Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First Anglican Bishop in North America, 1784

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. Seabury then considered seeking consecration at the hands of bishops in the Church of Denmark, but Martin Routh, a young professor and patristics scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, advised against it. On Routh’s advice, Seabury turned instead 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

The Collect

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.

Consecration of Samuel Seabury

This image of the Consecration of Samuel Seabury is of a mural by John de Rosen at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

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Charles Simeon, Presbyter, 1836

by Augustin Edouart, silhouette, 1828

Charles Simeon’s education took place at Eton and at King’s College, Cambridge, where, in 1779, his conversion took place while a student as he prepared himself to receive Holy Communion, an act required of the undergraduates. His first communion had been a deeply depressing and discouraging experience, because of his use of the popular devotional tract, The Whole Duty of Man, which emphasized law and obedience as the means of rightly receiving the Sacrament. When he was again preparing for his Easter communion, he was given a copy of Bishop Thomas Wilson’s Instructions for the Lord’s Supper. Here was a quite different approach, which recognized that the Law could not make one righteous, and that only the sacrifice of Christ, perceived by faith, could enable one to communicate worthily. This time, Simeon’s experience of Holy Communion was one of peace and exhilaration, a new beginning of a Christian life whose influence is difficult to exaggerate.

In 1783 Simeon was ordained to the presbyterate and in the same year was appointed vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, a living that he held until his death. At an early date he had come under the influence of the Henry and John Venn, and his entire future ministry was formed by their Evangelicalism. At first he met with open hostility both in the university and among his congregation, but his pastoral zeal broke down all opposition. He exercised a significant influence among Evangelical undergraduates and ordinands at Cambridge, and he was soon recognized as a leader in the Evangelical movement in the Church of England. He helped to found the Church Missionary Society in 1799 and was active in recruiting and supporting missionaries, including his own curate, Henry Martyn. After their reorganization, in part occasioned by initial resistance to English missions in India, the East India Company frequently consulted him on the choice of their chaplains. Simeon was a prominent supporter of the British and Foreign Bible Society. To further the cause of Evangelicalism in the Church of England, he founded a body of trustees for securing and administering Church patronage (appointments to livings in the Church) in accordance with Evangelical principles. As a preacher, Simeon ranks high in the history of Anglicanism, his sermons unfailingly biblical, simple, and passionately delivered.

The nineteenth century English historian Thomas Macauley said of Charles Simeon, “If you knew what his authority and influence were, and how they extended from Cambridge to the remote corners of England, you would allow that his real sway in the Church was far greater than that of any primate.” The Irish ecclesiastical historian, William Edward Hartpole Lecky, described the influence of Simeon and his friends and colleagues in ministry thus: “They gradually changed the whole spirit of the English Church. They infused into it a new fire and passion of devotion, kindled a spirit of fervent philanthropy, raised the standard of clerical duty, and completely altered the whole tone and tendency of the preaching of its ministers.”

Simeon died on the thirteenth of November, 1836. He is commemorated in the calendars of The Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Church of Canada on the twelfth of November, and on the thirteenth in the calendar of the Church of England.

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980)
and The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

The Collect

O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see your hand; that, following the example and teaching of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; 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 Charles Simeon, Priest, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The image of Charles Simeon is from a series of silhouettes of Simeon’s postures while preaching, created by Augustin Edouart in 1828. Courtesy website of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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Martin, Bishop of Tours, 397

One of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages and one of the patron saints of France, Martin was born in Pannonia (now Hungary) around the year 316. His father was a pagan officer in the Roman army, and Martin joined the army for some time as well, probably as a conscript. He intended to become a Christian from an early age and enrolled among the catechumens while still a soldier. He became convinced that his commitment to Christ prevented his serving as a soldier, because he would be expected to kill the enemy in battle. After protesting against his military service, he was imprisoned, and at the end of hostilities, was discharged. According to an ancient legend, while Martin was still a catechumen, he was approached by a poor man who asked for alms in the Name of Christ. Martin, drawing his sword, cut off part of his military cloak and gave it to the beggar. On the following night, Jesus appeared to Martin, clothed in half a cloak, and said to him, “Martin, a simple catechumen, covered me with this garment.”

Martin became a disciple of Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, and was baptized. On Hilary’s return to Poitiers from banishment in 360, Martin rejoined him and, inspired by the monastic movement in Egypt, established a hermitage on land given to him by the bishop. Disciples joined Martin in this first monastery in Gaul, and here Martin remained as the pioneer of Western monasticism until he was elected bishop of Tours by the acclamation of the clergy and the people – and to his own dismay. As bishop he continued his ascetic life, living first in a cell near his cathedral church and later at the monastery he founded at Marmoutier, near Tours, which soon numbered some eighty monks. He founded other monasteries, seeing them as a means of achieving his mission to convert the pagans (pagani, “country dwellers”) in the rural areas. (Until that time, Christianity in Gaul, as elsewhere in the Roman empire, had largely been confined to cities and towns.) The monasticism he pioneered had great influence on the development of Celtic monasticism in Britain, where Ninian and others promoted Martin’s ascetic and missionary ideas. The oldest church in Canterbury, antedating the Anglo-Saxon invasions, is dedicated to Saint Martin, and was given early in the seventh century to Augustine of Canterbury by Ethelbert, king of Kent, to use as a center for worship and mission. A diligent missionary, Martin was also a capable pastor, making visitations about his diocese on feet, by ass, or by boat. He was a staunch defender of the poor and helpless.

The most famous of the doctrinal disputes in which Martin became involved concerned the Priscillianists, a Gnostic sect who appealed to the Western emperor Maximus after their condemnation by the synod of Bordeaux in 384, following the condemnations of Pope Damasus and Ambrose, bishop of Milan. Priscillian, the leader of the sect, was accused at Maximus’ court of sorcery, a capital offense. Martin and Ambrose pleaded in Priscillian’s favor, condemning his teaching but maintaining that such matters should be dealt with by the Church and not by the civil authority. This stand met with opposition from contemporaries, but the wisdom of the argument was demonstrated in that after Priscillian was executed, the first example of the death penalty for heresy, the sect increased in Spain, where it continued to exist until the sixth century.

Martin died on the eighth of November 397 at Candes and was buried at Tours three days later (some sources suggest that he died on the eleventh of November). His tomb became a much-visited shrine and a sanctuary for those seeking protection and justice. In the 1662 Prayer Book, he is commemorated on both the eleventh of November (the date of his burial) and on the fourth of July (the date of the translation of his relics and of his ordination).

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

The Collect

Lord God of hosts, you clothed your servant Martin the soldier with the spirit of sacrifice, and set him as a bishop in your Church to be a defender of the catholic faith: Give us grace to follow in his holy steps, that at the last we may be found clothed with righteousness in the dwellings of peace; 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 Martin, Bishops of Tours, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The icon of Saint Martin of Tours was written by and is © Aidan Hart, and is reproduced here with his generous permission.

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Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461

We have no record of his early life, but Leo was probably born of Tuscan parents at Rome around the year 400, at a time when the western Roman Empire was collapsing. Weakened by Germanic invasions and by an inefficient imperial administrative system, the structure that had been built up since the time of Augustus had descended into a chaos of internal warfare, subversion, and corruption. Nevertheless, Leo received a good education and was ordained to the diaconate, serving under popes Celestine the First and Sixtus the Third. At this time the seven deacons of the Church at Rome still had considerable administrative authority, looking after the Church’s possessions and managing the city’s grain dole, and one of their number was usually chosen bishop. Leo had sufficient authority to correspond with Cyril of Alexandria, and for John Cassian to dedicate a theological treatise to him. Leo won considerable respect for his abilities, and Cassian described him as “the ornament of the Roman Church and the divine ministry”.

In 440, Leo was unanimously elected bishop of Rome, despite his being absent from Rome on a mission to make peace between two generals whose differences threatened the safety of Gaul from Germanic invasions. During his twenty year episcopate, Leo served energetically to administer and oversee both the Church and the city. He worked to free Rome from the power of the Germanic invaders and to restore the spiritual and material damage they had caused. His ability as a preacher is demonstrated in the 96 extant sermons, in which he expounds doctrine, encourages almsgiving, and deals with various heresies, including Manichaeism, Priscillianism, and Pelagianism. In his writings and actions a deep conviction that the doctrinal primacy of Rome was of divine and scriptural authority shines, and throughout his pontificate he consolidated and increased the influence and prestige of the papacy.

His surviving letters, some 143 in all, reveal a similar care for the Church in Spain, Gaul, and Africa. He issued orders to limit the powers of one overreaching metropolitan, reasserting the tradition whereby bishops had a right of appeal to Rome. He confirmed the rights of another bishop over his vicars and selected candidates for holy orders.

Hist greatest achievement was the acceptance of his letter to the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451, in which he demonstrated, as in his other writings, a remarkable clarity of though and felicity of wording. Jesus Christ, he taught, is one Person, the Divine Word, in whom the two natures, human and divine, are permanently united without confusion of mixture. When the Council heard the letter read by Leo’s legates, they declared, “Peter has spoken by Leo”, and affirmed his definition as the orthodox teaching of the whole Church.

Leo showed similar strength and wisdom when in the year 452 the Huns, having already sacked Milan and having caused terror throughout northern Italy, threatened the city of Rome. In negotiations with their leader, Attila, Leo persuaded the Huns to withdraw from Italy and to accept an annual tribute. Three years later, Genseric led the Vandals against Rome. Again Leo came out of the city to meet a barbarian leader, as Rome was almost without defense. Unable to turn them away or to prevent their plundering the city for two weeks, Leo did dissuade them from burning the city and slaughtering the inhabitants. Many captives were taken to Africa, and Leo sent presbyters and alms to the captives. He worked to repair the damage done by the Vandals, to replace the holy vessels in desecrated churches, and to restore the morale of the people of Rome.

One historian described Leo’s character as one of indomitable energy, magnanimity, consistency, and devotion to duty. He died on the tenth of November 461 and was buried in Saint Peter’s Church in Rome.

Some of the collects in the Leonine Sacramentary were inspired by his thought and may actually be his own compositions. A number of these collects were translated by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and taken over into the Book of Common Prayer.

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

The Collect

O Lord our God, grant that your Church, following the teaching of your servant Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from your divine Being; 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 Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The image of the icon of Saint Leo the Great is taken from the website of the Western Saints Icon Project of the All-Merciful Savior Orthodox Mission. The icon was written by Mother Justina at the Greek Old Calendarist convent of Saint Elizabeth in Etna, California.

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Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht, Missionary to Frisia, 739

We know of Willibrord’s life and missionary labors through a few notes written by a contemporary, the Venerable Bede, in his The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, and in a biography of Willibrord written by his younger kinsman, Alcuin. Willibrord was born in Northumbria about the year 658 and from the age of seven was brought up and educated in Bishop Wilfrid’s monastery at Ripon. On Wilfrid’s virtual deposition as bishop in 678 and his subsequent expulsion from Northumbria, Willibrord went to Ireland both for study and for voluntary exile for twelve years, where he was ordained to the presbyterate and acquired the desire to do missionary work. On his return to England in 690, he decided to travel to Frisia, a still-pagan area increasingly under the domination of the Christian Franks. With twelve missionary companions, he made his way to Frisia through the kingdom of the Franks, having obtained the permission of Pepin the Second, duke of Austrasia, who had recently conquered western Frisia, to preach among the Frisians. Bede tells us that the mission prospered, and that the companions “converted many folk in a short while from idolatry to faith in Christ.” During this time, Willibrord traveled to Rome, where he received the approbation and encouragement of Pope Sergius for the mission. Willibrord returned to Frisia and went again to Rome in 695, at Pepin’s behest, to be ordained to the episcopate by Pope Sergius, who bestowed on him the name Clement and sent him back with the definite mission to establish the Church in Frisia with a metropolitan see at Utrecht and suffragan bishoprics according to the pattern at Canterbury and elsewhere.

In 678 Willibrord established his largest monastery at Echternach, in what is now Luxembourg, where he died more than forty years later.

In the area of Frisia rule by the Franks, Willibrord’s missionary work was permanently fruitful, but his work in other areas was more sporadic. In 714 he was driven from Utrecht by Radbod, the pagan Frisian king, who had churches destroyed and Christian clergy killed. Willibrord’s work seemed largely destroyed, but in 719, on Radbod’s death, Willibrord returned, restoring the Church not only in western Frisia but also taking the mission to eastern Frisia, which he had never before entered. During these years he was joined for a time by Boniface, who he wished to succeed him, but Boniface went on to the Saxons of Germany instead. Willibrord then entered the lands of the Danes, where he bought thirty slave-boys and educated them as Christians. In Helgoland he baptized a number of the inhabitants and killed sacred cattle in order to feed his followers, and at Walcheren he destroyed an idol at risk of his life.

Alcuin described his work as based on energetic preaching and ministry, informed by prayer and sacred reading. Willibrord was always venerable, gracious, and full of joy. Though not tremendously or rapidly successful, Willibrord’s pioneering missionary work prepared the way for the successes of later English Christian influence in Germanic Europe, most notably the missionary work of Boniface. Willibrord thoroughly deserves his titles of Apostle to the Frisians and patron saint of Holland.

He died at the age of 81, on the seventh of November 739 at Echternach, and was immediately venerated as a saint. One of his most interesting surviving relics is the Calendar of Saint Willibrord, written for his own private use, which contains marginal notes in his own hand recording his consecration at Rome and other biographical details.

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

The Collect

O Lord our God,you call whom you will and send them where you choose: We thank you for sending your servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve you, the living God; and we entreat you to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of your service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; 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 Willibrord, Archbishop of Utrecht and Missionary to Frisia, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Pierre du Moulin, 1658, and Charles Drelincourt, 1669, Pastors and Theologians

Pierre du Moulin was born in 1568, the son of Joachim du Moulin, a French Reformed (Huguenot) pastor in the Orleans region who had moved his family to Sedan, a city in the Ardennes that had become a haven for Protestant refugees during the sixteenth century Wars of Religion in France. Pierre was educated in the Reformed academy in Sedan and later trained for ministry in London and at Cambridge. In 1588 he became tutor to the young Earl of Rutland, though he returned from England to the Continent in 1592 to assume the post of professor of philosophy and Greek in the university at Leiden. In 1598 he returned to France, and from 1599 to 1620 served as pastor of the new Reformed church at Charenton, the nearest yet to Paris that the Reformed Christians had been allowed to build a temple. At the invitation of King James the First, he returned temporarily to England in 1615, where he received a doctorate in divinity from Cambridge and was made a prebendary of Canterbury Cathedral. From 1620 until his death he served as a pastor and professor at Sedan, though he again returned to England in 1624 and was offered a cure in the Church of England (St John the Baptist, Chester). He declined this benefice and returned permanently to Sedan, where he died in 1658.

Du Moulin took a prominent part in the theological controversies of the day, writing among other works a critique of the Roman Mass, Anatomie de la Messe, and a defense of the French Reformed Confession of Faith against Jesuit detractors, Bouclier de la Foi. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church notes that he upheld “a mediating position which irritated Catholic and Calvinists alike”.

His son Pierre (Peter) served as a rector in the Church of England and was rewarded at the Restoration for his support of the royalist cause during the English Civil War by being made a chaplain to King Charles the Second and by succeeding to his father’s prebend at Canterbury Cathedral.

Born in Sedan in 1595, Charles Drelincourt became one of the most influential pastors and theologians of the Reformed Church in France during the seventeenth century. He was educated first at the academy in Sedan, then at the seminary at Saumur. He was ordained a pastor in the Reformed Church in 1618 and appointed to a pastoral cure at Langres but failed to receive the necessary royal sanction. Early in 1620 he moved to Paris, where the consistory appointed him pastor of the church at Charenton, succeeding Pierre du Moulin. Drelincourt served as pastor of the temple at Charenton until his death.

A prolific writer, Drelincourt authored a number of works of devotional and polemical theology, many of which were translated into English, German, and Dutch. His Catechism (Catéchisme ou instruction familière, 1652) and The Christian’s Defense against the Fears of Death (Consolations de l’âme fidèle contre les frayeurs de la mort, 1651) became well known in England by means of translations and underwent a number of printings. Other texts included Prayers and meditations for the preparation of the Lord’s Supper (Charenton, 1621) and The triumph of the Church under the weight of the cross, or the glory of the martyrs (Geneva, 1629). Drelincourt’s polemical works, written against the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, did much to strengthen and consolidate the Reformed Church in France.

Drelincourt married the daughter of a Parisian merchant. Several of their sons were distinguished physicians or pastors. Laurent (­†1681) became a pastor. Charles (†1697) was a professor of medicine in the University at Leiden, the leading Northern European medical school of the seventeenth century, and served as physician to the Prince of Orange. Pierre or Peter (†1722) was educated at Geneva, ordained a priest in the Church of England, and became dean of Armagh Cathedral.

Drelincourt died on the third of November 1669.

The Collect

O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servants Pierre du Moulin and Charles Drelincourt to be pastors in your Church and to feed your flock: Give abundantly to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Drelincourt’s The Christian’s Defense against the Fears of Death has been digitized and published online by Google Books.

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Richard Hooker, Presbyter, 1600

Richard Hooker is one of the greatest theologians that the English Church has ever produced, who conveyed his teaching in masterful English prose. Born in the year 1553 at Heavitree, near Exeter, he was admitted in 1567 to Corpus Christi College at Oxford through the influence of John Jewel, bishop of Salisbury. He became a Fellow of Corpus Christi ten years later and in 1579 was appointed deputy professor of Hebrew. He vacated his fellowship in 1581 in order to marry, and after ordination was appointed rector of the Church of St Mary the Virgin in the parish of Drayton Beauchamp in Buckinghamshire. In 1585 he became Master of the Temple in London, and he later served country parishes in Boscombe, Salisbury, and Bishopsbourne near Canterbury.

While serving as Master of the Temple, he became embroiled in a controversy with the advanced Puritanical views of the afternoon lecturer (or Reader) at the Temple, Walter Travers, a controversy that led Hooker to prepare a comprehensive defense of the Reformation settlement of the Church of England under Queen Elizabeth the First. This work, Hooker’s masterpiece, is entitled Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. In conception the Laws was a a livre de circonstance, designed to justify the constitutional structure of the Elizabethan Church, but it embodied a broadly conceived philosophical theology. Opposing the Puritans, who held that whatever was not expressly commanded in Scripture was unlawful, Hooker elaborated a whole theory of law, based on the absolute fundamental of natural law, whose “seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world” (Laws, 1.16.8). This natural law, which governs the universe and to which the polity of both church and state are subservient, is the expression of God’s supreme reason. “Laws human must be made according to the general laws of nature, and without contradiction unto any positive law in Scripture. Otherwise they are ill made” (Laws, 3.9.2).

Book Five of the Laws is a defense of the Book of Common Prayer, directed primarily against Puritan detractors. Hooker’s arguments are buttressed by immense patristic learning, but the formative aspect of the Prayer Book is paramount, and he draws deeply and effectively on his twenty-year experience of using the Book.

Though he made a robust defense of the Elizabethan Settlement against the Roman Catholics and the Puritans, Hooker nevertheless held that the Church of Rome was a true Church, though in need of reform doctrinally and morally; and against anti-catholic detractors, he held that Roman Catholics would be saved, noting that justification was by faith itself, and not by believing in justification by faith. In his unreadiness to condemn the ministry and holy orders of Continental Protestants, he denied the necessity of episcopal ordination.

Concerning the nature of the Church, Hooker writes: “The Church is always a visible society of men; not an assembly, but a Society. For although the name of the Church be given unto Christian assemblies, although any multitude of Christian men congregated may be termed by the name of a Church, yet assemblies properly are rather things that belong to a Church. Men are assemble for performance of public actions; which actions being ended, the assembly dissolveth itself and is no longer in being, whereas the Church which was assembled doth no less continue aftewards than before.”

Hooker’s argument on points of detail is not infrequently difficult to grasp and not always clear, but he remains one of the greatest of English theologians. His vast learning and the masterfulness of his prose style reveal him as a man of moderate, patient, and serene character. Izaak Walton, the seventeenth century writer and biographer, writes that Pope Clement the Eighth (†1605), having had the first book of the Laws read to him in Latin, pronounced: “There is no Learning that this man hath not searcht into; nothing too hard for his understanding: this man indeed deserves the name of an Author; his Books will get reverence by Age, for there is in them such seeds of Eternity, that if the rest be like this, they shall last till the last fire shall consume all Learning.”

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980),
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, and other sources

The Collect

O God of truth and peace, you raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; 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 Richard Hooker, Priest, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The image above is of a statue of Richard Hooker on the grounds of Exeter Cathedral.

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