also was Lucius, who fell at the feet of the holy bishop, asking to be baptized.
Lucian reported these events to the emperor Septimus Severus (193-211), who was then at Pisidian Antioch (western Asia Minor). The emperor ordered St Charlampos to be brought to him in Antioch. Soldiers twisted the saint's beard into a rope, wound it around his neck, and used it to drag him along. They also drove an iron nail into his body. The emperor then ordered them to torture the bishop more intensely, and they began to burn him with fire, a little at a time. But God protected the saint, and he remained unharmed.
Many miracles were worked through his prayer: he raised a dead youth, and healed a man tormented by devils for thirty-five years, so that many people began to believe in Christ the Savior. Even Galina, the daughter of the emperor, began to believe in Christ, and twice smashed the idols in a pagan temple. On the orders of the emperor they beat the saint about the mouth with stones. They also wanted to set his beard on fire, but the flames burned the torturer.
Full of wickedness, Septimus Severus and an official named Crispus hurled blasphemy at the Lord, mockingly summoning Him to come down to the earth, and boasting of their own power and might. The Lord sent an earthquake, and great fear fell upon all, the impious ones were both suspended in mid-air held by invisible bonds, and only by the prayer of the saint were they put down. The dazed emperor was shaken in his former impiety, but again quickly fell into error and gave orders to torture the saint.
And finally, he sentenced St Charalampus to beheading with a sword. During his final prayer, the heavens opened and the saint saw the Savior and a multitude of angels. The holy martyr asked Him to grant that the place where his relics would repose would never suffer famine or disease. He also begged that there would be peace, prosperity, and an abundance of fruit, grain, and wine in that place, and that the souls of these people would be saved. The Lord promised to fulfill his request and ascended to heaven, and the soul of the hieromartyr Charalampus followed after Him. By the mercy of God, the saint died before he could be executed. Galina buried the martyr's body with great honor.
In Greek hagiography and iconography St Charalampus is regarded as a priest, while Russian sources seem to regard him as a bishop.
Saint John Climacus (of the Ladder)
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is dedicated to St John of the Ladder (Climacus), the author of the work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent. The abbot of St Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai (6th century) stands as a witness to the violent effort needed for entrance into God's Kingdom (Mt.10: 12). The spiritual struggle of the Christian life is a real one, "not against flesh and blood, but against ... the rulers of the present darkness ... the hosts of wickedness in heavenly places ..." (Eph 6:12). Saint John encourages the faithful in their efforts for, according to the Lord, only "he who endures to the end will be saved"
Hieromartyr Mocius the Presbyter of Amphipolis in Macedonia
Saint Mocius was a presbyter in Macedonia in the city of Amphipolis. During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), St Mocius exhorted the pagans who had assembled for the pagan festival of Dionysus (Bacchus), to abandon iniquity and the vile customs which accompanied this celebration. He urged them to repent and be converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, and be cleansed through holy Baptism.
The saint was brought to trial before the governor of Laodicea. When threatened with torture, he replied, "My death for Christ is a great accomplishment for me." St Mocius was subjected to torture, which he bore with marvelous endurance, and did not cease to denounce the idol-worshippers.
Taken to the pagan temple of Dionysus, the saint shattered the idols when he called upon Jesus Christ. After this he was put into a red-hot oven, where he remained unharmed, but the flames coming out of the oven scorched the governor.
Again the commander subjected St Mocius to fierce torture, which he endured with the help of God. He was given to wild beasts to be eaten, but they did not touch him. The lions lay down at his feet. The people, seeing such miracles, urged that the saint be set free. The governor ordered the saint to be sent to the city of Perinth, and from there to Byzantium, where St Mocius was executed.
Before his death he gave thanks to the Lord for giving him the strength to persevere to the very end. His last words were, "Lord, receive my spirit in peace." Then he was beheaded. St Mocius died about the year 295. Later, the emperor Constantine built a church in honor of the hieromartyr Mocius and transferred his holy passion-bearing relics into it.
Saint Theodore Stratelates
The Holy Great Martyr Theodore Stratelates suffered for Christ in Heraklea on February 8, 319. At the time of his sufferings the holy Great Martyr Theodore ordered his servant Varus to bury his body on the estate of his parents in Euchaita. The transfer of the relics of the Great Martyr Theodore took place on June 8, 319.
On this day we also recall a miracle of the icon of the Great Martyr Theodore in a church dedicated to him at a place called Karsat, near Damascus. A group of Saracens had turned this church into their residence. There was a fresco on the wall depicting Theodore. One of the Saracens shot an arrow into the icon of the Great Martyr. From the saint's face, where the arrow had stuck into the wall, blood flowed before the eyes of everyone. A short while later, the Saracens who had settled in the church killed each other. Accounts of this miracle are given by the Anastasius of Mt. Sinai (April 20) and John of Damascus (December 4).
Saint Tikhon the Bishop of Amathus in Cyprus
Saint Tikhon, Bishop of Amathus, was born in the city Amathus on the island of Cyprus. His parents raised their son in Christian piety, and taught him the reading of sacred books. It is said that the gift of wonderworking appeared in St Tikhon at quite a young age.
His father was the owner of a bakery, and whenever he left his son alone in the shop, the holy youth would give free bread to those in need. Learning of this, his father became angry, but the son said that he had read in the Scriptures, that in giving to God one receives back a hundredfold. "I," said the youth, "gave to God the bread which was taken," and he persuaded his father to go to the place where the grain was stored. With astonishment the father saw that the granary, which formerly was empty, was now filled to overflowing with wheat. From that time the father did not hinder his son from distributing bread to the poor.
A certain gardener brought the dried prunings of vines from the vineyard. St Tikhon gathered them, planted them in his garden and besought the Lord that these branches might take root and yield fruit for the health of people. The Lord did so through the faith of the holy youth. The branches took root, and their fruit had a particular and very pleasant taste. It was used during the lifetime of the saint and after his death for making wine for the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
They accepted the pious youth into the church clergy, made him a reader. Later, Mnemonios, the Bishop of Amathus ordained him a deacon. After the death of Bishop Mnemonios, St Tikhon by universal agreement was chosen as Bishop of Amathus. St Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus (May 12), presided at the service.
St Tikhon labored zealously to eradicate the remnants of paganism on Cyprus; he destroyed a pagan temple and spread the Christian Faith. The holy bishop was generous, his doors were open to all, and he listened to and lovingly fulfilled the request of each person who came to him. Fearing neither threats nor tortures, he firmly and fearlessly confessed his faith before pagans.
In the service to St Tikhon it is stated that he foresaw the time of his death, which occurred in the year 425.
The name of St Tikhon of Amathus was greatly honored in Russia. Temples dedicated to the saint were constructed at Moscow, at Nizhni Novgorod, at Kazan and other cities. But he was particularly venerated in the Voronezh diocese, where there were three archpastors in succession sharing the name with the holy hierarch of Amathus: St Tikhon I (Sokolov) (+ 1783, August 13), Tikhon II (Yakubovsky, until 1785) and Tikhon III (Malinin, until 1788).
Hieromartyr Pancratius the Bishop of Taormina in Sicily
The Hieromartyr Pancratius, Bishop of Taormina, was born when our Lord Jesus Christ yet lived upon the earth.
The parents of Pancratius were natives of Antioch. Hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, Pancratius' father took his young son with him and went to Jerusalem in order to see the great Teacher for himself. The miracles astonished him, and when he heard the divine teaching, he then believed in Christ as the Son of God. He became close with the disciples of the Lord, especially with the holy Apostle Peter. It was during this period that young Pancratius got to know the holy Apostle Peter.
After the Ascension of the Savior, one of the Apostles came to Antioch and baptized the parents of Pancratius together with all their household. When the parents of Pancratius died, he left behind his inherited possessions and went to Pontus and began to live in a cave, spendng his days in prayer and deep spiritual contemplation. The holy Apostle Peter, while passing through those parts, visited Pancratius at Pontus. He took him along to Antioch, and then to Sicily, where the holy Apostle Paul then was. There the holy Apostles Peter and Paul made St Pancratius Bishop of Taormina in Sicily.
St Pancratius toiled zealously for the Christian enlightenment of the people. In a single month he built a church where he celebrated divine services. The number of believers quickly grew, and soon almost all the people of Taormina and the surrounding cities accepted the Christian Faith.
St Pancratius governed his flock peacefully for many years. However, pagans plotted against the saint, and seizing an appropriate moment, they fell upon him and stoned him. Thus, St Pancratius ended his life as a martyr.
The saint's relics are in the church named for him in Rome. He is also commemorated on February 9.
Named Winfrith by his well-to-do English parents, Boniface was born probably near Exeter, Devon. As a boy, he studied in Benedictine monastery schools and became a monk himself in the process. For 30 years he lived in relative peace, studying, teaching, and praying. In his early 40s he left the seclusion of the monastery to do missionary work on the Continent. Because his first efforts in Frisia (now the Netherlands) were unsuccessful, Winfrith went to Rome in search of direction. Pope Gregory II renamed him Boniface, "doer of good," and delegated him to spread the gospel message in Germany.
In 719 the missionary monk set out on what was to be a very fruitful venture. He made converts by the thousands. Once, the story goes, he hewed down the giant sacred oak at Geismar to convince the people of Hesse that there was no spiritual power in nature. In 722 the Pope consecrated him bishop for all of Germany. For 30 years Boniface worked to reform and organize the Church, linking the various local communities firmly with Rome. He enlisted the help of English monks and nuns to preach to the people, strengthen their Christian spirit, and assure their allegiance to the pope. He founded the monastery of Fulda, now the yearly meeting place of Germany's Roman Catholic bishops. About 746 Boniface was appointed archbishop of Mainz, where he settled for several years as head of all the German churches.
Over the years he kept up an extensive correspondence, asking directives of the popes, giving information about the many Christian communities, and relaying to the people the popes' wishes. In 752, as the pope's emissary, he crowned Pepin king of the Franks. In his 80s and still filled with his characteristic zeal, Boniface went back to preach the gospel in Frisia. There, in 754 near the town of Dokkum, Boniface and several dozen companions were waylaid by a group of savage locals and put to death. His remains were later taken to Fulda, where he was revered as a martyr to the Christian faith.
St Boniface and the Evergreen
St Boniface, named Winfrid by his parents, was born at the end of the 7th century to a noble English family. He studied religion from an early age and could have had a prestigious career, but chose to lead the pious life of a missionary.
His mission led him to the “heathenism” of Germany, where he spent many years converting pagans to Christianity. On one of his missions, Boniface came upon the scared oak tree of the Pagan god Thor. In a symbolic act, Boniface cut down the oak tree to show the Pagans the powerlessness of their gods. When no god appeared to punish Boniface for this offense many of the Pagans were converted to Christianity.
The pagans revered the oak tree. The long burning, hard wood of the tree was a sign of the strength of the spirits who lived within. They worshiped Thor by sacrificing male slaves and animals, which they would hang from the tree’s branches.
Boniface, borrowing from the pagans established beliefs, turned the evergreen tree into a symbol of Christianity. Boniface told the people it was a representation of the life of Christ, the green leaves in the dark of winter symbolizing Christ’s light. The fall of the oak was a sign of the end of paganism, while the evergreen could symbolize the rise of the Catholic Church. This helped to easily convert the pagans because of their pre-existing opinions on the mysticism of the trees.
The tree became a sign of Christ for the German people, and it is now a symbol of Christmas for people around the world.
St. Walburga (d. 779)
was born in England of a family of the local
Monastic life has continued without interruption at the Abtei St. Walburg from 1035 AD to today. In 1935, nuns from that monastery were sent to Colorado to found the community which has become the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale.
|Saint Willibald (born in Wessex c.700 and died c.787 in Eichstätt) was an 8th century bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria.
Information about his life is largely drawn from the Hodoeporicon of Saint Willibald, a text written in the 8th century by Huneberc, an Anglo-Saxon nun from Heidenheim am Hahnenkamm who knew Willibald and his brother personally. The text of the Hodoeporicon was dictated to Huneberc by Willibald shortly before he died.
Prologue to the
In this text Huneberc of Heidenheim provides a full justification for a woman acting as an author. Huneberc--whose name is sometimes transliterated as Hugeberc--was an Anglo-Saxon woman who journied at some point after 761 to the European continent. There she joined her kinswoman Walburga, who had become abbess of the convent established at Heidenheim by an Anglo-Saxon cleric named Wynnebald. The Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald, her only known work, provides a description of the pilgrimage of yet another Anglo-Saxon cleric--Willibald, bishop of Eichstatt and brother of Wynnebald--to the Holy Land. Huneberc apparently heard the story directly from the missionary bishop. Willibald's pilgrimage occurred in the 720s; Huneberc composed this text sometime between her arrival at Heidenheim in 761 and the death of Willibald in 786. Source: Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores in folio, 15.1:86-88. A full translation of Huneberc's Hodoeporicon has been published in Thomas Noble and Thomas Head (eds.), Soldiers of Christ: Saints' Lives from Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994).
To all those reverend and most beloved in Christ clerics known under the honorable title of priest, and deacons of excellent nature, and abbots, as well as all princes of the secular order: our pious bishop [Willibald] by virtue of his pastoral care appointed you, some as priests in the holy order, others as deacons chosen for sobriety and chasteness, others as monks of the coenobitical army, still others-chosen for their skillful study of texts-into the garb of scholars in order to study, to teach, and thus to inculcate a better standard of government in the realm. Throughout his diocese the bishop used to nourish you diligently with his care, not simply as foster sons, but as his own children.
For all such people who live in this region under the guidance of sacred law, although I am an unworthy Saxon woman (indigna Saxonica), and but a novice-not only in years, but also in experience-among those of that race who have come to this place, and but a weakly woman (omuncula) in comparison to my fellow countrymen (illorum contribulum meorum), I have nonetheless made up my mind to touch briefly on the early life of that venerable man Willibald for the sake of you religious and orthodox (catholicis) men and you preachers of the heavenly books, compressing [the narrative] into a few words so that they may be easily remembered (ob utilitate memoriae). I am but womanly (feminea), stained by the frailty and weakness of my sex, and supported neither by pretense to wisdom nor by exalted aspiration to great power (magnarum virium), but freely prompted by my own willful impetuosity, like some ignorant child who at her heart's discretion plucks a few small things from trees rich in foliage and fruit. Nonetheless I would be pleased to pluck, collect, and display, with however small an art, a few tokens from the lowest branches for you to keep in your memory (vestrae memoriae). But presently I will retrace my speech and say once again that I dare to undertake such a task relying neither on the prompting of my own presumption nor on some sudden rash insolence.
Inspired first by the grace of God, then by the breadth of the experience of that venerable man Willibald, then by your excellent authority (vestraeque auctoritatis excellentia), and not least by your willing help and strong support, I thought myself capable (posse) of describing the places where there occurred those celestial wonders, miracles, and signs of virtue which the Lord-when He humiliated Himself for the salvation of humanity and descended to take on a human body-deigned to execute and perform in this world, as he was strengthened by divine power. It is these things which we will undertake to narrate, which the reverend man Willibald saw with his own eyes and over which he trod with his own feet. And he saw not only of those marvels which have been demonstrated to us to be true by the grace of the four gospels, but also the very places where our Lord was born, where He suffered, and where, having risen from the dead, He appeared to us. And Willibald also saw the traces of other prodigies which the Lord deigned to perform and virtues which he deigned to divulge in those lands. Strengthened by faith, fortunate in his fate, a bold traveler, this perfect teacher [Willibald] has transmitted all which he saw and learned while visiting these places to us.
At the present time, if I may say so, it seemed to me surely shameful that a human voice should, in mute tenacity and with sealed lips, keep silent about those things which our Lord deemed worthy to reveal, in order to make them known in our times, to his servant Willibald through the exertions of his body and the vision of his eyes. We know these things because they were related to us, not by means of the meandering turnings of apocryphal stories, but because, having encountered Willibald himself, we resolved to hear them as told to us in dictation from his own mouth and so to write them down-with two deacons as witnesses who heard them with me-on Tuesday the twenty-third of June [778?], the day before the summer solstice. Being an unlearned woman (idiota), I do not undertake to examine these matters in a literary form because I underestimate the talents of your wisdom or because I do not well know that there are many of you whom our Lord God has deigned to place as bishops above me, who are more outstanding not only in being of the male sex (virili sexui), but also in the divinely bestowed dignity of the priesthood, and who would be able to lay out and explain these matters much better than I because of their knowledge of divine law, not to mention their cleverness at investigation. But, although I am an unworthy woman (indigna), I know that I have flowered from the same genealogical root as these men [of whom I shall write], albeit from the lowest stalks of its branches, and therefore I have felt disposed to place in the hands of readers something worthy of remembrance (aliquid memoriae dignum) concerning such great and venerable men and concerning the ways in which their lives were blessed, not only in their deeds, but in the various journeys which they undertook and the great miracles which they performed.
The first of these men was a bishop raised to the highest degree of priestly rank and of pastoral care, that renowned lover of the cross and master of many men, Willibald. And the other was a man who uprightly followed the path of virtue, making the crooked path straight, the uneven and rough places a plain [Isaiah 40:4], and the wild regions tame. By constant effort he did away with all the thickly-sown vices of the worldly and the shameless sins of the idolators, [acting] not with the idle languor of a wavering mind, but happily and boldly with a rash audacity, strengthened from above with a zealous wisdom. Numbered as a prelate because of his priestly honors and pastoral duties, this man was an abbot, that renowned lover of the cross, Wynnebald.
All these writings, which are but black tracks ploughed by a pen in a furrowed path on the white plains of these fields [of parchment], are presented to your knowledgeable and loving care. We commend them to the protection of the grace of God and of your shield against all the calumnies of the envious; we also commend them to your acceptance with pleasure, so that in all matters we may joyfully praise our liberal Lord, the giver of gifts.
St. Winebald was the son of a West Saxon nobleman, St. Richard, and the brother of St. Willibald. With his father and brother he made a pilgrimage to Rome in 721. His father died in Italy, and Winebald remained in Rome for further study, like his countrymen before him, St. Wilfrid and St. Benedict Biscop. He returned to England and brought back to Rome some of his relatives to begin a monastic life in the holy city.
When St. Boniface came to Rome in 739, he recruited Winebald for the German missions, ordained him a priest, and put him in charge of churches in Germany and Bavaria. His brother, Willibald, who was now bishop of Eichstatt, asked Winebald to found a monastery for the training of priests and as a center of learning. Their sister, St. Walburga, came from England to found a convent, and both the monastery and the convent were founded at Heidenheim.
He established the rule of St. Benedict in his monastery, and Heidenheim became an important center of learning in the missionary territory. Because of illness, Winebald was not able to carry on the missionary work that he desired and yearned to end his days at Monte Cassino.
In 761, Winebald visited St. Boniface's shrine at Fulda and on the way home to Heidenheim became very sick. When he reached Heidenheim, he became weaker and weaker and after giving his monks a few last words he died on December 18, 761. His tomb became a local shrine and the site of pilgrimages.