Why Remember the Saints?

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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » April 13th, 2011, 10:14 pm

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Sainted Innocent (Innokentii) (Veniaminov), Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomensk (26 August 1797 - 31 March 1879), was born in the village of Anginsk in the Irkutsk diocese. The Apostle of America and Siberia bespoke his good-news "even to the ends of the earth": in the Aleutian islands (from 1823), in the six dialects of the local tribes on the island of Sitka (from 1834), amongst the Kolosh (Tlingit); in the remotest settlements of the extensive Kamchatka diocese; amidst the Koryak, Chukchei, Tungus in the Yakutsk region and North America; in the Amur and the Usuriisk region.

Having spent a large part of his life in journeys, Saint Innocent translated into the Aleutian language a Catechism and the Gospel, and in 1833 he wrote in this language one of the finest works of Orthodox missionary activity – "The Way to the Kingdom of Heaven".

In 1859 the Yakut first heard the Word of God and Divine-services in their own native language. Twice (in 1860 and 1861) Sainted Innocent met with the Apostle to Japan – Sainted Nikolai, sharing with him his spiritual experience.

Having begun apostolic work as a parish priest, Saint Innocent closed with it upon the cathedra of Moscow First-Hierarchs. He was devoted to the Will of God during all the course of his life, and he left behind a testimonial of faith to his successors decreed in the words of the prophet: "From the Lord are the footsteps of man directed" (Ps. 36: 23). The memory of Saint Innocent is celebrated twice during the year: on 23 September (6 October) and on 31 March (13 April).
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » April 22nd, 2011, 11:23 pm

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The Holy GreatMartyr George the Victory-Bearer, was a native of Cappadocia (a district in Asia Minor), and he grew up in a deeply believing Christian family. His father had accepted a martyr's death for Christ, when George was yet a child. His mother, owning lands in Palestine, resettled there with her son and raised him in strict piety.

Having grown up, Saint George entered into the service of the Roman army. He was handsome, brave and valiant in battle, and he came to the notice of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and was accepted into the imperial guards with the rank-title of "comites" – one of the higher military officer ranks.

The pagan emperor, while having done much for the restoration of Roman might, and who was quite clearly concerned, as to what sort of danger the triumphing of the Crucified Saviour might present for pagan civilisation, in especially the final years of his reign intensified his persecution against the Christians. Upon the advice of the Senate at Nicomedia, Diocletian afforded all his governors full freedom in their court proceedings over Christians and in this he promised them all possible help.

Saint George, having learned about the decision of the emperor, distributed to the poor all his wealth, set free his servants, and then appeared in the Senate. The brave soldier of Christ spoke out openly against the emperor's designs, he confessed himself a Christian and appealed to all to acknowledge the true faith in Christ: "I am a servant of Christ, my God, and trusting on Him, I have come amidst ye at mine own will, to witness concerning the Truth". "What is Truth?" – one of the dignitaries said, in repeating the question of Pontius Pilate. "Truth is Christ Himself, persecuted by you", – answered the saint.

Stunned by the bold speech of the valiant warrior, the emperor – who loved and had promoted George, attempted to persuade him not to throw away his youth and glory and honours, but rather in the Roman custom to offer sacrifice to the gods. To this followed the resolute reply of the confessor: "Nothing in this inconstant life can weaken my resolve to serve God". Then by order of the enraged emperor the armed-guards began to jostle Saint George out of the assembly hall with their spears, and they then led him off to prison. But the deadly steel became soft and it bent, just as the spears would touch the body of the saint, and it caused him no hurt. In prison they put the feet of the martyr in stocks and placed an heavy stone on his chest.

The next day at the interrogation, powerless but firm of spirit, Saint George again answered the emperor: "You will become exhausted sooner, tormenting me, than I being tormented by you". Then Diocletian gave orders to subject Saint George to ever more intense tortures, but the brave sufferer, strengthened by the power of God, remained unyielding.

Having decided, that magic was helping the saint, the emperor summoned the sorcerer Athanasias, so that he should try to deprive the saint of his miraculous powers, or else poison him. The sorcerer gave Saint George two goblets with drugged ingredients, the one of which should have quieted him, and the other – to kill him. But the drugs also did not work – and the saint as before continued to denounce the pagan superstitions and glorify the True God.

To the question of the emperor, what sort of power it was that helped the saint, Saint George answered: "Think not, that the torments do me no harm thanks to human powers, – I am saved only by calling upon Christ and His Power. Whoever believes on Him has no regard for tortures and is able to do the deeds, that Christ did" (Jn. 14: 12). Diocletian asked, what sort of deeds were they that Christ did. – "To give sight to the blind, to cleanse the leprous, to grant walking to the lame, and to the deaf – hearing, to cast out devils, and to raise up the dead".

Knowing, that never whether by sorcery, nor by any of the gods known to him, never had they been able to resurrect the dead, and wanting to test the trust of the saint the emperor commanded him to raise up a dead person right in front of his eyes. To this the saint replied: "You try to tempt me, but for the salvation of the people which shall see the deed of Christ, my God will work this sign". And when they led Saint George down to the graveyard, he cried out: "O Lord! Show to those here present, that You are the One-Only God throughout all the world, let them know You as the Almighty Lord". And the earth did quake, a grave opened up, the dead one came alive and emerged from it. Having seen with their own eyes the Almighty Power of Christ, the people wept and glorified the True God. The sorcerer Athanasias, falling down at the feet of Saint George, confessed Christ as the All-Powerful God and besought forgiveness of his sins, committed in ignorance. The obdurate emperor in his impiety thought otherwise: in a rage he commanded to be beheaded both the new-believer Athanasias and likewise the man resuscitated from the dead, and he had Saint George again locked up in prison. The people, weighed down with their infirmities, began in various ways to penetrate the prison and they there received healings and help from the saint. There resorted to him also a certain farmer named Glycerios, whose ox had collapsed. The saint with a smile consoled him and assured him, that God would restore his ox to life. Seeing at home the ox alive, the farmer began to glorify the God of the Christians throughout all the city. By order of the emperor, Saint Glycerios was arrested and beheaded.

The exploits and the miracles of the Great Martyr George had increased the number of the Christians, therefore Diocletian made a final attempt to compel the saint to offer sacrifice to the idols. They set up a court at the pagan temple of Apollo. On the final night the holy martyr prayed fervently, and as he slept, he saw the Lord, Who raised him up with His hand, and embraced him. The Savior placed a crown on St George's head and said, "Fear not, but have courage, and you will soon come to Me and receive what has been prepared for you."

In the morning, the emperor offered to make St George his co-administrator, second only to himself. The holy martyr with a feigned willingness answered, "Caesar, you should have shown me this mercy from the very beginning, instead of torturing me. Let us go now to the temple and see the gods you worship."

Diocletian believed that the martyr was accepting his offer, and he followed him to the pagan temple with his retinue and all the people. Everyone was certain that St George would offer sacrifice to the gods. The saint went up to the idol, made the Sign of the Cross and addressed it as if it were alive: "Are you the one who wants to receive from me sacrifice befitting God?"

The demon inhabiting the idol cried out, "I am not a god and none of those like me is a god, either. The only God is He Whom you preach. We are fallen angels, and we deceive people because we are jealous."

St George cried out, "How dare you remain here, when I, the servant of the true God, have entered?" Then noises and wailing were heard from the idols, and they fell to the ground and were shattered.

There was general confusion. In a frenzy, pagan priests and many of the crowd seized the holy martyr, tied him up, and began to beat him. They also called for his immediate execution.

The holy empress Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, tried to reach him. Earlier having seen George withstand the torments of the pagans she had been on the point of glorifying Christ, but one of the servants of the emperor took her and led her off to the palace. Now pushing her way through the crowd, she cried out, "O God of George, help me, for You Alone are All-Powerful." At the feet of the Great Martyr the holy empress confessed Christ, Who had humiliated the idols and those who worshipped them.

Diocletian immediately pronounced the death sentence on the Great Martyr George and the holy Empress Alexandra, who followed St George to execution without resisting. Along the way she felt faint and slumped against a wall. There she surrendered her soul to God.

St George gave thanks to God and prayed that he would also end his life in a worthy manner. At the place of execution the saint prayed that the Lord would forgive the torturers who acted in ignorance, and that He would lead them to the knowledge of Truth. Calmly and bravely, the holy Great Martyr George bent his neck beneath the sword, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.

You were bound for good deeds, O martyr of Christ: George;
by faith you conquered the torturer's godlessness.
You were offered as a sacrifice pleasing to God;
thus you received the crown of victory.
Through your intercessions, forgiveness of sins is granted to all
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » October 31st, 2011, 4:50 pm

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On October 31, 1917, in Tsarskoye Selo, a bright new chapter, full of earthly grief and heavenly joy, was opened in the history of sanctity in the Russian Church: the holiness of the New Martyrs of the twentieth century. The opening of this chapter is linked to the name of the Russian Orthodox pastor who became one of the first to give his soul for his flock during this twentieth century of fighters against God: Archpriest John Kochurov.


John Kochurov was born on July 13, 1871. His father was a priest. His education included attendance at the Ryazan Seminary before continuing at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. He excelled at his studies at both the seminary and academy. After graduating in 1895, Fr. John married and then entered his life's work when he was ordained deacon. On August 27, 1895, he was ordained a priest at the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg by Bishop Nicholas (Ziorov) of the Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska.

Having expressed the desire to be a missionary priest in the United States, Fr. John was soon transferred and became the first permanent priest at St. Vladimir's Church in Chicago. This parish was later to become the Holy Trinity Cathedral. As St. Vladimir's parish did not yet have their own building, his first major project was construction of the church building. Under the guidance of Bishop Tikhon, later Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and saint, Fr. John enlisted the services of the noted architect Louis Sullivan to design the church. To finance the project, Fr. John sought and obtained donations from Tsar Nicholas II as well as from a few Americans, notably Harold McCormick and Charles R. Crane who was the American ambassador to China. Construction of the church began in April 1902 and was completed the next year for the consecration by Bishop Tikhon.

Fr. John devoted much effort to aiding the establishment of other parishes in the Chicago area. He performed the first service for the future Archangel Michael Orthodox Church in southwest Chicago. In the greater Chicago area he was active in the formation of the parishes in Madison, Streator, and Joliet (all in Illinois), as well as aiding the parishes in Buffalo, NY, and Hartshorn, OK.

In the social side of parish life, he, with Fr. Alexis Toth, future St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, was influential in the establishment of a major Orthodox mutual aid society that provided support for the many newly arrived immigrants. He also translated religious texts into English, looking to the time when church in America would consist of English-speaking members. Before his return to Russia, Fr. John helped to organize the first All-American Council that was held in Mayfield, Pennsylvania, in 1907.
Russia and Martyrdom

Fr, John returned to Russia in 1907 where he was assigned to Narva, Estonia. Here he put to use the skills he had learned in the United States teaching catechism in the schools. Then in 1916, he was transferred to St. Catherine's Cathedral in Tsarskoe Selo, just outside St. Petersburg. At St. Catherine's, he established himself as a popular priest who was skilled in presenting moving sermons. Then in October 1917 the Bolshevik upraising in St. Petersburg spilled over quickly into Tsarskoe Selo as the town was attacked by Bolshevik elements. The people thronged to the churches where the clergy held prayer services and led processions throughout the town praying for peace.

On October 31, 1917 (old calender), the Bolsheviks entered Tsarskoe Selo in force and arrested Fr. John. He was taken by the Bolsheviks out of town where he was summarily shot. By this act, Fr. John became the first priest-martyr of the Bolshevik revolution and the Soviet yoke. Fr. John was buried several days later in the crypt of St. Catherine's Cathedral.


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Now the holy Hieromartyr is glorified,
for he took up his cross and followed Christ.
In so doing, he gave us a model of true discipleship.
Therefore, let us cry aloud to him:
Rejoice, O Father John, the glory of priests!
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » December 3rd, 2011, 10:06 pm

Dec 4th

The Hieromonk Seraphim, Bishop of the Phanar was from the village of Bezoula, Agrapha diocese in Greece. He lived in asceticism at first as a monk at the Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos at Koronis, and later was chosen as bishop of the Phanar and Neochorion. For his refusal to accept Islam, he was beaten and impaled by the Turks in 1601. His head is at the monastery at Koronis and has been glorified by numerous miracles.

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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » December 16th, 2011, 11:42 pm

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The Holy Great Martyress Barbara lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Maximian (305-311). Her father, the pagan Dioskoros, was a rich and illustrious man in the city of Phoenician Heliopolis; early left a widower, he concentrated all his attention in tender devotion to his only daughter. Seeing the extraordinary beauty of Barbara, Dioskoros decided to raise her concealed from the eyes of strangers. For this he built a tower, where besides Barbara, there were present only her pagan teachers. From the tower heights there opened up a view of God's world of hills stretching into the distance. By day she was able to gaze upon the wooded hills, the swiftly flowing rivers, and on the meadows covered with a gayly mottled blanket of flowers; by night the harmonious and majestic vault of the heavens twinkled and provided a spectacle of inexpressible beauty. Soon the maiden began to ask herself questions about the Primal Cause and Creator of so harmonious and splendid a world. Gradually she became convinced of the idea, that the soul-less idols – were but only the work of human hands, and though her father and teachers offered them worship, the idols were not sufficiently clever and august enough to have made the surrounding world. The desire to know the True God so consumed the soul of Barbara, that she decided to devote all her life to this and to spend her life in virginity.

But the fame of her beauty spread throughout the city, and many sought for her hand in marriage. But despite the endearing entreaties of her father, she refused. Barbara cautioned her father, that his persistence might end tragically and separate them forever. Dioskoros decided, that the temperament of his daughter had been affected by her life of seclusion. He therefore permitted her to leave the tower and gave her full freedom in her choice of friends and acquaintances. The maiden thus encountered in the city youthful confessors of faith in Christ, and they revealed to her teachings about the Creator of the world, about the Trinity, and about the Divine Logos. Through the Providence of God, after a certain while there arrived in Heliopolis from Alexandria a priest in the guide of a merchant. He performed the sacrament of Baptism over Barbara.

During this while at the house of Dioskoros a luxuriant bath was being built. By his orders the workers prepared to put into it two windows on the south side. But Barbara, availing herself of her father's absence, asked them to make a third window, in the form of a Trinity of Light. Over the entrance of the bath-house Barbara patterned a cross, which was durably set into stone. On the stone steps of the bath-house there later remained the imprint of her feet, while within the water-spring had dried up, appearing later on with great healing power, – all which Simeon Metaphrastes in writing about the sufferings of the holy martyress, compares with the life-creating power of the stream of Jordan and the Pool of Siloam. When Dioskoros returned and expressed dissatisfaction about the change of his plan of construction, his daughter told him about her knowledge of the Triune God, about the saving power of the Son of God, and about the futility of worshipping idols. Dioskoros went into a rage, grabbed a sword and was on the point of striking her. The maiden fled from her father, and he rushed after her in pursuit. His way became blocked by an hill, which opened and concealed the saint in a crevice. On the other side of the crevice was an entrance upwards. Saint Barbara managed then to conceal herself in a cave on the opposite slope of the hill. After a long and fruitless search for his daughter, Dioskoros saw two shepherds on the hill. One of them pointed out the cave to him, where the saint had hidden. Dioskoros beat his daughter terribly, and then locked her under watch and tried to wear her down with hunger. Finally he handed her over to the governor of the city, named Martianus. They beat Saint Barbara fiercely: they struck at her with ox thongs, and ground into her wounds with an hair-shirt. By night the holy maiden prayed fervently to her Heavenly Bridegroom, and the Saviour Himself appeared and healed her wounds. Then they subjected the saint to new, and even more cruel torments.

Amidst the crowd standing near the place of torture of the martyress was the Christian Juliania, an inhabitant of Heliopolis. Her heart was filled with sympathy for the voluntary martyrdom of the beautiful and illustrious maiden. Juliania likewise wanted to suffer for Christ. She began loudly to denounce the torturers, and they seized hold of her. For a long while they tortured both holy martyresses: they lacerated and tore at their bodies with hooks and then led them stripped through the city amidst derision and jeers. Through the prayers of Saint Barbara the Lord sent an Angel, which covered the bareness of the holy martyresses with splendid garb. The steadfast confessors of faith in Christ, Saints Barbara and Juliania, were then beheaded. Dioskoros himself executed Saint Barbara. The wrath of God was not slow to punish both torturers, Martianus and Dioskoros: they were struck down by bolts of lightning.

In the VI Century the relics of the holy Great Martyress Barbara were transferred to Constantinople. In the XII Century the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Alexis Comnenes, the princess Barbara, having entered into marriage with the Russian prince Mikhail Izyaslavich, transferred them to Kiev. They rest today at the Kiev Vladimir cathedral.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » March 30th, 2012, 7:30 pm

Holy Martyr Nicephorus

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In the 3rd century there lived in Syrian Antioch a learned presbyter Sapricius who was friends with a layman called Nicephorus. Such was their friendship that the Christians of Antioch considered them as brothers. However, they quarreled because of some disagreement, and their former love changed into enmity and hate.

After a certain time Nicephorus came to his senses, repented of his sin and more than once asked Sapricius, through mutual friends, to forgive him. Sapricius, however, did not wish to forgive him. Nicephorus then went to his former friend and fervently asked forgiveness, but Sapricius was adamant.

At this time the emperors Valerian (253-259) and Gallius (260-268) began to persecute Christians, and one of the first brought before the court was the priest Sapricius. He firmly confessed himself a Christian, underwent tortures for his faith and was condemned to death by beheading with a sword. As they led Sapricius to execution, Nicephorus tearfully implored his forgiveness saying, "O martyr of Christ, forgive me if I have sinned against you in any way."

The priest Sapricius remained stubborn, not bearing even to look upon Nicephorous, and even as he approached death the priest refused to forgive his fellow Christian. Seeing the hardness of his heart, the Lord withdrew His blessing from Sapricius, and would not let him receive the crown of martyrdom. At the last moment, he suddenly became afraid of death and agreed to offer sacrifice to idols. In vain did St Nicephorus urge Sapricius not to lose his reward through apostasy, since he already stood on the threshold of the heavenly Kingdom.

St Nicephorus then cried out to the executioner, "I am a Christian, and I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Execute me in place of Sapricius." The executioners reported this to the governor. He decided to free Sapricius, and to behead Nicephorus in his place. Thus did St Nicephorus inherit the Kingdom and receive a martyr's crown.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » August 24th, 2012, 5:45 pm

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The New Hieromartyr Cosmas, Equal of the Apostles, in the world Constas, was a native of Aitolia. He studied at first under the guidance of the archdeacon Ananias Dervisanos, and afterwards continued his education on Mount Athos, at the Vatopedi school renowned for teachers such as Nicholas Tzartzoulios (from Metsovo) and Eugenius Voulgaris (afterwards in the years 1775-1779 the archbishop of Ekaterinoslav and the Chersonessus).

Remaining on Athos at the Philotheou monastery to devote himself to spiritual labors, he was tonsured a monk with the name Cosmas, and later was ordained hieromonk. The desire to benefit his fellow Christians, to guide them upon the way of salvation and strengthen their faith, impelled St Cosmas to seek the blessing of his spiritual fathers and go to Constantinople. There he mastered the art of rhetoric and, having received a written permit of Patriarch Seraphim II (and later from his successor Sophronius) to preach the Holy Gospel.

So the saint began to proclaim the Gospel at first in the churches of Constantinople and the surrounding villages, then in the Danube regions, in Thessalonica, in Verroia, in Macedonia, Chimaera, Akarnania, Aitolia, on the islands of Saint Maura, Kephalonia and other places.

His preaching, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, was simple, calm, and gentle. It brought Christians great spiritual benefit. The Lord Himself assisted him and confirmed his words with signs and miracles, just as He had confirmed the preaching of the Apostles.

Preaching in the remote areas of Albania, where Christian piety had almost disappeared among the rough and coarse people entrenched in sin, St Cosmas led them to sincere repentance and improvement with the Word of God.

Under his guidance, church schools were opened in the towns and villages. The rich offered their money for the betterment of the churches, for the purchase of Holy Books (which the saint distributed to the literate), veils (which he gave women, admonishing them to come to church with covered heads), for prayer ropes and crosses (which he distributed to the common folk), and for baptismal fonts so that children could be baptized in the proper manner.

Since the churches could not accommodate everyone wanting to hear the wise preacher, St Cosmas with forty or fifty priests served the Vigil in the fields, and in city squares, where thousands of people prayed for the living and for the dead, and were edified by his preaching. Everywhere that St Cosmas halted and preached, the grateful listeners set up a large wooden cross, which remained thereafter in memory of this.

The apostolic service of St Cosmas was brought to a close by his martyric death in the year 1779. At 65 years of age, he was seized by the Turks and strangled. His body was thrown into a river, and after three days, was found by the priest Mark and buried near the village of Kolikontasi at the monastery of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. Afterwards, part of his relics were transferred to various places as a blessing.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » December 18th, 2013, 5:59 pm

Saint Ignatius the God-bearer

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Saint Ignatius was a disciple of Saint John the Theologian, and a successor of the Apostles, and he became the second Bishop of Antioch, after Evodus. He wrote many epistles to the faithful, strengthening them in their confession, and preserving for us the teachings of the holy Apostles. Brought to Rome under Trajan, he was surrendered to lions to be eaten, and so finished the course of martyrdom about the year 107. The remnants of his bones were carefully gathered by the faithful and brought to Antioch. He is called God-bearer, as one who bare God within himself and was aflame in heart with love for Him. Therefore, in his Epistle to the Romans (ch. 4), imploring their love not to attempt to deliver him from his longed-for martyrdom, he said, "I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found to be the pure bread of God."

As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God,
thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision.
Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Ignatius.
Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be saved.
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Theophilus » March 20th, 2014, 8:38 am

Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

St Cuthbert’s popularity and the love which surrounds him and his cult surpass those of all other English Saints. His life is that of a Northumbrian monk who was full of prophetic grace, visited by angelic hosts, leader of one of the major monasteries in seventh century England, converter of kings, animal and bird lover, reluctant bishop and, above all, possessed by a saintly longing for a life of solitude and prayer.

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Even more striking than the life itself is the fact that Venerable Bede, who included it in his Ecclesiastical History, actually heard it from eyewitnesses living less than a generation after the Saint’s death. Here are some details from the Saint's life:


August 31, 651

Loving solitude and the natural world God created, even before becoming a monk, St Cuthbert made it his custom to keep the night watch over the animals, praying while others slept. On the night of August 31, 651, he saw a light streaming from the sky, and choirs of angels descending to the earth. They gathered to themselves a figure Cuthbert recognized as a human soul, and carried it with them back to heaven. Struck with rapture, he at once woke his companions and with his contagious excitement, writes Bede, “fired the hearts of the shepherds with the love and honor of God.” The next day, Cuthbert learned of the death of Aidan, bishop of Lindisfarne, the holy bishop who had firmly established the faith in this northern kingdom.

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Monk at Melrose and Ripon

The reputation of one Boisil, a priest and prior (chief assistant to the abbot) drew Cuthbert to the monastery at Melrose in what is now the Scottish Borders; Boisil himself was standing at the gate with some other monks when Cuthbert rode up, and the prior said to the other monks, “Behold the servant of the Lord.” Under Boisil’s wing, Cuthbert trained at the monastery in troubled times for the English church. Two streams of Christian thought were colliding, as the Roman-influenced mission from the south met with the Celtic practices that had been established in Northumbria and the rest of Britain by monks from Ireland. In 657 the abbot found Cuthbert, still in his early twenties, fit to serve in the important role of guestmaster at a daughter monastery at Ripon. But the political and religious controversies of the times resulted in this group of monks, trained in the Irish tradition, being removed from Ripon in 661 in favour of others who championed the Roman usage so that Cuthbert returned to Melrose with the others.


Praying in the North Sea

When he was only thirty years old, Cuthbert succeeded his master in the office of prior, teaching and counselling the other monks. He also went out to the lands round about, to fire with zeal the lukewarm believers and call back to repentance those who had fallen back into pagan superstition during the plague. Sometimes on horseback but often on foot, he visited the impoverished and isolated hillsteads, and went to encourage and teach at other monastic houses such as Coldingham.

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There on one occasion Cuthbert, who had never forgotten the spiritual clarity of his long-ago vision while watching sheep in the hills, rose late at night to pray outdoors. One of the brothers followed him and observed the saint standing in the North Sea up to his neck, where he remained all night praising God. He left the water at dawn, falling down to praise God on the shore, and the amazement of the watching monk, two otters came to twine themselves round Cuthbert’s feet, warming him with their breath. When he arose and gave the animals his blessing, they departed; spying the brother, St Cuthbert kindly warned the monk to keep the incident secret while Cuthbert lived.

Many other miracles are recorded of Cuthbert. Often they involve the saint’s interaction with animals; miraculous provisions of food; healing; knowledge of happenings elsewhere or in the future; exorcisms; or mastery over the threatening elements of water or fire.


Lindisfarne

The Synod of Whitby in 664 saw a definitive decision by the Church of Britain to make the change to Roman customs; and the Melrose monks, though they had already been ousted from the new monastery at Ripon by Roman partisans, at this time humbly submitted to the will of the church. But it was not such an easy adjustment at all monasteries, and Cuthbert was sent to the tidal island of Lindisfarne to gently help the monks there adapt to the change.

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As prior of the community, Cuthbert won the brothers’ hearts with firm and kind leadership. When arguments at chapter meetings became too heated, Cuthbert would simply walk out, only to return and begin again the next day without reference to the previous unpleasantness. He also awed the brethren with his nights spent in prayer, going without sleep often—and what is more, doing it with great cheer and enthusiasm. A compassionate confessor, he would burst into tears of sympathy as the penitents bewailed their weakness, and would himself do acts of penance as an example to them.


The Hermit of the Farnes


In 676, Cuthbert at 41 at last entered with joy the life of solitude he had always longed for, establishing a little hermitage on the Farne Islands, a long row away from Lindisfarne.

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Here he struggled with invisible demonic enemies; brought forth a miraculous well; sowed barley to feed himself; and lived in peace and quietness. From this period comes one of the most charming of the animal tales that adorn Cuthbert’s life: One day a tribe of ravens swooped in to steal straw from the roof of the laboriously built guest house. Cuthbert tried to wave them off, but they ignored him until he shouted, “In the Name of Jesus Christ, depart!” The birds fled at once, as if ashamed. Three days later one returned to Cuthbert as he dug in his garden, and “stood before him, with feathers outspread and head bowed low to its feet in sign of grief.” Cuthbert then pronounced the ravens free to return. When they came, they brought a gift—a lump of lard, which the saint kept and encouraged visitors to use for the very practical purpose of waterproofing their shoes.

By Cuthbert’s decree the Farne Islands became what was perhaps the world’s first bird sanctuary. The black and white eider ducks line their nests with down plucked from their breasts, which would in Cuthbert’s time be stolen by entrepreneurs to sell as a luxury for the beds of the rich. This would leave the nestlings to die cruelly of exposure; Cuthbert declared the birds sacred to himself, and untouchable.


Holy (yet reluctant) Bishop

In A.D. 684, his fiftieth year, Cuthbert’s great fear came at last to pass: he was elected bishop. Only when a large delegation including the king of Northumbria himself sailed to his island hermitage to plead with him did he accept the burden laid on him. However, after less than two years he knew it was time to retire once more to his hermitage.


Death and beyond

During a final illness which allowed him, as he had wished, time to compose his soul and instruct his brethren before his death on March 20th, 687.

St Cuthbert’s body was buried at Lindisfarne, but in 875 fearing a Viking invasion monks carried it away. His relics, buried in the monastery church, had been found to be incorrupt and the source of several miracles. The community, both monastics and layfolk, adults and children, took up the saint’s body in its wooden coffin and carried it away, taking other relics as well, including the famous Lindisfarne Gospel book. Thus began an arduous pilgrimage which continued for many years – indeed, for generations – before they settled at last at Durham. There in the 12th century the coffin was opened once more and the saint’s body found to be still incorrupt.

Source>>

Bede: The Life and Miracles of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindesfarne (721)
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Re: Why Remember the Saints?

Postby Sprocket » March 30th, 2014, 1:46 pm

Just for once, I share your admiration for a Saint: Cuthbert was a genuinely humble, holy man, not a mere exhibitionist, unlike some others. I've read his life-story as recounted by Bede before, and am glad that he had a refreshingly normal childhood, enjoying energetic games.
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