The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Red.
Saint Oswald was born at the very beginning of the 7th century. He was the youngest son of the pagan Ethelfrid, the first king of a united Northumbria. After his father’s death in battle, the young Oswald fled to Iona for safety and was baptised there and became a devoted Christian.
In 633 Oswald returned to Northumbria to regain his father’s kingdom. It was said that he set up a wooden cross as his standard and dedicated himself and his people to God’s protection before engaging himself in battle with the occupying Welsh King Cadwallon, not far from the present Hexham. He defeated and killed Cadwallon and at once invited the monks from Iona to begin the evangelisation of his kingdom which extended from the Forth to the Humber. After initial difficulties, the monk Aidan was sent to lead these Irish missionaries and Oswald found him to be both a valued adviser and a good friend. Oswald took seriously the work of bringing Christianity to his people and was even known to accompany Aidan on his missionary expeditions and to act as interpreter during the time Aidan was learning the language of the English. He was also well known both for his personal prayerfulness and his charity to those in need.
Sadly the reign of King Oswald lasted only eight years. In 642 he was killed in battle by Penda the pagan king of the Mercians. It was said that as he fell in death he was heard to pray for those who died with him. Oswald was a popular hero and his reputation as a saint was widespread even into mainland Europe.
|Other saints: St Germanus of Auxerre (c.378 - 448)|
Wales: 3 Aug
Plymouth: 30 Jul
After pursuing a legal career and being governor of a province, he was consecrated bishop of Auxerre in Gaul. In 429 he was selected as one of the leaders of a mission to Britain to combat the growing heresy of Pelagianism. His mission was successful, and he also led the native Britons to a victory against the invading pagan Picts and Saxons. He visited Britain a second time in the 440s, to combat Pelagianism once more, and he died at Ravenna in the late 440s, while on a mission to the emperor to obtain pardon for the citizens of Armorica, which had rebelled against the Roman government.
|Other saints: Saint Æthelwold (-984)|
Together with St Dunstan, Ethelwold (or Æthelwold) ranks as one of the great figures of 10th-century monastic reform. Born in Winchester sometime between 904 and 909, he spent his youth at the court of King Athelstan. He became Prior of Glastonbury and in 955 received from King Ædred the Abbey of Abingdon which he re-established. On 29 November 963 he was ordained Bishop of Winchester by St Dunstan. There he installed monks in the cathedral, and restored the two Winchester foundations of the New Minster and Nunnaminster. He also restored the monasteries at Milton (Dorset) and Chertsey, and made new foundations at Ely, Peterborough and Thorney (East Anglia), in the course of which he made himself unpopular with secular clergy who were turned out of monasteries to make way for genuine monks.
He was a renowned scholar, compiling the Regularis Concordia and translating the Rule of Benedict into Old English. He used some of the wealth he accumulated to build new churches and was a great patron of ecclesiastical art. He died on 1 August 984 at Beddington in Surrey, and was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. After a miraculous cure attributed to him some twelve years later, his body was moved from the crypt to the choir and he was recognized as a saint, though never formally canonized.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Bede the Venerable (673 - 735)|
Bede was born in the north of England, near the monastery of Wearmouth. He joined that monastery, and spent all his life there or at Jarrow, teaching and writing. He was the outstanding ecclesiastical author of his time. He wrote commentaries on Scripture; an ecclesiastical history of the English people, which is a unique and irreplaceable resource for much of early English history; and the first martyrology (collection of saints’ lives) to be compiled on historical principles. He was also the first known writer of English prose, though this has not survived. He died at Jarrow on 25 May 735, teaching and working until the last moments of his life. He is venerated as the “light of the Church” in the Dark Ages, and as a forerunner of the 8th and 9th century renaissance of the Western Church.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Kings 8:60-61 ©|
May all the peoples of the earth come to know that the Lord is God indeed, and that there is no other. May your hearts be wholly with the Lord our God, following his laws and keeping his commandments as at this present day.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Jeremiah 17:9-10 ©|
The heart is more devious than any other thing, perverse too: who can pierce its secrets? I, the Lord, search to the heart, I probe the loins, to give each man what his conduct and his actions deserve.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Wisdom 7:27,8:1 ©|
Although she is alone, Wisdom can accomplish everything. She deploys her strength from one end of the earth to the other, ordering all things for good.