Posts

Showing posts from July, 2017

St. Macrina the Younger

Image
The saint I chose today was an interesting one, from my point of view: St. Macrina the Younger (330-379), who lived in what is now Turkey. She was a contemplative saint, a virgin, and a member of a very saintly family. Her grandmother (also called Macrina) was a saint, as were her brothers, St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa. (St. Gregory of Nyssa is responsible for one of my favourite Christian quotations: "Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands.")



What did I know about this saint before today?

Nothing. I'd never even heard of her.

Why did I choose this saint?

Although I generally avoid ancient saints, I chose Macrina because she is a contemplative, and I'm much more interested in contemplative saints than in active saints. I also think the world needs them more now.

What did I learn about this saint?

She was engaged to be married in youth, but when her fiancĂ© died, she settled on a life of virginity. She eventually established a religious community with her mothe…

St. Eadburh of Bichester

Image
The saint I chose today is St. Eadburh of Bicester, who lived in the seventh century, a "nun and perhaps abbess of Aylesbury".

In fact, it is probably best if I simply reproduce the very little that is known about St. Eadburh (or Edburg) from The Oxford Dictionary of Saints online:

Claimed to be a daughter of Penda, king of Mercia (although her name is absent from the usual lists), this Edburga, who helped to train Osith in the religious life, was a nun and perhaps abbess of Aylesbury, although the legend states that she lived at Adderbury (Oxon.), some thirty miles away, a place-name which means ‘Eadburg's burh’. Edburga's relics were translated to Bicester (Oxon.), a house of Austin Canons founded in 1182, which was dedicated to Our Lady and St Edburga. The splendid base of the shrine, made in 1320, survives in the church of Stanton Harcourt (Oxon.). Feast: 18 July, which by an unfortunate coincidence is also the translation feast of Edburga of Winchester. Edburga of…

St. Hedwig of Poland

Image
The saint I chose today was St. Hedwig of Poland (1373-1399), who was queen of that country. Usually, I avoid crowned saints, despite being an avid monarchist. Their stories are usually layered in high politics, which can be head-spinning, considering the complexity of allegiances and marriage relations in royal history. I've never watched Game of Thrones and I don't intend to.

What did I know about St. Hedwig before today?

Absolutely nothing. At first I assumed she was a man. Just as I assumed Harry Potter's owl of that name was a male owl.




Why did I choose this saint?

Because I couldn't find anyone else more interesting! Also, I'm fond of Polish saints. (Those I know, anyway.)

What did I learn about this saint?

We should all be in the business of evangelism, but St. Hedwig managed to convert a whole country to Catholicism. Well, sort of. The husband she eventually married was Grand Duke Jagiello of Lithuania, who was a pagan. He not only became Catholic, but he convert…

St. Marie Magdalen Postel

Image
My first saint, on the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is St. Marie Magdalen Postel (1746-1846).

What did I know about this saint before today?

Nothing. I'd never heard about this saint.

Why did I choose this saint?

I'm interested in saints that experienced the French Revolution. Somehow, it's easier to relate to them, since the French Revolution seems the very fountainhead of modern secularization and even the modern world. Very often, as with St. Postel, they were heroically loyal to the Church through the religious persecution of the Revolution. Also, I like French saints.

What did I learn about this saint?

There's a fair amount about her on the internet. She was born in Normandy to a rope-maker; I guess that was a respectable but not genteel occupation. She took a private vow of virginity as a girl. I'm fascinated by private vows of virginity. Do they still happen? The last such vow I've heard of was Ronald Knox, the brilliant Anglican priest who converted…

Hello and Welcome to my New Blog!

Image
Hello there!

This is the first post of this new blog, A Year with the Saints.(I've always liked titles such as A Year in Provence, so I'm happy to have a blog with a similar title!)


As you might guess from the title, the point of the blog is to look at a saint of the day, for every day of the year.

There are plenty of good websites you can visit to see which saints are being celebrated that day, all of which which give biographical information about that saint. I'm not trying to compete with those websites. In fact, I'm going to link to them.

No, this blog is going to be much more modest and much more personal. I'm going to choose one saint (there are many saints commemorated every day of the year) and write something about them. What did I know or think about that saint, before I read up on them? Did I learn anything new or exciting? How does this saint speak to me?


I've written a book about Catholic saints which I hope will be published soon. Researching that book…