Monday, 12 November 2012

Saint Aidan

During the seventh century Northumbria, comprising the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira, was a battleground in which the fate of rival kings determined whether the Celtic or the Roman Church shouldbe the prevailing missionary influence. In 616, when King Ethelfrith of Northumbria was defeated in battle and slain, his son Oswald took refuge in Scotland and was converted to Christianity at Iona. Edwin, the new king, also became a Christian, but under the influence of Saint Paulinus, bishop of York, whose allegiance was to Rome. After Edwin's death in 633, Paulinus abandoned his work in northern England. Oswald returned from exile and eventually became king, whereupon he sent to Iona for a bishop who would preach the gospel in Northumbria.
The first Celtic bishop, Corman, soon returned to Iona, where he declared that the Angles of Northumbria were too stubborn and intractable. The historian Bede writes that, at a meeting to discuss the problem, an Irish monk called Aidan suggested that Corman had been unreasonably harsh with his unlearned listeners, and "did not first, as the Apostle has told us, offer them the milk of less solid doctrine". It was immediately resolved to send Aidan to Northumbria as bishop.
Little is known of the saint's early life, save that he may have studied under Saint Senan on Scattery Island, Co. Clare. He arrived in Northumbria c. 635, and with Oswald's consent made his headquarters on the offshore island of Lindisfarne, close to Oswald's castle at Bamburgh. It was a fruitful partnership, with Oswald having on occasion to interpret the words of Aidan, who lacked fluency in the English language.
When Oswald was killed in battle in 642, Aidan worked equally well with Oswin, king of Deira. Aidan preached widely throughout Northumbria, travelling on foot, so that he could readily talk to everyone he met. When Oswin gave him a horse for use in difficult terrain, Aidan Saint Aidanquixotically gave it to a beggar soliciting alms. Oswin was angry until, as Bede recounts, Aidan asked if the son of a mare was more precious to the king than a son of God. Oswin sought Aidan's pardon, and promised never again to question or regret any of his wealth being given away to children of God. Both Oswald and Oswin are venerated in England as saints and martyrs.
Scores of Scottish and Irish monks assisted Aidan in his missionary work, building churches and spreading Celtic Christian influence to a degree that Lindisfarne became the virtual capital of Christian England. The saint also recruited classes of Anglo-Saxon youths to be educated at Lindisfarne. Among them was Saint Eata, abbot of Melrose and later of Lindisfarne. In time, Eata's pupil, Saint Cuthbert, also became bishop of Lindisfarne.
Aidan lived a frugal life, and encouraged the laity to fast and study the scriptures. He himself fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, and seldom ate at the royal table. When a feast was set before him he would give the food away to the hungry. The presents he received were given to the poor or used to buy the freedom of slaves, some of whom entered the priesthood. During Lent Aidan would retire to the small island of Farne for prayer and penance. While there in 651, he saw smoke rising from Bamburgh, which was then under attack by the pagan King Penda of Mercia. He prayed for the wind to change, and many of the besiegers were destroyed by fire.
When Oswin was killed in 651 by his treacherous cousin Oswy, king of Bernicia, Aidan was grief-stricken. The saint outlived Oswin by a mere twelve days, dying in a shelter he had erected against the wall of his church in Bamburgh.
From the Appletree Press title: A Little Book of Celtic Saints.

Among the Cloud of Irish Witnesses October--December

October 11
Canice, bishop. Ossory diocese. 6th century

Canice (Kenneth) was a friend and companion of St Columba. Adomnαn mentions him in his Life of Columcille. The son of a bard from county Derry, he later founded many monasteries in Ireland. Wales and Scotland cherish their link with him also. His foundation at Aghaboe in Leix became the principal monastery in Ossory diocese. A lonely figure, he copied the scriptures and became known as the preacher who loved the countryside and animal life.Pray on his day for the earth's conservation and for all those who care with compassion for animals increase our thanksgiving for the dedicated life of St Canice. S.
Lord, how various are your works,
in wisdom you have made them all
and the earth is full of your creatures:
Grant that, as we praise you for the life and preaching of Canice
among the hills and rivers of Kilkenny,
so we may after his example learn to regard the heritage
we have in this beautiful land as a trust
to preserve and hand on for those who come after us,
for your glory endures for ever;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

October 12
Móibhí. Teacher. 545.

Móibhí's name has a special association with Glasnevin, Dublin. Here he founded a monastery. Among his pupils was the great St Columba. Today the College of St Móibhí (Coláiste Móibhí) prepares candidate-teachers for entrance to the Church of Ireland College of Education.On his day, prayer is offered for all those engaged in teaching both in primary and secondary schools.
Intercession is made for all whose vocation for teaching is developing.
We pray for those in university and college life who have the responsibility of teaching those in training for the teaching profession. S.
Almighty God,
your apostle commanded Timothy to choose and instruct those
who would in turn be able to teach others.
We thank you for the life and example of your servant Móibhí, teacher of Columba, and pray that those called to be teachers of the faith today may be enabled to inspire those who will also teach those who come after them; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

October 16
Gall, missionary Down diocese. 630

St Gall came from Leinster to Bangor in county Down to be trained in the monastery there by Comgall. He set off for Europe as a missionary with St Columbanus and others in 589. Although he did not found the St Gall monastery in Switzerland which bears his name and is a famous reminder of his Christian evangelising, his gentle life of holiness made a deep impression both in France and Switzerland.We pray for the missionary tradition of the Church; for all those who in their lives and by their deaths have glorified God in many continents, including Europe.
We pray too for the European Economic Community and Ireland's part in its life and work.
We remember scholars, librarians, researchers who study and conserve ancient scriptural manuscripts and the records of the Christian church.
We pray for the library of the Representative Church body, its archivist and assistant and all who read and study there. S.
Almighty and everlasting God,
with whom your weak ones go forth as the mighty:
We thank you for your servant Saint Gall
who went boldly in your Name as missionary
to barbarian invaders of Europe in his day
and commended the gospel through his gentle life of holiness;
may your church ever respond
to the commission to spread the gospel
and draw inspiration from the saints of old;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

October 27
Otteran, abbot. Waterford diocese. 563

Otteran, an abbot from Meath, was one of the companions who sailed with Columba from Lough Foyle. He died soon after the landing on Iona. His burying-place, the Realig Odhrain, later became also the burying-place for kings of Dalriada, Scotland and Norway. Scandinavian links with Iona explain the special place Otteran has as Patron of the see of Waterford which was founded by the Danes.We pray for all who travel, especially for emergency services which serve travellers and lighthouse keepers, the Life Boat service and helicopter rescue crews.
We pray for Waterford, for the witness of the Cathedral of the Blessed Trinity (the "Christ Church" of the Danes) founded in the 10th century by Reginald the Viking.
We give thanks for all who went from the port of Waterford to found new homes in America, Australia and New Zealand.
God of the whole world:
your servant Otteran died far from home
and his place of burial became that of kings as well,
help us to know that wherever you take us
it is there that we are to help others;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

November 3
Malachy, bishop. Armagh and Down dioceses. 1148

To Malachy is due the restoration, re-organisation and re-unification of the Church in Ireland after the ravages of the Norsemen. In his time the dioceses of Ireland were first organized as we know them. Under his leadership the arrival of the Anglo-Normans was less of a disaster than it might have been. He co-operated with John de Courcy in the assimilation of the Norman influence in Ulster, including the re-formation of the Abbey of Down under the Benedictine order. He also undertook the rebuilding of the Cathedral of Armagh and gained the recognition of Armagh as the Primatial See.We pray for all the dioceses of the Church of Ireland, and all who maintain the organization of the Church in them.
We pray for the Archbishop of Armagh, with his leadership responsibilities as Primate of all Ireland.
We pray for the continuing witness of the cathedrals of Armagh and Down.
you called Malachy to be a re-builder
and restorer of the Irish Church:
Look upon your Church in this land today,
correct what is amiss and supply what is lacking;
that we may more and more bring forth fruit to your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

November 14
Laurence O'Toole. Dublin and Glendalough dioceses. 1180

He was made abbot of the monastery in Glendalough at the age of 25. Then in 1162 he was chosen by the clergy and laity of Dublin to be their first archbishop. In the days of Strongbow with whom St Laurence worked to restore Christ Church cathedral in stone, there were many political problems and clashing interests. St Laurence has been described as "self-effacing and self-denying" as he prayed and worked for the settling of differences at Eu in Normandy.We pray for the united diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, for the archbishop, clergy and people.
We pray for the worship and witness of the cathedral of the Holy Trinity "Christ Church", on the hill of Dublin's city.
We pray for those who work for peace and reconciliation where there is strife and conflict. S.
Almighty God,
in Christ Jesus you were reconciling the world to yourself
and entrusted to your Church the ministry of reconciliation:
As we recall the self-effacing
and self-denying ministry of Laurence O'Toole
among the clashing interests of Church and State
in Dublin in his day,
we pray that in our time your church and all its members
may be committed to the same ministry of reconciliation
of men and women to you and to one another;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

November 23
Columbanus, abbot. Down diocese. 615

From Leinster, Columbanus went to Bangor where he spent many years in monastic life there with St Comgall. Then, about the year 590, he set out with 12 companions for France (Gaul). He is counted as the most important of the Irish Missionaries who went out "into voluntary exile" to evangelise the European continent. Travelling through France, Germany and Switzerland, he finally settled at Bobbio in north Italy. His rule was a strict one and was largely superseded by the rule of St Benedict later in. Bobbio's monastery, which he founded is famous for its library and insular (Irish style) biblical manuscripts.Pray for the missionary work of the Church, for leaders and pioneers, for teachers and administrators.
Let us pray for all who are training for the sacred ministry of the church, their witness and their life of discipline. S.
Father God,
we give thanks that from Bangor you sent out
a great band of missionary pilgrims with Columbanus
to bring back the light of the gospel
where it had been extinguished in Europe:
Grant that the church following his example may always accept
the yoke and discipline of Christ
and in faith be obedient to his call;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

November 24
Colman. Cloyne diocese. 601.

There are some hundreds of saints called Colman. The Colman who built the first church at Cloyne in Co. Cork was ordained late in life at the age of 50. He was influenced by Brendan the Navigator as he searched for his vocation. Brendan called him a column or a pillar (columna) of the church and also a dove (columba).We pray for the diocese of Cloyne, its bishop, clergy and people.
We give thanks for those who have served its cathedral and all its parishes, remembering among them the life of philosophical learning and virtuous living spent in the diocese for some twenty years as bishop by George Berkeley from 1734-1753. S.
Almighty God,
you called your bishop Colman
to be a builder of churches in Cloyne,
giving him such grace that he was known
as a pillar of the Church and a man of peace:
Grant to all who, after his example search for their true vocation,
constancy in their seeking
and ready obedience when they discover it;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

December 18
Flannan. Killaloe diocese. 640.

St Flannan's Day is also celebrated in Scotland. He is one of the many travelling Irish saints, who embarked on long journeys, often by water as well as overland, partly as missionaries but also as pilgrims, making a spiritual "peregrination" to witness on the way for Christ. Flannan succeeded Mo-Lua who founded Killaloe cathedral on the Shannon. St Flannan's oratory beside the cathedral is an impressive example of early Irish architecture. Its large size and sound stone construction have been widely admired.We pray for the diocese of Killaloe, its bishop, clergy and people.
We pray for travellers, for pilgrims, and all those who witness for Christ at home and abroad. S.
Almighty God,
in whose service Flannan travelled by land and water
as a missionary pilgrim to witness to Christ on the way:
Help us in our pilgrimage to be ever constant to Christ
and in your mercy receive us at last into eternal rest;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Among the Cloud of Irish Witnesses July--September

July 6
Moninne of Killeavy, Armagh diocese. 518

Moninne, sometimes called Darerca or Bline, founded a small monastery for women (eight virgins and one widow, according to one tradition). She continued in Killeavy, not far from Newry, the spirit of the teaching and pastoral concern of Patrick and Brigid.We give thanks for the many women who have served the church either as individuals or as members of a community or fellowship over the years.
We pray for those women in the Church's ministry and for those preparing for ordination.
We give thanks for women who have gone out from Ireland to serve the Church overseas.
We give thanks for the clubs and societies, for the Mothers' Union, the Girls' Friendly Society, and the other uniformed organizations for girls.
We remember the work of the Christian Renewal Centre, Rostrevor, praying for the promotion of peace and spiritual co-operation. S.
during his ministry on earth
your Son accepted the devotion and service of many woman.
We thank you for the devoted life of
Moninne of Slieve Gullion in Armagh
and the many other woman whom you used
in the building of the Church in this land.
Bless all women in the Ministry of your Church today,
that it may be renewed and strengthened, to your honour and glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

July 8
Kilian, bishop and martyr. Kilmore diocese. 689

Kilian from Cavan was a missionary to Franconia and rebuilt the Church in Baden and Bavaria. Many pre-Reformation cathedrals in Germany and Austria were dedicated in honour of Kilian, pre-eminent among them being that at Wόrzburg, where with two companions he was murdered in 689.We pray for links with the Church in Germany.
We pray for the development of the European Union.
God, you called missionaries from Ireland with Saint Killian
to take the message of the gospel to Franconia and Bavaria;
Grant that the church may draw strength from their examples,
and never lack zeal
to proclaim your love when the going is difficult:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

July 24
Declan, bishop. Lismore diocese. 5th century.

Declan, of Ardmore in West Waterford, was a prince of the tribe of Decies among whom there were Christians prior to the coming of Patrick. It is believed that when Patrick was escaping from slavery he received Christian hospitality among the Decies. The round tower (95 feet in height) at Ardmore is probably the best surviving example of its kind.We give thanks for the earliest Christian witness in Ireland.
We pray for all who exercise Christian hospitality.
Light of all who sit in darkness:
as we remember with thanksgiving Declan,
and those who spread your light
when this land was in the grip of paganism,
strengthen all who bear witness
to those who do not know Jesus Christ.
Grant this for his Name's sake.

August 9
Felim. Kilmore diocese. circa 560

Felim (spelt Fedilmith in Adomnαn's life of Columba) was the father of Columba (Colmcille), according to tradition. The abbey on Trinity Island in Lough Oughter, not far from the diocesan cathedral, recalls the early days of Christianity in Cavan and the neighbourhood. A later Norman doorway from the island is now incorporated in the present cathedral. William Bedell, the much honoured 17th century bishop of Kilmore, is remembered for his saintly life and his work of translating the scriptures into the Irish language.We pray for the diocese of Kilmore, the bishop, clergy and people of the parishes in the towns and farming areas.
We give thanks for all who have responsibility of translating and teaching the scriptures.
We remember the life and worship of the Irish Guild of the Church. S.
Gracious Father,
you call men and women from all stations in life to your service:
Give to all parents,
after the example of Prince Felim, father of Columba,
wisdom in the upbringing of their children
to the praise and glory of your holy Name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

August 9
Crumnathy or Nathi c.610 Achonry Diocese

The monastery of at Achonry in Co. Sligo was founded by Finian of Clonard at some date in the sixth century and was established under Saint Nathi as a centre of prayer and study.We pray for all places where study and prayer go hand in hand, for Summer Schools and Retreat Centres.
We pray for Saint Deniol's Library in North Wales and Saint George's College in Jerusalem which seek to serve the Anglican Communion in this way
God of all ages:
we pray that, encouraged by the example of Saint Crumnathy,
we may devote time and prayer to study the Holy Scriptures,
which may make us wise unto salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

August 12
Muredach, or Murtagh c. 480 Kilalla Diocese

Muredach was an "old man", perhaps a presbyter or priest, in Saint Patrick's household. At the conclusion of his mission to the West Patrick left his companion to be bishop in W. Sligo and Mayo. One tradition says that at the end of his life he went to live as a hermit on the island of Innishmurray.We pray for companionship, for those who are lonely, and we give thanks for those who go to unfamiliar places in the service of Christ's mission.
We pray also for the faithfulmembers of the church in Co. Mayo and the north west of Co. Sligo especially as they welcome visitors at holiday time.
Powerful God,
whose power holds us and leads us in the service of Christ
and whose ear hearkens to our needs:
like Muredach of Patrick's household, may we find Christ
in the hearts of all that love us
and in the mouth of friend and stranger.
We ask this in Jesus' Name.

August 13
Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor and Dromore. Writer. 1667

Jeremy Taylor, the distinguished Anglican theologian, who wrote devotional and theological books in the difficult days of the Commonwealth in England, came to Ireland in 1658 and is gratefully remembered in Lisburn and Ballinderry. In 1660 he became Bishop of Down and Connor. Although the times were controversial, he maintained, as was said at the time much "largeness and freedom of spirit". His books Holy Living and Holy Dying are still in print. A study of his teaching on the Holy Communion by H.R.McAdoo (Archbishop of Dublin 1977-1985) has drawn attention to the importance of Taylor's teaching in the book, The Real Presence (1654).We give thanks for the courage of bishop Jeremy Taylor, who was "valiant for truth."
We ask for God's blessing on inter-church dialogue continuing throughout the world in the search for Christian truth.
We remember in prayer the diocese of Dromore and the work of its cathedral where Jeremy Taylor was buried. S.
Almighty God,
your servant Jeremy Taylor found in this land
a grove of peace in time of conflict
and was called to be a bishop
to bring order at a time of reconstruction:
Grant that we who give thanks for his holy life and legacy
may be strengthened by your Spirit
in Holy Living and for Holy dying;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

August 14
Fachtna (or Fachanan) bishop. Ross diocese. 6th century.

Fachtna was described as being "a wise and upright man" and one with a great gift for preaching. He was the founder of the community of Rosscarbery in West Cork.We pray for all who are to the ministry of preaching that they may be gifted by the Holy Spirit.
from of old you have given wisdom
to your prophets and preachers:
grant to all, who like Fachtna
are sent as heralds of the kingdom, wise words
and strength of character
that the world may believe you sent your Son to be Saviour of all:
even Jesus Christ our Lord.

August 16
Charles Inglis, bishop. 18th century.

Charles Inglis was the son of a rector of Glencolumbkille in County Donegal (diocese of Raphoe). After ordination, he served in New York at the down-town Trinity Church, and later had the distinction of being consecrated at Lambeth Palace as the first bishop of Nova Scotia and first bishop in the British Empire overseas (1787). He is remembered regularly in the Church at Glencolumbkille each August.We give thanks for the pioneering work of Bishop Inglis, and also for many others who have gone out from the Church of Ireland to serve the Anglican Church of Canada.
We pray for the Church in French Canada, the Maritimes and the province of Canada, including especially Nova Scotia.
We remember the Irish in Canada belonging to all the churches. S.
Almighty God,
as we remember with thanksgiving Charles Inglis,
first bishop of the Anglican Church in Canada,
we thank you for the sons and daughters
of the rectories of the Church of Ireland
called to the ministry of your Church.
We pray that in whatever parts of the world
your ministers serve
they may lay firm foundations for faith, worship
and nurture in the things which belong to the Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

September 3
Oengus Mac Nisse of Dalriada. Connor diocese. 514

Oengus Mac Nisse (or Macanisius) the first bishop of Connor is thought to have been at Kells as a hermit earlier in his life. The story told of him may reveal his sense of dedication; instead of carrying his Gospel book in his satchel as was customary, he bore it on his shoulders "hunched up or on all fours!"We pray for the diocese of Connor, and the parishes of County Antrim.
We ask for God's blessing on the schools and all places of education in the area.
We ask for God's continued blessing on the work of peace-making and reconciliation in the Corrymeela Fellowship. S.
for whom Oengus Mac Nissa gladly bore
the burden of leadership as bishop
among the hills of Antrim:
Keep those whom you call as leaders in Church and State
always mindful of their duty to Jesus Christ,
whose servants they are,
and to whom be glory in the Church to all generations, for ever and for ever.

September 9
Ciaran of Clonmacnois. circa 545

Clonmacnoise on the east bank of the river Shannon, where the ancient chariot-road through the centre of Ireland crossed the river, was an outstanding centre of prayer and study and monastic life. Many missionaries went out from here to the European Continent, including Virgilius (Fergal), Archbishop of Salzburg, and Alcuin's teacher, Colgu. Among the books written here were the Annals of Clonmacnoise, the Book of the Dun Cow, and the Annals of Tigernach (Tierney). Ciaran from Connaught was the founder. The stones, the cross of the Scriptures and the stone churches encircling "the great stone church", a thousand years old, make an impressive sight.We give thanks for our Christian heritage of learning, missionary zeal, sculpture and the arts.
We ask for God's blessing on the annual open-air service of witness attended by many hundreds each July beside the river Shannon.
We pray for those who share in the worship of the Church of Ireland's Temple Conor, one of the ancient churches on this historic spot, remembering the Dean of Clonmacnoise, the bishop, and the parishes of the diocese of Meath. S.
High King of Heaven,
we give thanks for the ministry of Ciaran
and for the centre of learning and mission
he established at Clonmacnois:
Keep before your church such a vision of yourself
and a sense of your abiding presence
that we may worship you in spirit and in truth here on earth
and through Christ receive heaven's joy at the last;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

September 10
Finnian of Moville in the Ards. Down diocese. 579.

Finnian was educated at the abbey of Nendrum on Mahee island on Strangford Lough. After spending twenty years in Scotland as student and missionary he came to Movilla (5 miles from Bangor) to found his monastery. There is a tradition that the Psalter, called the Cathach ("the battle-book"), now in the Royal Irish Academy, was one of Finnian's books. Some scholars say that Finnian introduced to Ireland its first copy of Jerome's Vulgate version of the scriptures. Several Finnians are associated with the famous story of Columba's secret copying of the manuscript without permission; the king's judgment against Columba was supposed to have led to his exile in Iona.We give thanks and pray for the missionary societies (C.M.S., U.S.P.G., the Dublin University Missions in India and China and Far East).
We pray also for religious education in all schools, especially all education that develops mutual understanding between the different Christian tradition in this island.
We remember the pioneering work of Lagan College and other schools with similar policies. S.
Heavenly Father,
your Son Jesus Christ prayed and taught the people
in the hills above the Sea of Galilee;
and you led Finnian to establish
on the hill above Strangford Lough
a place of prayer and learning:
Help us to draw closer to you in prayer
and by study of your word,
and thereby equip us for the service of the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

September 23
Eunan, Abbot. Raphoe diocese. 7th century

Eunan (or Adomnán) was born near Raphoe, in County Donegal, in 627. His Life of Columba gives us a vivid and warmly human account of the famous saint of Iona and the community life there. Adomnαn also wrote about the Holy Land, hearing from Arculf, a visitor to Iona, about the sacred sites of the Gospel. Through his visits to Northumbria, Adomnαn accepted the Roman way of dating Easter and abandoned the Celtic style of tonsure. He died in 704.We give thanks and praise to God for the life and example of Eunan; for his constant efforts to promote "concord and peace"; for his rejection of violence.
We praise God also that through the writings of Eunan, the missionary and evangelistic work of St Columba became widely known.
We pray for the churches in Scotland.
We pray for the diocese of Derry and Raphoe, for the bishop, clergy and people in counties of Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry. S.
Lord God, your servant Eunan
recorded the grace you gave to his mentor, Columba.
We thank you for all who have handed on
the teaching of faithful men and women
to encourage us in following the example
of all that has been true and good in their lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

September 25
Fin Barre. Cork diocese. 623

From his hermitage at Gougane Barra in west Cork, he travelled down the river Lee to found his school and monastery among the "marshes" of what is now Cork city. In his lifetime he was honoured as a teacher and described as "this loving man, Barre of Cork".We pray for the witness and worship of St Fin Barre's Cathedral, its dean and chapter, its choir and congregation.
We pray for the bishop of Cork and all the parishes of the diocese. S.
We give you thanks, Father God,
for the example of that loving man, Fin Barre of Cork,
and pray that as he served you as a teacher of the faith
so we may always follow his example
in faith, in hope and in love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Among the Cloud of Irish Witnesses April--June

April 18
Laserian, abbot. Leighlin diocese. 639

Laserian, often called affectionately Mo-laise, was abbot of Old Leighlin. The cathedral, sheltering among the hills of County Carlow, is a place of peace and beauty. It is said that Laserian may have received his training in Iona. His name is certainly honoured in Scotland (Arran) as well as in other parts of Ireland (Inishmurray, of the coast of County Sligo).We pray for the Dean and the Chapter of Leighlin and for the whole bishopric of Cashel and Ossory.
We pray for Scotland and give thanks for the witness for peace and reconciliation on the island of Iona and through the Iona Community.
We pray for the Episcopal Church in Scotland and for the increasing fellowship being fostered among the churches which share a Celtic heritage. S.
God of peace and beauty
who called Laserian to minister in Scottish islands
and in the rolling land of Carlow:
Bless the ministers of your church
wherever they are called to serve,
making them ministers of reconciliation and of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

April 27
Assicus (or Tassach) bishop. Elphin diocese. 470.

Tassach was a close friend of Patrick, and as bishop of Raholp, near Saul, attended Patrick on his death bed. Tradition ascribes to him the skills of a brass-worker and coppersmith.We pray for all who care for the dying, and for the hospice movement.
We give thanks for all with artistic skills and work with metal for the glory of God.
God our Father,
your servant Tassach brought the sacrament of Holy Communion
to Saint Patrick as he was dying:
Support us all through this troublous life
and at the last give us safe lodging and rest in you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May 10
Comgall of Bangor, abbot. Down diocese. 602

Comgall was the founder and first abbot of Bangor Abbey, said to have been the largest monastery in Ireland, with as many as three thousand in the community at one period. Comgall visited Columba in Iona and worked closely with him in spreading the Gospel. Columbanus was trained at Bangor before setting out on his missionary journeys to Europe. There was a strong family-spirit in the community life at Bangor. Counselling, as well as instruction, was an important part of the training. To Comgall is attributed the saying, "A man without a soul-friend is a body without a head."We pray for universities and schools
We remember the work of the Church of Ireland Theological College and all who have responsibility for training candidates for the Church's ministry. S.
Almighty God,
you raised your Son to be Lord of light and Saviour of our race
and to your saints have given wondrous grace:
We praise you for holy and learned Comgall
whose scholarship made this land
a bright shining light in ages of darkness:
Pour out your Spirit to renew your Church in Ireland
making it once again a land of saints and scholars,
and bringing glory to your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May 14
Carthagh. Lismore diocese. 637

The cathedral dedicated to Carthagh, (or Macodi) continues worship first begun in the ancient monastery by the River Blackwater in the west of County Waterford. The graceful spire was highly praised by Thackeray on his Irish visit as "the prettiest I have seen in, or I think, out of, Ireland".We give thanks for those who have faithfully maintained this much visited centre of worship.
We pray for all who serve the church as architects, builders and artists, as through their skills they give glory to God
We give thanks also for the Church's liturgy, expressed through the services of prayer books, as living worship both for the individual and the parish communities. S.
God, who formed the hills of the earth
and created the valleys:
grant that as we honour you for your servant Carthagh,
founder of your Church in the hills
and valleys of West Waterford,
we may in parish church and cathedral glorify your holy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May 16
Brendan, "the Navigator". Ardfert and Clonfert dioceses. 577

Born in Tralee in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, Brendan founded his monastic school in Clonfert, where the present cathedral with its outstandingly beautiful West Door recalls a great tradition. Brendan's travels, not only to Aghadown (Galway), but also among many islands round the coasts of Ireland and Scotland, and further still to Iceland, have stirred the imagination of many. Inspired by his adventures they have imitated his courage. Was it a companion of Brendan that founded the monastery on the summit of Skellig Michael? Did Brendan sail even further towards the sunset?We remember seafarers and explorers and praise God for those who have set out overseas to proclaim the Gospel.
We pray for pilgrims, pioneers and all who undertake spiritual journeys to further the work of Christ.
We pray for the Coast Guard and Life Boat Service in their watching and rescuing.
We pray for the work of the Missions to Seamen and the "Flying Angel" Centres in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. S.
God of sea and land,
you endowed your servant Brendan with a bold and adventurous spirit
to occupy himself for your business on the great waters
and revealed to him your wonders in the deep:
Make us, who recall with thanksgiving his life and ministry,
zealous to be pioneers and pilgrims for the faith of Christ;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

June 3
Kevin. Glendalough diocese. 618.

"Of gentle birth", as his Irish name declares, Kevin is associated with the lovely Glendalough valley in the Wicklow hills where he lived a contemplative life, and which became the burial place of the kings of Leinster. A community gathered round this man of prayer, and the monastery associated with him, had a high reputation. He as both poet and musician and his influence was strong for many centuries especially on Lawrence O'Toole.We remember all who minister in isolated places; and those called today to a life of prayer.
We give thanks for all who use their skills in poetry and music in the service of the Gospel: for composers and poets, organists and organ-builders.
God of the quiet hills and the busy city: we thank you for places of beauty which draw people close to you
and for those like Kevin of Glendalough who inspire us
as they communicate their love of you in music and poetry.
May we respond with deeper devotion to our Lord
and in loving service of our neighbours.
Hear our prayer in the name of Jesus.

June 6
Jarlath, Tuam diocese. circa 550

Jarlath's life and learning lie behind the Christian traditions in the diocese of Tuam. Saint Mary's Cathedral stands on the site of the earliest place of worship. The chancel arch which marks the entrance to the sanctuary is strikingly composed of six semi-circular concentric and recessed arches. This impressive example of Hiberno-Romanesque architecture is justly famous.We pray for the bishop, clergy and people of the parishes throughout the diocese, where the population is scattered and distances between parishes are great.
We pray for all engaged in local industry and land development.
We remember those who have gone abroad to work in other countries, praying that families keep in touch with their faith and heritage.
We pray also for all concerned with welcoming visitors who come for holidays and rest to a countryside of lakes and mountains, sea-shores and breathtaking views. S.
God, whose praises are sounded
from the rising of the sun to its setting:
we thank you for Jarlath
by whose life and learning
you built the Church in the West of Ireland.
We pray that in that countryside of lakes, mountains and seashore
your holy Name may be for ever praised;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

June 7
Colman, Dromore Diocese. 6th century

It is said that there are as many as 200 Colmans in the list of Irish saints. Colman of Dromore is to be distinguished from Colman of Cloyne (remembered on November 24).Dromore's Colman is included in the ancient calendars of both Scotland and Wales. Famed as a teacher of St Finnian of Moville, Colman continued the pastoral and teaching traditions of St Patrick. Dromore cathedral dedicated to Christ the Redeemer has drawn inspiration through the centuries from Colman's zeal for faith and truth.
We pray for all engaged in the teaching profession; for the colleges of education , their members of staff, and the students engaged in teacher-training.
We pray, too, for all schools, their teachers and pupils.
We remember those who specialise in religious education, both in day-schools and in Sunday schools. S.
Holy God,
we praise you for all who,
like your servant Colman of Dromore,
have taught the Faith of Christ to young and old
and inspired others to give their lives in his service:
Continue, we pray, to give your church
zeal like his for faith and truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

June 27
Richard Fitzralph. Archbishop of Armagh, reformer. 1360

He was popularly known as "St Richard of Dundalk". A learned scholar, at one time Chancellor of Oxford University, he has been affectionately honoured in Dundalk, the place of his birth, for his compassionate and caring nature. Figuring with importance in church history, he was nevertheless deeply concerned for the sufferers during the Black Death among the people of Dundalk and Drogheda and their surroundings. He had an option for poor. This however did not prevent him from criticising the mendicants of the day. Some of his teaching and writing influenced John Wiclif, later providing insights about a Christian stewardship of possessions. Pilgrims who visited his tomb
"Many a mile did walk
but had never seen so good a man
as Richard of Dundalk."
We pray for all who are concerned with social justice and the relief of the needy.
We pray for the work of the Church's societies for social responsibility, and the creation of opportunities for work for all. S.
Holy and merciful God,
you gave Richard Fitzralph not only gifts of piety and learning
but also such compassion for those were suffering and in need
that he strove to care for them:
Enable the members of your church after his example
to seek holiness in life and integrity of intellect
with a like concern for the helpless;
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Among the Cloud of Irish Witnesses


January 2
Munchin, abbot, Limerick diocese, 7th century

Munchin, affectionately known as "the wise" is honoured in Limerick and is called that city's patron.We pray for the bishop, clergy and people of the diocese of Limerick, giving thanks for the tradition of prayer and study begun by Munchin, the "little monk", in a golden period of Irish Christianity and Celtic monastic life. S.
Source of all wisdom,
you so inspired your servant Munchin
that he became affectionately known as 'The Wise':
Renew in your church the tradition of prayer and study,
that we may for ever honour you with heart, soul and mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

January 31
Edan, bishop, Ferns diocese, 632

This bishop, the founder of Ferns, is variously spelt as Edan. or Aedan, or M'-Aed-oc (Mogue). He symbolises the close link between Ireland and Wales: Ferns might be said to be twinned with Menevia.We remember in prayer all who serve in the diocese of Ferns, with special concern for its agricultural and industrial life throughout the county of Wexford.
We pray too for the Church in Wales, recalling the traditional, though not chronological, spiritual relationship between David of Wales and Mogue of Ferns.
We ask for God's blessing on the life and worship of the beautifully-ordered cathedral at Ferns, remembering in our intercessions the dean and chapter as well as the congregation. S.
God, in the persons of your bishops Edan and David
you linked the young churches of Wales and Ireland:
Help us to rejoice in the spiritual relationships
we enjoy in the fellowship of your church;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

March 5
Kieran of Seirkeiran. Ossory diocese. circa 545

Kieran or Ciaran was both bishop and monk. Born in West Cork, but from an Ossory family, he appears to have travelled to Europe where he was ordained. On his return to Ireland he settled at Seir (Saighir) near Birr, first as a hermit and then as abbot of a large monastery there. He also had a hermitage on the island of Cape Clear, off West Cork. Fascinating tales of his life surrounded by the animals of his neighbouring woods have often been re-told.We remember on this day two dioceses, Ossory and Killaloe. Each has a share in the life and history of Seirkeiran.
We pray for Europe as well as our own country, for peace and understanding among the nations, for the European Community and the part played in it by our country.
We pray for those who work for the conservation of the countryside and its wild-life. S.
Lord God,
maker of all things wise and wonderful,
all creatures great and small:
We recall with thanksgiving your servant, Keiran,
who lived close to your creation.
Make us mindful of our responsibility for the good earth
in which you have placed us,
and guide us to preserve that which you have given
for the well-being of the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

March 24
Macartan, bishop. Clogher diocese. circa 505

Tradition names Macartan as the "strong man" of Saint Patrick, who established the church in Clogher and spread the Gospel in Tyrone and Fermanagh. An eighth century manuscript of the gospels, associated with a silver shrine, Domnach Airgid, in the Royal Irish Academy, is linked with the early Christian life of Clogher diocese .We pray for the life and worship of the two diocesan cathedrals, dedicated to Saint Macartan, one in the village of Clogher, the other in the town of Enniskillen.
We remember the bishop, clergy and people, giving thanks for their witness for peace and reconciliation, and that, in our times, "Enniskillen" has symbolised courage and tolerance in the midst of suffering and conflict. S.
Heavenly Father,
we thank you for Macartan, faithful companion of Saint Patrick,
and builder of your church in Clogher:
Build up your church through those whom you call to leadership
in this generation,
and strengthen your church to proclaim the gospel
of reconciliation and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Excavating Early Scottish Christianity

Excavations on the Scottish island Eigg have uncovered a seventh century C.E. structure thought to be the monastery founded by St. Donnan, one of the first missionaries in Scotland. Also known as Donnan of Eigg, the priest traveled through northwest Scotland before settling on Eigg, where he was martyred in 617 C.E. The site features Pictish pottery in the graveyard as well as an oval enclosure and ditch, a characteristic of contemporary monasteries, which maintained a separation between sacred and exterior spaces. The Eigg History Society received funding from the Heritage Lottery to locate the monastery, and archaeologist John Hunter announced in The Scotsman that the findings surpassed his expectations. Donnan, the patron Saint of Eigg, evangelized the island and the Scottish archaeology discoveries memorialize and bear witness to a major figure in the dissemination of Christianity on the British Isles.

Scottish archaeology at Eigg has exposed a structure related to the seventh century C.E. St. Donnan, an evangelizing figure in early Scottish Christianity.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Acca of Hexham

Abbot & Bishop
Bornc. 660
Died20 October 740 or 742
Honored inRoman CatholicismAnglicanism;Eastern Orthodoxy
MajorshrineHexham AbbeyNorthumberland(part of cross survives)
Feast20 October

Remnant of cross that stood at the head of Acca's grave. On display at Hexham Abbey.
Acca (b c. 660 – 740 or 742), Bishop of Hexham.
Born in Northumbria, Acca first served in the household ofBosa, the future Bishop of York, but later attached himself to Saint Wilfrid, possibly as early as 678, and accompanied him on his travels. On the return from their second journey to Rome in 692, Wilfrid was reinstated at Hexham and made Acca abbot of St Andrew's monasterythere. After Wilfrid's death in 709 Acca succeeded him as bishop.
Acca tackled his duties with much energy, in ruling the diocese and in conducting the services of the church. He also carried on the work of church building and decorating started by Wilfrid. He once brought to the North a famous cantor named Maban, who had learned in Kent the Roman traditions of psalmodyhanded down from Gregory the Great through Saint Augustine.
He was also famous for his theological learning; his theological library was praised by Bede. He was known also for his encouragement of students by every means in his power. It was Acca who persuadedStephen of Ripon (Eddius) to take on the Life of St. Wilfrid, and he lent many materials for the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum to Bede, who dedicated several of his most important works, especially those dealing with Holy Scripture, to him.
For reasons now unknown Acca either withdrew, or was driven from, his diocese in 732. Some sources say he became bishop of Whithorn in Galloway, while others claim he founded a see on the site of St. Andrews, bringing with him relics collected on his Roman tour. He was nevertheless still buried at Hexham. Two finely carved crosses, fragments of one of which still remain, were erected at the head and foot of his grave.
He was revered as a saint immediately after his death. His body was translated at least three times: in the early 11th century, by Alfred of Westow, sacrist of Durham; in 1154, at the restoration of the church, when the relics of all the Hexham saints were put together in a single shrine; and again in 1240. His feast day was 20 October. The translation of his relics was commemorated on 19 February.
The only surviving writing of Acca's is a letter addressed to Bede and printed in his works (see also Raine below).
  • Raine, J.Priory of Hexham (Surtees Society, London 1864), containing the text of Acca's letter to Bede and other relevant material on his life
  • Stanton, Richard, A Menology of England and Wales (London, 1892), 507
  • Simeon of Durham, and Ælred's On the Saints of Hexham, both in the Rolls Series
  • EddiusLife of Wilfrid (ed Raine, J.,Historians of the Church of York, London 1879–94; ed Levison, W., in Mon. Germ. Hist.Scriptores Rerum Merovingicarum, vol. 6 (1913); or ed B. Colgrave, Cambridge 1927)
  • Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People (many editions)
  • Hunter Blair, P., The World of Bede (1970)
  • Kirby, D. P. (ed), St Wilfrid at Hexham (1974)
  • External links

St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey (detail) near to Hexham, Northumberland, Great Britain

St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey (detail)
St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey (detail)
Three faces of the cross are carved with complex vine-scroll tracery, an early Christian motif; see alsoNY9364 : St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey.


Acca's Cross
So says the modern inscription on the plinth in the south transept of Hexham Abbey. On it is all that remains of a tall, intricately carved cross. It is worn and weathered, its inscription no longer readable. It lacks nearly a metre of the shaft and three parts of the cross-head, but what remains is a significant remnant from the 8th century that has played a leading part in the Abbey story.
Acca became the best loved of Hexham saints. During St Wilfrid’s later years, he was the older man’s loyal companion, eventually succeeding him as abbot and bishop. He had little of Wilfrid’s abrasive energy and tireless ambition. Acca’s godly work was mostly limited to Northumbria, but in that narrower setting he worked many wonders.
Acca journeyed with the ageing Wilfrid on his last visit to Rome. Later he told his friend Bede of their stay at Utrecht with the saintly Archbishop Willibrord, Wilfrid’s old pupil who was carrying on his work of converting continental heathens. For his part, Acca devoted himself to building the faith in Northumbria, bringing to completion Wilfrid’s great centre of Christian worship and learning at Hexham.
Bede left a glowing account of the work Acca did during the quarter of a century when he led the community at Hexham. He adorned the church with paintings, sculpture and rich hangings; he gathered sacred relics and built side-chapels to house them; he created a library of godly books; he brought from Kent a skilled teacher of Gregorian chant named Maban, to ensure that the music and liturgy of the church were as fine as any in Europe. Acca was both a first-class musician and a learned theologian.
In his later years Acca ran into difficulties. It seems that he was deposed about 732, perhaps for political reasons linked with the overthrow of a Northumbrian king at about the same time. Perhaps he was exiled, though when he died a few years later his remains were buried at Hexham. By that time his friend and biographer, Beds, was no more, so we have no reliable information about Acca’s later years. We cannot be sure whether he died in 737, as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says, or 740, as a later chronicler maintains. We do not know what he did or where he went in the years after his deposition. Perhaps he travelled to the monastery of Whithorn and helped establish there a bishopric; or perhaps he visited the Picts, taking with him the Hexham cult of devotion to St Andrew and so giving Scotland its patron saint.
Nor can we can be sure when Acca was recognized as a saint, though it was probably not until four centuries after his death. When after 1113 canons sent by the Archbishop of York re-started Hexham as an Augustinian priory, they took a lively interest in the early history of their church. Prior Richard wrote enthusiastically of the splendid days of Wilfrid and Acca; Ailred, son of Eilaf, listed in The Saints of Hexham the early bishops and their miraculous deeds. They and other chroniclers told how these long-gone saints had arranged for the priory heavenly protection from Scottish armies by sending timely floods and mists.
Spital Cross Back
Conveniently, the canons also rediscovered the ancient burial places of Acca and his fellow saints outside the eastern end of the church. Acca’s remains had been first brought into the church early in the 11th century; then, in 1155, the canons moved the bones of Acca and four other early bishops with ceremony and rejoicing to a decorated table near the high altar of their newly rebuilt church. Some time before this a Hexham chronicler had supplied Syrneon of Durham with a note about a grave believed to be Acca’s; there, he said, “two stone crosses decorated with marvellous carvings worn placed, one at his head, the other at his feet. On the one at his head was an inscription stating that he was buried them.” This inscribed cross may be the one now re-erected in the south transept. However, some argue that the 12th-century writer was mistaken, and the supposed gravestone was in fact a preaching cross. Such crosses were often set up during the centuries after St Oswald’s first wooden cross at Heavenfield. Perhaps Acca’s grave was marked only by a small pillow-stone with a simple cross, like that now built into the west wall of the nave.
Some time later the cross was broken up. This may have been before 1349, when the eastern chapels were built, or it may have been at the Reformation. 19th- century antiquaries put the cross together again; they rescued the middle section from under those chapels when they were demolished in 1858, the lower section from Dilston where it had been hacked about to serve as a lintel over a farmhouse door, and the two top pieces from the foundations of a warehouse near the Market Place site of St Mary’s Church. For a time the reunited fragments were displayed at Durham before returning in 1936 to Hexham Abbey.
Spital Cross Front
There stands beside Acca’s Cross now a section of another cross, known as the Spital Cross since it once stood near the house on the site of the medieval Hospital of St Giles. The Spital cross-shaft has on its back and sides a vine-scroll not unlike that on Acca’s Cross, but on its main face is carved a Crucifixion scene: Christ hangs on the Cross with a halo about his head; on the left a soldier is stabbing him with a spear, on the right another may be holding a sponge.
Both crosses deserve close study. Centuries of exposure have robbed the carving of clear-cut sharpness, and no trace remains of the colour that once enriched them; but there is still evidence of the skill and devotion of the craftsmen who shaped them. On the larger cross in particular they traced a wonderfully intricate vine scroll; swirling and all- embracing, the vine breaks into a delicate interlace to encircle leaves and fruit. It is a reminder both of the Mediterranean and Roman roots of the faith Wilfrid brought to Hexham, and of Christ’s words in John 15: “I am the vine, and you the branches. He who dwells in me, as I dwell in him, bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing.”
When Wilfrid first set men to work on St Andrew’s Church, his Northumbrian followers knew nothing of alien craftsmanship in stone. Acca’s Cross is ample proof of the skills they acquired half a century later, and of their joy in using their hands for the service of God.
Text: Tom Corfe. Illustrations: Sheila Corfe

St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey

near to Hexham, Northumberland, Great Britain

St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey
St. Acca's Cross, Hexham Abbey
'The modern inscription on the plinth of the tall, intricately carved cross (in the south transept) says "The cross which stood at the head of the grave of Acca Bishop of Hexham AD 709-732 who died AD 740". The cross is worn and weathered, its inscription is no longer readable, and it lacks nearly a metre of the shaft and three parts of the cross-head. But what remains is a significant remnant from the 8th century. To the right of Acca's Cross is a section of another cross, known as the Spital Cross because it once stood near the site of the mediaeval Hospital of St Giles.' [Source: (adapted from) Hexham Abbey Leaflet No.8]


Our holy Father Acca as a young man joined the household of Bosa, bishop of York, and later became a disciple of the great St. Wilfrid, bishop of York and later of Hexham. For thirteen years he accompanied his teacher on his journeys through England and on the continent, and was a witness at his holy repose. And when Wilfrid died, in 709, he became his successor as abbot and bishop of Hexham in Northumbria.
The Venerable Bede called Acca "the dearest and best loved of all bishops on this earth." Bede also praised his theological library and dedicated several of his works to him. On becoming bishop of Hexham Acca completed three of Wilfrid's smaller churches and splendidly adorned his cathedral at Hexham, providing it with ornaments of gold, silver and precious stones, and decorating the altars with purple and silk. Moreover, he invited an excellent singer called Maban who had been taught church harmony at Canterbury to teach himself and the people. He himself was a chanter of great skill.
In 732 Acca either retired or was expelled from his see, and later became bishop of Whithorn in Southern Scotland. He died on October 20, 740, and was buried near the east wall of his cathedral in Hexham. Parts of two stone crosses which were placed at his tomb still survive.
In about 1030, Alfred Westow, a Hexham priest and a sacrist at Durham, translated the relics of St. Acca, following a Divine revelation, to a place of more fitting honor in the church. At that time the saint's vestments were found in all their pristine freshness and strength, and were displayed by the brethren of the church for the veneration of the faithful. Above his chest was found a portable altar with the inscription Almae Trinitati, agiae Sophiae, sanctae Mariae. This also was the object of great veneration. Many miracles were wrought through this saint. Those attempting to infringe the sanctuary of his church were driven off in a wondrous and terrible manner, and those who tried to steal relics were prevented from doing so.
A brother of the church by the name of Aldred related the following story. When he was an adolescent and was living in the house of his brother, a priest, he was once asked by his brother to keep an eye on some relics of St. Acca which he had wrapped in a cloth and laid on the altar of St. Michael in the southern porch of the church. Then it came into the mind of Aldred that a certain church (we may guess that it was Durham) would be greatly enriched by the bones of St. Acca. So, after prostrating himself on the ground and praying the seven penitential psalms, he entered the porch with the intention of taking them away. Suddenly he felt heat as of fire which thrust him back in great trepidation. Thinking that he had approached with insufficient reverence and preparation, he again prostrated himself and poured forth still more ardent prayers to the Lord. But on approaching a second time he felt a still fiercer heat opposing him. Realizing that his intention was not in accordance with the will of God, he withdrew.
Our holy Father Alcmund was bishop of Hexham from 767 to 781, reposed on September 7, 781, and was buried next to St. Acca. In 1032, he appeared by night to a certain very pious man by the name of Dregmo who lived near the church at Hexham. Wearing pontifical vestments and holding a pastoral staff in his hand, he nudged Dregmo with it and said
"Rise, go to Alfred, son of Westow, a priest of the Church of Durham, and tell him to transfer my body from this place to a more honorable one within the church. For it is fitting that those whom the King of kings has vested with a stole of glory and immortality in the heavens should be venerated by those on earth."
Dregmo asked: "Lord, who are you?"
He replied: "I am Alcmund, bishop of the Church of Hexham, who was, by the grace of God, the fourth after blessed Wilfrid to be in charge of this place. My body is next to that of my predecessor, the holy bishop Acca of venerable memory. You also be present at its translation with the priest."
After saying this, he disappeared. The next morning, Dregmo went to the priest Alfred and related everything in order. He joyfully assembled the people, told them what had happened, and fixed a day for the translation. On the appointed day they lifted the bones from the tomb, wrapped them in linen and placed them on a bier; but since the hour for celebrating the Divine Liturgy had passed, they placed the holy relics in the porch of St. Peter at the western end of the church, intending to transfer them the following day with psalms and hymns and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
But that night, the priest Alfred, who was keeping vigil with his clerics around the holy body, rose when the others were sleeping and took a part of the finger of the saint, intending to give it to the Church of Durham. The next morning a great multitude came to the translation. But when the priest and those with him came to lift the body, it was immovable. Thinking themselves unworthy, they retired, and others came up. But they, too, were unable to lift it. When no one was found who could lift it, the people looked at each other in consternation, while the priest, still ignorant that he was the cause, exhorted them to pray to God to reveal who was to blame for this. That night, St. Alcmund appeared a second time to Dregmo, who had suddenly been overwhelmed with sleep, and with a stern face said to him
"What is this that you have wanted to do? Did you think to bring me back into the church mutilated, when I served God and St. Andrew here in wholeness of body and spirit? Go, therefore, and witness in the presence of all the people that what has unwisely been taken away from my body should be restored, or else you will never be able to remove me from this place in which I now am."
And when he had said this, he showed him his hand with part of the finger missing. The next day, Dregmo stood in the middle of the people and told them all that had been revealed to him in the night, vehemently urging that the person who had presumed to do this should be punished. Then the priest, perceiving that he was at fault, prostrated himself in the midst of the people and revealed to them the motives for which he had committed the crime. Begging for forgiveness, he restored that which he had taken away. Then the clerics who were present came up and without any effort lifted the holy body and transferred it into the church on August 6.
Later, Alfred translated a portion of the relics of Saints Acca and Alcmund, together with portions of the relics of the other Northumbrian saints: the hermits Baldred and Bilfrid, the Martyr-King Oswin, St. Boisil of Melrose, St. Ebba of Coldingham and the Venerable Bede, to his church of Durham.
Holy Fathers Acca and Alcmund, pray to God for us!
By Vladimir Moss. Posted with permission.
(Sources: The Venerable Bede, Ecclesiastical History; Eddius Stephanus, Life of St. Wilfrid; Simeon of Durham Opera Omnia, ed. T. Arnold, Rolls Series, 1882-85, vol. II, pp. 36-37, 51-52; History of the Church of Durham, ch. 42; David Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford: Clarendon, 1978)

Anglican Options: Rome or Orthodoxy?

    I can still remember the confusion and pain at Nashotah House Seminary when the news began to spread that the 1976 General Convention had passed, by a razor thin margin, a canon to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate. The 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, was teaching theology at the seminary in the fall of 1976. His powerful presence had an almost spell-like effect on everyone and we all looked to him for guidance and wisdom. In true Anglo-Catholic fashion, most, but not all of us, decided to stay and suffer through! We rallied around Lord Ramsey and other sound bishops, like Robert Terwilliger, and we made our threats to stay and not leave!
    There are days now, when I wish that I had been able to recognize that the Anglican house was no longer  inclusive enough to find room for orthodox Christians. It would take me another 18 years before it became clear that I truly no longer had a place at the family table in the Anglican Communion, which had been the very place where I had been formed as an orthodox Christian.
    In my case, I fell victim to an Episcopalian bishop who totally ignored the Eames Commission, Lambeth pronouncements and the so-called conscience clause by trying to force me to stand with a woman priest to renew ordination vows. This action was not long after his promise not to force the issue with his clergy who held theological objections to female ordinations.
    The scene was set at the 1993 Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas, meeting in Dodge City (a great place for a show-down). When Canon Joseph Kimmett and I failed to show for the renewal of vows with the woman priest, we were charged with breaking communion with our bishop and the rest of the diocese. This is a serious charge by the bishop, who admitted that no canons had been violated, but his own rules had been broken! Faced with this charge, Canon Kimmett and I found ourselves alone, with absolutely no support from the small group of orthodox bishops who were left in PECUSA. I had watched this sort of thing happen, time and time again. My family and I now knew that we would soon be joining the ever growing list of orthodox Anglicans who were being forced from their ecclesiastical home. We were truly victims of the PECUSA policy of ethnic cleansing!
    When your house is on fire, you have a moral obligation to warn as many as possible who are in the house with you, but you do not have a moral obligation to stay with those who refuse to leave and to burn up with them! The question was which road would we walk? Like most traditionalist Anglicans, I had been checking out my options.
    I  had watched the pitiful hissing and fighting within the Continuing Anglican churches for years. I had come to the conclusion that the main vocation of these various groups was to serve a kind of chaplaincy to small elderly congregations. I had admired Bishop A. Donald Davies for his courage in starting the Episcopal Missionary Church, but again, for a younger priest, this body was a cul-de-sac.
    The real issue was becoming more and more clear for me. It was really an ecclesiastical issue. I wanted to be, without any debate, a member of the Church of the Apostles. The curse of Henry VIII had become active and I had to admit, with much regret, that Anglicanism is now and always had been a Protestant Church1.
    Rome has been the answer for many former Anglicans who have reached an understanding of this truth about our Anglican heritage. There are many who have walked in the footsteps of Cardinal John Henry Newman, and the 11 November 1992 vote in the General Synod of the Church of England to approve the ordination of women is converting this steady stream into a fast flowing river. Recent converts include Charles Moore, the editor of The Sunday Telegram, the Duchess of Kent, author and priest William Oddie and, of course, the most senior prelate ever to have left the Church of England, Graham Leonard, sometime Bishop of London. Surely then, this is the logical road to walk for people who, according to the  branch theory, are part of the Western Catholic Church2? Personally speaking, as a former member of the Society of the Holy Cross, re-union with Rome was a formal part of the rule of life which I faithfully lived.
    I had learned from Archbishop Michael Ramsey that the Anglican Communion wasprovisional by nature. I had heard the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, say that our vocation as Anglicans was to put ourselves out of business3. We were a part seeking to be united with the whole.
    The efforts towards corporate re-union in the last century, under the leadership of Lord Halifax and the Malines Conversations, were a rightful inheritance. In our own time we watched our hopes rise and fall with the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission. The work of ARCIC is now dead. The Pope has made it clear that the ordination of women is a most serious obstacle to re-union, calling it a new and insuperable barrier to Christian unity.
    So, why did I not walk the Newman path to Rome? Why did I not take the Pastoral Provision for married clergy, now provided by the Vatican? Surely, Episcopal laity would feel more at home in the Roman liturgy, when comparing it to the Byzantine Rite, now used by my convert laity?
    When wrestling with these questions, I was often reminded of the old Anglican cure for Roman Fever. The cure was always simply to attend a Roman Mass! Post Vatican II Catholicism has a liturgical style, which most Anglicans find simply dull and uninspiring. I too was reminded of something a priest friend often said, which was: I liked Rome better when Rome didn’t like us!
    Those Anglicans looking to join the Church of Rome need to remember that the much touted book Ungodly Rage was written not about the state of The Episcopal Church, but of the Roman Catholic Church4. While exploring the Roman Church, with my own ears I had heard radical nuns invoking Sophia and the Mother God. Time and again, in theological conversation with Roman Catholics, priests, nuns and laity, I would find myself defending the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger! Did I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I have been doing in The Episcopal Church, only in a larger circle?
    As I contemplated my concern that a jump to Rome was from the fat to the fire, I was reminded of a saying from the Eastern Orthodox Church—Rome is simply the flip-side of the Protestant coin. It seems to me, and many others, that Rome is experiencing a re-discovery of the Protestant Reformation with people like Archbishop Weakland of Milwaukee, Anna Quindlen, Rosemary Radford-Reuther and Richard McBrien leading the charge much like a new vision5 of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and Cranmer!
    I remember one Roman priest telling me that Anglo-Catholics were medievalists caught in a time warp. My own Anglican theological formation by-passed the Council of Trent, looking for roots in the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils. Being a Patristics man was far more natural for an Anglican than to be a medievalist. I had to remember that the Western Patriarchy, the Papacy, has been in schism since 1054. Any Church historian can tell you that the vote at the time of the Great Schism was four to one. If schism is sin, as several Episcopalian bishops have told me, then the Western Church has been in this sin for nearly a thousand years!
    In 1992, I was asked to present a paper at the special convocation marking the 150th Anniversary of Nashotah House Seminary. The focus of this paper centered on two great bishops, Charles Chapman Grafton and the newly canonized St. Tikhon of Moscow. Grafton was deceiving to the eye. He looked every inch a Roman prelate, but to read his theology is to find a strong anti-Roman strain of thought. Grafton wrote that in times of theological confusion it is natural for Anglicans to turn to the East to find our way. Both Grafton and St. Tikhon shared a common vision of Anglican/Orthodox unity in the Faith, but Grafton had few fellow Anglicans who shared his vision.
    There were, and still are, a handful of great Anglican bishops who professed that a strong East wind had affected their own theological thought. Men like Michael Ramsey, Robert Terwilliger and Stanley Atkins come quickly to mind. Canon H. Boone Porter, writing in a forum published in The Evangelical Catholic wrote: …the Eastern Churches embody many of the unachieved goals of Anglicanism6; I believe that the great Anglican bishops have known this to be true.
    Orthodoxy is not strange and foreign reading for classical Anglicans. Father Carl Bell (now Father Anthony Bell, an Orthodox priest), again writing in the options forum in The Evangelical Catholic, makes a strong case showing that the  Anglican way and the Orthodox way are one and the same with the appeal to Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition. Orthodoxy is the best of classical Anglicanism preserved in our day, with an unquestioned link to the Apostolic Church7.
    Anglicans have sought the stamp of approval and validity from the Orthodox Church, almost from the very beginning of the Church of England. Great progress was made, especially in the early part of this century, but, as with Rome, our own actions dashed any formal Orthodox recognition of Anglican validity8.
    Modern Orthodox theologians had become an anchor for so many orthodox Anglicans, and I was no exception. Lossky, Schmemann, Meyendorff and Hopko are only a few of the Orthodox theologians quoted often in traditionalist Episcopalian circles. I cannot count the number of times I have heard traditionalists repeat how much they felt at home reading Orthodox theologians but they could never become Orthodox because the Byzantine Rite was just too exotic!
    There was a time when I would also nod my head in an understanding gesture when this kind of comment was made, so I expect many doubters when I now, in all honesty, after six months as an Eastern Rite priest, write what follows. I understand your concerns, but I can tell you that the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil no longer seem complicated and long. They are now exciting and re-newing. Having made a choice between the modern Roman Rite, formal BCP worship, and the Byzantine Rite, I am now delighted and thankful to worship with the Fathers. Orthodoxy is right belief and right worship.
    As a married priest, my wife and family also had to look at options. The Roman Pastoral Provision would have made my wife an exception. She is, indeed, exceptional, but she is not an exception! That she is a vital part of my life and ministry is fully understood in Orthodoxy. In the Orthodox tradition the priest’s wife is, in fact, highly exalted. My wife is learning the wonderful role of being the Khouria9. So often the married Anglican priest who takes the Pastoral Provision is not given a parish. In Orthodoxy, parish priests are normally married.
    Children are also normative in Orthodox clergy families and what a joy it is to see the high priority that young people have in the Orthodox Church. My eldest son was excluded from Episcopalian campus activities due to his conservative Christian views. He found the Roman campus ministry just as secularized and strange as Canterbury House. The only difference was that it was so much bigger. Now, as an Orthodox student, he finds that he is in complete theological harmony with his fellow Orthodox students and faculty. He is, in fact, the President of the University of Kansas Orthodox Student Fellowship, which is a far cry from the reception he got in the other places. In Orthodoxy I no longer worry about what my children will experience or be taught when they attend a church function away from their own parish. I could not say the same if we were part of the Roman Catholic Church. Who can guess what strange ideas Roman nuns promote these days at Catholic Youth events?
    In a reflection paper, written by Fr. Peter Geldard, former General-Secretary of the English Church Union, three questions are put to Anglicans who are looking at their options. They are as follows:
  • Does the Church in which I wish to be sustained guarantee me the continual grace and comfort of the sacraments as they were instituted by Christ?
  • Does my choice work for the building-up and the unity of the Church or its further disintegration?
  • Is it a Church into which I wish to inculcate my children and grand-children because I am convinced of its future and its ability to convert our nation10?
    In Holy Orthodoxy I can give a most vigorous Yes! to each of these questions. I could not give the same response if I were part of the current American Roman Catholic scene. In the Roman Church, I would still be defending the Church of God. I would be finding like minded groups striving to be the Church within the Church. As a member of the Orthodox Church, I no longer defend the Church; She defends me.


1. For a recent theological history on the nature of Anglicanism see: Aidan Nichols, O.P., The Panther and the Hind; Edinburgh 1993.
2. See Gregory Mathews-Green, Whither the Branch Theory, The Anglican/Orthodox Pilgrim, Vol. 2, No. 4.
3. Comments made at the 1989 North American Conference of Cathedral Deans in response to questions regarding ecumenism. See also: Robert Runcie, The Unity We Seek; London 1989.
4. Donna Steichen, Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism, San Francisco 1994.
5. See E. C. Miller, Jr., Toward A Fuller Vision, Wilton, Ct. 1984, for a complete development of this Anglican/Orthodox vision.
6. H. Boone Porter, An Unexplored Territory, The Evangelical Catholic, Vol. XIV, No. 8, March/April 1992, p. 14.
7. Fr. Carl Bell, A New and Unknown World, The Evangelical Catholic, Vol. XIV, No. 8, March/April 1992, p. 11.
8. See address by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaio to the Church of England General Synod, November 1993. Eastern Churches Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1993/94.
9. Khouria is the Arabic term for the wife of a priest. Presbytera is the common term for Greek Orthodox Christians and Matushka for Russian Orthodox. Thus, just as I would be addressed as Fr. Chad, my wife would be addressed as Khouria Shelley.
10. Unpublished paper written by Peter Geldard; Exploring the Future, 1994.

By Fr. Chad Hatfield

From the now defunct periodical Anglican Orthodox Pilgrim, Vol. 3, No. 1