Monthly Archives: October 2012

Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

Apart from their inclusion in the apostolic lists of the Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, nothing more is known from the Scriptures about the apostles Simon and Jude. As with many of the Twelve, their names are recorded, but the details of their work after Pentecost is not given. We are simply given to know that they, along with the rest of the apostolic band, are the foundation on which the Church is built, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.

Simon, sometimes given the epithet “the Less” to distinguish him from Simon Peter, is known in the Gospels either as Simon the Canaanite or Simon the Zealot. The latter may mean simply that he was zealous in keeping the Law, or that he was a member of the Zealot party, fanatical opponents of Roman rule in Judaea and Galilee. The Monology of Basil the Great tells us that Simon died a peaceful death at Edessa, but Western tradition, as represented by the Roman Martyrology and dating back to the sixth century, holds that he first preached in Egypt and then joined Jude (who had been in Mesopotamia), and that together they went to preach the Gospel in Persia, where they suffered martyrdom at Sufian (or at Siani).

Jude, called “Judas not Iscariot” in John’s Gospel, is referred to in Luke as “Judas of James”. In more modern translations, this is taken to mean “son of James”, but older translations (such as the Authorized Version) render it “brother of James”, so that in the West at least, Jude has tradtionally been understood to have been the brother of James, the brother of the Lord (and thus the brother, step-brother, or cousin of Jesus – see Matthew 13 and Mark 6). (If so, this would make Jude the first of Jesus’ brothers known to have become one of his followers.) He is also traditionally held to be the author of the Epistle of Jude. Jude is also generally understood to be the same person as Thaddaeus (or Lebbaeus) in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark, names perhaps given to him to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot.

In the West, following the tradition of the apocryphal Passion of Simon and Jude, the two have been commemorated together in the calendar, on the twenty-eighth of October. The Armenian Church regards Saint Thaddaeus and Saint Bartholomew as the first to preach the Gospel among the Armenians and so commemorate those two apostles together. In the Orthodox Churches, Saint Simon and Saint Jude (“the brother of the Lord”) are commemorated separately. The relics of Saint Simon and Saint Jude are held to have been translated to Saint Peter’s in Rome in the seventh or eighth century. There are at least three ancient dedications of English churches to Saint Simon and Saint Jude together, but none to either of them alone.

The Collect

O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Deuteronomy 32:1-4

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.

Psalm 119:89-96
In aeternum, Domine

O LORD, your word is everlasting; *
it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness remains from one generation to another; *
you established the earth, and it abides.

By your decree these continue to this day, *
for all things are your servants.

If my delight had not been in your law, *
I should have perished in my affliction.

I will never forget your commandments, *
because by them you give me life.

I am yours; oh, that you would save me! *
for I study your commandments.

Though the wicked lie in wait for me to destroy me, *
I will apply my mind to your decrees.

I see that all things come to an end, *
but your commandment has no bounds.

The Epistle
Ephesians 2:13-22

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Gospel
John 15:17-27

[Jesus said to his disciples] “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

The icons of Saint Simon and Saint Jude are from the workshop of Simone Martini, c. 1320. My thanks to the website of Christ Church (Anglican), Windsor, Nova Scotia, for the image.

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

Because October 28 falls on a Sunday this year, the Lord’s Day taking precedence of any of the holy days that are “other major feasts”, the commemoration of Saint Simon and Saint Jude is transferred to the first open day following, October 29.

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Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, 899

Born in the year 849 in the royal Saxon palace at Wantage, in what is now Berkshire, the youngest of five sons of King Æthelwulf, Alfred spent his life in a time of “battle, murder, and sudden death” during the Danish invasions and settlement in Britain. On a pilgrimage to Rome at the age of four, Alfred was blessed by Pope Leo the Fourth, an event that deeply impressed the young Saxon boy. Two years later he witnessed his father’s marriage to a young princess of the Frankish court. Following the death of his father and the brief reigns of his brothers, Alfred became king of the West Saxons (the kingdom of Wessex) in 871. At the time, the pagan Danes had gained control of large part of eastern and southern England and were harrying the eastern coasts, burning churches and monasteries, and killing the people inhabiting those regions. Despite many setbacks against the Danes, Alfred never despaired, and in time he was able to drive the Danes from Wessex, saving his kingdom and subjects from death and despoliation. He was generous to the defeated Danish leader Guthrum, persuading him to accept baptism and to recognize the boundaries between the Danish holdings and Wessex.

In his later years, Alfred sought to repair the damage done by the Danish invasions to the culture and learning of his kingdom, especially among the parish clergy. On the earlier model of Charlemagne’s school at Aachen, he founded a palace school that was unrivaled in northern Europe at the time. With the help of scholars from Wales and the Continent, he supervised translations into English of important works of theology and history, including works by Gregory the Great, Augustine of Hippo, and the Venerable Bede. He administered justice with insight and fairness, protected the poor, and encouraged art and the crafts. He tried in all that he did to rule as a model Christian king. For all this, he alone among the rulers of England is called “the Great”. In one of the works prepared at his direction, he wrote, “He seemed to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever with and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear.

Alfred’s commemoration was included in the twentieth century in the calendars of several Anglican Churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church (USA), and the Church of England.

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

The Collect

O Sovereign Lord, you brought your servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people: Awake in us also a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world, and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear; 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 Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Martyr, c. 62

In Matthew 13 and Mark 6, James is listed first among the brothers of Jesus: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1 that he met James, “the Lord’s brother”, at Jerusalem on his first visit to the city after becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. From the second century, there has been some uncertainty about the exact relationship between Jesus and his brothers. In the second century, Epiphanius suggested that the “brothers” were sons of Joseph by a former marriage (Joseph being a widower at his marriage to Mary), which remains the view of the Eastern Church. Helvidius, a fourth century writer who opposed belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus, claiming the support of Tertullian wrote that Jesus was Mary’s first child and that the brothers (and sisters) noted in the Gospels were children of Mary and Joseph, born after Jesus. In response to Helvidius, Saint Jerome stated that the “brothers and sisters” of Jesus were either older children of Joseph’s former marriage, and thus step-siblings of the Lord (following Epiphanius), or that they were actually the children of the Virgin Mary’s sister, and thus Jesus’ cousins (the word in the Gospels translated “brothers” can also be used of cousins). Jerome’s view prevailed in the West until most later Protestants and Anglicans adopted Helvidius’ view.

Whatever his relationship to Jesus – younger brother, older step-brother, or cousin – James became a follower of Jesus after the Resurrection, when Jesus appeared specially to him. From early on, James was recognized as a leader in the church at Jerusalem. Although not one of the Twelve, he was regarded as an apostle (see Galatians 1). Saint Paul recognized James, along with the apostles Peter and John, as pillars of the church at Jerusalem. During the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), which resolved the deeply divisive issue of whether Gentile converts should be circumcized before baptism, James defended the position argued by Paul and Barnabas against requiring circumcision and summarized the council’s decision: “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God”, thus establishing the Church’s policy toward Gentile converts from that time forward.

The fourth century historian Eusebius, quoting from an earlier church history by Hegesippus, writes that James was surnamed “the Just” (the Righteous) on account of his great piety and ascetical life. He went frequently into the Temple alone to pray and was so often found kneeling, interceding for the forgiveness of the people, that his knees became as callused as a camel’s. Following Hegesippus, Eusebius further writes that James was so persuasive in leading the people to faith in Jesus that the scribes and Pharisees entreated him to “restrain the people, who are led astray after Jesus, as if he were the Messiah”. Refusing, James was then thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple, where he had been placed to denounce Jesus to the people, and once he was upon the pavement was cudgeled to death. Josephus writes about the year 94 that James “with certain others” was stoned to death in the year 62 at the instigation of the high priest Annas.

prepared from The New Book of Festivals and Commemorations,
Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980), and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History

The Collect

Grant, O God, that, following the example of your servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, your Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Acts 15:12-22a

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul fas they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,

“‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’

Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

Psalm 1
Beatus vir qui non abiit

Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

Their delight is in the law of the LORD, *
and they meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; *
everything they do shall prosper.

It is not so with the wicked; *
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes, *
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, *
but the way of the wicked is doomed.

The Epistle
1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Gospel
Matthew 13:54-58

Coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.


Saint James of Jerusalem is commemorated by the Eastern Churches and by several Anglican Churches on October 23.

The icon of Saint James of Jerusalem was written by Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG and is reproduced here with his generous permission.

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Henry Martyn, Presbyter and Missionary to India and Persia, 1812

Born at Truro in 1781, Henry Martyn studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, of which he became a Fellow in 1802. He had intended to study law but Charles Simeon, the noted Evangelical rector of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, inspired him to go to India as a missionary. After ordination to the diaconate and serving as Simeon’s curate for a short time, Martyn became a chaplain of the East India Company at Calcutta in 1805.

Once in India, Martyn spent the first five months in Serampore, waiting for his assignment, during which time he lived with David Brown, Anglican priest and missionary, and his family. Another protégé of Simeon’s, Brown was chaplain of Fort William in Calcutta and a Hebrew scholar who encouraged Bible translation into the many Oriental languages. While in Serampore, Martyn met William Carey, the English Baptist “father of modern missions”. After their meeting, Carey declared that wherever Martyn was, no other missionary would be needed. Martyn’s zeal for the gospel, humble spirit, and facility with languages made him a natural missionary.

During the five years that he spent in India, Martyn preached the Gospel, organized private schools, and founded churches. In addition to his work as a missionary, he translated the New Testament and the Book of Common Prayer into Hindustani, which was a valuable missionary aid to the young Anglican Church in India. He also translated the New Testament and the Psalm into Persian during this time. Persian was spoken at the Moslem courts in India and was the language of judicial proceedings under the British government in Hindustan. People from Calcutta to Damascus could speak, read, or understand Persian at the time, making it a lingua franca for southwestern Asia. Martyn’s New Testament was the first translation of the Scriptures into Persian since the fifth century.

Desiring for some time to travel to Persia, Martyn arrived in Shiraz in 1811, becoming the first English clergyman to visit the city. During the months that he remained there for the recover of his health, he engaged in theological discussions with learned Muslims, upholding the deity of Christ and the truth of the Gospel in these exchanges. He also had time to correct his Persian translations. Gifted with a remarkable facility for languages, Martyn hoped in time to visit Arabia and to translate the New Testament into Arabic.

On his way to Constantinople in 1812, whence he planned to return to England further to recover his health and to recruit new missionaries for the work in India, Martyn died in the Armenian city of Tokat. The Armenians recognized his greatness and buried him with the funeral dignities usually reserved for one of their own bishops. Soon after his death, his remarkable accomplishments became widely known. He is honored as one of the founders of the modern Christian Church in India and Iran.

prepared from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980) and other sources

The Collect

O God of the nations, you gave your faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to you who gave them; 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 Henry Martyn, Priest and Missionary, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Saint Luke the Evangelist

Luke was a Gentile, a physician, and one of Paul’s disciples and fellow missionaries in the early spread of the Gospel through the Roman world. He is the author both of the Gospel that bears his name and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles. He apparently did not know Jesus, writing that he compiled his narrative from the report of “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses” (Luke 1). A tradition attested by Eusebius holds that he was one of the first members of the Christian community at Antioch.

Much can be gleaned about his character from his writings. In his Gospel the elements particular to him include much of the account of the virgin birth of Jesus, some of the most moving parables such as those of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, and the words of Jesus during his passion to the women of Jerusalem and the penitent malefactor who was crucified alongside Jesus. All of these elements emphasize the compassion of Christ, which together with Luke’s emphasis on poverty, prayer, and purity of heart make up much of his specific appeal to the Gentiles, for whom he wrote this Gospel of the Savior of the world. Women figure more prominently in Luke’s Gospel than in any other, including Mary, Elizabeth, the widow of Nain, and the woman who was a sinner. Luke also emphasizes Jesus’ deity, from the angelic announcement of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” that applies the Roman imperial titles of soter (savior) and kyrios (lord) not to Caesar in Rome, but to the newborn child in the backwater town of Bethlehem; to the subtlety of the Greek words used to address Jesus by different persons (or angels) at different times through his Gospel. In the first part of his Gospel, up through the passion and death of Jesus, human beings address Jesus as “master”, while angels refer to him as “Lord” (the Greek kyrios echoing the Hebrew adonai, a term applied to God). After his Resurrection, through the witness of God’s vindication of him, Jesus is called “Lord” by his disciples.

In the Acts of the Apostles Luke shows himself a remarkably accurate observer, concerned with making necessary links between the history of the early Church and the contemporary history of the Roman Empire. As noted about his Gospel, above, Luke showed himself an artist with words, which is perhaps the basis for the tradition that he was a painter and that he made the first icon of the Blessed Virgin. For this reason, Luke has become the patron not only of physicians and surgeons, but also of artists. When he is represented with the other Evangelists, his symbol is an ox, derived from Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1) and sometimes explained by reference to sacrifice in the Temple in the early chapters of his Gospel.

Luke was with Paul until the apostle’s martyrdom in Rome. What became of Luke after this is unknown. Early tradition holds that he wrote his Gospel in Achaia, and that he died at the age of eight-four in Boetia. In 357 the emperor Constantinus the Second had the presumed relics of Saint Luke translated from Thebes in Boetia to Constantinople, where they were placed with the relics of Saint Andrew in Church of the Holy Apostles. The observance of his feast day on the eighteenth of October is quite old in the East, but it appears on Western calendars only in the eighth century. The date itself is universal, and may be based on the actual date of his death.

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

The Collect

Almighty God, who inspired your servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of your Son: Graciously continue in your Church this love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lesson
Sirach 38:1-4,6-10,12-14

Honor the physician according to your need of him,
for the Lord created him;
for healing comes from the Most High,
and he will receive a gift from the king.
The skill of the physician lifts up his head,
and in the presence of the great he is admired.
The Lord created medicines from the earth,
and a sensible man will not despise them.

He gave skill to human beings
that he might be glorified in his marvelous works.
By them he heals and takes away pain;
the pharmacist makes of them a compound.
His works will never be finished;
and from him health is upon the face of the earth.
My child, when you are sick do not be negligent,
but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you.
Give up your faults and direct your hands aright
and cleanse your heart from all sin.

Give the physician his place, for the Lord created him;
let him not leave you, for there is need of him.
There is a time when success lies in the hands of physicians,
for they too will pray to the Lord
that he should grant them success in diagnosis
and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.

Psalm 147:1-7
Laudate dominum

How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!

The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem; *
he gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted *
and binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars *
and calls them all by their names.

Great is our LORD and mighty in power; *
there is no limit to his wisdom.

The LORD lifts up the lowly, *
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; *
make music to our God upon the harp.

The Epistle
2 Timothy 4:5-13

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.

The Gospel
Luke 4:14-21

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, vhe went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The icon of Saint Luke the Evangelist is from the hand of Master Theodoric, the fourteenth century Prague court painter of the Holy Roman emperor Charles the Fourth.

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Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch and Martyr, c. 115

Presumably of Syrian origin, nothing is known of the early life of Ignatius of Antioch or even of his episcopate before his last journey from Antioch to Rome, during which he was under military guard because he had been condemned to death for being a Christian in Trajan’s persecution of the Church. In the course of this journey, while still in Asia Minor, he wrote seven letters which make him one of the most important witnesses to the faith and order of the subapostolic Church. Four of the letters were written at Smyrna, where he had been received with great honor by Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, and many others of the faithful. These letters were addressed to the churches at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, and Rome. The remaining three letters to Polycarp and to the churches at Philadelphia and Smyrna were written while he was at Troas.

The letters reveal Ignatius to be ardently devoted to Jesus Christ, whose deity and resurrection from the dead they clearly affirm. Against the docetic teaching that exalted the deity of Jesus against his humanity, Ignatius writes: “Stop your ears therefore when anyone speaks to you that stands apart from Jesus Christ, from David’s scion and Mary’s Son, who was really born and ate and drank, really persecuted by Pontius Pilate, really crucified and died while heaven and earth and the underworld looked on; who also really rose from the dead” (To the Trallians, 9). The letters also urge unity in and through the Eucharist and the local bishop, who presides at the Eucharist: “Take care, then, to partake of one Eucharist; for, one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the cup to unite us with his Blood, and one altar, just as there is one bishop assisted by the presbyters and the deacons, my fellows servants. Thus you will conform in all your actions to the will of God” (To the Philadelphians, 4). Against those who object that a teaching is not in the “official records”, that is, in the Old Testament Scriptures, he insists that Jesus Christ is himself the content of the Scriptures: “When I heard some say, ‘Unless I find it in the official records – in the Gospel I do not believe’; and when I answered them, ‘It is in the Scriptures,’ they retorted: ‘That is just the point at issue.’ But to me the official record is Jesus Christ; the inviolable record is his Cross and his death and his Resurrection and the faith of which he is the Author” (To the Philadelphians, 8).

Ignatius believed the Church to be God’s holy order in the world, so he shows great concern for the proper ordering of the Church’s teaching, worship, and common life. He writes: “You must all follow the lead of the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed that of the Father; follow the presbyters as your would the Apostles; reverence the deacons as your would God’s commandment. Let no one do anything touching the Church, apart from the bishop. Let that celebration of the Eucharist be considered valid which is held under the bishop or anyone to whom he has committed it. Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic Church” (To the Smyrnaeans, 8). Of note, this is the first occurrence of the word “catholic” as a description of the Church. Ignatius describes the church at Rome as the one founded by the Apostles Peter and Paul, and therefore worthy of special reverence.

Ignatius describes himself as a servant, a disciple, and the “bearer of God” (theophoros), convinced of Christ’s presence within him. On his way to Rome for execution, he called himself “God’s wheat…and by the teeth of wild beasts I am to be ground that I may prove Christ’s pure bread.” He was thrown to the lions in the Colosseum and died almost at once. His letters were soon translated into Latin and several Eastern languages. One of his letters was cited by the sixth century British cleric, Gildas the Wise.

The Church at Antioch has kept his feast on the seventeenth of October from very early, as the Roman Church has done since 1969, and since that time, many Anglican Churches as well. The Book of Common Prayer (1662) keeps his feast day on the seventeenth of December, the date of the translation of his relics.

prepared with material from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
and Ancient Christian Fathers: The Epistles of St Clement of Rome and St Ignatius of Antioch (trans. James Kleist)

The Collect

Almighty God, we praise your Name for your bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present to you the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray, the willing tribute of our lives and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The propers for the commemoration of Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch and Martyr, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops and Martyrs, 1555

Nicholas Ridley was born around 1500 at Willemotewicke, Northumberland, and received his education at Pembroke College, Cambridge, with which he was connected for many years.  After studying at Cambridge, he furthered his studies at the Sorbonne and at Louvain, returning to become a Fellow of Pembroke Hall around 1530.  A close friend of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and a supporter of the archbishop’s reforming views, Ridley became Cranmer’s chaplain in 1537, and vicar of Herne, Kent, in 1538.  He was chosen Master of Pembroke Hall in 1540 and chaplain to King Henry the Eighth and Canon of Canterbury in 1541.

A member of the circle of Cambridge academics attracted to the Continental Reformation, from around 1535 he had definite leanings towards the teachings of the Reformers, partly through a study of Ratramnus’ book on the Eucharist.

Early in the reign of King Edward the Sixth, Ridley was made Bishop of Rochester and a member of the commission that prepared the first Book of Common Prayer (1549).  In 1550 he was transferred to the See of London, where he showed himself a diligent advocate and thorough administrator of the principles of the Reformation.  Like fellow reforming bishop Hugh Latimer, he preached against the social injustices of his age.  In 1553 he supported the claims of Lady Jane Grey to the Crown, and on Queen Mary’s accession he was deprived of his see and imprisoned.  With Cranmer and Latimer, he participated in 1554 in the Oxford disputations against a group of Roman Catholic theologians and would not recant his reformed theology, leading to his excommuncation.  He was sentenced to death and burned at the stake with Latimer at Oxford on October 16, 1555.

Born the son of a yeoman farmer around 1485 at Thucaston, Leicestershire, Hugh Latimer was graduated from Clare College, Cambridge, and became a Fellow of the college in 1510.  After ordination to the priesthood, in 1522 his eloquence and zeal in reforming abuses and defending social justice led the University to license him as one of the twelves preachers commissioned to preach anywhere in England.  Though of a conservative bent, from around 1523 his opinions began to become suspect to the ecclesiastical authorities, and according to his own account, he was dramatically converted to the doctrines of the Reformers by Thomas Bilney, a Cambridge scholar who was later burned at the stake (in 1531) as a heretic.  When in 1525 Ridley declined the request of his bishop, West of Ely, to preach a sermon against Martin Luther, he was forbidden to preach anywhere in the diocese.  After skillfully defending himself before Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, he was again allowed to preach throughout England.  Latimer’s directness of method, his understanding of human character, his homely style and ready wit won his sermons greater influence, and a sermon preached before King Henry the Eighth in Lent of 1530 won him royal favor.  This same homiletical character, his passionate devotion to the reform of Church and society, and his zeal for the moral life of Christian clergy and people made him one of the outstanding preachers of the English Reformation.

After Cranmer’s appointment to the See of Canterbury in 1533, Latimer’s position further improved, and when, in 1534, Henry formally broke with Rome, Latimer was appointed a royal chaplain.  Appointment to the See of Worcester followed in 1535, and in his sermons as bishop he continued to denounce social injustices and other contemporary corruptions, attacking also Catholic teaching on purgatory, images, and other points.  He supported the King in the dissolution of the monasteries.  But in 1539, when in accordance with his Protestant beliefs he opposed the Act of the Six Articles (Henry’s statement of conservative Catholic doctrine), he resigned his see on hearing that this was the King’s wish.  Taken into custody, he was freed in 1540, but was ordered to leave London and was forbidden to preach.  Little is known of the intervening years, but in 1546 he was confined to the Tower of London, to be released the following year on the accession of Edward the Sixth.  He became very popular as a court preacher, continuing to denounce abuses in Church and society.  On Queen Mary’s accession he was arrested and imprisoned, refusing to flee the country.  After the Oxford disputations, he was excommunicated.  Refusing to recant, he was condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake with Nicholas Ridley at Oxford on October 16, 1555.  His last words to Ridley are famous:  “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as (I trust) shall never be put out.”

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

The Collect

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servants, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, 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, now and for ever. Amen.


The propers for the commemoration of Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer, Bishops and Archbishop, are published at the Lectionary page website.  This sanctoral calendar, in keeping with that of the Church of England, commemorates Thomas Cranmer separately, on March 21.

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Teresa of Avila, Monastic, 1582

Born of an aristocratic Castilian family at Avila in 1515, Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada showed precocious piety by playing as hermits with her younger brother and by once running away from home with him, hoping to reach Morocca and to die as martyrs.  She was reared at home according to her station in life until she was fourteen, when her mother died.  In adolescence she became interested in romances and fashion, whereupon her father sent her to be educated by Augustinian nuns in the town.  A year and a half later she fell ill, and after reading St Jeromes’ Letters during her convalescence, she decided to become a nun.  Her father was at first unwilling, but later gave consent, and Teresa entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in Avila at twenty.  A year later she fell ill again, possibly from malaria.  She left the convent to stay with her family during the treatment of her illness, and on her recovery three years later she returned to the convent.

At this time the community at the Incarnation was large, comprising one hundred forty nuns, and the nuns’ observance of the rule was relaxed.  The parlor was frequented by ladies and gentlemen of the town, and the nuns were able frequently to leave the cloister.  In this atmosphere where solitude and poverty seem lightly to have been esteemed, Teresa first practiced mental prayer, then abandoned it, to take it up again after her father’s death, never again to give it up.  Gradually she entered more deeply into the practice of prayer until in 1555 she experienced an interior conversion, identifying herself with two penitents, St Mary Magdalene and St Augustine of Hippo, whose Confessions were deeply influential in the formation of her piety.  She was helped by Dominican and Jesuit spiritual directors, but her visions and other experiences became more widely known through indiscretion and led to misunderstanding, ridicule, and even persecution.

After twenty-five years or more of this more relaxed religious life, she determined to found a house where the primitive Carmelite rule would more strictly be observed.  She met with opposition from ecclesiastical and civil authorities, but her new house of St Joseph at Avila, founded in 1562 with thirteen nuns in conditions of poverty, hardship, and solitude, became the example for sixteen other houses during her lifetime and provided inspiration and an example for reforms in other countries and centuries.  Personal poverty was signified by the coarse brown wool habit and the leather sandals.  The regimen of manual work, together with alms, provided their income for a very simple way of life which included perpetual abstinence from meat.  Teresa herself took her turn at sweeping, spinning, and other household tasks.  Teresa’s robust common sense and prudence, and her trust in God’s providence, allied with an extraordinary capacity for work and organization overcame many obstacles.  In selecting candidates for this austere way of life, she insisted above all on intelligence and good judgment (“God preserve us from stupid nuns,” she remarked), because she believed that intelligent people see their faults and allow themselves to be guided, while narrow-minded people fail to do so, but are pleased with themselves and never learn to do right.

During the late 1560s she was also active in the reform of the Carmelite friars in association with John of the Cross and this, like her own convents, met with much opposition from the unreformed Carmelites, but eventually the Discalced (reformed) Carmelites were recognized and given and independent juridical structure.

Teresa’s teaching on prayer was complemented by John’s more theological approach, and her own writings in a vivid vernacular stress among other things the existence of different kinds of prayer which are neither rudimentary nor properly mystical.  Fortunately for posterity she was commit her teaching to writing, and she authored several books, including her autobiography, the story of her foundations, The Way of Perfection (written for nuns), and The Interior Castle, her most mature teaching on prayer and contemplation.

Teresa established her last foundation of Discalced Carmelite sisters at Burgos in 1582, and died on her way back to Avila at Alba de Tormes on October 4 (Old Calendar).  Her body was buried and still rests there.  In 1662 she was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1970 she was declared a Doctor of the Church, the first woman so honored.

prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The propers for the commemoration of Teresa of Avila, Nun, are published on the Lectionary Page’s website.

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Mea culpa, again

I neglected to post the biographical sketch and collect for the commemoration of St Paulinus of York on Wednesday, October 10.  The oversight has been rectified.

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Edward the Confessor, King of England, 1066

Edward was born in 1002, the child of Æthelred, king of England, and his Norman wife Emma. Living in exile during the rule of the Scandinavian kings Sweyn and Cnut, the first of whom seized the throne from his father, Edward was invited back to England in 1042 to become king. He was heartily welcomed as a descendant of the old Saxon royal line.

Sustained by Edward’s diplomacy and determination, his reign was a balancing act between the influences of stronger characters at home and abroad. Some have seen him as a weak, vacillating ruler who paved the way for the Norman Conquest, while others have stressed his tenacity and cunning which enabled him in a state of near-isolation to preserve peace for over twenty years, while Danish and Norman magnates struggled for power. He was concerned to maintain peace and justice in his realm and to avoid foreign wars, but his reputation for holiness was built on his personal, rather than his political, qualities. He was accessible to his subjects, generous to the poor, and hospitable to strangers. His marriage with Edith, the daughter of Godwin, earl of Wessex, was supposedly unconsummated, a belief that added to the sanctity ascribed to him by his subjects. He was also reputed to have seen visions and to have had portentous dreams, after one of which, concerning the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, he sent envoys to the emperor in Constantinople to inquire after the dream’s meaning. He strengthened the close ties between the English Church and the Church in Rome, sending bishops to Leo the Ninth’s councils in 1049 and 1050, and receiving papal legates in 1061. He promoted secular (non-monastic) clerics, sometimes from abroad, to bishoprics, thereby diminishing the near monopoly of monastic bishops.

But this did not imply a lack of esteem for monasticism. Having vowed as a young man while still in Normandy to go on a pilgrimage to Rome should his family’s fortunes ever be restored, he later felt it irresponsible to leave his kingdom, and was permitted to fulfill the vow by endowing a monastery dedicated to Saint Peter. Edward chose the abbey on Thorney Island, by the Thames, thus beginning the royal patronage of what would become known as Westminster Abbey. At one time he devoted a tithe (one tenth) of his income to the abbey. He made generous grants of land to the abbey and built a huge Romanesque church, three hundred feet long, which was finished and consecrated just before his death. He was too ill to attend the consecration and died on the fifth of January 1066. His relics were translated to the Abbey Church of Saint Peter on this day in 1163, during the reign of King Henry the Second who, though of French birth, was related by blood to Edward through his great-grandmother, Saint Margaret of Scotland. The abbey church that Edward so richly endowed, and where his relics await the Resurrection to this day, became the place of coronation and burial of the kings and queens of England and is well known throughout the world today.

prepared from Celebrating the Saints,
The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, and other sources

The Collect

Sovereign God, you set your servant Edward on the throne of an earthly kingdom and inspired him with zeal for the kingdom of heaven: Grant that we may so confess the faith of Christ by word and deed, that we, with all your saints, may inherit that heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


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

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