A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Henry, John and Henry Venn the Younger (d1797, 1813, 1873). Feast Day for Anglican presbyters, priests and evangelical divines. Henry Venn was born in Surrey in 1725 and after ordination served in several parishes there, becoming in 1750 a local curate known for developing evangelical principles. He moved to Clapham in 1753 and his son John was born there in 1759, the family moving to Huddersfield, where Henry served as a vicar until 1771, his piety and zeal making a great impression. His 1763 The Complete Duty of Man, written against William Law’s The Whole Duty of Man, became popular among Evangelicals. Henry retired to the living of Yelling, Cambridgeshire, where he influenced the great Evangelical priest and preacher Charles Simeon. John Venn became rector of Little Dunham in Norfolk and of Clapham in 1792, as a central figure in the group of Christian philanthropists known as the Clapham Sect. He was also an active participant in the movement for the abolition of the slave trade and one of the founders of the 1797 Church Missionary Society. John’s son, Henry Venn the Younger, was born at Clapham in 1796 and held various livings, in 1846 devoting himself entirely to the work of the Church Missionary Society, being a gifted secretary for thirty-two years. His aim was for overseas churches to become self-supporting, self-governing and self-extending and he was instrumental in securing the appointment in 1864 of the first African Anglican Bishop of West Africa, Samuel Ajayi Crowther who was a Yoruba linguist and Sierra Leonean-Nigerian clergyman. Crowther and his family had been captured by Fulani slave raiders when he was about twelve but he was freed by the Royal Navy’s West Africa Squadron that was enforcing the British ban against the Atlantic slave trade. Those liberated were resettled in Sierra Leone, where Ajayi adopted the name Samuel Crowther, converted to Christianity and identified with Sierra Leone’s then ascendant Krio (Creole) ethnic group. He was ordained minister in England, received a doctoral degree and prepared a Yoruba grammar and translation of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, also working on a Yoruba version of the Bible. The elder Henry Venn died at his son John’s rectory in Clapham, John also dying there on 1 July 1813 and his son Henry in Mortlake in 1873. Image: pinterest.co.uk.
Prayer Almighty God, whose Will it is to be glorified in Your saints, and Who raised up your servants Henry Venn, John Venn, and Henry Venn the Younger to be a light in the world: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth Your praise, Who called us out of darkness into Your marvellous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Naomh Oilibhéar Pluincéid (St Oliver Plunkett) (1625-81). Feast Day commemorating the death of the wealthy Hiberno-Norman Irish Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland. As an aspirant to the priesthood, he set out for Rome in 1647 at the time of the Irish Confederate Wars between native Irish Catholics, English and Irish Anglicans and Nonconformists. Ordained a priest in 1654, he was deputed by the Irish bishops to act as their representative in Rome, the 1649-53 Cromwellian conquest of Ireland having defeated the Irish Catholic cause, the public practice of Catholicism being banned and Catholic clergy being executed. In Rome, Plunkett successfully pleaded for the Irish Catholic Church during the later part of the 1649 Commonwealth and the first years from 1660 of Charles II’s reign. In 1669 he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, the Irish primatial see, being consecrated at Ghent and setting foot on Irish soil again in 1670, as the English Restoration of 1660 had begun on a basis of toleration. Plunkett tackled drunkenness among the clergy, writing: “Let us remove this defect from an Irish priest, and he will be a saint.” He established a 1670 Jesuit College in Drogheda that Protestants also attended, the first integrated school in Ireland. He confirmed 48,000 Catholics over a four-year period, as the Dublin government tolerated the Catholic hierarchy for a short period. However, in 1673 the Jesuit College was closed and demolished and Plunkett went into hiding to avoid exile. The 1678 Popish Plot, fabricated in England by the clergyman Titus Oates, led to further anti-Catholic action and the Privy Council of England in Westminster was told that Plunkett had plotted a French invasion. Plunkett refused to leave his flock and was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle in 1679 and tried at Dundalk for conspiring against the state. Archbishop Plunkett would never have been convicted in Ireland and so he was moved to Newgate Prison in London to face trial at Westminster Hall. Plunkett was innocent but he was found guilty of high treason for promoting the Roman faith and condemned to death, saying: “Deo Gratias” (Thanks be to God). Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681 (Gregorian 11 July), the last victim of the Popish Plot and the last Catholic martyr to die in England. His body was initially buried in two tin boxes, next to five Jesuits who had died previously, in the courtyard of St Giles in the Fields church. His remains were exhumed in 1683 and translated to the Benedictine monastery at Lamspringe, near Hildesheim in Germany. The head was taken to Rome and from there to Armagh and eventually to Drogheda where since 1921 it has rested in Saint Peter’s Church. Most of the body was brought to Downside Abbey, where the major part is located today with some parts remaining at Lamspringe. In 1920, he was the first of the Irish martyrs to be beatified and, on the occasion of his canonisation in 1975 as the first new Irish saint for almost seven hundred years, his casket was opened and some parts of his body given to the Cathedral at Drogheda. A rally and Mass for St Oliver Plunkett on Clapham Common on 1 July 1981 celebrated the three-hundredth anniversary of his martyrdom before twenty enrobed Bishops, a number of Abbots and thousands of pilgrims. Venerated in Catholic Church. Major shrine St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Drogheda. Patron of peace and reconciliation in Ireland, adopted by the St Oliver Plunkett for Peace and Reconciliation prayer group campaigning for peace in Ireland. Image: litriocht.com.
Sant Cewydd (St Cewydd of Anglesey). Feast Day for Early Medieval Sixth-Century Pictish refugee Welsh Christian, a monk at St Cadog’s monastery at Llancarfan near Barry who settled in the cantref of Elfael, Radnorshire. Cewydd was known as the Welsh Rain Saint, in the same way as: his contemporaries Gildas (Gweltaz), a British monk and historian who founded the monastery of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys in Brittany and Medard (Méard) the Picard Bishop of Noyon in France; and the Ninth-Century Swithun (Swiþhun), the Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester. It was believed that if it rained on their feast days it was likely to rain for the following forty days and forty nights. Churches were associated with Cewydd on Anglesey and at: Lancaut (Llan Cewydd) north of Chepstow from c625; Cusop near Hay-on-Wye; Kewstoke, named after Cewydd; Mynachlog-ddu; Steynton in Rhos; Aberedw; Disserth-yn-Elfael; Llangewydd and Laleston, Bridgend; and Capel Cewy. South Wales Feast Day 15 July as Dygwyl Cewydd (Feast of St Cewydd), originally 2 July before the Julian/Gregorian calendar change. Image: yfc.wales.