A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
St John Twenge (Saint John of Bridlington, John Thwing, John of Thwing, John Thwing of Bridlington, God is gracious, gift of God) (1320-79). Feast Day for the English saint from the Craven district of North Yorkshire. He was instrumental in establishing the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Bar Convent, York and his family would include two Roman Catholic priest-martyrs during the English Reformation. John Thwing studied at Oxford from age 17 and after completing his studies at 19 entered the Augustinian Canons Regular community of the Priory of Bridlington. He carried out his duties with humility, integrity and diligence and was in turn novice master, almsgiver, preacher and sub-prior. He became Canon of the Priory at 26 and was elected Prior at 36. He declined the latter out of humility but after being re-elected he took on the duties of Prior at 42 and served thus for 17 years. He recommended the study of the St John’s Gospel as a source for information and inspiration on the Gospel life. He was commended for the integrity of his life, his scholarship and his quiet generosity and he was the last English saint to be canonised before the English Reformation. In his lifetime, he enjoyed a reputation for great holiness and miraculous powers, on one occasion changing water into wine. On another, five seamen from Hartlepool, in danger of shipwreck, called upon God in the name of His servant, John of Bridlington, whereupon the Prior himself appeared to them in his canonical habit and brought them safely to shore. The men left their vessel at the harbour and walked to the monastery where they thanked John in person for saving their lives. John died from natural causes on 10 October 1379 and was laid to rest in the Priory Church of St Mary, Bridlington churchyard. The fame of the miracles by St John’s intercession spread rapidly throughout the land. King Henry V attributed his 25 October 1415 Saint Crispin’s Day victory at Agincourt to the intercession in heaven of St John of Bridlington and St John of Beverley. At the English Reformation, Henry VIII was asked in vain to spare the magnificent shrine of the saint, but it was destroyed in 1537. The nave of the church, restored in 1857, is all that now remains of Bridlington Priory. At All Saints Church, Thwing there is a window showing St John of Bridlington and St Cecilia. St John Street in Bridlington is named after him and is an ancient thoroughfare linking the Old Town that grew up around Bridlington Priory with the quayside community of fishermen and traders. At the church of St Andrew, Hempstead a wooden panel showing St John of Bridlington depicts him holding a fish and in episcopal robes, although he never served as a bishop. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. His Feast is observed by the Canons Regular on 9 October. Patron of women in difficult labour, who should pray to St John of Bridlington, fishermen including those in the North Sea, the local fishing industry on the Yorkshire coast. Image: en.wikipedia.org.
Prayer We pray for the fishing ports of the Yorkshire Coast, for the fishing port of Grimsby and for those struggling with poverty in all the English fishing communities. We rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will, as on Galilee, for us in Christ Jesus. Amen
St Hilarion (Hilarion the Great) (291-371). Feast Day for the anchorite abbot, a pagan from South Gaza in Syria Palaestina who studied rhetoric in Alexandria, where he was converted to Christianity. He then shunned the pleasures of theatre, circus and arena, and attended church. According to St Jerome of Stridon, he was a thin, delicate youth of fragile health. At 15, he went to live in the desert with St Anthony, whose name according to St Jerome was in the mouth of all the races of Egypt. As Anthony’s hermitage was busy with visitors seeking cures for diseases or demonic affliction, Hilarion returned home along with some monks. His parents had died and he left for the wilderness, giving his inheritance to his brothers and the poor. He went to an area southwest of Majoma, near the port of Gaza, limited by the sea and marshland and notorious for brigandage. With him he took only a shirt of coarse linen, a cloak of skins given him by St Anthony and a coarse blanket. He led a nomadic life, fasting rigorously and not partaking of his frugal meal until after sunset. He supported himself by weaving baskets and, living a life of hardship and simplicity in the desert, he experienced a spiritual dryness that included temptations to despair. Beset by carnal thoughts, he fasted even more and was so wasted that his bones scarcely held together. Many were his temptations and various the snares of demons night and day. Naked women appeared to him and sumptuous feasts when he was hungry. He finally built a hut of reeds and sedges in Gaza, on the site of modern-day Deir al-Balah, and he lived there for four years. He then constructed a tiny low-ceilinged cell, a tomb rather than a house, where he slept on a bed of rushes and recited the Bible or sang hymns. He never washed his clothes, changed them only when they fell apart and shaved his hair only once a year. He was once visited by robbers but they left him alone when they learned that he did not fear death and had nothing worth stealing. St Jerome described Hilarion’s diet as a half-pint of lentils moistened with cold water but after three years he switched to dry bread with salt and water. Eventually, perceiving his sight growing dim and his body itching with an unnatural roughness he added a little oil to this diet. After living in the wilderness for twenty-two years, he became famous as a confessor in Syria Palaestina. Visitors started begging for his help but these petitioners and would-be disciples drove him to retire to even more remote locations, although they followed him everywhere. First, he visited Anthony’s retreat in Egypt, then he withdrew to Sicily, later to Dalmatia, and finally to Cyprus, where he died. Miracles were attributed to him, the first when he cured a woman from Eleutheropolis in Syria Palaestina who had been barren for 15 years. Later, he cured three children of a fatal illness, healed a paralysed charioteer and expelled demons. In time, a monastery grew around his cell, which was so beset by visitors, especially female, that Hilarion fled. Hermann Hesse adapted a biography of St Hilarion as one of the three Lives of Joseph Knecht making up his Nobel Prize-winning novel The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi). While St Anthony is considered to have established Christian monasticism in the Egyptian desert, St Hilarion is considered to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism and is venerated as a saint by the Coptic, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The chief source of information regarding Hilarion is the posthumous biography written by St Jerome in Bethlehem. Its object was to further the ascetic life to which he was devoted and it contains, amidst much that is legendary, some statements that attach it to genuine history and it is in any case a record of the state of the human mind in the Fourth Century. Image: spreadjesus.org.
Bl Jakub Strzemię OFM Cap (c1340-1409). Feast Day commemorating the Polish Roman Catholic nobleman and confessor, a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor. In 1375, he was made the superior of the Brothers Association of Pilgrims for Christ, a group of Franciscans and Dominicans that would evangelise across Europe in places such as Moldova. From 1385 until 1388, Strzemię was the guardian of the Lviv Franciscan convent and in 1391 he was appointed Archbishop of Halicz, receiving his episcopal consecration in Tarnów early in 1392. In his new rôle, he defended the mendicant friars from attacks from the secular wing of the Polish priesthood and the government whilst also defending the rights of the faithful. He was the Vicar-General of the Franciscan missions in western Russia and built religious houses, schools, new churches and additional hospitals in his archdiocese. Strzemię died in Lviv on 20 October 1409 and the archdiocese was incorporated into that of the Archdiocese of Lviv. In 1419, Strzemię’s remains were exhumed and deemed to be incorrupt and his cultus spread across Poland. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church. Patron of Archdiocese of Lviv, Diocese of Zamość-Lubaczów, against headaches. Image: www.prenowicjat.franciszkanie.pl