I have been away from home due to family matters and so missed posting the commemorations for the last four days. This has now been corrected.
Born of Saxon stock, Edmund was brought up as a Christian and became king of the East Anglians before 865. In 869 to 870 an army of Vikings, led by Ingwar, invaded East Anglia. Edmund led his army against them but was defeated and captured. He refused to renounce the Christian faith or to rule as Ingwar’s vassal. He was then killed, whether by being scourged, shot with arrows, and then beheaded, as the traditional account relates, or by being “spread-eagled” as a sacrifice to the gods in accordance with Viking practice elsewhere. His death took place at Hellesdon in Norfolk, and his body was buried in a small wooden chapel nearby. Around 915 his body was discovered to be incorrupt and was translated to Bedricsworth, later call Bury St Edmunds. In 925 King Athelstan founded a community of two priests and four deacons to take care of the shrine. His veneration growing through the years, with its fulfillment of the ideals of Old English heroism, provincial independence, and Christian sanctity, by the eleventh century his feast figured prominently in monastic calendars in southern England and later in that of Sarum. His relics were again translated in 1095 to a large new Norman church and re-enshrined in 1198.
His iconography includes an arrow (often a golden arrow), the supposed instrument of his martyrdom, or else a wolf, believed to have guarded his head after death.
adapted from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
O God of ineffable mercy, you gave grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for your Name: Bestow on us your servants the shield of faith with which we can withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of Edmund, King of East Anglia and Martyr, are published on the Lectionary Page website.
The icon of St Edmund the Martyr was written by Helen McIldowie-Jenkins and is reproduced here with her generous permission.
Born at Pressburg in 1207, the daughter of King Andrew the Second of Hungary, Elizabeth (Erzsébet) was brought up in Thuringia and in 1221 married Louis the Fourth, Landgrave of Thuringia. Ardent, passionate, and handsome, she enjoyed a married life of extraordinary happiness, bore three children, and was generous to a fault. Louis was sympathetic to her extravagant almsgiving and allowed her to spend her dowry in providing for the poor. During a famine and epidemic in 1226, while he was in Italy, Elizabeth sold her jewels and established a hospital for the sick and the poor, and she opened the princely granaries to supply their needs.
In 1227 Louis went on crusade under Frederick the Third, and in less than three months he died of plague. Elizabeth was first incredulous, then distraught almost to the point of insanity. His death was a turning point in her life.
Her brother-in-law Henry, regent for her young son the Landgrave Herman, drove her from the court. Some advisers wished her to marry again, but she refused. In 1228 she settle at Marburg under the spiritual direction of her confessor, Conrad of Marburg, whom she had known since 1225. Conrad’s direction was domineering and severe, and he made Elizabeth dismiss her favorite ladies-in-waiting, for whom he substituted two harsh companions, who would punish her with slaps in the face and with blows from a rod.
Already attracted to their piety and special charism by her longtime concern for the sick and the poor, Elizabeth became a Franciscan tertiary, expressing her ardor in a love of poverty, the relief of the sick, the poor, and the aged by building and working in a hospital close to her modest house. She made ample provision for the education of her own children (her son Herman was deposed by Henry and sent into exile as well). She occupied herself with such tasks as spinning and carding, and cleaning the homes of the poor and fishing to help feed them. She refused an offer to return to Hungary, preferring to live out her life in resilient exile, a life of self-denial and service to the poor that lasted only two or three years. She died on the sixteenth of November 1231 at the age of only twenty-four, exhausted by her austerities. She was canonized only four years later by Pope Gregory the Ninth, and her relics were translated to the Church of Saint Elizabeth in Marburg where they remained until they were removed to an unknown place by Philip of Hesse in 1539. With Louis of France, Elizabeth shares the title of patron of the Third Order of Saint Francis.
prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)
Almighty God, by your grace your servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of Elizabeth of Hungary are published on the Lectionary Page website.
In the following year, that is the year of our Lord 680, Hilda, abbess of the monastery of Streanaeshalch, of which I have already spoken, a most religious servant of Christ, after an earthly life devoted to the work of heaven passed away to receive the reward of a heavenly life on the seventeenth of November at the age of sixty-six. Her life on earth fell into two equal parts: for she spent thirty-three years most nobly on secular occupations, and dedicated the ensuing thirty-three even more nobly to our Lord in the monastic life. She was nobly born, the daughter of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin. With Edwin she received the Faith and sacraments of Christ through the preaching of Paulinus of blessed memory, first bishop of the Northumbrians, and she preserved this Faith inviolate until she was found worthy to see her Master in heaven….
Thus the Venerable Bede introduced his account of the life and death of Hilda, abbess of Whitby, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
Related to the royal families of Northumbria and of East Anglia, Hilda, whose parents had lived in exile in the British enclave of Elmet (West Yorkshire), became a Christian at the age of thirteen, instructed and then baptized by Paulinus, the missionary bishop of Northumbria. Chaste and respected, she lived at the king’s court for twenty years, at which point she decided to enter the monastic life. She intended at first to journey to Gaul and join her sister in the convent at Chelles, near Paris, but Aidan, bishop of Lindisfarne, impressed with her holiness of life, gave her a small plot of land on the banks of the River Wear, where she lived according to the monastic rule with a few companions for a year.
Aidan then appointed her abbess of Heruteu (Hartlepool), where she established the rule of life that she learned mostly from Irish sources, based perhaps in part on the Rule of Columbanus. She became renowned for her wisdom, eagerness for learning, and devotion to the service of God. In 657 she founded (or reorganized) the monastery at Whitby (known then as Streanaeshalch) as a double monastery based on Gallic examples, where both nuns and monks lived in strict obedience to Hilda’s rule of righteousness, mercy, purity, peace, and charity. Known for her prudence, kings and nobles as well as ordinary folk sought her advice and counsel. Whitby soon established a reputation for learning, and those living under her direction studied the Scriptures and occupied themselves in good works so diligently that many were found qualified for ordination. Five monks under her rule became bishops of the Church in England, one of whom continued his studies in Rome before returning to England to become a bishop. She encouraged Caedmon, a lay servant at Whitby, and was so delighted with his poetry that she encouraged him to become a monk and to continue singing his inspired poetry. Bede tells us that all who knew Hilda called her Mother because of her devotion and grace. She was an example of holy life not only to members of her own community, but she also brought about the amendment of life and led to salvation many who lived at some distance from Whitby, as they heard about her inspiring industry and goodness.
In 663, Whitby was the site of the famous synod convened to decide between Celtic and Roman practices that were dividing the Church in Northumbria. Hilda favored the Celtic position, but when the Roman position prevailed she was obedient to the synod’s decision. At the end of her life, Hilda was afflicted by a prolonged illness that Bede tells us was intended that her strength might be “made perfect in weakness”. On the last day of her life, the seventeenth of November, 680, she received Holy Communion early in the morning and summoned her nuns to her deathbed, urging them to maintain the Gospel of peace among themselves and with others.
prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)
O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women, that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The propers for Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, are published on the Lectionary Page website.
The icon of Saint Hilda of Whitby was written by and is © Aidan Hart, and is reproduced here with his generous permission.
The quotation from the Venerable Bede is from The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Penguin Books 1990).
Born into a noble family at Avalon, near Grenoble in Burgundy, Hugh received his education and made his profession in the priory of the Augustinian Canons at Villarbenoit. At twenty-five he joined the Carthusians, the strictest contemplative order of the Church at the time, at their major house, the Grande Chartreuse. He became procurator of the house around 1175 and was invited by King Henry the Second of England to become prior of his languishing Carthusian house at Witham, Somerset, founded by the king in reparation for the murder of Thomas Becket. The Charterhouse was insufficiently endowed and had been ruled by two unsuitable priors in succession. Under Hugh the monastery soon flourished and attracted several distinguished monks and canons to its membership.
In 1186, Henry chose Hugh as Bishop of Lincoln, but he refused to accept because he believed the election was uncanonical. Eventually he undertook to rule this, the largest diocese in England at the time, reluctantly and only in obedience to the prior of the Grande Chartreuse. To serve him in the task of overseeing his diocese, Hugh chose worthy and learned men as his canons, to several of whom, as archdeacons, he delegated much of the government of the diocese.
Hugh was reputedly the most learned monk in England, and he revived the schools of Lincoln to such an extent that the writer Gerald of Wales considered them second only to those of Paris. He rebuilt his cathedral, damaged by an earthquake, sometimes aiding the workmen with his own hands. He held synods and visitations, traveled ceaselessly to consecrate churches, confirm children, and bury the dead. His justice was proverbial, and he was appointed to act as a judge-delegate by three popes in succession, for some of the most important cases of his time. The king also appointed him to act in his court. Hugh was austere but gentle, intransigent but tender. He was always a friend of the oppressed and the outcasts, especially lepers (whom he tended himself), and he risked his life in riots to save Jews from death.
Hugh was the friend and critic of three Angevin kings: Henry the Second, John, and Richard the First. He excommunicated royal foresters and refused to appoint courtiers to Church benefices, and he never shrank from reproving the king for unjust exactions from his people. He refused to raise money for Richard’s foreign wars, yet Richard said of him, “If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift his head against them.”
After visiting his home and various monasteries in France, Hugh fell mortally ill in his London house. On his deathbed he gave instructions regarding the completion of his cathedral and his own funeral arrangements. He died on the sixteenth of November, 1200.
One of his sermons, on care for the dead, has survived and several of his sayings. One of the latter was that lay people who practiced charity in the heart, truth on the lips, and chastity in the body would have an equal reward in heaven with monks and nuns. In 1220 he was canonized by Pope Honorius the Third, the first Carthusian to receive this honor.
prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
O holy God, you endowed your servant and bishop Hugh of Lincoln with wise and cheerful boldness, and taught him to commend the discipline of holy life to kings and princes: Grant that we also, rejoicing in the Good News of your mercy, and fearing nothing but the loss of you, may be bold to speak the truth in love, in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, are published on the Lectionary Page website.
Saint Hugh is usually depicted iconographically with his tame swan from his manor house at Stow, or with a chalice holding the infant Jesus.
I have added a post dated November 4 commemorating the French Reformed pastors and theologians Pierre du Moulin and Charles Drelincourt, both of whom had ties to the Church of England. I last posted this commemoration in 2011, but it seemed fitting to restore it to this year’s calendar.
Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in the Protestant Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut, on the thirtieth of November 1729. After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey as a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1757, he become rector of Grace Church, Jamaica, Long Island, and in 1766 rector of St Peter’s, Westchester County. During the American War for Independence, he remained loyal to the Crown and served as a chaplain in the British army.
After the War, a number of Connecticut clergymen, meeting in secret on the twenty-fifth of March 1783 named Seabury or Jeremiah Leaming, whoever would be willing and able, to seek episcopal consecration in England. Leaming declined, while Seabury accepted and set sail for England.
After a year of negotiation, Seabury found it impossible to obtain episcopal orders from the Church of England because, as an American citizen, he could not swear allegiance to the Crown. On the advice of Martin Routh, a young professor and patristics scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, Seabury did not then seek consecration at the hands of bishops in the Church of Denmark as he had initially considered, because of the irregularity of their succession (Routh also counseled against going to the Churches of Norway and of Sweden). Seabury then turned to the Non-Juring bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and on the twenty-fourth of November 1784, in Aberdeen, he was consecrated by the bishop and the bishop coadjutor of Aberdeen and the bishop of Ross and Caithness, in the presence of a number of clergy and laity.
On his return home, Seabury was recognized as Bishop of Connecticut in Convocation on the third of August 1785 at Middletown. While serving setting the Church in Connecticut in order, White also responded to appeals from parishes in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey to help set the Church in order in those states, being as they were at the time without bishops or diocesan organization. With William White, the Bishop of Pennsylvania (whose was able to obtain consecration at the hands of English bishops because of a parliamentary change in the law regarding the oath of allegiance to the Crown), he was active in the organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church at the General Convention of 1789. Seabury played a decisive role in the development of the American Book of Common Prayer, when he kept his promise, made in a concordat with the Scottish bishops, to move the American Church to adopt the Scottish form for the celebration of the Holy Communion, with the restoration of the epiclesis, the prayer for the Holy Spirit, to the eucharistic prayer, as well as the prayer of oblation after the Words of Institution and the epiclesis, which had disappeared form the prayer of consecration in English Prayer Books after the first (1549) version. Hence to this day it is customary to speak of this as the Scoto-American tradition of the shape of Prayer Book eucharistic prayers.
In 1790 Seabury became responsible for the episcopal oversight of the churches in Rhode Island, and at the General Convention of 1792 he participated in the first consecration of a bishop on American soil, that of John Claggett of Maryland. Seabury died on the twenty-fifth of February 1796 and is buried beneath St James’ Church, New London.
prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts
and other sources
We give you thanks, O Lord our God, for your goodness in bestowing upon the Church in North America the gift of the episcopate, which we celebrate in this remembrance of the consecration of Samuel Seabury; and we pray that, joined together in unity with our bishops, and nourished by your holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The propers for the commemoration of the Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First Anglican Bishop in North America, are published on the Lectionary Page website.
This image of the Consecration of Samuel Seabury is of a mural by John de Rosen at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.