Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

St. Faith, 6 October.

St. Faith from a Norfolk rood screen. 
St. Faith, or Sainte Foy, was a martyr of the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian in A.D. 303, tortured to death with a brazier in the Aquitaine city of Agen in France. Her remains were moved into a new church in the fifth century but eventually stolen and translated to the Benedictine Abbey of Conques, a later stop on the Way of St. James. The abbey became a pilgrimage church in its own rite and was rebuilt to be what remains a treasure of romanesque architecture. It retains the relics of St. Faith in a peculiar reliquary from the ninth century. Her cult spread, because of its location on an already popular pilgrimage route, to Spain, Italy, and England where numerous churches are dedicated to her. Near Norwich, Benedictine monks built an English shrine for the saint and kept here feast there, allowing her cult to assimilate among the names of popular English saints; her feast was added to the Sarum missal.

Martyrdom, does not always have to mean death like that of St. Faith. We can "take up the cross" of Christ everyday without death, and by doing so we show, as Faith showed, an ultimate dedication to Christ. The veneration of saints like Faith involve prayer that Church and its leaders will do all in their power to keep and maintain the faith, but also that we ourselves, in our private, everyday lives may be willing to accept any judgment against us as Christians for our deep faith. So when we think of St. Faith and her hallowed death, we must think of her 'faith' and our 'faith' and how we can follow in her footsteps in little, everyday ways that bring us closer and closer to Christ.

O God, Who dost hallow this day by the martyrdom of St. Faith, Thy Virgin, grant unto Thy Church the assistance of the prayers of her in who it doth glory. Through Jesus Christ our lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, now and forever. Amen.

-collect from the Sarum Missal.

A video on the Abbey of St. Foy in France. It covers the church's architecture as well as an account of its history as a pilgrimage church. It is best to skip to the end to hear how the church was built to accommodate the shrine of the saint.

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