A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Sankt Knud (St Canute IV, Canute the Holy, Knud IV den Hellige) (c1042-86). Catholic Church Feast Day commemorating the death of the devout Roman Catholic King of Denmark who raided England in 1069 and 1075, returning via Flanders, which was hostile towards William I of England and thus a natural Danish ally. Canute IV was a highly-ambitious King who enhanced the authority of the Church, demanded austere observation of church holidays and sought to enforce the collection of tithes. As the grandnephew of Canute the Great, who had ruled England, Denmark and Norway until 1035, Canute IV considered the crown of England to be rightfully his and regarded William I of England as a usurper. In 1085, with the support of the King of Norway, Canute IV planned an invasion of England but the fleet never set sail, as he was preoccupied by the potential threat of an invasion of Denmark by the Holy Roman Emperor. The warriors of the fleet were mostly peasants who needed to be home for the harvest season, wearied of waiting and started a peasant revolt in 1086. On 10 July 1086, Canute and his men took refuge in the wooden St Alban’s Priory in Odense. The rebels stormed the church and slew Canute and his followers before the altar, Canute facing the murderers without a struggle. Because of his martyrdom and advocacy of the Church, Canute was quickly considered a saint and miracles were soon reported as taking place at his grave. By 1101, the Pope had confirmed the cult of Canute and he was the first Dane to be canonised. In 1300, his remains were interred in Saint Canute’s Cathedral, Odense, which was built in his honour and where his remains are on display. In Sweden and Finland he is historically partially associated with the 13 January St Knut’s Day, which celebrates the memory of the death of his nephew Canute Lavard. In Spain, Canute IV’s Feast Day has become an insincere holiday for the marijuana legalisation movement, appropriating the Spanish version of his name, Canuto, which coincidentally is also the word for a marijuana cigarette. Patron saint of Denmark. Image: danmarkshistorien.dk
St Anthony Pechersky (Anthony of Kiev, Anthony of the Caves, Антоній Печерський, Антоний Печерский) (c983-1073). Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Feast Day for Ukrainian monk, baptised with the name Antipas, who was a father of Ukrainian monasticism and the founder of the monastic tradition in the Kievan Rus’ loose federation of East Slavic and Uralic peoples. He went to the Greek Orthodox Sphagnous Monastery (Μονή Εσφιγμένου) on Mount Athos to live as a hermit for several years in a secluded cave overlooking the sea, which is still shown to visitors. c1011, the Abbot gave Anthony the task of expanding monasticism in his native Kiev (Kyiv, Ukraine), which had only recently begun its conversion to Christianity. In 1015, during a fratricidal war in his homeland, Anthony returned to Mount Athos and, when the conflict ended, the Abbot sent Anthony back to Kiev, prophesying that many monks would join him on his return. In Kiev, Anthony found a small 12-foot cave in which to live and he became well-known for his strict asceticism, eating rye bread every other day and drinking only a little water. His fame soon spread beyond Kiev, people began to ask for his spiritual guidance or blessing and some offered to join him, Anthony accepting the company of a few of them. In 1051, Anthony co-founded the Kiev Monastery of the Caves (Kyiv Pechersk Lavra), the first Ukrainian monastery founded by Ukrainians, and he founded another monastery in Chernigov (Chernihiv). Anthony had gained twelve disciples and, devoted to the model of the solitary hermit set by his namesake Anthony the Great, he left his cave for a nearby mountain so that he could continue to live the solitary life. There, he dug another cave for himself and lived in seclusion in the first of what would later be known as the Far Caves. In time, the first Abbot of the Monastery of the Caves was called to head a new monastery, St Demetrios, and Anthony chose a replacement. As the number of monks grew and crowding became a problem, Anthony requested the use of the monastery hill and the monks built a wooden church and some cells. He founded several monasteries on the Greek model for local princes but they were not as austere as Anthony was accustomed to from his time on Mount Athos and so he instead chose to live in a small cave, where the Eletsky Monastery was later built. Anthony was asked to return the 150 km to Kiev and he helped to build a larger stone church to accommodate the ever-increasing number of monks but did not live to see the church completed. He prophesised his death in the Caves of Kiev, blessed the foundation of the new church, called the monks together and asked them that his remains be hidden away forever. The monks carried out his request and no relics have ever been found. Many pilgrims have however visited his cave to pray and many have reported being healed there. Since the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches (Moscow Patriarchate) follow the Julian Calendar, Saint Anthony’s Feast is celebrated on 23 July on the modern Gregorian Calendar. He is listed in the Martyrologium Romanum of the Roman Catholic Church with a Feast Day of 7 May. Image: russiapedia.rt.com.
Emmanuel Ruiz (Blessed Manuel Ruiz López OFM Cap) (1804-60). Catholic Feast Day commemorating the death of the humble Spanish Catholic Franciscan priest who was born in Santander and served as a missionary in Damascus, Syria at a time when anti-Christian riots there led to six thousand unarmed Maronites (الموارنة, ܡܖ̈ܘܢܝܐ) who adhered to the Syriac Maronite Church to be massacred by armed rebel Druze Muslims over a three-week period when every Maronite village of the main and southern parts of Lebanon was pillaged or burned. Among the victims were Emmanuel, Superior of the Franciscan convent who was killed on his altar, his Procurator, his Assistant Procurator, five other Friars who were studying the Arabian language in preparation for their apostolic labours, and three Maronite Lay Brothers. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men and they were captured and refused to renounce their faith by becoming Muslims, they were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom in Damascus on 10 July 1860 as the Eleven Damascus Martyrs. The Church in Syria has known persecution throughout its history but the priests who are its guardians administer the Eucharist with great dignity. From the days of St Stephen down the centuries, the Church has had her martyrs, but the Nineteenth Century was distinguished by their great number, enthusiasm and heroism, mostly in the Orient. China heads the list, but there were also martyrs in Japan, Korea, Cochinchina (Miền Nam, Nam Kỳ; Khmer, កូសាំងស៊ីន, Cochinchine, 交趾支那, Vietnam), Syria, France, Spain and Peru, and many more have died in our own lifetime. Venerated in Roman Catholicism. Image: facebook.com.
Prayer When the rabble attacked the Christians, these religious and their flocks recommended themselves to God and to Our Blessed Lady, and then prepared themselves for death by devoutly receiving the sacraments. The soldiers entered the convent and in many ways tried the faith of the Friars but the promises and threats proved futile and the tortures to which the Mohammedans resorted to shake the faith of these holy men were cruel. We pray for our understanding that beyond earth’s sorrows heaven’s joy awaits those who listen to Jesus’ Gospel. Amen