Agatha, Virgin and Martyr. Like St. Agnes a type of purity vainly assailed, and (in revenge) martyred with torture under Decius (or Diocletian) at Catana in Sicily; mentioned by Damasus, Bishop of Rome (366), and put into the Calendar by Gregory the Great. -- February 5th.
Agnes, Virgin and Martyr. A young Roman maiden, vowed to purity, vilely assailed by lust, and, in revenge for her stedfast resistance, brought before the tribunal in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 304), and put to death with torture. Her memory is celebrated by St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine (in whose time her holyday was already kept), as a type of chastity and innocence. -- January 21st.
St. Alban, Martyr, according to the old tradition, the first martyr of Britain. He is described as a young Roman officer in the days of Diocletian, who sheltered a Christian priest, and was converted by him. Enabling him to escape, and, while yet a catechumen, offering himself boldly as a Christian to martyrdom, he was scourged and beheaded at Verulamium, A.D. 3.3. There the great Benedictine Abbey of St. Alban's, holding precedence of all others, afterwards arose. The whole tradition is late (in Bede, i. 6. 7); and the Diocletian persecution prevailed but little in Britain (then under the rule of Constantius). But it is difficult to suppose that in it there is no element of historic truth. In the old Sarum and modern Roman calendars St. Alban's Day is the 22nd. Probably the variation is due to a confusion between the two dates in Roman numerals (xvii. and xxii.). -- June 17th.
All Saints. This Festival, so beautifully summing up the special Saints' Day celebrations, dates from about A.D. 610, when the Pantheon, turned into a Christian Church, was appropriately dedicated to "the Blessed Virgin and to All Saints." Its great idea is the Unity of Christians of all ages, countries, and races in Christ, and the perfection of that unity in the bliss of Heaven. -- November 1st.
Alphege, Archbishop (954-1011). Abbot of a Benedictine monastery near Bath, Bishop of Winchester, and Archbishop of Canterbury during the great invasion of the Danes, in revenge for the massacre of the Danish mercenaries on St. Brice's Day (1002). He was a man of a gentle and saintly character, taken prisoner by the Danes on the sack of Canterbury, and murdered at Greenwich after long imprisonment and insult, because he would not ransom himself from the treasures of the Church. His body was buried in St. Paul's, and afterwards translated with great pomp to Canterbury. -- April 19th.
Ambrose, Bishop (340-397). The great Bishop of Milan from 374-397. Of noble birth and high education, governor of Liguria at the time of vacancy of the see of Milan, he was designated by acclamation to the see while yet a catechumen, baptized, ordained, and consecrated at one time. He at once became the leading prelate of the West, strong in the assertion of ecclesiastical authority, victorious against Arianism and dying Paganism, the rebuker of the great Theodosius in the name of Christ for a bloody massacre at Thessalonica, the organizer of the Ambrosian ritual and music (introduced from the East) at Milan, the converter of St. Augustine, and a writer of vigour, fervour, and high ability, although his strength lay mainly in action and rule over men. -- April 4th.
St. Andrew is the first recorded disciple of Our Lord, and in some sense His first Evangelist, as bringing to Him his own greater brother, St. Peter (John i. 40, 41). In the Gospel narrative St. Andrew is noted in association with the chosen Three, at the class at Galilee (Matt. iv. 19), and on occasion of Our Lord's prediction of the fall of Jerusalem (Mark xiii. 3); and in association with Philip, his fellow-townsman, in the first call in Judæ (John i. 40), at the feeding of the five thousand (John vi. 8), and at the coming of the Greeks to Our Lord in the Holy Week (John xii. 22). Of his special character and work Scripture records nothing. Tradition tells us of his preaching in various quarters, and of his crucifixion at Patræ in Greece, on a cross of the form which now bears St. Andrew's name. -- November 30th.
St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin, wife of Joachim. She appears in the Apocryphal Gospels in a legend of long childlessness, followed by special promise and miraculous birth of her child. The name is unknown in Scripture or the early Fathers before Epiphanius (A.D. 368), and the legend marks the growing cultus of the Virgin. The Emperor Justinian built a church to St. Anne in the 6th century. -- July 26th.
The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Festival (fixed in date by Christmas) is of early origin, being apparently an old established Festival in the 7th century. Like the Purification, it is properly a Festival of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and this idea is preserved in the Collect. But as it dwells on the Blessed Virgin, as highly favoured of the Lord, it naturally passed into a commemoration of her; and (as is shown by its popular name "Lady Day"), became the chief of the various Festivals, which in later times marked the ever-increasing reverence directed towards the mother of the Lord -- prolific of a mass of extraordinary legend, and of a veneration, which has become actual worship. It is beyond all dispute that Holy Scripture and primitive antiquity, while they bring out her blessedness and dignity, give no vestige of authority for all that has gone beyond this, both in the Eastern and in the Western Church. -- March 25th.
St. Augustine, Bishop (354-430), the great Bishop of Hippo, and father of Latin Theology, who has perhaps more than any other writer affected Christian thought, especially on the doctrines of Justification and Predestination, and whose influence was dominant with all the great leaders of the Reformation. He was a native of Tagaste in North Africa, in his youth a student of literature and teacher of rhetoric, inclined to passion and self-indulgence, an inquirer in the Manichean and other schools, and even by the prayers of his saintly mother Monica not persuaded to be a Christian. At Milan he was converted and baptized by St. Ambrose at the age of 33, ordained priest and consecrated Bishop at Hippo in 395, where he ministered till, just before the conquest of North Africa by the Vandals, he was taken from the evil to come, in 430. The personal and spiritual force of his Confessions and Retractions; the profound theology of his writings against Manichæism and Pelagianism, Arianism, and Donatism; his wonderful Commentaries on Scripture, Sermons, and Letters; his contrast of the "City of God" with the kingdom of the world, expiring in the fall of Rome -- all have laid hold of the mind and heart of Christendom with a power fairly unexampled in the history of the Church, if not of the world. -- August 28th.
Augustine, Archbishop. (St. Augustine of Canterbury). He was a Roman monk, the chief agent in the conversion of the Saxons, which was primarily the work of Gregory the Great. He landed in 596, baptized King Ethelbert in 597, was consecrated in Gaul as first Archbishop of Canterbury in 598, and founded the Bishoprics of Rochester and London before his death in 604. He was apparently an earnest and eloquent but not a great man, guilty of some harshness and arrogance in relation to the old British Church, and leaning throughout for guidance on the larger and loftier mind of Gregory; but rightly honoured as having been privileged to be the founder of English Christianity. -- May 26th.
St. Barnabas the Apostle. The surname "Barnabas," "son of (prophetic) exhortation," was given to Joses (Joseph), a Levite of Cyprus, the first giver of the price of his land to the Christian community. He is recorded afterwards as the introducer of St. Paul after his conversion to the brethren in Jerusalem; and his companion in the preaching at Antioch, in the mission with alms to Jerusalem, and in the first missionary journey to Cyprus and Asia Minor; till after their dispute about St. Mark, he is parted from St. Paul and so passes out of the history (see Acts iv. 36, 37; xi. 22-30; xiii.-xv.) Of his subsequent life we have no historical record, or even trustworthy tradition. There is extant an Epistle bearing his name, evidently spurious, though of early date; and Tertulian ascribes to him the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews. -- June 11th.
St. Bartholomew the Apostle. The name Bartholomew being only a patronymic, he is generally identified with Nathanael, the "Israelite without guile," brought by St. Philip to Our Lord (John i. 45, 46), because his name is always joined with that of St. Philip in all the catalogues of the Apostles. He is said by a tradition of the 2nd century to have preached in "India." As we know nothing special of him, it will be seen that the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel all refer to the Apostolic mission in general. -- August 24th.
Venerable Bede, Presbyter. (A.D. 673-735). Monk of Wearmouth and Jarrow. He was the great teacher and writer of the Anglo-Saxon Church; of saintly character and extraordinary scope of acquirements; author of The Ecclesiastical History of the English Church, Lives of Saints and Martyrology, Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, and translations into the vernacular, on which (the Gospel of St. John) he was engaged on the very day of his death, besides hymns and some scientific works. The epithet (Venerable), according to an old legend, was inserted by an angelic hand in his epitaph.--"Hae sunt in fossa Bædæ venerabilis ossa." -- May 27th.
Benedict (of Nursia) Abbot (A.D. 480-543). The founder of the great Benedictine order at Monte Cassino, on the site of an old temple of Apollo, and author of the Benedictine rule. Of noble birth, repelled by the licentiousness and utter confusion of his age, he dedicated himself from boyhood to a monastic life, and revived monasticism from degeneracy to a lofty and refined ideal, from from excessive austerity, and admitting of high culture and learning. His own character, though not without severity, was full of beauty and holiness. -- March 21st.
Blasius, Bishop and Martyr ("St. Blaise"). Bishop of Sebaste, in Armenia, of whom nothing is known, but the tradition that he was tortured (torn by iron combs) and beheaded under Diocletian (A.D. 316). He was honoured as Patron of the Woolcombers, and of the city of Ragusa. -- February 3rd.
Boniface, Bishop. The "Apostle of Germany," born at Crediton between 675 and 700, educated at Exeter, and a monk at Nutshalting near Winchester, highly honoured for learning and ability. Following in the steps of St. Willibrod and other English monks, he resolved to devote himself under the sanction of Gregory II. to missionary work in Germany, beyond the old Roman frontier among the Saxons; there he felled the sacred oak at Geismr, preaching and baptizing with marvellous success; afterwards he was consecrated to the new see of Mayence, founding monasteries and bishoprics, to organize conquests already won; finally martyred in Frisia on June 5th, 755. He was a man great indeed, alike in holiness of character, missionary enterprise, and power of rule. -- June 5th.
Britius, Bishop ("St. Brice"), pupil of St. Martin of Tours, and bishop as his successor (A.D. 397-414). He was in early life a gross sinner, converted by St. Martin; afterwards a victim of slander, and driven for seven years from his see, but restored from 407 till his death. On St. Brice's day (A.D. 1002) was perpetuated the treacherous massacre of the Danes in England, by command of Ethelred, so signally avenged by Swayn and Canute. -- November 13th.
Catherine, Virgin and Martyr (of Alexandria), of whom nothing certain is really known, is yet the subject of an extraordinary mass of picturesque legend. In this she appears as an Alexandrian princess; vowed solemnly to perpetual virginity, and in vision wedded to Our Lord Himself. On the rise of the persecution of Maximinus she defends the faith in victorious disputation against the heathen philosophers of Alexandria; then, refusing to yield ot the lust of the emperor, is condemned to the spike wheel of torture, and, when the wheel is shattered by angelic hands, is beheaded, and her body borne by angels to rest on mount Sinai. She was reverenced as the patron saint of secular learning, when consecrated to the service of Christ. -- November 25th.
Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr. -- Of this famous Saint, celebrated in al the ancient Western martyrologies, little definite is known, the accounts being contradictory and legendary in character. She appears to have been a Roman lady, converter of her husband Valerian, who suffered martyrdom with her under M. Aurelius (in the 2nd century), or in some later persecution. According to legend, she enjoyed angelic converse and music. Pope Pascal I. (821) founding a church, to which her relics were translated, ordained and endowed a service of perpetual song of praise. Hence, probably, she became the patron Saint of sacred music, believed to have been the inventress of the organ, and able by her music to "draw an angel down." -- November 22nd.
Chad, Bishop (Caedda). By birth a Northumbrian, but brought up in Ireland, and at Lindisfarne under St. Aidan, one of the representatives of the independent refounding of Christianity in the North (after the expulsion of Paulinus, who had been sent to York as missionary bishop from Canterbury in 625) by the Irish ("Scottish") missionaries. Made Bishop of York, in rivalry to the absent Wilfrid (664), he was deposed by Archbishop Theodore in favour of Wilfrid (669); and after a brief retirement, established as Bishop in the kingdom of Mercia, at Lichfield, where he died in 672. Bede gives a beautiful picture of his simple character and saintly life and death. -- March 2nd.
Christmas-Day. Some observance of the Nativity of Our Lord, as it is most natural, was probably early in the Church. But it is clear that in ancient days the true day of Our Lord's birth was considered to be unknown. Clement of Alexandria names, as conjectural dates, May 20th and April 21st, and seems to discourage, as over-curious, any inquiry into the matter. In the Western Church December 25th appears to have been selected in early times; in the East (as still in the Armenian Church), the Nativity was blended with the Epiphany, and kept on January 6th; and not till about the time of Chrysostom did the Western usage prevail. The selection may possibly have had some historical foundation; but it is not unlikely that the Festival was fixed to its present date in order to lay hold of, and hallow, the existing mid-winter festival, with allusion to the birth of "the Sun of Righteousness" out of the winter of the spiritual darkness of the world. It is notable that of all festivals, Christmas has most thoroughly united itself with natural joy, domestic love, and universal charity. -- December 25th.
The Circumcision of Christ. The date of this Festival is, of course, determined by Christmas. But it is not till some time after the establishment of the Christmas Festival that the day has any designation except as the octave of Christmas. Possibly anti-Judaic feeling might shrink from dwelling on Our Lord's Circumcision; and the day seems for some time to have been observed as a fast, in protest against the riotous heathen celebration of the 1st of January; of which protest there is perhaps still an echo in the Collect. The earliest notices of it as "the Circumcision" appear to be Gallican. With us now it blends with the idea of New Year's Day, tending to solemnize the opening of the year by the thought of responsibility and struggle against sin. -- January 1st.
St. Clement, Bishop (of Rome) in the first century, according to Irenæus the third after the death of St. Peter. Eusebius places his death in A.D. 95 or 100. The old tradition, from Origen downwards (uncertain but not improbable), makes him the "Clement the fellow labourer" of St. Paul (Phil. iv. 3). His Epistle to the Corinthians, written late in the first century (and at one time read as of almost canonical authority), is of deep interest and priceless historical value, in comparison and contrast with the Scriptural Epistles. It ends with a noble prayer, perhaps the first specimen of a Christian liturgy. Of his life and death nothing certain is known. Under his name came out the famous apocryphal "Clementine literature" (Homilies, Recognitions, and Epitome), accepted as genuine in former times, now known to be an early Christian romance, and, as such, a favourite theme of modern historical and speculative criticism. -- November 23rd.
Crispin, Martyr one of the early missionaries in Gaul, companion of St. Denys, beheaded, according to tradition, with his brother Crispian, A.D. 288. The brothers (like St. Paul) maintained themselves by labour with their own hands, and, working as shoemakers, became the patron Saints of the craft. The day is memorable in English history as the day of the great victory of Agincourt, in 1415. -- October 25.
St. Cyprian, Archbishop, the great Bishop of Carthage, exercising a kind of metropolitan jurisdiction (from A.D. 248-258). He was of high education and rank, converted in his manhood, and soon after raised to the Episcopate; notable as the great upholder and establisher in the Western Church of Episcopal dignity and authority, in staunch resistance to the growing claims of Rome; stern alike against Puritanism and laxity in the restoration of those who had "lapsed" under persecution; maintaining even the need of rebaptism of those baptized by heretics, which was rigidly opposed by the Bishop of Rome, and disallowed by subsequent Church authority; a great ruler of unbounded influence and popularity; a writer of great vigor of thought and perfection of style; finally a martyr under the persecution of Galerius in 258. -- September 26th.
David, Archbishop, the patron Saint of Wales. According to accepted traditions he was son of a Welsh prince, founder and abbot of a monastery; thence drawn to take victorious part in the Pelagian controversy, and made Archbishop of Caerleon, whence he removed the see far west to the Menevia (St. David's), possibly in connection with some mission to Ireland. His death is fixed at different dates, from A.D. 541 to 601. (The earliest extant account of him was not written till 500 years after his death, and has many legendary elements in it). -- March 1st.
St. Denys, Bishop, the patron Saint of France, a missionary bishop (of Paris), and a martyr in the 3rd century (about A.D. 272), under the persecution of Aurelian. He was often confused with Dionysius the Areopagite, the convert of St. Paul (Acts xvii. 34), and, by tradition, the first Bishop of Athens; whose name was made famous in the Middle Ages by the celebrated mystic work on the "Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies," published in his name probably in the 5th century, and translated into Latin by the celebrated John Erigena in the 9th century. -- October 9th.
Dunstan, Archbishop (A.D. 924-980). The victorious champion of the Church and the cause of monasticism and celibacy of the clergy, in the struggle under Edwy and Edgar, and, after his elevation to the primacy, virtually the prime minister and ruler of England. Educated at Glastonbury, of which he became Abbot (introducing the Benedictine rule), afterwards Bishop of Worcester and London, and Archbishop of Canterbury in 959, he was a man of high ability and education, fanatic in what he believed to be the cause of God, ready alike to suffer and to persecute for it; a stern reformer and an able ruler, but wanting in gentleness of spirit and scrupulousness of action. -- May 19th.
Edmund, King and Martyr, a Saxon Saint, King of East Anglia (855-870); taken prisoner by the Danes after a brave struggle, and, refusing life on condition of apostasy and vassalage, shot to death with arrows. His relics were translated solemnly under Canute (903) to the great Church of Bury St. Edmunds. -- November 20th.
Edward, King of the West Saxons (A.D.975-978). The youthful son of King Edgar, murdered, at the age of 16, by order of his step-mother Elfrida, at Corfe Castle, while drinking the stirrup cup, and canonized for his piety and his devotion to the ecclesiastical and monastic cause. -- March 18th.
Translation of King Edward the Confessor (reigned 1041-1066). -- The commemoration is of the translation of his relics from the original shrine in his own Abbey of Westminster (erected by the Conqueror), to a more magnificent shrine in the Abbey under the auspices of Archbishop Becket, on Oct. 13th, 1163. Edward the Confessor was regarded as the patron saint of England, until superseded by St. George in the 13th century. -- October 13th.
Translation of King Edward, commemorates the translation of the body of the murdered young king from a marsh near Corfe Castle, where it was first buried, to Shaftesbury. -- June 20th.
Enurchus or Evortius. Bishop of Orleans in the 4th century. He is said to have been a martyr; but nothing can be said to be really known of him. -- September 7th.
The Epiphany. -- The Greek name of this Festival ("the Manifestation") turns out thoughts to the East for its origin. There it seems clear that in the Epiphany the Greek Church originally combined the celebration (on January 6th) of Our Lord's Nativity, His manifestation at His Baptism, and His self-revelation by miracle at Cana of Galilee--all apparently being conceived as happening on the same day of the year. It was consequently one of the greatest Festivals, and one of the days of solemn Baptism. The manifestation to the Wise Men, if recognised at all, was entirely subordinate. When in the 4th century the Roman usage as to Christmas prevailed in the East, we find the Epiphany, probably borrowed from the East, observed in the West as a separate Festival; but although the old references were not extinct (see the Second Lesson for the Epiphany, Luke iii. 15-23, and the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Epiphany), the manifestation to the Magi -- striking and significant, but lying as an episode outside the history--took such prominence as to obscure all else, and in Mediæval times associated with itself a mass of picturesque legends. The day was, therefore, closely connected with Christmas, as the name "Twelfth Day" shows, and was looked upon as the close of Christmas festivity. The period which it introduces is one of thoughtful meditation on the Christmas mystery, before passing to the preparation for Easter. -- January 6th.
Etheldreda, Virgin (died A.D. 679), a famous Saxon Saint ("St. Audray"), daughter of Anna, King of East Anglia, twice married, and through both marriages resolutely preserving her vow of perpetual virginity. Separated from her second husband, Cyfrid, King of Northumbria, she received the veil at the hands of the celebrated Wilfrid, and was the founder and Abbess of the Monastery of Ely, which became the great religious centre of the eastern counties. Her life of great sanctity and severe asceticism is first recorded by Bede, and diffusely celebrated by Thomas of Ely in the reign of Henry II. Her festival was of such celebrity, that it seems to have superseded the vigil of St. Luke's Day. -- October 17th.
Fabian, Bishop and Martyr. Fabianus was Bishop of Rome A.D. 236-250; designated to the office while still a layman, and, according to legend, selected by miracle; a man of high character and energy; celebrated by St. Cyprian as having improved the organization of the Church, and ruled it with great integrity. He suffered martyrdom in the persecution of Decius; and a tombstone bearing his name was recently** found in the crypt of an ancient cemetery on the Appian Way. -- January 20th.
Faith, Virgin and Martyr, according to tradition, in Aquitania, under the Diocletian persecution. Although nothing but this is known of her, yet, perhaps from her significant name, many churches in England, including one in the crypt of old St. Paul's, were dedicated to her. -- October 6th.
St. George, Martyr, called in the Eastern Church "the Great Martyr," commemorated in Syria by churches founded in the 4th or 5th century, and referred to by a synod under Pope Gelasius in 494. By early tradition he is described simply as a military tribune, born in Cappadocia, and martyred at Nicomedia under Diocletian (A.D. 303); some accounts making him the young man who tore down the Imperial Edict of persecution, and was put to death by torture. Afterwards, by accident or intention, he was confused with George of Cappadocia, the intruding Arian Bishop of Alexandria against Athanasius (A.D. 356); and his independent historical existence has been unnecessarily doubted. How the legends of St. George were formed, and how his special connection with England arose, is uncertain. The latter dates its beginning from the Crusades, but was not fully established till the time of Edward III, founder of St. George's Chapel at Windsor. -- April 23rd.
St. Giles, Abbot (Ægidius), a Gallican Saint of the 7th century, first a hermit, then drawn from his hermitage by Flavius, king of the Visigoths to found the fames Benedictine Abbey of St. Giles, near Nismes. He was the patron Saint of cripples (from a legend declaring that in his love of mortification he refused to be cured of an accidental lameness). Though unconnected with England, he was here specially honoured, and many churches were dedicated to him. -- September 1st.
Gregory the Great, Bishop. Bishop of Rome (590-604), the real founder of the greatness of the Papacy. Of noble birth, and high rank and education, he became a monk, and continued till the end his love for monastic life and principles. Made Pope against his will in 590, he rose to the exigencies of the critical time, when the extinction of the Western Empire made him at once Bishop of the Roman Church, Patriarch of the West, and virtual sovereign and representative of Rome itself; and proved himself as a ruler and organizer, a preacher and writer, unquestionably the greatest man of his age. His pontificate was marked by the conversion from Arianism of the Spanish Visigoths and the Lombards; and by the English Church he deserves special commemoration, as having been (through St. Augustine of Canterbury) the true Apostle of Anglo-Saxon Christianity. He was the introducer of the "Gregorian" music, superseding the simpler Ambrosian; and his Sacramentary, following the earlier one of Gelasius, is a great storehouse of the ancient Liturgical forms of the Western Church, from which our Collects are largely borrowed. -- March 12th.
Hilary, Bishop (of Poitiers) and Confessor. An eminent Gallican prelate and writer, converted from Paganism in manhood, and (like St. Ambrose) raised by acclamation from a lay position to the see of Poitiers (A.D. 350). His life was chiefly devoted to the struggle against Arianism and Semi-Arianism, both in the East and in the West; for this service he was exiled by Constantius, but restored to his see for three years before his death in A.D. 368. He was one of the earliest of the greater Latin Fathers, both in exegetical and dogmatic works. From his day "Hilary Term" is named. -- January 13th.
Holy-Cross Day, celebrating the exhibition of the True Cross in the Basilica built by the Empress Helena at Jerusalem in 326 (see Invention of the Cross). -- September 14th.
Hugh, Bishop, the great Bishop of Lincoln (A.D. 1186-1200). He was born at Genoble, brought over to England in 1181, as Prior of the first English Carthusian monastery; made Bishop of Lincoln against his will, still constantly revisiting his old monastery; famous in his episcopate for holiness, ability, energy, and munificence; builder of a great part of Lincoln Cathedral, where he lies buried in the shrine behind the high altar. -- November 17th.
The Innocents' Day. -- The Festival dates from the 3rd century, though the day of the celebration may not always have been the same. (In the Greek Church it is kept on the 29th.) Its celebration is most natural, and if the claim of martyrdom for the Innocents fails to satisfy the rigid demands of reason, it commends itself by a singular beauty and pathos. Suffering for His sake, who called the little children to Him as the very types of His Kingdom, they come to be looked upon, not only as innocent sufferers, but as martyrs, baptized by blood unto His salvation. -- December 28th.
Invention (i.e. discovery) of the Cross. The tradition, dating from the close of the 4th century, is that the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, in A.D. 326, went to Jerusalem to discover, purify, and rescue from neglect and heathen contamination, the sacred sites. In searching for the place of the Resurrection, the three crosses were discovered, and the true Cross distinguished by its miraculous power to heal. The Empress built the Basilica of the Resurrection on the spot, enshrining therein a portion of the true Cross, and carried the rest to Rome, where a Church of the Holy Cross was built. There are some obscurities and difficulties as to the early authorities, and in time legendary features grew up; but the general history seems not improbable, and too well authenticated to be set aside. (See Holy-Cross Day). -- May 3rd.
St. James the Apostle. Of St. James we know nothing, except that, called with his brother St. John, and with St. Andrew and St. Peter, he became one of the chosen Three, and received with his brother the name of "Boanerges, the Sons of Thunder;" and that, possibly in consequence of the fervent zeal which that name implies, he was singled ut by Herod Agrippa I. as the first martyr in the Apostolic band; thus obtaining one of those places of honour in the Kingdom of God which he and his brother had desired (Matthew 20:20-23), by "drinking the cup," and "being baptized with the baptism" of Christ. -- July 25th.
St. Jerome (Hieronymus; A.D. 342-420), the great critic and scholar of the West, as Origen of the East, standing almost alone among the Latin Fathers in knowledge, not only of Greek, but of Hebrew and Chaldee, and in the instincts of sound and scholarly criticism. He was born at Stridon in Pannonia, in early life a teacher of grammar and rhetoric; after his baptism he travelled to Gaul, Rome, and the East, and spent some time as a recluse in the desert of Chalcis; thence, after visiting Constantinople, he settled at Rome, as the trusted counsellor of Pope Damasus; afterwards he returned to the East, and spent the last thirty years of his life in seclusion and study at Bethlehem. His character was violent, and often undisciplined and fanatic, as in his championship of asceticism and monasticism, and his various controversies. But his service in producing, direct from the original, the great Lain Version of the Western Church (the "Vulgate"), superseding, except in the Psalter and the Apocryphal books, the varying and inaccurate versions previously existing, was simply priceless; and on all points of Biblical criticism his authority far outweighs all others in the Patristic literature of the West. His scriptural Commentaries, his Letters and Treatises, and his historical and biographical works are also of the highest value. -- September 30.
Name of Jesus. Taken from the Sarum Calendar; formerly observed (as was natural) on the Feast of the Circumcision, and in the Roman Church, on the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany. Why it should be placed here, unless in connection with the display of Our Lord's majesty in the Transfiguration, it is hard to say. -- August 7th.
St. John Baptist's Day. The Festival is not of the martyrdom, but of the nativity of St. John Baptist, determined, of course (see Luke i. 26, 36) by Christmas. The character of St. John, like that of his prototype Elijah (Luke i. 17; Matt. xi. 14; xvii. 10-13), stands out as the model of austere and ascetic self-sacrifice, especially fit for one who, simply preaching repentance and proclaiming God's wrath upon sin, had a comparatively narrow mission, confined to moral teaching and warning (Luke i. 17; iii. 7-14), with no miracle to work (John x. 41), and no new Gospel to declare. In the willing acceptance of this simple mission--less than that of the least in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. xi. 11)--as also in the renunciation of all independent authority (John i. 19-27), lies one great lesson of his life to us. (See Gospels for Third and Fourth Sundays in Advent. -- June 24th.
Beheading of St. John Baptist. The observation of this Festival is of early date in the Western Church, probably from a desire to carry out, in the case of St. John Baptist, the usual commemoration of martyrdom without trenching on the greater Festival of his Nativity. Why it was fixed to this day does not appear. -- August 29th.
St. John the Evangelist. -- St. John stands in marked contrast with St. Stephen, chosen to follow Christ first in death; for he had to wait, when the other Apostles were at rest, through the service of a long life, to put the last stroke to the completion of Holy Scripture and the organisation of the Christian Church. -- December 27th.
St. John, ante Portam Latinam. The reference is to the legend (as old as the time of Tertullian) that, in the persecution of Domitian, the aged Apostle was cast into a caldron of boiling oil before the Latin Gate of Rome, and remaining unhurt was banished to Patmos. The Roman Church of "St. John before the Latin Gate" is of early date. -- May 6th.
Lambert, Bishop, of Maestrict in the 7th century: an evangelist to the heathen, and a martyr for the rebuke of vice in the person of Pepin of Heristal, A.D. 709. His relics were translated to Liege, the Cathedral of which is dedicated to him. -- September 17th.
Lammas Day. The festival of St. Peter ad vinucla in the Sarum and Roman use. Various derivations of the name are given; but far the most probable is that it is a corruption of "Hlafmas," i.e. "Loaf-mass," the offering of the first fruits of the new harvest. -- August 1st.
St. Lawrence, Martyr, the chief Deacon of the Church of Rome under Sextus II., and martyred after him in A.D. 258, in the persecution of Valerian. He was tortured for refusing to the up the Church treasures, and broiled to death on an iron frame like a gridiron. His name is commemorated in the Calendar of 354, and found in the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great. No martyrdom seems to have made more impression in the Middle Ages, or to have been more hallowed by festal celebration and dedication of churches, both in the East and the West. -- August 10th.
Leonard, Confessor (died 599), a courtier of King Clovis, converted by St. Remigius, afterwards a hermit and head of a monastery near Limoges. He ministered especially to prisoners, often obtaining their liberation from the king, and became the patron Saint of all prisoners and captives. -- November 6th.
Lucian, Priest and Martyr. A Gallican saint, of Roman birth, sent as a priest to be one of the companions of St. Denys in his mission from Rome to Gaul in A.D. 245. he is said to have become Bishop of Beauvais, and to have suffered martyrdom there A.D. 290. -- January 8th.
Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (of Syracuse); a martyr, according to tradition, in the 4th century, under Diocletian, by torture. Her legend is much like those of St. Agatha and St. Agnes. -- December 13th.
St. Luke the Evangelist. Of St. Luke we know only his companionship with St. Paul and his Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. (a) He is called "the beloved physician;" he is the companion of St. Paul from Troas to Philippi in the second missionary journey; from Philippi to Jerusalem in the third, and after the captivity at Cæsarea to Rome, in his first captivity at Rome, and is his sole faithful companion in the last (Acts xvi. 9; xx., xxi., xxvii., xxviii.; Col. iv. 15; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. iv. 11). (b) The Gospel according to St. Luke stands out from the rest in its traces of higher education, its peculiar beauty and pathos, its didactic style, and its special reference (well suiting the "Pauline Gospel") to Atonement and forgiveness of sin. The Acts is a continuation of the Gospel--a series of pictures of the great epochs of the development of the Church, embracing, in the Hebrew, the Greek, and the Roman, the three great elements of ancient civilization. -- October 18th.
Machutus, Bishop ("St. Malo"), a Welsh saint, hermit in an island near Brittany (then Pagan), afterwards Bishop of Aleth in Britanny (541-564). The see of Aleth was transferred to St. Malo, named after him. -- November 15th.
Margaret, Virgin and Martyr, said to have been martyred at Antioch in Pisidia (A.D. 278); commemorated as a "Great Martyr" by the Greek Church on July 17th. Nothing is really known about her; but, being usually represented as trampling on or piercing a dragon, she was obviously taken as a type of the power of faith in the weak to confound the strong. -- July 20th.
St. Mark is generally identified with the "John, whose surname is Mark," son of the Mary to whose house St. Peter repaired after his deliverance from prison (Acts xii. 12), and nephew of Barnabas. He was "minister" to St. Paul and St. Barnabas in part of their first missionary journey; but left them at Perga, and was therefore on the second journey rejected by St. Paul (with the effect of quarrel with St. Barnabas), and subsequently became companion to St. Barnabas in Cyprus (Acts xiii. 4, 13; xv. 36-39). Afterwards he is named by St. Peter (1 Pet. v. 13) as "Marcus, my son," and it is clear from Col. iv. 10, Philemon 24, and 2 Tim. iv. 11, that he was gradually restored to St. Paul's confidence, and sent for to minister to him in his last imprisonment. Early and trustworthy tradition declares him the amanuensis of St. Peter in his Gospel; other tradition, less assured, makes him bishop of Alexandria and martyr there. -- April 25th.
St. Martin, Bishop (of Tours). -- See note on the Translation of St. Martin -- This day is one of those which, as Martinmas Day, became important as a half-quarter day in secular business. -- November 11th.
Translation of St Martin (of Tours) from Cande, where he died, to the great Basilica of Tours in 478. St. Martin, Bishop of Tours (371-397), was the son of a Roman tribune, and himself a soldier up to the age of 40, pupil and friend of St. Hilary of Poitiers. As a Bishop he still shewed his soldierly character in resolute war against Arianim and the last remnants of Paganism, and vigorous assertion of spiritual discipline. He is best known by the celebrated story of his dividing his cloak with a naked beggar, and in a dream seeing the Lord Himself clothed in it, and by the vision being converted to Christ. -- July 4th.
Conception of the Virgin Mary; a festival connected with the Nativity of the Virgin Mary; a part of the same growth of the idea of the Immaculate Conception. Like that festival, it was earlier in the East than in the West; said to have been introduced into England by St. Anselm; but not held of obligation till the 15th century. -- December 8th.
Nativity of the Virgin Mary, a festival known at the end of the 7th century: but especially honoured by Papal authority in the 13th and 14th; probably marking the growth of the belief in the Immaculate Conception. -- September 8th.
St. Mary Magdalene. This was a red-letter Saint's Day, with Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, in 1549. In the Collect she was cited as an example of penitence and forgiveness, and in the Gospel (Luke vii. 36-50) she was identified with "the woman who was a sinner," as also, in the common Western tradition, with Mary the sister of Lazarus. With this the Eastern tradition disagrees, and Holy Scripture gives no authority for it. All we really know is that "out of her went seven devils," that she ministered to the Lord in His life, at the cross, and the grave; and that she was blessed with the first sight of Him after the Resurrection (Luke viii. 2, 3; Mark xv. 40; xvi. 1; John xx. 1-18). Why a Commemoration, so reasonable and spiritually instructive, was dropped in 1552, does not appear. -- July 22nd.
St. Matthew, the Apostle. Of this Apostle we may be said to know only the circumstances of his call, and the character of his Gospel. (a) In St. Mark's record of the call (Mark ii. 14) he is called "Levi, the son of Alphæus," and this would seem to indicate that he was brother of "James the Less" (see Mark iii. 18), as possibly of St. Thomas also (see note on St. Thomas). The name Matthew ("the gift of God") may be an Apostolic surname. The call of St. Matthew seems to have awakened the first murmur of opposition against Our Lord (see Mark iii. 15--iv. 7), as if He condoned sin by His Mercy (comp. Luke xv. 1, 2; xix. 7, 8), stirred, no doubt by jealousy of His choice of one of the hated publicans. (b) The Gospel according to St. Matthew (probably written originally in Hebrew) is beyond all others the Jewish Gospel, especially rich in discourses and parables of Our Lord, and brings out emphatically His royalty as the Messiah (see esp. Matt. xviii. 18-20). (c) Of St. Matthew's subsequent history Scripture is silent, and tradition is vague and various. -- September 21st.
St. Matthias. Of St. Matthias we know literally nothing, except his election to Apostleship. Tradition speaks of his preaching and martyrdom in Cappadocia. His festival in the Eastern Church is kept on August 9th, and its use in the West seems to be later than in the case of other Apostolic Festivals. -- February 24th.
St. Michael and All Angels. This Festival (kept in the Eastern Church on November 8th) is naturally of ancient observance. For, although the nature of angels is but little revealed to us, their ministration is clearly described, first, to the chosen family and to the chosen nation in the Old Testament, and then to Our Lord Himself, and to the Church and to individual souls for His sake, in the New. While, therefore, worship of them is an idolatry (Col. ii. 18), which they indignantly refuse (Rev. xxii. 8, 9), yet thankfulness and reverence for them as "fellow servants," higher in the one Communion of Saints, whose service is the pattern of our own, are most natural and seemly. St. Michael is described in the Old Testament (Dan. x. 13, 21; xii. 1; comp. Jude 9) as the guardian angel of the Jewish people; in the New Testament he is the great archangel, the type of the warrior angel, fighting for God and His Church against the power of the devil. Beyond this, though fancy has created a mass of legend, we cannot be said to know anything of him. -- September 29th.
Nicolas, Bishop (of Myra in Lycia), died A.D. 342. -- No record of him remains, except the fame of holiness and charity. His relics were translated to Bari, in Italy (1087), in fear of Mohammedan desecration. For some reason unknown, he became the patron of merchants and sailors, and also of boys, especially orphans, who were taught to place themselves under his care. The Christmas legends of "St. Klaus" and his gifts are a remnant of this dedication. The strange mediæval festival of the "Boy Bishop" began on St. Nicolas' day. -- December 6th.
Nicomede, Martyr. Commemorated in the Sacramentary of Gregory. He is said to have been a martyr in the days of Domitian, beaten to death with clubs; but nothing can be said to be really known of him. -- June 1st.
O Sapientia. -- The name marks that on this day began the special Antiphons to the Magnificat, continued up to December 23rd. They were a series of hymns to Our Lord, beginning successively "O Wisdom," "O Adonai," "O Root of Jesse," "O Key of David," "O Dawning Light," "O King and desire of all nations," "O Emmanuel." -- December 16th.
Conversion of St. Paul. -- The Festival of this Apostle is not, as usual, of the day of his martyrdom (which by tradition was the same as that of St. Peter), but of his miraculous Conversion, and it is upon this, rather than on his wonderful character and work, that the Services lay stress. For that Conversion was historically the most important event in the Church after the Day of Pentecost, and spiritually is most full of encouragement and teaching to the Christian soul. -- January 25th.
Perpetua, Martyr. One of the African martyrs under Severus (A.D. 203). The "Acts of St. Perpetua," written in part by herself, have been preserved to us. They are full of vividness and beauty, although showing some touches of the visionary and ascetic tendencies of Montanism. -- March 7th.
St. Peter. This Festival, originally a Festival of both St. Peter and St. Paul, on the traditional anniversary of their common martyrdom, is of great antiquity, certainly known from the 4th century downwards, and kept both in the East and the West on this day. The institution of the Festival of the Conversion of St. Paul has now transferred the commemoration of that Apostle to another day.
Of the chosen Twelve, the character and work of St. Peter are more clearly brought out than in the case of any other Apostle, except perhaps St. John. On all occasions he is their leader, both during Our Lord's earthly life, and at the first proclamation of the Gospel -- his threefold denial having been (so to speak) wiped out by the threefold charge of Our Lord after the Resurrection (John xxi. 15-17). On him, in virtue of his good confession, Our Lord declared that he would build His Church (see Gospel); and the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given to him, to open the door of faith, first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles (Acts ii.; x). His character ardent, impulsive, capable of feeling and inspiring high enthusiasm, in spite of its reactions of failure and hesitation, is the type of those natures, by which, rather than by the calm and well-balanced characters, it pleases God mostly to move the world. -- June 29th.
St. Philip and St. James. It seems impossible to give any sufficient reason for coupling together these two Apostles. (The Greek Church separates them, keeping St. Philip's Day on November 14th, and St. James' Day on October 9th.) The union of the two, however, suggests the harmony of the desire of knowledge characteristic of St. Philip (see the Gospel) with the stern practical reality characteristic of St. James the "brother of the Lord," who is evidently (though perhaps erroneously) identified with St. James the Less, the Apostle.
Of St. Philip we have notices only in St. John. he was one of the first disciples "found" by Our Lord, and he brought Nathanael to Him; he is associated with St. Andrew at the feeding of the Five thousand, and the coming of the Greeks to Christ; and (see the Gospel) he is described as especially craving for the knowledge of God (John i. 43; vi. 5-9; xii. 21, 22; xiv. 8, 9). Beyond this we know nothing. Early tradition speaks of his preaching in Phyrgia, and later apocryphal books raise a strange fabric of legend concerning him.
Of St. James the Apostle, the son of Alphæus (Matthew x. 2; Mark iii. 18; Luke vi. 15), sometimes supposed to be the same as "James the Less" (or rather "the little") of Mark xv. 40, we know nothing except his name in the Apostolic catalogue. James, "the Lord's brother," with whom he is clearly identified by the use of the Epistle (though the identification is, to say the least, very uncertain) is one of the most marked figures in the Acts of the Apostles and in contemporary history. As Bishop of Jerusalem, he is essentially the representative of Jewish Christianity; presiding at the first Apostolic Council, and holding out to St. Paul the right hand of fellowship; held in reverence as "James the Just" by all Jerusalem, and martyred in vengeance for his Christianizing influence by Pharisaic violence. His Epistle, essentially Jewish in character, is a storehouse of godly morality, in which Christian doctrine is but implied, and not explicitly brought out; and was probably addressed both to Jewish Christians and to those Jews who, though not Christian, would listen to "the servant of Jesus Christ". -- May 1st.
Prisca, Virgin and Martyr. A Roman lady, martyr in the 3rd century, unknown except by legend. -- January 18th.
The Purification of St. Mary the Virgin. The alternative title ("the Presentation of Christ in the Temple"), though not used in common parlance, suggests the lesson drawn by all the services of the day. It carried out, indeed, the old idea: for the Festival was called the Hypapante or "Meeting" (with Simeon and Anna) on its first institution in the East, and only received the name of "the Purification" in the West and much later. Its date is necessarily fixed by Christmas. The name "Candlemas Day" is derived from the custom of a procession with torches, superseding (it is thought) the heathen festival of torches to Ceres in the early part of February, with a reference to the true "light to lighten the Gentiles". -- February 2nd.
Remigius, Bishop (of Rheims, A.D. 439-533, "St. Remi"), famous as the converter and baptizer of Clovis, anointing him at his coronation with the sacred oil, from which, as preserved at Rheims, all kings of France subsequently received unction. He became the Metropolitan of the Frankish Church, and died in extreme old age in 533. -- October 1st.
Richard, Bishop (of Chichester, from 1245 to 1253). A man of high education and character. Professor at Bologna, afterwards Chancellor of Oxford; nominated to the see by Archbishop Boniface, against a nominee of the King, and confirmed by the Pope. Hence a struggle, and confiscation for a time of the revenues of the See; but he lived down enmity, and ruled and died in universal honour and reverence. He was buried in Chichester Cathedral, and subsequently reverenced as "St. Richard". -- April 3rd.
Silvester, Bishop (of Rome), from A.D. 314-335, passing as a Priest through the Diocletian persecution, and as a Bishop through the Nicene period, although from weak health he did not attend the Nicene Council. Little is known of him historically, but in the middle ages he was celebrated as the receiver of the famous "Donation of Constantine."
An edict of the Emperor, forged at some time between the 8th to the 10th centuries, declares that, on transferring the seat of the Empire to Constantinople, he has bestowed on the Pope and his successors the sovereignty of the West, and decrees for them all the outward insignia of Imperial rank. To this Dante refers in the celebrated lines -- "O Constantine! of how much ill was cause, / Not thy conversion, but those rich domains / Which the first wealthy Pope received from thee." --December 31st.
St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles. These two Apostles are found in juxtaposition in all the Apostolic catalogues immediately after "James the son of Alphæus." In the list of "the brethren of the Lord" we have "James, and Judas, and Simon" (Matt. xiii. 55); and it has been natural to identify the two lists, and hold that the three Apostles were brethren to one another, and "brethren of the Lord." On the whole, however, the evidence is against this identification. (a) St. Simon is called "the Cananite" (not "canaanite," as in the Authorised Version) in Matthew x. 4, Mark iii. 18; and "Zelotes" in Luke vi. 15. The one is a Syriac surname, the other its Greek equivalent, signifying that the Apostle had been one of the "Zealots," the extreme section of the Pharisaic and patriotic party. (b) St. Jude is called in St. Luke "the brother (or son) of James," by St. Matthew and St. Mark "Lebbæus" or "Thaddæus"--names of uncertain derivation, generally, however, derived from Hebrew words signifying "the heart" and the (female) "breast," and supposed to be names of endearment. Of neither Apostle have we any special notice in Scripture (except in John xiv. 22) or in trustworthy tradition. Accordingly the Collect and Gospel refer to the general Apostolic mission and dignity. -- October 28th.
Stephen. -- All that we know of St. Stephen is that he is described in Acts vii. & viii. as one of the first deacons; probably a Hellenist (or "Grecian") Jew; as a preacher bringing out distinctly the passing away of the Law and the Temple; therefore exciting the wrath of the Pharisees and people, and receiving first the crown of martyrdom; and in all this the forerunner of St. Paul, who presided over his death. -- December 26th.
Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, Translation. Bishop (838-862) at the beginning of the monastic reforms, and the increase of the authority of Rome, which led to the struggle under Dunstan in the next century. He was buried, by his own desire, outside the Cathedral, where men might walk over his grave. After canonization in 912, his remains were translated to a shrine in the Cathedral; and, according to the legend, the saint showed his anger by a rain which stopped the work for 40 days. Hence the common belief that rain on St. Swithin's day presages a continued rain of 40 days. -- July 15th.
St. Thomas the Apostle. -- The name Thomas in the Hebrew, as Didymus in the Greek, simply means a "twin brother," and as St. Thomas is named in all the catalogues with St. Matthew (see Matt. x. 3; Mark iii. 18; Luke vi. 15), he has been thought to be his brother. His character is marked in St. John's Gospel by a few touches -- the desponding but devoted affection ready to die with his Master (John xi. 16); the blank ignorance, in spite of all that he had heard, whither Our Lord should depart and by what way (John xiv. 5); and the doubt of the Resurrection, obstinate, but overcome with absolute completeness John xx. 28). Of his subsequent history Scripture has no record. Early tradition carries him as a missionary to Persia, and later tradition even further east to India, where it tells of his martyrdom. -- December 21st.
Transfiguration, observed in the Eastern Church in the 8th century, in the West probably earlier; but first universally authorized by Calixtus III. in 1457, in commemoration of the deliverance of Belgrade from the Turks. The Transfiguration of Our Lord, though it clearly marks an epoch in His early life, when he summed up the effects of His ministry, and began to prepare His disciples for His humiliation and death (see Matt. xvi. 13-xvii. 23), is but little dwelt upon in Holy Scripture (except in 2 Pet. i. 17), or in ancient Church Commemoration. -- August 6th.
Valentine, Bishop. Only known in tradition as a priest and martyr at Rome, about A.D. 270. The title Bishop is probably a simple error. The habit of "choosing Valentines" seems to have been a Pagan custom, probably connected with the season of the year, and associated by pure accident with the Christian Festival. -- February 14th.
Vincent, Martyr. A Spanish Deacon, of Saragossa, martyred with torture under Diocletian (A.D. 304); celebrated as "the invincible" as early as the time of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. -- January 22nd.
Visitation of Virgin Mary, that is, to Elisabeth (Luke i. 39). A late festival, instituted by Urban VI. in 1389, during the great schism, and confirmed at the Council of Basle (1431), in order "that she, being honoured, might reconcile her Son by her intercession, and grant peace and amity among the faithful." -- July 2nd.
*Note: These notes are taken from the Teacher's Prayer Book, which was published between 1882 and 1884.