Wednesday, 19 September 2007

English Saints

Yesterday, I visited my aunt and uncle who live in the little Sussex town of Steyning. The splendid medieval church formerly housed the shrine of St Cuthman (see my previous post). Steyning lies in the Adur Valley, so my trip also gave me the chance to have dinner with the parish priest, Fr Sean Finnegan (formerly of Valle Adurni).

Today sees the feast of a very interesting English saint: Theodore of Canterbury, one of the most important of our Primates. He was born at Tarsus (Cilicia), educated at Athens, captured by Persians as a youth and lived as a monk in Rome (probably at Sant' Anastasio, having been driven westwards by the Arab conquests). Pope Vitalian recognised his holiness and ability and so appointed him as Archbishop of Canterbury in 666 (an ominous year!), replacing Wighard, who had died as he made his way to Rome to receive the pallium.

This Greek archbishop remained in England until his death in 690, visiting his Province, setting up a school at Canterbury (including a song school) and organising the Synod of Hertford (672), which helped unify the Roman, Celtic and British elements in the Church and consolidate the jurisdiction of Canterbury. Another synod was held at Hatfield in c.680, resulting in a declaration of orthodoxy in the monothelite controversy (ie the heresy that Jesus had two natures but one will).

It's amazing that one of our greatest Archbishops came all the way from Cilicia to Canterbury in the seventh century, at the bidding of the Pope, demonstrating that England was very much part of the Universal Church.

St Theodore, pray for us!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for all the info Fr

4:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found out that the Russian Orthodox church got its hands on the relics of King Edward the Martyr back in the 80s and is using them now to claim that Edward, and all England I suppose, was Orthodox. I guess they try to make the claim that the Catholic Church didn't even exist back then! I think it's disgusting how they are trying to steal a culture and a history not their own and I was wondering if there are any groups which are working to right this wrong?

7:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As they used to say on an American comedy show "Interesting, very interesting!". Nice "blog" whatever that means.

Living in Preston, my partner - the archvistist for the local Methodist church - has been asked to do an article on St Walburga, especially in view of the fact that the Bishop has hinted that it could be closed.

Came across your notes about her and wondered if you had any idea about why Joseph Hansom (or the parish) would have chosen her name for their church given that there does not appear to be any connection. Any thoughts?

From a Scottish Socialist Republican Catholic to an English Catholic priest

Awra' best

Tom McAllister

11:57 pm  

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