St. Benedict Biscop

Image may contain: 1 person

St. Benedict Biscop, Abbot

[Commonly called Bennet.] HE was nobly descended, and one of the great officers of the court of Oswi, the religious king of the Northumbers; he was very dear to his prince, and was beholden to his bounty for many fair estates, and great honours; but neither the favours of so good and gracious a king, nor the allurements of power, riches, and pleasures, were of force to captivate his heart, who could see nothing in them but dangers, and snares so much the more to be dreaded, as fraught with the power of charming. At the age therefore of twenty-five, an age that affords the greatest relish for pleasure, he bid adieu to the world, made a journey of devotion to Rome, and at his return devoted himself wholly to the studies of the scriptures and other holy exercises. Some time after his return to England, Alcfrid, son of king Oswi, being desirous to make a pilgrimage to the shrines of the apostles, engaged Biscop to bear him company to Rome. The king prevented his son’s journey; nevertheless our saint travelled thither a second time, burning with an earnest desire of improving himself in the knowledge of divine things, and in the love of God. From Rome he went to the great monastery of Lerins, then renowned for its regular discipline; there he took the monastic habit, and spent two years in the most exact observance of the rule, and penetrated in every exercise with its true spirit: after this he returned to Rome, where he received an order of Pope Vitalian to accompany St. Theodorus, archbishop of Canterbury, and St. Adrian, to England. When he arrived at Canterbury, St. Theodorus committed to him the care of the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul, near that city, which abbacy he resigned to St. Adrian upon his arrival in England. St. Bennet staid about two years in Kent, giving himself up to religious exercises and sacred studies, under the discipline of those two excellent persons. Then he took a fourth journey to Rome, with a view of perfecting himself in ecclesiastical discipline, and the rules and practice of monastic life; for which purpose he made a considerable stay at Rome and other places; he brought home with him a choice library, relics and pictures of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and other saints. When he returned to Northumberland, king Egfrid (in whose father’s court St. Bennet had formerly lived) bestowed on him seventy ploughs or families of land for building a monastery: 1 this the saint founded on the mouth of the river Were, whence it was called Weremouth. When the monastery was built, St. Bennet went over to France, and brought back with him skilful masons, who built the church for this monastery of stone, and after the Roman fashion; for till that time stone buildings were very rare in Britain, even the church of Lindisfarne was of wood, and covered over with a thatch of straw and reeds, till bishop Eadbert procured both the roof and the walls to be covered with sheets of lead, as Bede mentions. 2 St. Bennet also brought over glaziers from France, for the art of making glass was then unknown in Britain. In a fifth journey to Rome, St. Bennet furnished himself with a larger stock of good books, especially the writings of the fathers, also of relics and holy pictures, with which he enriched his own country. 1 Continue reading

The Octave of the Epiphany

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling

The Octave of the Epiphany

Mystery of the Vocation of the Magi
A reflection each day during the Octave of the Epiphany
by Dom Prosper Gueranger, 1870

The thoughts of the Church, today, are fixed on the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan, which is the second of the three Mysteries of the Epiphany. The Emmanuel manifested Himself to the Magi, after having shown Himself to the Shepherds; but this manifestation was made within the narrow space of a stable at Bethlehem, and the world knew nothing of it. In the Mystery of the Jordan, Christ manifested himself with greater publicity. His coming is proclaimed by the Precursor; the crowd, that is flocking to the river for Baptism, is witness of what happens; Jesus makes this the beginning of His public life. But who could worthily explain the glorious circumstances of this second Epiphany?

It resembles the first in this, that it is for the benefit and salvation of the human race. The Star has led the Magi to Christ; they had long waited for His coming, they had hoped for it; now, they believe. Faith in the Messias’ having come into the world is beginning to take root among the Gentiles. But faith is not sufficient for salvation; the stain of sin must be washed away by water. He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved (St. Mark, xvi. 16). The time is come, then, for a new manifestation of the Son of God, whereby there shall be inaugurated the great remedy, which is to give to Faith the power of producing life eternal. Continue reading