Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
Saint Birinus was sent to England as a missionary by Pope Honorius I about the year 634; on his way, he was consecrated bishop in Genoa. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them and baptised their King and a good number of his followers during his fifteen years’ apostolate. He died about 650 and the main Church of the West Saxons which he had established at Dorchester-on-Thames was later moved to Winchester, as were the relics of Saint Birinus.
Saint Birinus (-649)
Birinus was a Frank, had been ordained a bishop in Genoa. He was sent to Wessex by Pope Honorius I, arriving in 634 at the port of Hamwic, now in the St Mary’s area of Southampton. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them. He baptized the West Saxon king Cynegils, probably in 635. The king granted him the See of Dorchester, where he established a church. He is reputed to have baptised the king’s son and his grandson (and to have been godfather to the latter). During his 15-year apostolate, he founded churches across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. He died on 3 December 649, and it is thought that his relics were later taken to Winchester, the capital of Wessex, when the See was moved from Dorchester to Winchester by St Hedda.
Saint Hedda (-705)
Hedda (Haeddi), whose feast is celebrated in Winchester on this day, was educated at Whitby, and ordained bishop in 676 by Theodore of Canterbury. He was appointed Bishop of the West Saxons, and moved his See from Dorchester to Winchester, which transformed it not only into the ecclesiastical centre of the kingdom but also for a time its capital. He died in 705.
Other saints: St John Almond (c.1565-1612)
John Almond (or Lathom or Molyneux) was born at Allerton near Liverpool of Catholic parents about 1565 and went to school at Much Woolton. After studying at Reims he went to the English College in Rome, where in due course he was ordained priest. In 1602 he returned to England as a secular priest and ministered to Catholics there. He was arrested briefly in 1608, and then again in 1612. In November of that year, seven priests had escaped from prison, and this may have sharpened the zeal of those who interrogated him. He displayed to the last great skill in argument; the account of his death describes him as “a reprover of sin, a good example to follow, of an ingenious and acute understanding, sharp and apprehensive in his conceits and answers, yet complete with modesty, full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.” He refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance in the form in which it was offered him, but offered to swear that he bore in his heart “so much allegiance to King James as he, or any Christian king, could expect by the law of nature, or the positive law of the true Church, be it which it will, ours or yours.” He was committed to Newgate and within a few months was brought to trial as a seminary priest. Having been duly convicted he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 5 December 1612 at Tyburn, London.
Other saints: Bl Bartholomew Fanti (c.1428-1495)
5 Dec (where celebrated)
Bartholomew Fanti was born in Mantua around the year 1428. In 1452 he is known to have already been a Carmelite priest of the Congregation of Mantua. For thirty-five years at the Order’s church in Mantua he was the spiritual director and rector of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for which he composed a rule and statutes. He was a teacher of Bl Baptist Spagnoli and is especially remembered for his devotion to and love of the Eucharist. He died in 1495 in Mantua.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/7 - 527/ 533)
Fulgentius was bishop of the city of Ruspe in the Roman province of Africa, which is in modern-day Tunisia. At that time Africa and parts of the Near East were ruled by the Vandals, who were Arians, calling themselves Christians but denying the divinity of Christ. As a result Fulgentius’ early career was marked by a series of flights from persecution, as Catholics tried to maintain their faith under Vandal rule. It was a complicated time. In 499 he was tortured for saying that Jesus was both God and man; the next year the Vandal king Thrasamund, impressed by his talents, invited him to return from exile and become a bishop (Fulgentius declined, since he knew that Thrasamund had ordered that none but Arians should be bishops); two years later he was persuaded to become bishop of Ruspe in Tunisia but shortly afterwards he was exiled to Sardinia. Thrasamund invited him back in 515 to debate against the Arians but exiled him again in 520.
In 523, following the death of Thrasamund and the accession of his Catholic son Hilderic, Fulgentius was allowed to return to Ruspe and try to convert the populace back to the faith. He worked to reform many of the abuses which had infiltrated his old diocese in his absence. The power and effectiveness of his preaching were so profound that his archbishop, Boniface of Carthage, wept openly every time he heard Fulgentius preach, and publicly thanked God for giving such a preacher to his church.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Timothy 4:16 ©|
Take great care about what you do and what you teach; always do this, and in this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
|Noon reading (Sext)||1 Timothy 1:12 ©|
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Timothy 3:13 ©|
Those who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus.