Yearly Archives: 2011

Kentigern, Missionary Bishop in Strathclyde and Cumbria, 603


Saint Kentigern

There are many legends but little known history regarding Kentigern.  All the sources are from the eleventh and twelfth centuries.  Most are from the North, where Kentigern’s evangelistic and pastoral ministry took place.  The sources contain various folkloric elements which are considerably older than the eleventh century, but which have no clear historical value (including in one source a confrontation with the druid Merlin).  From these traditions we may with some assurance of historicity assume that Kentigern was the son of a British prince (Owain of Rheged?) and of illegitimate birth.  Under his nickname of Mungo (meaning “darling”) was educated by the bishop Serf at Culross and became a monk in the austere Irish tradition.  He later traveled to the northern British kingdom of Strathclyde (Stratclut), in what is now southwestern Scotland, where he was ordained bishop by an Irish missionary bishop.  He continued the work of Saint Ninian in preaching the Gospel to the people in the vicinity of Dumbarton, the capital of the kingdom of Strathclyde, and established a religious foundation near Dumbarton, around which the city of Glasgow later grew.  Persecuted by the pagan king Morcant Mwynfawr, Kentigern fled to Cumbria (in the kingdom of Rheged) for some time.  On the accession of Morcant’s brother, king Riderch Hael the Generous,  he was summoned back by the already-baptized king to continue his work of evangelism among the Britons of Strathclyde.  Kentigern likely lived to the age of 85, and he died and was buried at his religious foundation at Glasgow.  His relics are claimed by Glasgow Cathedral.

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Kentigern, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of Strathclyde.  Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.


Kentigern, Missionary Bishop,  is commemorated on his traditional feast day of January 13 in the Calendars of the Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church.  He is commemorated on January 14 in the Calendar of the Church in Wales.  January 14 has been chosen for this sanctoral diary so as not to conflict with the commemoration of Hilary of Poitiers on January 13.

The icon of Saint Kentigern is from Aidan Hart’s gallery of Western Orthodox saints, and is reproduced here with his permission.

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Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, 367

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, was a prolific writer on Scripture and doctrine, an orator, and a poet to whom some of the earliest Latin hymns have been attributed. Augustine called him “the illustrious doctor of the Churches”. Jerome considered him “the trumpet of the Latins against the Arians”. For his defense of the Nicene faith, he is also known as “the Athanasius of the West”.

Hilary (Hilarius) was born in Pectavus (later Poitiers) in Gaul, about 315, into a pagan family of wealth and power. In his writings, he describes the stages of the journey that led him to the Christian faith. He was baptized when he was about thirty years old.

In 350, Hilary was made Bishop of Poitiers. Although he demurred at first, he was finally persuaded by the people’s acclamations. He proved to be a bishop of skill and courage. His orthodoxy was shown when, in 355, the Emperor Constantius ordered all bishops to sign a condemnation of Athanasius (the Bishop of Alexandria, champion of Nicene trinitarianism against the Arians), under pain of exile. Hilary wrote to Constantius, pleading for peace and unity. His plea accomplished nothing, and, when he dissociated himself from three Arian bishops in the West, Constantius ordered Julian (later surnamed the Apostate for his conversion to Neoplatonic paganism) to exile Hilary to Phrygia. There Hilary remained for three years, without complaining, writing scriptural commentaries and his principal work, De Trinitate (On the Trinity).

Hilary was then invited by a party of the “semi-Arians”, who hoped for his support, to a council at Seleucia in Asia, largely attended by Arians; but with remarkable courage, in the midst of a hostile gathering, Hilary defended the Council of Nicaea and its definition of the Trinity, giving no aid to the “semi-Arians.” He wrote again to Constantius, offering to debate Saturninus, the Western bishop largely responsible for his exile. The Arians feared for the outcome of the debate and persuaded Constantius to return Hilary to Poitiers.

In 360, Hilary was welcomed back to his see with great demonstrations of joy and affection. He continued his battle against Arianism, but he never neglected the needs of his people. Angry in controversy with heretical bishops, he was always a loving and compassionate pastor to his diocese. Among his disciples was Martin, later Bishop of Tours, whom Hilary encouraged in his endeavors to promote the monastic life.

from Lesser Feasts and Fasts, with additions

The Collect

O Lord our God, you raised up your servant Hilary to be a champion of the catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having you for our Father, and may abide in your Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.


The propers for the commemoration of Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

The son of a priest of Hexham, Aelred was educated at Durham.  Around 1130 he joined the household of David the First, king of Scotland and became his seneschal.  In 1134 Aelred became a monk at the recently founded abbey of Rievaulx.  In spite of delicate health, Aelred followed the austere regime of the community and became so esteemed by his brethren that he was chosen as their envoy to Rome in 1142 over the disputed election of William, archbishop of York.  Soon afterwards he was chosen as master of novices for the abbey.  In 1143 he was appointed abbot of Revesby in Lincolnshire, and only four years later he was recalled to Rievaulx to serve as abbot.

Under his rule the abbey prospered, increasing in numbers to 150 choir monks and 500 lay brothers, making the abbey the largest in England of its time.  The abbey also established five daughter houses in England and Scotland.

Aelred’s discretion and gentle holiness, with a strong emphasis on charity inspired by the writings of Saint John and Augustine of Hippo, humanized the severity of Cistercian monasticism and attracted men of similar temperament to his own.  Through his many friends as well as through his writings, Aelred became a figure of national importance, demonstrated by his being chosen to preach at Westminster Abbey for the translation of the relics of Saint Edward the Confessor in 1163.  This led to his writing a Life of Edward, having already written on Saint Ninian and on the saints of Hexham.  His other writings included his treatise on Friendship, the Speculum Caritatis (the Mirror of Charity), and sermons on Isaiah, often considered his finest work.  A treatise that he began on the human soul was left unfinished.

In spite of his suffering from a kidney stone which obliged him to live in a hut near the abbey’s infirmary towards the end of the life, Aelred was sometimes well enough to travel.  On the way to his Scottish foundations he would visit his friend Godric of Finchale.  During the last year of his life he was no longer able to travel.  He died at Rievaulx on January 12, 1167, and was buried in the chapter house.  His relics were later translated to the abbey church. He was never formally canonized (by this time, canonization had become a formalized procedure that was reserved to the Pope), but local veneration grew up with the encouragement of the Cistercians, and the order promulgated his feast in 1476.

based on information in The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

Almighty God, you endowed your servant Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: Grant us that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of your eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The propers for Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1645

William Laud, born in 1573, became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633, having been King Charles’ principal ecclesiastical adviser for several years before. He was the most prominent of a new generation of churchmen who disliked many of the ritual practices which had developed during the reign of Elizabeth the First (many of which began during the reign of her younger brother, Edward VI), and who were bitterly opposed by the Puritan party in the Church of England.

Laud believed the Church of England to be in direct continuity with the medieval Church, and he stressed the unity of the Church and State, exalting the role of the king as Supreme Governor of the Church. He emphasized the ministerial priesthood and the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, and caused consternation by insisting on the reverencing of the altar, returning it to its pre-Reformation position against the east wall of the church, and hedging it about with rails. (During Edward’s reign, and Elizabeth’s, altars had been removed, and simpler communion Tables set lengthwise – long axis oriented east-west – in the chancel of the church. Those who intended to take communion would move from the nave into the chancel at the offertory, and the priest or bishop would preside at the eucharist, standing on the north side of the Table.)

As head of the courts of High Commission and the Star Chamber, Laud persecuted Puritans and was abhorred for the harsh sentencing of some of the prominent members of the party. His identification with the unpopular policies of King Charles, his support of the Bishops’ War against Scotland in 1640 (triggered, in part, by Charles’ and Laud’s attempt to impose an English prayerbook on the Church of Scotland), and his efforts to make the Church independent of Parliament, made him widely disliked. He was impeached for treason by the Long Parliament in 1640, and finally beheaded on January 10, 1645.

Laud’s reputation remains controversial to this day. Honored as a martyr and condemned as an intolerant bigot, he was compassionate in his defense of the rights of the common people against the landowners. He was honest, devout, loyal to the king and to the rights and privileges of the Church of England. He tried to reform and protect the Church in accordance with his convictions – though these attempts at reform were marred by his treatment of those who strenuously disagreed with him theologically and liturgically. In many ways he was out of step with the views of the majority of his countrymen, especially in his espousal of royal Stuart views of the “Divine Rights of Kings”. The historian Nicholas Tyacke rates Laud as one of the greatest of the Archbishops of Canterbury, not giving him complete approval, but recognizing that his contribution to the future of the English Church was of major importance. Writing in the Church Quarterly Review in 1945, A.W. Ballard stated that

As far as doctrine was concerned Laud carried on the teaching of Cranmer and Hooker. He held that the basis of belief was the Bible, but that the Bible was to be interpreted by the tradition of the early Church, and that all doubtful points were to be subjected, not to heated arguments in the pulpits, but to sober discussion by learned men. His mind, in short, like those of the earlier English reformers, combined the Protestant reliance on the Scriptures with reverence for ancient tradition and with the critical spirit of the Ranascence.

He made a noble end, praying on the scaffold: “The Lord receive my soul, and have mercy on me, and bless this kingdom with peace and charity, that there may not be this effusion of Christian blood amongst them.”

The prayer for the Church on page 816 in the Book of Common Prayer (1979), added to the American Prayer Book in 1928, was written by Archbishop Laud.  It was first published in A Summarie of Devotions (1677), adapted from his manuscripts.  The original version of the prayer reads:

Gracious Father, I humbly beseech Thee for Thy holy Catholic Church, fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.  Where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is in want, furnish it; where it is divided and rent asunder, make up the breaches of it; O Thou Holy One of Israel.  Amen.

taken from Lesser Feasts and Fasts, with additions, including from
Fathers and Anglicans: The Limits of Orthodoxy (Arthur Middleton, Gracewing 2001) and Commentary on the American Prayer Book (Marion J. Hatchett, Harper San Francisco 1995)

The Collect

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servant William Laud, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The propers for William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, are published on the Lectionary Page website.


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Calendar: rationale and changes

Rationale, or, thank the Lord for Philip Pfatteicher

The Revd Dr Philip H. Pfatteicher’s book, the New Book of Festivals and Commemorations bears the subtitle, “A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints”.  Dr Pfatteicher intended the book to serve the needs of Episcopalians and Lutherans, to provide “in a modest way”, a draft of a common calendar that not only reflected the present Lutheran and Episcopal calendars, but that also moved “beyond them, proposing not merely a conflation but rather a creative adaptation as an encouragement to the churches to consider the value of a broad and ecumenical calendar of holy days and holy people” (page xii).  Pfatteicher noted that as a result of the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church has simplied their calendar, defining a General Roman Calendar for the whole church and – at the same time – allowing a variety of national additions to it.

Dr Pfatteicher rather successfully adapts this Roman scheme, noting that the days included in the calendar proposed in his book comprise five classes:

1)  The most important days of the Church Year, classified in the Roman Calendar as Solemnities and as Principal Feasts in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (page 15).  These are the days that, according to the Prayer Book, take precedence of any other day or observance.

2)  Those days classified in the Roman Calendar as Feasts and as Holy Days in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (pages 16-17).  The Prayer Book Holy Days comprise Other Feasts of our Lord, which are Holy Name, the Presentation, the Annunciation, the Visitation, [the Nativity of] Saint John the Baptist, the Transfiguration, and Holy Cross Day; Other Major Feasts, including all feasts of Apostles and Evangelists, Saint Stephen, Holy Innocents, Saint Joseph, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Mary the Virgin, Saint Michael and All Angels, Saint James of Jerusalem, All Saints’ Day, Independence Day (!), and Thanksgiving Day; and Fasts (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday).  The first category of Holy Days are denoted “Other Feasts of our Lord”, because the four primary feasts of the Lord Jesus – Easter Day, Ascension Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany – are designated as Principal Feasts.  (Of course, one could make the argument that every feast day and saint’s day commemoration is a Feast of our Lord, as indeed they all are.)

3)  “Some days not necessarily intended to be celebrated with a full liturgy of their own” (New Book, page xx).  These days are denoted in the Roman Calendar as Memorials and as Days of Optional Observance in the Book of Common Prayer.  Within the Days of Optional Observance, the Prayer Book includes Commemorations listed in the Calendar (saints’ days); other Commemorations, using the Common of Saints (that is, when a person hasn’t been added to the official Calendar, he or she could be commemorated using the Propers appointed for the Common of Saints); the Ember Days; the Rogation Days; and Various Occasions (which would be denoted as “votives” in Roman use).  In the 1979 Prayer Book, propers are provided for the Common of Saints, the Ember Days, the Rogation Days, and Various Occasions, and the optional (but approved for use) book, Lesser Feasts and Fasts in its various editions, provides propers for the Commemorations of saints.

4) Days designated in the Roman Calendar as Optional Memorials, which may be observed as seems locally appropriate.  Pfatteicher observes that this seems a useful classification, and includes such commemorations as Wulfstan, bishop of Worchester; Helena, Mother of Constantine; John Keble, Priest; and Laurentius Petri, Archbishop of Uppsala in this category.

5)  Finally, Pfatteicher designates a number of “post-Reformation days on the calendar” that “are of interest largely to a particular denomination, noting Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, the first missionary sent out by the Lutheran Church, and Jackson Kemper, the first Episcopal missionary bishop in the United States, as examples.

The basis for distinction between the fourth and the fifth classes is not always entirely clear, though it seems that even when the person being commemorated is within a particular national Church (e.g., William Law, an eighteenth-century priest in the Church of England), if their influence went beyond that particular Church to the wider tradition within which that Church exists (or which that Church created, in the case of the Church of England), then he or she is included in the fourth class.  Having two more classes of feasts than the Prayer Book and his intention to draft a proposed ecumenical Calendar that takes advantage of the flexibility of the Roman Calendar in allowing for some national or regional variations means that the Commemorations included in the Prayer Book’s “Days of Optional Observance” are divided among the third, fourth, and fifth of his classes.  But this is understandable.  The Calendar of the Church Year in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer is meant for The Episcopal Church, while Dr Pfatteicher has created a proposed ecumenical Calendar, at least for Episcopalians and Lutherans.

The Book of Alternative Services (1985) of the Anglican Church of Canada also makes a distinction within the days that are designated as Days of Optional Observance in the 1979 Prayer Book, designating them either as Memorials or as Commemorations.  The liturgical distinction is this:  “parishes with frequent weekday celebrations of the eucharist may decide to interrupt the weekday cycle of readings for a memorial but not for a commemoration.  The distinction would also help a community to decide which days to observe and the choice of liturgical colour” (BAS, pages 20-21).  A Memorial would be observed using the variable prayers from the Common of Saints and Readings from the Common of Saints, with the liturgical color appropriate to the day (the Memorial).  A Commemoration would be observed using the variable prayers from the Common of Saints and Readings from the Weekday Eucharistic Lectionary, with the liturgical color of the season.  A perusal of the Calendar in the BAS suggests that the distinction between the two categories rests on how widely influential the person’s life and witness have been in the Church Catholic.  For example, the days of Bernard of Clairvaux and Ambrose of Milan, as well as the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Women of the Old Testament, are celebrated as Memorials.  Jeremy Taylor, seventeenth century bishop of Down and Dromore, Edward the Confessor, and Robert MacDonald, priest in the Western Arctic, are celebrated as Commemorations.  (I have to admit that some of the categorizations, particularly with regards to some pre-Reformation English saints,  seem arbitrary to me.  For example, the feast days of Dunstan of Canterbury and Edward the Confessor are designated Commemorations.  This is reasonable, as their medieval veneration did not extend beyond the Church in England.  But the feast day of Thomas of Canterbury is also designated a Commemoration, when his veneration and influence extended beyond the shores of Albion.)

The practice in my previous parish was to observe with a eucharist only those days designated either as Feasts of our Lord or Other Major Feasts.  In our current parish, at least one of the upcoming feast days during the week (usually the most significant one in terms of the classes of feast days) is noted at the end of the prayers of the people, usually with the Collect for that feast day.  So for example, this Sunday we noted the life and witness of Archbishop William Laud (though I should like to have seen us note the life and witness of Hilary of Poitiers as well).

This weblog, as I have noted sketchily in a couple of previous entries, is meant to reflect a particularly Anglican Calendar of Commemorations and Holy Days.  Because of the continuity (in some respects) of the Church of England with the pre-Reformation Church, most Anglican Calendars include not only New Testament saints and post-Reformation worthies in Christ, but also saints of the patristic Church and of the medieval Church.  I am admittedly not working off an officially-approved Calendar, but neither am I simply exercising private judgment.  I plan to omit no commemoration of a saint of the New Testament, of the patristic Church, and of the medieval Church that is included in the Calendars of the 1662 Prayer Book, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Alternative Services Book (Anglican Church of Canada), and Common Worship (the current alternative services book for the Church of England).  I have also added some commemorations of pre-Reformation saints from such sources as the Calendars of the Church of Ireland, the Church in Wales, and the Scottish Episcopal Church.  (The great multiplicity of Celtic saints means that I have omitted some whose influence did not extend far beyond the local, otherwise on some days there would have been too many commemorations.  This is, I think, a good example of Dr Pfatteicher’s adaptation of the Roman Calendar’s flexibility.  It is right and proper that the Church in Wales should commemorate a saint whose influence was not noted beyond Wales, or more particularly not beyond a certain locality within Wales; but that the wider Church will not ordinarily observe this commemoration.)  I have also drawn commemorations of post-Reformation saints, not all of them Anglican, from all these sources and from the Calendar drawn up for the Lutheran Book of Worship, when those saints have exercised significant influence within the Church beyond Lutheranism.  Admittedly, I have stuck pretty closely to the Calendar of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (omitting some observances of those whose very recent inclusion seems to me – welcome, private judgment! – to reflect a certain political or theological bias out of step with historic Anglican orthodoxy).  To date I have not included any post-Reformation (or Reformation era) Roman Catholic saints, though that is a defect that I hope to remedy by recourse to the sources that I’ve noted above.  While I am not working from a single officially-approved Calendar, I am working from several, though I will admittedly sometimes – as noted in a previous post – choose from among more than one on days that have multiple observances on different Calendars.  The reason for this is that, while the biographical sketches on the weblog have an educational function, the Calendar itself  with its commemorations has primarily a liturgical function, and we should not return to a situation in which saints’ commemorations are crammed on top of one another.  To do otherwise would be to undermine, in however limited a manner, the calendar-reforming work of liturgists from Martin Luther and Thomas Cranmer through to the Second Vatican Council.

Finally, why the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and why include saints from The Episcopal Church’s calendar?  Why should a parishioner in an Anglican Mission church try to interest his fellow parishioners and others in the Anglican Mission in William Augustus Muhlenberg or Samuel Seabury or Absalom Jones?  I am following the 1979 Book of Common Prayer because most parishes within the Anglican Mission (that part of Anglicanism in which we currently are situated) use that Prayer Book.  A few use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and the Calendar of that Prayer Book is subsumed in the 1979 Calendar.  I envision a sanctoral Calendar for faithful, orthodox Anglicanism in North America (hence also the reliance on the Calendar of the Anglican Church of Canada).  This Anglicanism includes Episcopalians, even if most of the members of the Anglican Mission (including those of my own church) were never Episcopalians.  The inclusion of Samuel Seabury, Absalom Jones, Jackson Kemper et al can act as a reminder to the newer extra-mural Anglican entities (AMiA, CANA, ACNA) that there was faithful Anglican missionary and pastoral work going on in The Episcopal Church through the two centuries and more of its existence on this continent.  (We should also recognize the fact that most of the members of ACNA at present were formerly members of The Episcopal Church.)


The principal change that I am making to the structure of the sanctoral diary’s entries is to follow Dr Pfatteicher’s scheme for commemorations by posting, along with an explanatory text or biographical sketch, the propers (Collect, Lessons, and Psalm) only for those observances that fall into the categories of Principal Feasts, Other Feasts of Our Lord, and other Major Feasts.  With perhaps only a rare exception, the entries for Commemorations other than these (following the 1979 Prayer Book’s designation) will include the biographical sketch of the saint(s) whom we are commemorating, along with the Collect for the Commemoration.  The reason for this is simple:  while I have in mind a wider audience than my own parish, I am considering the practice within my own parish as I work through this sanctoral diary.  Many members of our parish pray the Daily Office and follow the Daily Office lectionary, and I don’t want to interfere with their following that (or the daily eucharistic lectionary) by piling on saints’ days – once again, the late medieval problem that necessitated the calendrical pruning of Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Reformers alike.  Most of these days do have readings appointed for them, as I will usually include a link to those (typically at the Lectionary Page).  For those using the Daily Office, the Collect for the Commemoration could be used at the appropriate place in the Office for the Collect of the Day, or could be said after the Collect for the preceding Sunday (appointed to be used throughout the week when there isn’t a principal feast or holy day being celebrated) and before the other collects.

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Lucian, Presbyter and Martyr, 312

Saint Loukianos, Presbyter and Martyr of Antioch

Born at Samosata in Syria, Lucian became a presbyter of the Church at Antioch, where he was especially interested in amending the corrupt texts of the Holy Scriptures then current and in teaching their literal (plainest) sense.  He founded an important theological school in Antioch, one of whose members was Arius, later known for his heresy regarding the deity of Jesus, whose followers sometimes called themselves Lucianists.  Although Lucian was involved in the schism in the Church of Antioch and although his orthodoxy was highly suspect, he made his peace with the Church in 285 and died a martyr in full communion with the Church at Nicomedia, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire, in 312.  It is said that on his way to Nicomedia, to be brought before the emperor, he converted forty soldiers to the faith.  Following interrogation and flogging, he was cast into prison, where he suffered death by starvation.

His body was taken to Drepanum, later renamed Helenopolis by the emperor Constantine in memory of his mother.  Evidence of his veneration is provided by Eusebius, the fourth century historian and bishop of Caesarea and by John Chrystostom, late fourth century bishop of Constantinople.

St John Chrysostom writes of him, “He scorned hunger: let us also scorn luxury and destroy the power of the stomach that we may, when the time that requires such courage comes for us, be prepared in advance by the help of a lesser ascesis, to show ourselves glorious at the time of battle.”

Lucian is commemorated on January 7, the date of his martyrdom, in the West, and on October 15 in the East.  While he is not commemorated in later Anglican calendars, he is listed in the Calendar of the 1662 Prayer Book.

adapted from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints


Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy.  We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Epiphany of our Lord


The name of this Feast of our Lord is derived from a Greek word meaning manifestation or appearing.  Historically, Anglican Prayer Books have interpreted the name with a subtitle, “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles”.  The last phrase is, of course, a reference to the narrative of the Wise Men, the Magi, who appeared in Judaea from the East in order to worship the newborn King of the Jews.

A Christian observance on January 6 is found as early as the end of the second century in Egypt.  This feast combined the commemorations of the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan, and Jesus’ first recorded miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, all of which are manifestations of the deity of the incarnate Lord.

The Epiphany is still the primary Feast of the Incarnation in Eastern Churches, and the three-fold emphasis is prominent.  In the West, however, including Anglican Churches, the feast has emphasized the narrative of the Magi nearly to the exclusion of the other two events.  Modern lectionary reform, reflected in such lectionaries as that of the 1979 Prayer Book and the Revised Common Lectionary, have recovered the primitive trilogy by setting the Baptism of our Lord as the theme of the First Sunday after the Epiphany in all three years of the lectionary cycle, and by providing the narrative of the miracle at the wedding at Cana as the Gospel for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany in Year C.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts

The Collect

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Isaiah 60:1-6, 9

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the Lord your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Deus judicium

Give the King your justice, O God, *
and your righteousness to the King’s Son;

That he may rule your people righteously *
and the poor with justice;

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people; *
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure, *
from one generation to another.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, *
like showers that water the earth.

In his time shall the righteous flourish; *
there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute, *
and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

All kings shall bow down before him, *
and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, *
and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, *
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

The Epistle
Ephesians 3:1-12

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

The Gospel
Matthew 2:1-12

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

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

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