A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Ramadan ends. Ramadan, the 9th month of the Muslim lunar year, is dedicated to spiritual renewal, prayer and intensive devotional reading of the Qur’an. The lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the solar year on which the Gregorian calendar is based. This year, Muslims fasted from dawn to sunset from 13 April, fasting (sawm) being the 4th of the 5 pillars of Islam, requiring self-discipline and giving everyone some experience of deprivation. Those who are not able to fast are expected to give to charity to compensate for the lost days. Whilst children may be encouraged to fast, the full fast is not compulsory until puberty is reached. Muslims recite a short prayer of intent either before they sleep or just before Suhoor, the morning pre-fast meal. No food or drink may be consumed during the hours of daylight during Ramadan, and those fasting must also abstain from smoking and from sexual relations. According to the Qur’an, one may eat and drink at any time during the night, until daylight. Muslims who are travelling or sick and women who are pregnant or nursing a child are allowed to postpone their fast. These are all required to make up the days of missed fasting during the year ahead. After the custom of the Prophet, the fast is traditionally broken each evening at sunset by taking dates and water (iftar). For a second year, the annual Grand Iftar community event in Easton in Bristol was held virtually on 2 May this year due to coronavirus restrictions.Ramadan is the month when the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by God through the archangel Gabriel (Jibril). Subject to sightings of the moon, Eid-ul-Fitr (the lesser Eid) marks the end of Ramadan on the 1st day of the month of Shawwal, a time for giving to the poor. Zakat-ul-Fitr (Fitrana), the charity of the fast involving the giving of food in excess of needs or £5 per person to Muslim Aid, is paid before the Eid prayer, which is normally at a community assembly with a sermon in the mosque or a large meeting place. This year, the Saudi announcement is of Eid being on May 13. Europe’s biggest Eid celebration, the Birmingham Eid in the Park, was cancelled due to Covid-19. Image: indianexpress.com.

St Pancras (Pancras of Rome, Sanctus Pancratius, Παγκράτιος, Mor Izozoel) (c289-303). Feast Day commemorating the death of wealthy Turkish Christian convert who, after the death of his parents, had moved to Rome with his guardian. During the 303 persecution of Christians, he was brought before the authorities and asked to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The boy resisted, refused wealth and power and was finally beheaded on the Via Aurelia. A Roman matron recovered Pancras’ body and buried it in a newly-built sepulchre in the Catacombs of Rome. Devotion to Pancras existed before the 5th Century building of the Basilica of Saint Pancras on the place where the body of the young martyr had been buried and where Pancras’ head was placed in the reliquary that still exists today. Pancras’ other relics were carried to England by St Augustine. Venerated in Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic Churches. Patron of San Pancrazio Salentino, Italy, children, jobs, health, invoked against cramps, headaches, false witness, perjury. His image in statue form can be found in many bars, restaurants and other businesses. Image: indcatholicnews.com.

Prayer O glorious St Pancras, with you as our holy connection, we ask Jesus Christ to give us honest, sufficient work for all the needs of our mortal, earth-bound lives. We ask you for health and strength to carry out our duties through Him, trusting that we shall reach eternal glory. We remain your relentless devoted servants. Amen

St Richrudis (Rictrude) (614-88). Feast Day for noble Frankish Benedictine Abbess whose 4 children all became saints. With her husband, she opened up their castle to the poor and disadvantaged. Her husband founded Marchiennes Abbey in Flanders c630 and Rictrude made it a double monastery in 643. Her husband was murdered in obscure circumstances c652 and she retired to Marchiennes Abbey with her daughters to become Abbess and serve there until her death. She was succeeded by her daughter St Clotsinda. Venerated in Catholic Church. Image: CatholicSaints.info.