Monday, 30 November 2015

30th November – Feast of St Andrew

Andrew, the first Apostle. A fisherman by trade and brother of Simon Peter. Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion. He was a missionary in Asia Minor and Greece, and possibly areas in modern Russia and Poland and was martyred on an saltire (x-shaped) cross. He is said to have preached for two days from it.

Some peculiar marriage-related superstitions have attached themselves to St Andrew’s feast day.

  • An old German tradition says that single women who wish to marry should ask for Saint Andrew’s help on the eve of his feast, then sleep naked that night; they will see their future husbands in their dreams.
  • Another says that young women should note the location of barking dogs on Saint Andrew’s Eve: their future husbands will come from that direction.
  • On the day after Andrew’s feast, young people float cups in a tub; if a boy‘s and a girl‘s cup drift together and are intercepted by a cup inscribed “priest”, it indicates marriage.
  • There are several explanations for why Andrew became the patron of Scotland.

Patron against convulsions, against fever, against gout, against neck pain, against sore throats and against whooping cough

Patron for anglers, boatmen, butchers, farm workers, fish mongers, fishermen, happy marriages, maidens, mariners, miners, old maids, pregnant women, rope makers, sail makers, sailors, single lay women, singers, spinsters, textile workers, unmarried women, water carriers, women who wish to become mothers

29th November - First Sunday of Advent

Advent is a time of prayer and fasting in preparation for Christmas; the time we celebrate as the anniversary of the Birth or Coming of Christ. It includes four Sundays, the first Sunday of Advent is the nearest to the feast of St Andrew the Apostle (30 November). 

It is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, Happy New Year everybody! 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

28th November - Stephen the Younger

Stephen the Younger, also known as Stephen the New, was a monk at the monastery of St Auxentius at age fifteen and later, Abbot there. He retired to live as a hermit. Soon after, the iconoclast movement became very active in the area, led by Emperor Constantine. The emperor tried to enlist Stephen in the movement, but the holy hermit refused, and was exiled. Years later he returned, and to prove how important it was to respect icons and other religious art, Stephen went to the emperor, pulled out a coin that bore the emperor’s likeness, threw it onto the floor, and stomped on it; as the emperor understood the importance of his own image, he imprisoned Stephen for 11 months. On his release, Stephen returned to the court and resumed the argument as though nothing has happened. He was scourged, stoned and dragged to death through the streets of Constantinople.

He is patron of coin collectors and smelters.

Friday, 27 November 2015

27th November - Barlaam & Josaphat

The stories of Barlaam and Josaphat are remarkably similar to earlier Buddha stories. Many people in India were converted by Thomas the Apostle. Stargazers foretold that the son of King Abenner would one day become a Christian and to prevent this, Abenner began persecuting the Church and had his son, Josaphat, placed under house arrest. In spite of these precautions, Barlaam, a hermit, met him and converted him to the faith. Abenner himself later became a Christian, abdicated the throne, and became a hermit. Josaphat governed for a time, then abdicated, too. He travelled to the desert, found Barlaam, and spent his remaining years as a holy hermit. Years after their deaths, the bodies Josaphat and Barlaam were brought to India; their joint grave became renowned by miracles.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

26th November - John Berchmans

Son of a shoemaker, and one of five children, three of whom entered religious life. John had great devotion to his position as an altar boy which led to devotion to all he did later in life. He was a Jesuit noviate and a student at the Jesuit College in Belgium. John had a dream of helping and teaching multi-lingual migrants and he studied the languages of Europe. However, he died of unknown causes following his participation in a public debate; he did not live to be ordained.

John Berchmans was not noted for any extraordinary feats, but he made kindness, courtesy, and constant fidelity an important part of his life. The path to holiness can lie in the ordinary rather than the extraordinary.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

25th November - Catherine of Alexandria

We know little of Catherine other than stories which may have been embellished as the years go by. We believe she was of noble lineage and learned in science. She converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. When she was 18 years old, during the persecution of Maximinus, she debated with pagan philosophers. Many were converted by her arguments, and immediately martyred. Maximinus had Catherine scourged and imprisoned. The empress and the leader of the army of Maximinus were amazed by the stories and went to see Catherine in prison. They too were converted and were martyred. Maximinus ordered Catherine broken on the wheel. She was beheaded.

Catherine was popular during the Middle Ages, there were many chapels and churches devoted to her throughout Western Europe. 

Due to her popularity, Catherine is patron to many, including; apologists, craftsmen who work with a wheel, archivists, barristers, lawyers, jurists, dying people, educators, teachers, girls, knife sharpeners, librarians, libraries, maidens, unmarried girls and women, mechanics, millers, nurses, old maids, philosopher,  potters, preachers, scholars, schoolchildren, students, scribes, secretaries, spinners, stenographers, tanners, theologians, turners, the Universities of Heidelberg & Paris & wheelwrights


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

24th November - Albert of Louvain

You couldn't make it up! I sometimes think Eastenders is far-fetched! Albert was appointed bishop, elevated to cardinal, ordained deacon, ordained priest, ordained bishop and assassinated, all in the space of 1 year! What a year! However, he wasn't content with these ecclesiastical positions, he was also a canon and an archdeacon.

Son of Duke Godfrey III of Brabant he was made a canon of Liege, at age 12. However, this was a political appointment for guaranteed income rather than a religious vocation. He gave up the position at age 21 to become a knight and eventually realized that religious life was calling him. He became a canon of Liege again, this time as a true vocation.

He became archdeacon and provost of Brabant and later, Bishop of Liege in 1191. However, others had an eye on the top job and he was ousted. Albert didn't give up easily and the pope reinstated him but the new incumbent refused to give up the position and they had trouble finding a bishop to ordain Albert. He was persistent and eventually regained the position of bishop and was duly assassinated. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

23rd November - Clement

Clement found faith in Christ either through St Peter or through St Paul. He was one of the Seventy Apostles and was consecrated as a bishop by St Peter. Clement is mentioned in Philippians 4:3. The Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome, one of the earliest parish churches in the city, is probably built on the site of Clement’s home. 

Clement is counted as the third bishop of Rome. His predecessors are Linus and Cletus, about whom almost nothing is known. Clement wrote a letter to the Corinthians, which was highly valued by the early church, and has been preserved to the present day. The letter is addressed from the congregation at Rome to the congregation at Corinth.

One story about Clement is that he was put to death by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. Accordingly, he is often depicted with an anchor, and many churches in port towns intended to minister chiefly to mariners are named for him.

Patron of marble workers, sailors, sick children & stonecutters

Almighty God, who chose your servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that your Church may be grounded and settled in your truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and may evermore be kept blameless in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

22nd November - Cecilia

Cecilia, a young woman whose ancestors loomed large in Rome’s history. She vowed her virginity to God, but her parents married her to Valerian of Trastevere. Her husband was converted and he and his brother developed a ministry of the burial of martyred Christians. In their turn they were arrested and martyred for their faith. Cecilia buried them at her villa on the Apprian Way, and was arrested for the action. She was ordered to sacrifice to false gods; when she refused, she was also martyred. 

Saturday, 21 November 2015

21st November – Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Commemorates the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a child in the Temple where, according to tradition, she was educated. The accounts are not recorded in the Gospels but are in apocryphal books. The feast originated in the Orient probably about the 7th century. The scene has been re-created by many artists.

In Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is one of the days when women named Mary celebrate their Name Day, similar to a birthday.

Friday, 20 November 2015

20th November - Edmund, King of the East Angles

Born in Germany, King of East Anglia at age 14, crowned on Christmas Day 855, Edmund was a model ruler, concerned with justice for his people and his own spirituality; he spent a year at Hunstanton learning the Psalter by heart. Following one of a series of armed engagement with invading Danes, he was captured. He was ordered to give his Christian people to the pagan invaders; he refused and was beaten, whipped, shot with arrows “until he bristled with them like a hedgehog”, and beheaded at Hoxne, Suffolk, in 870.

He is patron against plague ad patron for East Anglia, kings, torture victims and wolves

Thursday, 19 November 2015

19th November - Raphael Kalinowski

Raphael Kalinowski, 1835 -1907
Raphael was a Polish Discalced Carmelite friar (barefoot Carmelites, dedicated to prayer) inside the Russian partition of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in Vilnius. He was a teacher, engineer, prisoner of war, royal tutor, and priest, who founded many Carmelite monasteries around Poland after their suppression by the Russians.

The Russians strictly limited opportunities for further education, so in 1853 he enlisted in the Imperial Russian Army. He worked as an associate professor of mathematics and as an engineer who helped design the Odessa-Kiev-Kursk railway.

He remained sympathetic with the plight of the Poles and so he resigned from the Imperial Russian Army in 1863 to serve as minister of war for the January Uprising, a Polish insurrection. He determined never to sentence anyone to death nor to execute any prisoner. Raphael was soon taken prisoner and joined the forced march to slave labour in Siberia. He was released ten years later.

In 1864, Russian authorities arrested Raphael and condemned him to death by firing squad. His family intervened, and the Russians, fearing that their Polish subjects would revere him as a political martyr, commuted the sentence to 10 years in a Siberian labour camp, and forced him to trek overland to the salt mines of Siberia, a journey that took nine months.

He was released from Siberia in 1873 and exiled from Lithuania; he then moved to Paris, before returning to Warsaw where he became a tutor to the 16-year-old Prince. Kalinowski was a major influence on the young prince, who later became a priest. Later Kalinowski travelled to Brest where he began a Sunday school. Kalinowski was ordained as priest and he became prior of the monastery at Czerna. He founded multiple Catholic organizations around Poland and Ukraine.

Kalinowski died in Wadowice of tuberculosis in 1907. Fourteen years later, Karol Wojtyła, later known as Pope John Paul II, was born in the same town.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

18th November - St Mawes

Mawes, born in Wales sometime in the 6th century, was a hermit in an area of Cornwall now known as St Mawes. He emigrated to Brittany where he founded a monastery on the island of Maudez; he had to drive out the snakes and vermin in order to build there. he worked with St Budoc and St Tudwal to found the monastery. There are more than 60 churches in the region dedicated to him.

He is patron against snake bites and headaches and is often represented as a bishop or as a schoolmaster. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

17th November - Gregory Thaumaturgus

Gregory, 213 - 270, also known as Gregory the Wonder Worker

Gregory was born to a wealthy family and trained in law and rhetoric in his youth. He and his brother each gave up the idea of law school, became students of Origen, and converted to Christianity; Theodore changed his name to Gregory. He studied philosophy and theology for seven years under Origen. He became Bishop of Caesarea, a diocese with only 17 Christians when he arrived. Gregory converted most of his bishopric; tradition says there were only 17 pagans left at the time of his death. Instituted the celebration of martyrs, teachings about the saints, and celebration of saint feast days as a way to interest pagans in the Church. 

During the Decian persecutions he and his flock fled into the desert. He worked among the sick when the plague struck soon after, and with refugees during the invasion by the Goths. He used his legal training to help his parishioners and settle disputes between them without taking their problems to the civil courts. He oversaw the council that chose St Alexander the Charcoal Burner as the first bishop of Comana. Macrina the Elder heard Gregory preach many times in her youth and passed his wisdom onto her grandsons St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nyssa. Noted theological writer.

As you might expect from some one surnamed the Wonder Worker, there were many miraculous events in Gregory's life.

Gregory was patron against earthquakes and against floods and patron for desperate causes, forgotten causes, impossible causes and lost causes.

Monday, 16 November 2015

16th November - Margaret

Granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside of England and great-niece of St Stephen of Hungary. Margaret was born in Hungary, her family was in exile due to King Canute and the Danish invasion of England. She spent much of her youth in the British Isles. While fleeing the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066, her family's ship foundered on the Scottish coast. They were assisted by King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland, whom Margaret later married. They had eight children including St Maud, wife of Henry I, and St David of Scotland. Margaret founded abbeys and used her position to work for justice and improved conditions for the poor.

Queen Margaret was renowned for her good influence on her husband and also for her devout piety and religious observance. She was a prime mover in the reform of the Church in Scotland. Under Queen Margaret's leadership and, much to joy of the working-class, abstinence from servile work on a Sunday. Margaret founded churches, monasteries and pilgrimage hostels and established the Royal Mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey with monks from Canterbury.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

15th November - Albert the Great

“It is by the path of love that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where love is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess love, we possess God, for ‘God is love.’”
“What worth is a hidden treasure?”

Albert, (1206 – 1280), a Dominican and Priest who taught theology at Cologne and Paris. He was also a teacher of St Thomas Aquinas. He is most known for his interest in the natural sciences. He wrote and illustrated guides and was considered an authority on these things. He was a theological writer and a Doctor of the Church and described as “a teacher of all that there is to know”.

Patron of medical technicians, natural sciences, philosophers, schoolchildren, scientists & theology students

Saturday, 14 November 2015

14th November - St Lawrence O’Toole

Lawrence O'Toole 1128 - 1180
Son of the chief of Hy Murray, he was taken as a hostage when he was ten years old, released at age twelve to the Bishop of Glendalough where he was educated at the monastic school. He became a Monk and then Abbot. He became the first native-born Irishman to become the Archbishop of Dublin. He was noted for his personal austerity, he wore a hair shirt under his ecclesiastical robes, made an annual 40 day retreat in St Kevin’s cave, he never ate meat, he fasted every Friday, and he never drank wine. Apparently, he would colour his water to make it look like wine and not bring attention to himself at table.

In 1171 he travelled to Canterbury on diocesan business. While preparing for Mass there he was attacked by a lunatic who wanted to make Lawrence another St Thomas Beckett. Everyone in the church thought Lawrence had been killed by the severe blow to the head. Instead he asked for water, blessed it, and washed the wound; the bleeding stopped.

He died while travelling with King Henry II, travelling as a peacemaker. It resulted in his imprisonment and ill-treatment by the king who decided he had had his fill of meddling priests.

Friday, 13 November 2015

13th November - Charles Simeon

Charles Simeon is thought of as an ancestor of the evangelical movement in the Church of England. He was born in Reading in 1759, the youngest son of Richard and Elizabeth Simeon, His eldest brother died early, his second brother became an MP, the third was a director of the Bank of England.

Simeon was educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge and became a priest. He was so unpopular that services were frequently interrupted and he was often insulted in the streets. However, he subsequently gained a remarkable and lasting influence among the undergraduates of the university. He became a leader among evangelical churchmen and was one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society. He published hundreds of sermons and outlines of sermons.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

12th November - Livinus

Livinus, 580-657
Son of a Scottish nobleman and an Irish princess, he was raised in Ireland, and studied there and in England. Ordained by Saint Augustine of Canterbury and became a highly successful missionary to Flanders. He eventually was appointed Bishop of Ghent. However, he was tortured by those who opposed him, his tongue was torn out to stop his preaching and he was beheaded.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

11th November - Martin of Tours

Born to a Roman military officer, Martin of Tours, also known as Martin the Merciful, became a catechumen in his early teens. He joined the Roman army aged 15, serving as the emperor’s bodyguard. While on horseback in Amiens, he came across a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, Martin cut his officer‘s cloak in half and gave it to the beggar. Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. He was charged with cowardice, was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders made peace and Martin was released from military service.

Martin became a hermit for ten years and earned the reputation for living a holy life. By his own request he was buried in the Cemetery of the Poor on 11 November 397.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

10th November - Leo the Great

Leo, the first pope to have been called "the Great", best known for having met Attila the Hun and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy. He is also a Doctor of the Church and taught the orthodox definition of Christ's being of two natures, divine and human, united in one person ".

Monday, 9 November 2015

9th November - Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe (c1373–c1440) was a Christian mystic, sometimes thought of as an “oddity or madwoman”, and known for dictating The Book of Margery Kempe, a work thought to be the first autobiography in the English language.

Margery was unable to read and learned by heart the Lord’s Prayer, Ave Maria, the Ten Commandments, and other “virtues, vices, and articles of faith”. She believed that she was summoned to a “greater intimacy with Christ” and wrote extensively of her experiences. On visiting Julian of Norwich she was advised to "measure these experiences according to the worship they accrue to God and the profit to her fellow Christians”

Sunday, 8 November 2015

8th November - The Saints & Martyrs of England

Martyrs of Douai
The date when Christianity first came to England is not known. Some think Roman slaves or traders brought their faith to England in the second century, maybe even earlier. We do know there were British bishops at the Council of Arles in the year 314, indicating there was a Church with order and worship at that time. Since those days, Christians from England have shared the message of the good news at home and around the world. And some have given their lives for the sake of Christ.

Today’s collect
God, whom the glorious company of the redeemed adore,
assembled from all times and places of your dominion:
we praise you for the saints of our own land
and for the many lamps their holiness has lit;
and we pray that we also may be numbered at last
with those who have done your will
   and declared your righteousness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

7th November - Willibrord

Willibrord, 658-739

Willibrord, Apostle of Frisia and a missionary archbishop. He was born in Northumbria, studied at Ripon monastery under St Wilfrid and spent twelve years studying in Ireland at the abbey of Rathmelsigi, the centre of European learning in the 7th century. After receiving ordination and extensive training in missions, he set out with a dozen companions for Frisia, or Friesland. He faced dangers from outraged pagans and came close to being murdered.

Willibrord died on 7 November aged of 81. Willibrord wells, which skirted his missionary routes, were visited by the people, for the healing of various nervous diseases, especially of children.

The moving of his relics was celebrated: "the five bishops in full pontificals assisted; engaged in the dance were 2 Swiss guards, 16 standard-bearers, 3045 singers, 136 priests, 426 musicians, 15,085 dancers, and 2032 players". That's some funeral! A Dancing Procession is held in Echternach every year on Whit Tuesday, and attracts thousands of participants.

Friday, 6 November 2015

6th November – William Temple

"The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members"

"The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child's home"

William Temple was born in 1881 in Devon. He was the second son of Frederick Temple, also Archbishop of Canterbury. He was ordained priest in 1909, served as Headmaster of Repton School, was appointed Bishop of Manchester, then Archbishop of York, and in 1942, he became Archbishop of Canterbury.

Temple defended the working-class movement and supported economic and social reforms and he was influential in bringing together the various churches of the country to support the Education Act of 1944. His influence led to the formation of the British Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

5th November – Elizabeth

Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist and the wife of Zechariah. She is descended from Aaron and is described as ““righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.”

Patron of expectant mothers.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

4th November – Charles Borromeo

"He possessed in an eminent degree the spirit of prayer, and employed several hours of the day and of the night in contemplation"

Borromea (1538-1584) was born to a wealthy, noble family. He was a lawyer, cleric, abbot, prior and cardinal and was known as the apostle to the Council of Trent.

Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the Order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of 26 October 1569; he was shot at, but was not hit. He worked with the sick and helped bury the dead during the plague outbreak in Milan in 1576.

Borromeo spent his life, and his fortune, in the service of the people of his diocese. He directed and enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther, founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, hospitals for the sick, conducted synods, instituted children‘s Sunday school and worked among the sick and dying.

He is patron against abdominal pain, against stomach diseases, against ulcers and patron for apple orchards, bishops, catechists, catechumens, spiritual directors & starch makers.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

3rd November – Richard Hooker

Richard Hooker, (1554-1600) was the theologian who created a distinctive Anglican theology and was a master of prose and philosophy. In his masterpiece, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie, Hooker defended the Church of England against both Roman Catholicism and Puritanism and affirmed the Anglican tradition as that of a “threefold cord not quickly broken”, the Bible, the church, and reason.

Monday, 2 November 2015

2nd November - All Souls Day

All Souls’ Day was first instituted at the monastery in Cluny in 993 and quickly spread throughout the Christian world. People held festivals for the dead long before Christianity and it was St Odilo, the abbot of Cluny, who in the 10th century, proposed that the day after All Saints’ Day be set aside to honour the departed. Some churches, hold special services and many visit the graves of dead family or friends.

During the 19th and 20th centuries children would go “souling”, similar to carol singing, where they would ask for alms or soul cakes (like a hot cross bun but without the currants or the cross)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

1st November - All Saints Day

All Saints Day, honouring saints, known and unknown. It's an old feast arising out of the Christian tradition of celebrating the martyrdom of saints on the anniversary of their martyrdom. When martyrdoms increased during the persecutions of the late Roman Empire, local dioceses instituted a common feast day in order to ensure that all martyrs, known and unknown, were properly honoured