Sunday, 1 August 2010

St Ethelwold of Winchester...

Leaving aside the question of the Julian Kalendar for the time being, today is the feast of St Ethelwold of Winchester, who was a friend and contemporary of St Dunstan, and one of his disciples at Glastonbury. Around A.D 950 he founded a strict Benedictine monastery at Abingdon and in 963 St Dunstan consecrated him Bishop of Winchester. He went on to found many monasteries throughout England, notably Ely and Peterborough. He died in 984.

He is not celebrated in the Universal Church, so you will look in vain for him in the Ordo, but I am very much in favour of local kalendars personally, even local liturgical books. In my opinion, not every saint in the Universal Kalendar is worthy of universal veneration, and many saints of local status are even holier, wiser and more heroic than many of these (not that I am any judge of personal holiness). St Ethelwold's Collect, very fine in my estimation, runs as follows:

O God, on this day You caused new light to shine forth among the glorious stars of heaven for the English people in the brilliance of Your holy bishop Ethelwold. Humbly we beseech Your mercy that as we recognise his teaching and authority throughout our land, so may we be formed by his example and protection. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Ghost, unto the ages of ages. Amen. (From the Portiforium of St Wulfstan).

The above photo is of the old arches of Abingdon Abbey, a disheveled vision of that which has been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time. I wonder what Liturgy was like there?


  1. I think it is wonderful to see the local saints, indicative of a local pietas, being celebrated and wish that the traditional wall calendars included them. I have often -as a feeble anglican convert - pondered on how the Catholic church in England, in an effort to prove that it is Catholic and Roman, has merely made itself foreign. I remember years ago walking in Acton and being amazed that the dedication of the church was Our Lady of Lourdes, and not Our Lady of Sudbury or Our Lady of Walsingham. Likewise, every irish church seems to have a statue of St Martin de Porres and the Holy Child of Prague; not many statues of Our Lady of Dublin or St Lawrence O'Toole.
    But as you don't like people beating around the bush: why did you wreck that lovely collect with the HORRIBLE modern second person plural form instead of proper English: Thee and Thy ? Alan Robinson

  2. Alan Robinson,

    I am glad you picked up the odd style of English in that Collect. Naturally I would use the singular pronoun except we no longer seem to use it in Modern English (which must surely baffle foreigners trying to master the language). I'll use a more traditional style next time.

    Yes most native saints are side-lined in favour of trendy modern ones (such as Bernadette of Lourdes, Therese of Lisieux, the Cure of Ars etc), to great detriment in my opinion. Why on earth do people insist on going to Lourdes all the time (my grandparents included) when Walsingham is on your doorstep? I was fortunate to have attended a Pentecost Vigil this year, and on the way to the church I bumped into a ''familiar face'' (someone I saw there last time). We started talking, and she said that she wasn't coming. I don't know why she didn't come (perhaps she was busy), but my friend whom I met at the church said that had there been a Low Votive Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes with private devotions and Rosary with Benediction afterwards she'd probably have come then...

    I despair of some Catholics sometimes - they can be the most aliturgical people in all Christendom. The Catholic Church has a wonderful Tradition of Liturgy which people just can't be bothered with...your average parish has daily Mass, sometimes even more than one Mass on one day, and is there any Liturgy other than Mass on Sunday? No there isn't. In the Middle Ages to have fulfilled your Sunday obligation you had to have attended Mattins, Mass and Vespers (at least) - I can't remember the last time I attended Roman Mattins, and Roman Vespers was months ago...