Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kamehameha and Emma, King and Queen of Hawai’i, 1863, 1885

In 1819, Kamehameha the Second, king of the recently-unified islands of Hawai’i, sat at table with several female relations in his court, effectively nullifying the elaborate religious system of kapu (taboo) that governed the day to day lives of Hawai’ians. This action brought about a crisis, as the king essentially overturned the traditional religious system by this simple act, leaving a void in Hawai’ian culture. Within only a few months, Christian (Congregationalist) missionaries arrived in Hawai’i from Boston aboard the Thaddeus. Stepping into the void created by Kamehameha’s rejection of traditional Hawai’ian religion, the missionaries commenced the Christian conversion of the Hawai’ian people.

Born in 1834, Alexander Liholiho was the grandson of Kamehameha the First, unifier of the Hawai’ian islands and a brutal, if effective, pagan ruler to whom Kamehameha the Second had succeeded. Alexander received his education from the Congregationalist missionaries at the Chiefs’ Children’s School (later the Royal School) in Honolulu. After his primary education, he received legal training. Named by his uncle, Kamehameha the Third, to succeed him as king, it was thought that the young now crown prince would benefit from foreign travel, and at the age of fifteen he and several companions toured the United States, the continent of Europe, and England. While in England, Prince Alexander attended services of the Church of England and was favorably impressed by the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, which stood in contrast to the austerity and extemporaneity of the Congregationalist services with which he was familiar at home.

In 1855, Alexander succeeded his uncle and took the oath as King Kamehameha the Fourth. A year after ascending the throne, Kamehameha married Emma Rooke, granddaughter of the British royal adviser to Kamehameha the First and great-grandniece of that king. Concerned about the growing influence of American missionaries in Hawai’i (a treaty to annex the Hawai’ian islands to the United States had been proposed during his uncle’s reign) and recalling his experience of Anglican liturgy while on his foreign tour a few years previously, the king and queen wrote to Queen Victoria, inviting the Church of England to send missionaries to his kingdom. Bishop Samuel Wilberforce recommended that the mission include a bishop who could organize the church in Hawai’i. With the approval of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (prevented from providing any assistance by the outbreak of the War Between the States) and of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the mission was formed, and the Revd Dr Thomas Nettleship Stanley was consecrated a bishop for Hawai’i in Lambeth Chapel on the fifteenth of December, 1861. The new church was chartered as the Hawai’ian Reformed Catholic Church and became the official royal church of Hawai’i, with lands donated from the royal family’s own holdings.

Both the king and the queen were devoted to their people’s material and spiritual welfare. Kamehameha himself translated the Book of Common Prayer into Hawai’ian, adding a preface explaining “the new teaching”. Kamehameha and Emma were particularly concerned for the healthcare and education of their people. When the Hawai’ian legislature struck down an ambitious public healthcare agenda proposed by the king, the royal couple lobbied local businessmen, merchants, and other wealthy citizens to provide funds. Their efforts were overwhelmingly successful, and eventuated in the establishment Queen’s Hospital (now Queen’s Medical Center) in Honolulu, as well as a leprosarium for the treatment of leprosy patients on the island of Maui.

The royal couple’s only son, Albert, died at the age of four in 1862, and Kamehameha died the following year, on the thirtieth of November. Some eight hundred teachers and schoolchildren walked to pay their respects to their departed monarch, and the king was buried according to the rites of the 1662 Prayer Book, the liturgical standard for the Church of Hawai’i. Since Kamehameha had died on the feast of Saint Andrew, the first cathedral in Hawai’i, constructed under the sponsorship of his brother, King Kamehameha the Fifth, was named for and dedicated to that apostle. (The cathedral has served as the cathedral for the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai’i since the annexation of the islands to the United States.) Emma died in 1885, having dedicated the remaining years of her life to charitable endeavors.

prepared from various sources

The Collect

O Sovereign God, who raised up Kamehameha and Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and inspired and enabled them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of your Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that never fades away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Kamehameha and Emma, King and Queen of Hawai’i, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The image above is of a stained glass window in Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, Honolulu, which includes Kamehameha and Emma in the lefthand panel.

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Mea culpa

I have been away from home due to family matters and so missed posting the commemorations for the last four days. This has now been corrected.

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Edmund, King of East Anglia, Martyr, 870

Born of Saxon stock, Edmund was brought up as a Christian and became king of the East Anglians before 865. In 869 to 870 an army of Vikings, led by Ingwar, invaded East Anglia. Edmund led his army against them but was defeated and captured. He refused to renounce the Christian faith or to rule as Ingwar’s vassal. He was then killed, whether by being scourged, shot with arrows, and then beheaded, as the traditional account relates, or by being “spread-eagled” as a sacrifice to the gods in accordance with Viking practice elsewhere. His death took place at Hellesdon in Norfolk, and his body was buried in a small wooden chapel nearby. Around 915 his body was discovered to be incorrupt and was translated to Bedricsworth, later call Bury St Edmunds. In 925 King Athelstan founded a community of two priests and four deacons to take care of the shrine. His veneration growing through the years, with its fulfillment of the ideals of Old English heroism, provincial independence, and Christian sanctity, by the eleventh century his feast figured prominently in monastic calendars in southern England and later in that of Sarum. His relics were again translated in 1095 to a large new Norman church and re-enshrined in 1198.

His iconography includes an arrow (often a golden arrow), the supposed instrument of his martyrdom, or else a wolf, believed to have guarded his head after death.

adapted from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

O God of ineffable mercy, you gave grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for your Name: Bestow on us your servants the shield of faith with which we can withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Edmund, King of East Anglia and Martyr, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

The icon of St Edmund the Martyr was written by Helen McIldowie-Jenkins and is reproduced here with her generous permission.

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Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, 1231

Born at Pressburg in 1207, the daughter of King Andrew the Second of Hungary, Elizabeth (Erzsébet) was brought up in Thuringia and in 1221 married Louis the Fourth, Landgrave of Thuringia. Ardent, passionate, and handsome, she enjoyed a married life of extraordinary happiness, bore three children, and was generous to a fault. Louis was sympathetic to her extravagant almsgiving and allowed her to spend her dowry in providing for the poor. During a famine and epidemic in 1226, while he was in Italy, Elizabeth sold her jewels and established a hospital for the sick and the poor, and she opened the princely granaries to supply their needs.

In 1227 Louis went on crusade under Frederick the Third, and in less than three months he died of plague. Elizabeth was first incredulous, then distraught almost to the point of insanity. His death was a turning point in her life.

Her brother-in-law Henry, regent for her young son the Landgrave Herman, drove her from the court. Some advisers wished her to marry again, but she refused. In 1228 she settle at Marburg under the spiritual direction of her confessor, Conrad of Marburg, whom she had known since 1225. Conrad’s direction was domineering and severe, and he made Elizabeth dismiss her favorite ladies-in-waiting, for whom he substituted two harsh companions, who would punish her with slaps in the face and with blows from a rod.

Already attracted to their piety and special charism by her longtime concern for the sick and the poor, Elizabeth became a Franciscan tertiary, expressing her ardor in a love of poverty, the relief of the sick, the poor, and the aged by building and working in a hospital close to her modest house. She made ample provision for the education of her own children (her son Herman was deposed by Henry and sent into exile as well). She occupied herself with such tasks as spinning and carding, and cleaning the homes of the poor and fishing to help feed them. She refused an offer to return to Hungary, preferring to live out her life in resilient exile, a life of self-denial and service to the poor that lasted only two or three years. She died on the sixteenth of November 1231 at the age of only twenty-four, exhausted by her austerities. She was canonized only four years later by Pope Gregory the Ninth, and her relics were translated to the Church of Saint Elizabeth in Marburg where they remained until they were removed to an unknown place by Philip of Hesse in 1539. With Louis of France, Elizabeth shares the title of patron of the Third Order of Saint Francis.

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

The Collect

Almighty God, by your grace your servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Elizabeth of Hungary are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, 680

In the following year, that is the year of our Lord 680, Hilda, abbess of the monastery of Streanaeshalch, of which I have already spoken, a most religious servant of Christ, after an earthly life devoted to the work of heaven passed away to receive the reward of a heavenly life on the seventeenth of November at the age of sixty-six. Her life on earth fell into two equal parts: for she spent thirty-three years most nobly on secular occupations, and dedicated the ensuing thirty-three even more nobly to our Lord in the monastic life. She was nobly born, the daughter of Hereric, nephew to King Edwin. With Edwin she received the Faith and sacraments of Christ through the preaching of Paulinus of blessed memory, first bishop of the Northumbrians, and she preserved this Faith inviolate until she was found worthy to see her Master in heaven….

Thus the Venerable Bede introduced his account of the life and death of Hilda, abbess of Whitby, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People.

Related to the royal families of Northumbria and of East Anglia, Hilda, whose parents had lived in exile in the British enclave of Elmet (West Yorkshire), became a Christian at the age of thirteen, instructed and then baptized by Paulinus, the missionary bishop of Northumbria. Chaste and respected, she lived at the king’s court for twenty years, at which point she decided to enter the monastic life. She intended at first to journey to Gaul and join her sister in the convent at Chelles, near Paris, but Aidan, bishop of Lindisfarne, impressed with her holiness of life, gave her a small plot of land on the banks of the River Wear, where she lived according to the monastic rule with a few companions for a year.

Aidan then appointed her abbess of Heruteu (Hartlepool), where she established the rule of life that she learned mostly from Irish sources, based perhaps in part on the Rule of Columbanus. She became renowned for her wisdom, eagerness for learning, and devotion to the service of God. In 657 she founded (or reorganized) the monastery at Whitby (known then as Streanaeshalch) as a double monastery based on Gallic examples, where both nuns and monks lived in strict obedience to Hilda’s rule of righteousness, mercy, purity, peace, and charity. Known for her prudence, kings and nobles as well as ordinary folk sought her advice and counsel. Whitby soon established a reputation for learning, and those living under her direction studied the Scriptures and occupied themselves in good works so diligently that many were found qualified for ordination. Five monks under her rule became bishops of the Church in England, one of whom continued his studies in Rome before returning to England to become a bishop. She encouraged Caedmon, a lay servant at Whitby, and was so delighted with his poetry that she encouraged him to become a monk and to continue singing his inspired poetry. Bede tells us that all who knew Hilda called her Mother because of her devotion and grace. She was an example of holy life not only to members of her own community, but she also brought about the amendment of life and led to salvation many who lived at some distance from Whitby, as they heard about her inspiring industry and goodness.

In 663, Whitby was the site of the famous synod convened to decide between Celtic and Roman practices that were dividing the Church in Northumbria. Hilda favored the Celtic position, but when the Roman position prevailed she was obedient to the synod’s decision. At the end of her life, Hilda was afflicted by a prolonged illness that Bede tells us was intended that her strength might be “made perfect in weakness”. On the last day of her life, the seventeenth of November, 680, she received Holy Communion early in the morning and summoned her nuns to her deathbed, urging them to maintain the Gospel of peace among themselves and with others.

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

The Collect

O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women, that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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The propers for Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

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

The quotation from the Venerable Bede is from The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Penguin Books 1990).

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Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, 1200

Born into a noble family at Avalon, near Grenoble in Burgundy, Hugh received his education and made his profession in the priory of the Augustinian Canons at Villarbenoit. At twenty-five he joined the Carthusians, the strictest contemplative order of the Church at the time, at their major house, the Grande Chartreuse. He became procurator of the house around 1175 and was invited by King Henry the Second of England to become prior of his languishing Carthusian house at Witham, Somerset, founded by the king in reparation for the murder of Thomas Becket. The Charterhouse was insufficiently endowed and had been ruled by two unsuitable priors in succession. Under Hugh the monastery soon flourished and attracted several distinguished monks and canons to its membership.

In 1186, Henry chose Hugh as Bishop of Lincoln, but he refused to accept because he believed the election was uncanonical. Eventually he undertook to rule this, the largest diocese in England at the time, reluctantly and only in obedience to the prior of the Grande Chartreuse. To serve him in the task of overseeing his diocese, Hugh chose worthy and learned men as his canons, to several of whom, as archdeacons, he delegated much of the government of the diocese.

Hugh was reputedly the most learned monk in England, and he revived the schools of Lincoln to such an extent that the writer Gerald of Wales considered them second only to those of Paris. He rebuilt his cathedral, damaged by an earthquake, sometimes aiding the workmen with his own hands. He held synods and visitations, traveled ceaselessly to consecrate churches, confirm children, and bury the dead. His justice was proverbial, and he was appointed to act as a judge-delegate by three popes in succession, for some of the most important cases of his time. The king also appointed him to act in his court. Hugh was austere but gentle, intransigent but tender. He was always a friend of the oppressed and the outcasts, especially lepers (whom he tended himself), and he risked his life in riots to save Jews from death.

Hugh was the friend and critic of three Angevin kings: Henry the Second, John, and Richard the First. He excommunicated royal foresters and refused to appoint courtiers to Church benefices, and he never shrank from reproving the king for unjust exactions from his people. He refused to raise money for Richard’s foreign wars, yet Richard said of him, “If all bishops were like my Lord of Lincoln, not a prince among us could lift his head against them.”

After visiting his home and various monasteries in France, Hugh fell mortally ill in his London house. On his deathbed he gave instructions regarding the completion of his cathedral and his own funeral arrangements. He died on the sixteenth of November, 1200.

One of his sermons, on care for the dead, has survived and several of his sayings. One of the latter was that lay people who practiced charity in the heart, truth on the lips, and chastity in the body would have an equal reward in heaven with monks and nuns. In 1220 he was canonized by Pope Honorius the Third, the first Carthusian to receive this honor.

prepared from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

The Collect

O holy God, you endowed your servant and bishop Hugh of Lincoln with wise and cheerful boldness, and taught him to commend the discipline of holy life to kings and princes: Grant that we also, rejoicing in the Good News of your mercy, and fearing nothing but the loss of you, may be bold to speak the truth in love, in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The propers for the commemoration of Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, are published on the Lectionary Page website.

Saint Hugh is usually depicted iconographically with his tame swan from his manor house at Stow, or with a chalice holding the infant Jesus.

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I have added a post dated November 4 commemorating the French Reformed pastors and theologians Pierre du Moulin and Charles Drelincourt, both of whom had ties to the Church of England. I last posted this commemoration in 2011, but it seemed fitting to restore it to this year’s calendar.

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