Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Feast, September 19; Theodore of Tarsus

St. Theodore of Canterbury.
St. Theodore, also known as Theodoric of Canterbury, was born an Asiatic Greek in 602. He studied as a scholar for part of his life in Athens and was known well in the church even though he was only a sub-deacon.
After meeting with the patriarch Vitalian in Rome he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Upon his arrival in 669 he made a whole tour of Anglo-Saxon England, after which he called together the synod of Hertford, one of the most important synods in English Church History. In this council the Church approved of particular reforms that applied to the division of diocese, the power of diocesan bishops, and the governing of the monastic settlements. Theodore greatly rearranged the Saxon church at this time adding, dividing, and defining diocese. He participated several other synods, including the controversial synod at Whitby. He established many monastic foundations and ecclisiastical schools, and died on 19 September, 690.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feast, September 16; St. Ninian

     Pilgrim's cross, carved into rock inside St. Ninian's Cave.
Ninian often went there to pray alone in retreat.
     Saint Ninian, Known as the first apostle to the Picts, was born in the 360s in the Galloway area, just north of Hadrian's wall, and therefore outside of Roman jurisdiction. he was born the son of a minor British king, but devoted his time to reading and studying the scriptures, consistently educating himself. Christ's choosing of Peter as the "rock I will build my church" upon particularly grasped Ninian. and in an effort to continue his education he set out across Britain and Gaul where he came to Rome. There he pursued his education with the pope Damasus.
     But Damasus's successor to the papacy, Siricus after learning that Scotland had not yet been exposed to the gospel, consecrated Ninian, sending him to be their missionary and bishop. On his way back, Ninian stopped once again in Gaul where he met St. Martin of Tours. As he reached his missionary diocese he began building Scotland first stone church at Whithern. And upon the news of St. Martin's death, Ninian dedicated it in honor of Tours' great bishop. The Church was made of white stone and would be known as the Candida Casa or Whitehouse for centuries to come. It came to be the center of ecclesiastical training for Scotland, northern England, and Ninian missions in Ireland, and remained so for a few centuries. But it's importance dwindled as missions in Ireland and Scotland came after Ninian. Ninian is attributed for the conversion of the southern Picts, Scotland's Britons, and some of Irish. He set up dioceses, establishing monasteries and churches and turned Whithern into a great center of Christian learning. Ninian died in the fifth century, and his relics were kept enshrined in the Candida Casa at Whithern until the reformation, when cathedrals were pulled down and art destroyed by Christian pretenders. His cult has been restored in the Anglican Communion and many churches in the Scottish Episcopal Church have been dedicated to him, including the cathedral at Perth.

Ninian remains important to us today for his missionary zeal; his willingness to travel to some of Scotland's unforgiving peoples and joyfully bring them the good news of Christ. The Church must must continue today, Ninian's work to bring the faith to new lands and maybe more importantly to re-evangelize in lands like Scotland, or England, France, the United States and may other countries that have known Christ for a long time but that have lapsed in the faith.

OGOD, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant Saint Ninian didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in Scotland; Grant, we beseech thee, that having his life and labours in remembrance, we may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same by following the example of his zeal and patience in continuing to spread this light; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.

References from St. Columba and Iona, the Early History of the Christian Church in Scotland, by Alphons Bellesheim.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feast, September 14; Holy Cross Day

The feast of the Holy Cross is the designated day for the veneration of the True Cross. This feast was actually started because the consecration of the Emperor Constantine's great Jerusalem Church of the Resurrection (more widely known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) took place on this day in the year 335. The church is built over what is believed to be the Hill of Golgotha and the Holy Sepulcher. Both of which were uncovered when St. Helen, the mother of Constantine, lead an excavation in Jerusalem and also found large fragment of the True Cross. Above is the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the dome  houses the garden tomb and high altar.

Feast, September 13; Cyprian of Carthage

St. Cyprian of Carthage.
St. Cyprian was born in Carthage around the year 200. In his early life he was a known aristocrat, and taught rhetoric until 245 when he converted to Christianity. Just two years later he was elected as the bishop of Carthage writing several treatises, books while continuing to preach the gospel. Some of his subjects included the Lord's Prayer where he says that we say 'Hallowed be thy Name' because we desire that his name be made holy within us and that we may continue what we have been made through baptism (Lesser Feasts and Fasts). He also wrote on the importance of episcopacy, and many of his works survive. He went into hiding during the persecutions under the Emperor Decius, but continued to rule his church in secret. It was during the second persecution that he endured, when he was captured in Carthage an put to death on September 14th, 258.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8th; Feasts of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Ethelburga of Kent

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated on this day since Pope Sergius I introduced it to the calendar in the 7th century. Daughter to Sts. Anne and Jochim, Mary birth was an omen of the coming of Christ, though no one knew it at the time. All that is written of it is strictly apocryphal, but it was told by one of the 12 disciples - possibly St. James the Greater.

 Birth of the Virgin Mary.

St. Mary and St. Ethelburga's church at Lyminge.

St. Ethelburga, who's feast is also celebrated today, was the daughter of the converted Christian king, St. Ethelbert of Kent. She originally was married to St. Edwin, King of Northumbria, but after his death resulting from the Mercian pagan attacks she fled with Paulinus, Archbishop of York, back to Kent. She then founded a convent at Lyminge, where she, as abbes, dedicated the rest of her life to the work of the Lord. Her relics were venerated until the dissolution of the monasteries in Canterbury.

Feast, September 3rd; Gregory the Great

St. Gregory blessing St. Ethelbert, King of Kent.
(He is often depicted with the dove and the book)

Gregory was born in Rome in the 540s, and his first career was actually the prefect of Rome in573, after-which he took vows and became a monk. He worked for Pope Pelagius, and it was during this time that he came across some slaves in the markets at Marseilles and was told they were angles from Britain, and were not Christians. He bought the slaves, hoping to lead a mission their himself. Instead he was elected pope, succeeding Pelagius to the papacy in the year 590. Soon after he became pope, however, he sent Augustine, a monk of his own monastery, other monks, and the freed Angle slaves, to convert the Anglo-Saxons invading Christian Britain. In doing this Christianity would be restored to what is now England. Bede credits St. Gregory as he does Augustine as an Apostle to the English.