Richard Baxter, Pastor and Theologian, 1691

after Robert White,painting,(1670)

Born in 1615 at Rowton, Shropshire, Richard Baxter was largely self-educated. He studied first at the free school of Wroxeter, next under the nominal tutelage of Richard Wickstead, Chaplain at Ludlow Castle, and finally in 1633 under the patronage of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels. In disgust at the frivolity of the Court of King Charles the First he returned home to study divinity, particularly the medieval Scholastic theologians. In 1634 he came into intimate contact with two devout nonconformist divines, who awakened his sympathies for the positive elements in dissent.

In 1638 he was ordained by John Thornborough, Bishop of Worcester, and in 1639 nominated assistant minister at Bridgnorth, where he remained for two years, increasing his knowledge of the issues between nonconformity and the Church of England. After the promulgation of the Et Cetera Oath (an oath of conformity henceforth to the polity of the Church of England, “by archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons, et cetera, as it stands now established”) in 1640, he rejected belief in episcopacy (the ministry of bishops) in the form extant in England at the time.

In 1641 he became curate of the incumbent of Kidderminster (meaning that he became assistant priest to the rector or pastor there), where among a population of hand-loom workers he continued to minister with remarkable success until 1660. So far as possible he ignored the differences between presbyterians, episcopalians, and congregationalists, and secured cooperation among the local ministers in common pastoral work. In the early part of the Civil War he temporarily joined the Parliamentary Army as a chaplain. A champion of moderation, he was opposed to the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 (the agreement which bound together the Churches of England and Scotland and eliminated episcopacy) and also disliked Oliver Cromwell’s religious views. After the Battle of Naseby (June 14, 1645) he became chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley’s regiment, seeking to counteract the sectaries and to curb republican tendencies. On leaving the army in 1647 he retired for a time to Rous Lench, where he wrote his devotional classic, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest (1650).

In 1660 he played a prominent part in the recall of King Charles the Second to England and was appointed a chaplain to the King, but his dissatisfaction with episcopacy led him to decline Charles’ offer of the bishopric of Hereford. He took a prominent part at the Savoy Conference (1661), at which English bishops and Presbyterian divines gathered for review and revision of the Book of Common Prayer. Baxter prepared his “Reformed Liturgy” for the conference, and he presented there his “Exceptions” to the Book of Common Prayer. Because he would not take an oath to conform to the new Act of Uniformity in religion, Baxter, along with several hundred other nonconforming ministers, was removed from his living (pastorate) in 1662. Between 1662 and 1687 the nonconforming ministers endured legal persecution and were not permitted to hold any ecclesiastical office or living. Baxter died on December 8, 1691.

Baxter left nearly 200 writings, which breathe a spirit of deep unaffected piety and reflect his love of moderation. The Reformed Pastor (1656) illustrates the great care he took in his pastoral administration. He also wrote several hymns, among them “Ye holy angels bright” and “He wants not friends that hath Thy love”.

adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church and other sources

The Collect

Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Richard Baxter, who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock; and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life, we may by your grace enter that everlasting rest which you have prepared for all those who set their hope on Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The image of Baxter is after a painting by Robert White (1670).

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Saint Michael and All Angels

The scriptural word “angel” (Greek, angelos) means, literally, a messenger. According to the biblical witness, angels, messengers from God, can be visible or invisible, and may assume human or nonhuman forms. In his Church Dogmatics, the great Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth summarizes the section of the text on angels (“the ambassadors of God”) in this way:

God’s action in Jesus Christ, and therefore his lordship over his creature, is called “the kingdom of heaven” because first and supremely it claims for itself the upper world. From this God selects and sends his messengers, the angels, who precede the revelation and doing of his will on earth as objective and authentic witnesses, who accompany it as faithful servants of God and man, and who victoriously ward off the opposing forms and forces of chaos.

Of the angels who appear in the biblical narrative, only four are given names: Michael (Hebrew, “Who is like God?”) and Gabriel (“God is my strength”) are named in the canonical Scriptures; Raphael (“God heals”) in the deuterocanonical book of Tobit; and Uriel (“God is my light”) in 2 Esdras and in the apocryphal Book of Enoch and the Testament of Solomon. Michael appears in the Book of Daniel as “one of the chief princes” of the heavenly host and as the special guardian or protector of Israel (Daniel 10 and 12). In the Book of Revelation he is the principal warrior of the heavenly host against the dragon, who was “thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12). In the Epistle of Jude, Michael disputes with Satan over the body of Moses and declares, “The Lord rebuke you.” (The epistle may be citing a lost passage in the Assumption of Moses, an apocryphal Jewish book.) The second-century Christian text Shepherd of Hermas depicts Michael as an angel of majestic aspect, who has authority over “this people and governs them, for it was he who gave them the law…and superintends those to whom he gave it to see if they have kept it.” In the second-century Testament of Abraham Michael’s intercession is so powerful that souls can be rescued even from hell, a passage that may have inspired the offertory antiphon in the former Roman Liturgy for the Dead: “May Michael the standard-bearer lead them into the holy light, which you promised of old to Abraham and his seed.”

The formal veneration of Michael began in the Christian East, where he was invoked particularly for the care of the sick. A famous appearance of Michael at Mount Garganus (Monte Gargano) in Italy in the late fifth century was important in the spread of his veneration to the West. The feast of Saint Michael on September 29 commemorates the dedication of his basilica on the Salarian Way near Rome. From early times his veneration was strong in the British Isles, such that by the end of the Middle Ages in England, almost seven hundred churches were dedicated to him. He is the patron of the monastery fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel off the coast of Normandy and of Coventry Cathedral, England’s most famous modern cathedral, which was built out of the ashes of the devastation of that city during the Second World War.

prepared in part from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)
and The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The First Lesson
Genesis 28:10-17

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Psalm 103
Benedic anima mea

Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, *
and forget not all his benefits.

He forgives all your sins *
and heals all your infirmities;

He redeems your life from the grave *
and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;

He satisfies you with good things, *
and your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

The LORD executes righteousness *
and judgment for all who are oppressed.

He made his ways known to Moses *
and his works to the children of Israel.

The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.

He will not always accuse us, *
nor will he keep his anger for ever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *
nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, *
so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, *
so far has he removed our sins from us.

As a father cares for his children, *
so does the LORD care for those who fear him.

For he himself knows whereof we are made; *
he remembers that we are but dust.

Our days are like the grass; *
we flourish like a flower of the field;

When the wind goes over it, it is gone, *
and its place shall know it no more.

But the merciful goodness of the LORD
endures for ever on those who fear him, *
and his righteousness on children’s children;

On those who keep his covenant *
and remember his commandments and do them.

The LORD has set his throne in heaven, *
and his kingship has dominion over all.

Bless the LORD, you angels of his,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, *
and hearken to the voice of his word.

Bless the LORD, all you his hosts, *
you ministers of his who do his will.

Bless the LORD, all you works of his,
in all places of his dominion; *
bless the LORD, O my soul.

The Second Lesson
Revelation 12:7-12

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

The Gospel

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

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Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia and Martyr, 929

Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav)

Wenceslas (Vyacheslav) the Good reigned as duke in Bohemia from 922 to 929. He was the son of Duke Vratislav and received a good Christian education, supervised by his grandmother, Ludmila. After Vratislav’s death around 920, Wenceslas’ mother, Drahomira, became regent, but her violent actions so estranged the people that Wencelas took over the government himself in 922. A man of great piety, he worked for the religious and cultural improvement of his people and sought to bring them into closer connection with Western Europe, entertaining friendly relations with Germany. This policy, and the dissatisfaction of the pagan elements of the populace, probably led to his being martyred by his brother, Boleslav, around 929. He was soon venerated as a martyr, and Boleslav himself had Wenceslas’ relics translated to the Church of Saint Vitus in Prague. His feast day of September 28 has been observed in Bohemia, whose patron he became, since 985.

John Mason Neale’s carol, “Good King Wenceslas”, is not based on any known incident in the life of the saint, but is probably intended as a pious illustration of the virtue of charity, Saint Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day) being a traditional day for giving to the poor.


Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Wenceslas was faithful even to death: Grant us, who now remember him in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Saint Matthew the Evangelist (Ebbo Gospels)

Matthew appears in the Gospels as a tax collector for the Roman government in the city of Capernaum. He was probably born in Galilee of a Jewish family, although the Jews of the day despised tax collectors as traitors and collaborators with the Roman oppressors and generally excluded them from the activities of the Jewish community. Pious Pharisees refused to marry into a family who had a tax collector as a member. Yet in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus notes that it was the tax collector rather than the prideful Pharisee who prayed an acceptable prayer, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner”, and went home justified.

In the Gospels of Mark and Luke, Levi, not Matthew, is called to discipleship, but Matthew always appears in the lists of the twelve disciples. In Mark and Luke, Matthew and Levi do not seem to be regarded as the same person; Origen and others distinguished between them as well. However, it is sometimes suggested the Levi was his original name and that Matthew, which in Hebrew means “gift from God”, was given to him after he joined the followers of Jesus. Mark calls him the son of Alphaeus, a man otherwise unknown and apparently not the Alphaeus who was the father of James the Less.

Since the second century the authorship of the first Gospel has been attributed to Saint Matthew. The name Levi does not appear in this Gospel, and in the list of the twelve disciples the name Matthew, who is identified as “the tax collector” (“publican” in older translations), comes after that of Thomas, which it precedes in the other New Testament lists.

Little is known of Saint Matthew’s life beyond the story of his call, when at the word of Jesus he left his desk and devoted himself to following Jesus. Tradition suggests that he was the oldest of the twelve disciples (and of the later Twelve Apostles). The fourth-century bishop and historian Eusebius writes that after the Ascension Matthew preached for fifteen years in Judaea and then went to foreign nations. Socrates Scholasticus writes that he labored in Ethiopia. Ambrose of Milan sends him to Persia and Isidore of Seville to the Macedonians, while others hold that he preached among the Medes and the Persians. Heracleon writes that Matthew died a natural death, but later tradition makes him a martyr, dramatizing his death by fire or the sword.

prepared from The New Book of Festivals and Commemoration
and Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)

The Collect

We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Proverbs 3:1-6

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.

So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

The Psalm
Legem pone

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, *
and I shall keep it to the end.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep your law; *
I shall keep it with all my heart.

Make me go in the path of your commandments, *
for that is my desire.

Incline my heart to your decrees *
and not to unjust gain.

Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; *
give me life in your ways.

Fulfill your promise to your servant, *
which you make to those who fear you.

Turn away the reproach which I dread, *
because your judgments are good.

Behold, I long for your commandments; *
in your righteousness preserve my life.

The Epistle
2 Timothy 3:14-17

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom1 you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Gospel
Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The Lesson, Epistle, and Gospel are taken from the English Standard Version Bible. The Collect and Psalm are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (1979).

The icon of St. Matthew is taken from the Ebbo Gospel Book, an early Carolingian illuminated Gospel book notable for its unusual, energetic style of illustration. The book was produced in the ninth century at the Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers, near Rheims.


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Vladimir of Kiev and Olga, First Christian Rulers in the Rus

Olga (Helga, Ukrainian Olha), the grandmother of Vladimir the Great, was born at Pskov about 890. She married Prince Igor of Kiev, and after his death she acted as regent for their son, Sviatoslav. She instituted reforms of administration and finance in the Kievan Rus and was an early convert to the Christian faith among the Varangian, or Scandinavian, rulers of the Rus, a Viking-dominated territory deep in the lands of the Slavs. In 957 she visited Constantinople, where according to some accounts she was baptized, though other accounts hold that she had been a Christian for some years before her visit to the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Her baptism did not signal the conversion of her people, nor even of her own family, for the pagans rallied around her son, who resisted her efforts to instruct him in the Christian faith. Olga died in 969, and she is honored on July 11 in the Ukrainian and Russian Churches as Isapostolos, Equal to the Apostles.

Vladimir (Ukrainian Volodymyr) was born in 956, the youngest son of Sviatoslav of Kiev and a great-grandson of Rurik, the traditional founder of the Rurikid dynasty, who ruled the Kievan Rus and its successors principalities, and of the Russian state. Vladimir was made prince of Novgorod in 970. Two years later, on the death of Sviatoslav, a fierce struggle broke out among his three sons: Yaropolk, prince of Kiev, Oleg, and Vladimir. Oleg (or Oled) was killed, and Vladimir was forced to flee to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson of Norway. He returned in 980 with Norse support, captured the cities of Polotsk and Smolensk, and killed Yaropolk by treachery upon taking Kiev, thereby making himself master of all the Kievan Rus. A successful military leader, he expanded Russian control from southeast Poland to the Volga valley.

Although the Christian faith had won a number of converts among the people of the Kievan Rus since Olga’s time, Vladimir remained a thoroughgoing and even zealous pagan, taking numerous wives and concubines and erecting shrines to pagan gods. He may have attempted to reform Slavic paganism by promoting the thunder god, Perun, as a supreme deity. In 983, after one of his successful military campaigns, Vladimir and his army thought it necessary to offer a human sacrifice to the gods. Lots were cast indicating that a youth named Ioann was to be the sacrifice. His father Fyodor, a Christian, strenuously resisted the army’s plan, denouncing the pagan gods. “Your gods are just plain wood,” he said. “It is here now but it may rot into oblivion tomorrow. Your gods neither eat, nor drink, nor talk and are made by human hand from wood, whereas there is only one God — he is worshiped by Greeks and he created heaven and earth. And your gods? They have created nothing, for they have been created themselves. Never will I give my son to the devils!” An angry mob then killed Fyodor and Ioann, and they are venerated by the Orthodox Church as the protomartyrs of Russia.

This incident may have had some lasting effect on Vladimir, because by the late tenth century, having consolidated all the eastern Slavs under his rule in Kiev, for political as well as for intellectual and spiritual reasons he wanted to know which was the true religion. The Russian Primary Chronicle describes Vladimir’s sending out emissaries to various parts of the world in turn. His emissaries were not impressed with the Muslim Bulgars, who had no joy and forbade the use of alcohol. Neither were they impressed with Judaism, for the Jewish Khazars lives in exile from their land and Vladimir had expended much effort in creating an empire and did not want to risk losing it. The Catholicism of the Germans was unattractive, their worship lacking beauty. But when the delegation finally visited Constantinople and attended Divine Liturgy in the great Church of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, they exclaimed, “We did not know whether we were in heaven or on earth! God dwells there among men. We cannot forget that beauty.” In 988 Vladimir sent six thousand troops to the Byzantine emperor Basil the Second, who needed military assistance, asking the hand of Basil’s sister Anna in return. The emperor agreed, provided that Vladimir became a Christian. Vladimir was baptized by bishops from the Empire that same year. But the emperor was then reluctant to fulfill his part of the agreement, so that Vladimir attacked the Crimea, with the result that the emperor relented, and the Princess Anna became Vladimir’s wife. She was accompanied to Kiev by priests from the imperial capital. When the royal couple returned to Kiev, the people followed their prince’s example and urging and were baptized.

Despite the questionable and outright political circumstances of his conversion, Vladimir was wholehearted in his adherence to the new faith. He put away his former wives and concubines, amended his life, and publicly destroyed idols (he had the chief idol of Perun in Kiev scourged and thrown into the river). He became an ardent supporter of the Christian faith, had many churches and monasteries built, expanded judicial and educational institutions, aided the poor, and supported Greek missionaries among his people. The evangelization of the Kievan Rus proceeded rapidly, in part because Vladimir relied largely on physical compulsion, punishing those who resisted baptism. The emerging Ukrainian (and Russian) Church remained under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, but it remained friendly toward the West.

Vladimir’s last years were troubled by an insurrection led by his sons and by his former pagan wives, and he died in an expedition against one of them at Berestova, near Kiev, on July 15, 1015. He is commemorated on this day by the Eastern Churches as Isapostolos, like his grandmother Olga.

prepared from The New Book of Festivals and Commemorations and other sources

The Collect

God the All-Merciful, you brought your servant Princess Olga to the church and by the splendor of the Divine Liturgy you revealed to her grandson Vladimir the glories of your heavenly kingdom: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate them this day may be fruitful in good works and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


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Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 540

Benedict, abbot and founder of the monastic communities of Subiaco and Monte Cassino, and the author of the monastic Rule that bears his name, is the patriarch of western monasticism. The primary source for our knowledge of his life is Book II of the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. Benedict was born about 480 at Nursia in central Italy and studied at Rome, where the style of life disgusted him. Rome at this time was overrun by various barbarian tribes, and the period was one of considerable political instability (the western Roman Empire had come to an end in the latter half of the fifth century). The old Roman society of the West was breaking down, and the Germanic kingdoms of the early Middle Ages were emerging within the boundaries of the fallen empire. Benedict’s disgust with the manners and morals of Rome led him to leave the city before he completed his studies, and he withdrew to cave above Lake Subiaco, about forty miles west of Rome, where there was already at least one other hermit. After a time disciples joined Benedict, whom he organized into into a dispersed community whose life was probably semi-eremetical in character. He encountered local jealousy which is said to have caused an attempt to be made on his life, and he withdrew around 525 to Monte Cassino, near Naples, where he wrote the final version of his Rule. He does not appear ever to have been ordained or to have contemplated the founding of an “Order” of monks. He died sometime between 540 and 550 and was buried in the same grave as his sister, Scholastica.

Benedict incorporated much traditional monastic teaching from John Cassian, Basil the Great, and the Rule of the Master, but the enactments of these were often considerably modified by Benedict. His outlook was characterized by prudence and moderation realized within a framework of authority, obedience, stability, and community life. His great achievement was to produce a monastic way of life that was complete, orderly, and workable, in which work and prayer were integrated. The monks’ primary occupation was liturgical prayer, complemented by sacred reading and manual work of various kinds. Benedict’s own personality is reflected in his description of what kind of man the abbot should be: wise, discreet, flexible, learned in the law of God, but also a spiritual father to his community.

Both by its intrinsic qualities and by the favor granted it by emperors and other rulers and founders, the Rule came to be recognized as the fundamental monastic code of western Europe in the early Middle Ages. Its flexibility enabled it to be adapted to the needs of society, so that monasteries became centers of learning, agriculture, hospitality, and medicine in a way almost certainly unforeseen even by Benedict himself.

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)
and The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, your precepts are the wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the teaching and example of your servant Benedict, to walk with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord’s service; let your ears be open to our prayers; and prosper with your blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The propers for the commemoration of Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, are published on the Lectionary page website.

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Henry Venn, John Venn, and Henry Venn the Younger, Presbyters, 1797, 1813, and 1873

Henry Venn was born in Surrey in 1725. After his education at Cambridge, he was ordained and served several parishes in the area. In 1750, he became a curate in Surrey, where he developed the evangelical principles for which he became known. He moved to London in 1753, becoming curate of Clapham the following year, and his son John was born there in March 1759. Later that year, Henry moved his family to Huddersfield, where he served as vicar until 1771, working himself assiduously to the point of exhaustion. At Huddersfield his piety and zeal made a great impression, and his The Complete Duty of Man (1763), written against William Law’s The Whole Duty of Man, became popular among Evangelicals. After ill health forced his retirement from Huddersfield, he ministered to the end of his life in the living of Yelling, Cambridgeshire, where he influenced the great Evangelical priest and preacher Charles Simeon.

John Venn was educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, and became rector of Little Dunham in Norfolk, and eventually of Clapham in 1792. He was one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society in 1797. It was at Clapham that he became a central figure in the group of Christian philanthropists known as the Clapham Sect. John was also an active participant in the movement for the abolition of the slave trade.

John’s son, Henry Venn the Younger, was born at Clapham in 1796. After his education at Cambridge, he was ordained and held various livings, eventually devoting himself in 1846 entirely to the work of the Church Missionary Society. He was secretary for thirty-two years, and his organizing gifts and sound judgment made him the leading member of the Society. His aim was that overseas Churches should become “self-supporting, self-governing, and self-extending”. He was instrumental in securing the appointment of the first African Anglican bishop, Samuel A. Crowther, in 1864 (see the entry for December 31).

The elder Henry Venn died on June 24, 1797, at his son’s rectory in Clapham. John died at Clapham on July 1, 1813; and his son Henry died at Mortlake, Surrey, on January 13, 1873.

compiled from Celebrating the Saints
and The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

The Collect

Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in your saints, and who raised up your servants Henry Venn, John Venn, and Henry Venn the Younger to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.


My apologies that I was late in posting this.

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