A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

St Alexis (Алексей, Aleksij, Elephtherios) (c1295-1378). Anniversary of the 1431 Uncovering of the relics of the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus, the Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia who was the 1st representative of the Russian Orthodox church to take a truly active role in governing Russia. Born in Moscow, he took monastic vows c1313 at the Epiphany Monastery of Moscow. In 1340, Alexis was appointed the Metropolitan’s deputy in Vladimir and 12 years later was consecrated as Bishop of Vladimir. In 1357, he was summoned by the Khan of the Golden Horde to cure his mother of blindness and his success prevented a Crimean Tatar raid on Moscow. In the 1360s, Alexis founded the Andronikov, Chudov, and Alekseyevsky monasteries. Before his blessed repose in 1378, he left instructions for his body to be placed in the Chudov (Miracle of the Archangel Michael) monastery in the Kremlin. He designated a burial place outside the altar of the church, since in his humility he did not want to be buried in the temple, but so great was the esteem for the holy hierarch that his body was placed near to the altar inside the church. In 1431, during the construction of a new temple, the incorrupt relics of St Alexis were uncovered and commemorations of Metropolitan Alexis were established on: the day of his repose, 12 February; the day of the Uncovering of his relics, 20 May; and 5 October for the Synaxis of the Hierarchs of Moscow. In 1485, the relics of the saint were translated to a church dedicated to him and at present they rest at the Patriarchal Theophany Cathedral in Moscow. Venerated in 1794 Orthodox Church in America, whose mission is to be faithful in fulfilling the commandment of Christ to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Co-patron of Moscow. Image: © Orthodox Church in America.

San Bernardino da Siena (St Bernardine of Siena OFM, Apostle of Italy) (1380-1444). Roman Catholic Feast Day commemorating death of noble Tuscan priest and Franciscan missionary who was a systematiser of scholastic economics and a confessor. His popular preaching made him famous during his own lifetime, as it was frequently directed against sorcery, gambling, infanticide, witchcraft, homosexuality, Jews and usury. At 17, after studying civil and canon law in Siena, he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady attached to the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala church, now a museum but then one of Europe’s first hospitals, dedicated to caring for abandoned children, the poor, the sick and pilgrims. At 20, Bernardino ministered to victims of the plague and took charge of the hospital. At 23, he joined the Observant branch of the Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscan Order), with a strict observance of St Francis’ Rule and was ordained a priest at 24. For more than 30 years, he preached all over Italy and played a great part in the Italian religious revival of the early-15th Century. Bernardine was not universally popular and in L’Aquila the legs were sawn off the pulpit, causing him to fall into the crowd. He presented the Virgin Mary as an example for women and warned them against marrying men who cared more for their dowries than for them. He presented St Joseph as an example for men, although emphasising Mary’s obedience to her husband. In 1426, Bernardine was summoned to Rome to stand trial on charges of heresy but was found innocent and was offered the bishopric of Siena, which he declined in order to continue his monastic and evangelical activities. In 1431, he declined the bishopric of Ferrara and in 1435 that of Urbino. Bernardine died at L’Aquila in the mountainous Abruzzi and is buried in a mausoleum in the Basilica of San Bernardino, which was built in 1454 in his honour and declared a Basilica Minor in 1946. Reports of miracles multiplied rapidly after his death and his appearance was given a distinct and readily-recognisable iconography. His cult soon spread to England and was particularly promulgated by the Observant Friars, who established themselves in a friary at Greenwich in 1482 but were expelled by Queen Elizabeth I in 1559. The mountain pass in the Alps, Il Passo di San Bernardino, is named in the saint’s honour as his fame reached into northern Italy and southern Switzerland. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Patron of Italy, L’Aquila, Bernalda and  Carpi, Italy, Diocese of San Bernardino, California, Philippine barangays, advertisers, advertising, chest problems, communications, compulsive gambling, gambling addicts, public relations personnel, public relations work, respiratory problems. Image: commons.wikimedia.org.

St Æthelberht (Æðelbrihte, Ethelbert) (779-94). Feast Day commemorating the death of the young Anglo-Saxon King of the East Angles, who was educated at the monastery of Beodericsworth (Bury St Edmunds) and whose kingdom included the present Norfolk and Suffolk. Journeying to the court of King Offa of Mercia at Hereford to seek a dynastic marriage to Offa’s daughter Ælfthryth in the light of Danish raids, Æthelberht became involved in political intrigue and was beheaded by order of Offa near Marden 5 miles north of Hereford. Æthelberht’s death made impossible for over 30 years a peaceful union between the Anglian peoples of Mercia and East Anglia. On the way to his tomb on the site of the present Hereford Cathedral, which became the focus of a cult of pilgrimage and healing along with East Anglia, Æthelberht’s head fell from the cart and cured the sight of a blind man. Ælfthryth became a recluse at the Mercian Crowland Benedictine monastery and her remorseful father founded monasteries, gave land to the Church and travelled on a pilgrimage to Rome. Ælfthryth is a virgin saint venerated in the Roman Catholic and Antiochian Orthodox Churches. Æthelberht’s relics were dispersed when Hereford Cathedral was sacked by the Welsh in 1055 but his memory is preserved in the dedication of the Cathedral, the Hereford annual May Fair and St Ethelbert’s Hospital. Hereford Cathedral is home to a c1300 vellum (calf skin) Mappa Mundi that shows the history, geography and destiny of humanity as it was understood in Christian Europe, with Europe, Asia and North Africa mapped with Jerusalem in the centre and east at the top, where the sun rises and where Medieval Christians looked for the second coming of Christ. Ethelbert the King is joint patron of Hereford Cathedral along with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Image: British Museum.