Saint Triduana – 8th October

I hadn’t heard of Triduana until I was asked to write the libretto for an opera about her life. Here are the “pictures” telling her story in poetry that are being worked into a musical masterpiece by the amazing Hannah Hayes.

Antiphon 

Where wells run deep
And time rolls long,
Heaven and Earth meet
With tales to be told…

Colossae 

Beneath blue skies, behind white rocks, once
A child was born; a baby girl
With eyes coloured as the sea
And hair of ebony.
Cherished she played and
Prayed her girlhood
Away. No
Marriage
Could
Tempt her.
A nun’s life
Triduana
Found beckoning, with
Ailing ones to tend as
Tenderly as the altar.
With Regulus and her sisters
Triduana walked her holy path.

The Sea

Trailing her hand in the cool waters
Triduana prepared to leave
The waves in whose rise and fall
Prayers had been tossed with bones
Of the first-called saint,
Andrew, her charge
In the wild
Wet weeks
At
Sea. Where
Regulus dreamt of a land
Peopled with painted
Picts and Celtic clans whose
Lives, baptised in the Gospel
Were springing up like fresh flowing
Streams, eager to learn news of the sea.

Forfar

In Forfar’s fertile fields, faithfully
Gathered sisters worked and prayed.
Growing neeps and tatties whilst
Saving souls by tending
To their sicknesses.
Tinctures, balm, Prayer
Together
Healing
All
The hard
And lonely
Journeying life
Brings. Triduana’s
Daily round brought her paupers
And princes. Each in need of
Water’s healing grace. Baptism
The one true cure for all the world’s ills.

Nechtan

Enchanted by eyes deep as the sea
King Nechtan dedicated his
Lands to Peter and his heart
To Triduana. With
Marriage on his mind
Nechtan sent a
Page to ask
For her
Hand.
She was
Not easily
Wooed. Knowing that
Nechtan loved her eyes,
Triduana gouged
Them out. Mounted on wooden
Pins, they were his. Blind, no royal
Beauty but a simple nun to be.

Orkney 

With blindness Triduana received
Gifts of healing. Having laid
Down her own eyes, she restored
Sight to others and led
Still more into the
New light of faith.
Boniface
Took her
North
To bring
The Picts of
Orcadia
Good news and new birth.
On Papa Westray, by
A loch whose waters remind
Us of those beautiful eyes, she
Healed sight, leaving grace on the waters.

Restalrig

Great in years Triduana settled
Into quiet prayer at Restalrig.
All journeying done, she now
Relished inner visions
Of heaven, where mercy
And righteousness
Embrace. Drop
Heaven
Down…
She breathed
Her last in
This place where grace
Sits in welled water.
Inspired in dreams the blind
Still seek Triduana’s touch
In these waters, blessed by baptism
And the daily prayer of the faithful.

Antiphon 

Where wells run deep
And time rolls long,
Heaven and Earth meet
With tales to be told…

 

INTERCEDING

Today’s intercessions come in the form of  prayers for healing, which conclude the Triduana cycle:

O
God who
lightens for
us the darkness,
encircle our hearts,
bring stillness to our minds
as you are present with us now.
Let it be,     let it be,     Amen.
As the deer longs for running water
So, Lord, our souls long after you;
In    you   alone   will   we    find
Healing and deep, true peace.
We pray your blessing
On these waters
Remembering
Healings
Past

Led
Here by
The story of
T r i d u a n a,
We come in weakness;
We come in hope; we come
to   receive   living   water  …
In God alone our souls will find
Rest and peace, in God our peace and joy.
As we delight in water’s cool
Forgiving, grace-filled caress,
God, take all that limits
Our vision and by
Your mercy grant
that we may
welcome
light.

O
Healing
God, reach out
to   us   in   our
weakness, granting sight.
Without   easy   answers,
Without cheap grace, we may then
Bear witness to Your transforming
Energy, still working in Your world.
Amen.

St John the Baptist

Today the Church remembers the beheading of St John the Baptist, one of the world’s quirkier saints. I love using this video to introduce him to school children.

John was a watcher and holy one who spent a lot of time alone in the desert, praying. He did not dress to impress the society he lived in. When people started to see that he had important things to say; that the he was offering a chance to be washed clean and repent, powerful people began to fear him. We often fear what is other and what makes us face the truth we don’t want to see in ourselves. Fortunately, not many of us share John’s fate.

INTERCEDING

On this day let us pray for:

  • Esra al Ghamgam, an activist and activist for women’s rights, beheaded in public in Saudi Arabia on the morning of 20 August 2018.
  • All whose sensory needs make them seem odd to others.
  • All who speak the truth, even when it is dangerous to do so.
  • All preparing for baptism.
  • All with a longing for forgiveness.

Saint Pandwyna

The hagiographer Leland (in “Itinerary” v. 218) records that Pandwyna was a daughter of a king of the Scots, who fled from those who would deflower her to a kinswoman who was prioress of Eltisley. She became a nun there until her death in 904AD. She was buried near a well named after her in Eltisley and was translated into the church there in 1344.

Although much about Pandwyna’s life is uncertain, the original vita having been lost, we know that she was invoked as patron against headaches, accidents and loneliness.

INTERCEDING

On this day let us pray for:

  • All whose lives are quiet and may not be remembered in years to come.
  • All who seek a simple, holy existence.
  • All who suffer with headaches.
  • All who are lonely.
  • Those beset by accidents however big or small.

Little Saint Hugh

Hugh of Lincoln, sometimes known as Little Saint Hugh (sometimes “Little Sir Hugh”) to distinguish him from Saint Hugh of Lincolnwas an English boy whose death was falsely attributed to Jews. Hugh is sometimes known as Little Saint Hugh (sometimes “Little Sir Hugh”) to distinguish him from Saint Hugh of Lincoln, an adult saint. Hugh became one of the best known of the blood libel saints (generally children whose deaths were interpreted as Jewish sacrifices). 

It is likely that the Bishop and Dean of Lincoln steered events in order to establish a profitable flow of pilgrims to the shrine of a martyr and saint. The event is particularly significant because it was the first time that the Crown gave credence to ritual child murder allegations, through the direct intervention of King Henry III.

The nine-year-old Hugh disappeared on 31 July, and his body was discovered in a well on 29 August. It was claimed that Jews had imprisoned Hugh, during which time they tortured and eventually crucified him. It was said that the body had been thrown into the well after attempts to bury it failed, when the earth had expelled it.

The chronicler Matthew Paris described the supposed murder, implicating all the Jews in England:

Shortly after news was spread of his death, miracles were attributed to Hugh; and he was rushed toward sainthood. Hugh became one of the youngest individual candidates for sainthood, with 27 July unofficially made his feast day. However, over time, the issue of the rush to sainthood was raised, and Hugh was never canonized. He never appeared in Butler’s Lives of the Saints(1756–1759). The Vatican never included the child Hugh in Catholic martyrology. His traditional English feast day is not celebrated.

The shrine dated to the period immediately after the expulsion of the Jews. The shrine itself was destroyed in the Reformation, or possibly the Civil War.

The story was remembered into the twentieth century. A well in the former Jewish neighborhood of Jews’ Court was advertised as the well in which Hugh’s body was found, however this was found to be have been constructed some time prior to 1928 to increase the attraction of the property

The myth of the ritual child murder became well-known and long-standing in English culture. The Hugh story is refenced by Geoffrey Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales in The Prioress’s Tale. Marlowe also refers to the events, again probably knowing the story through Paris’ account. The story is retold as fact in Thomas Fuller‘s 1662 Worthies of England.[21][d]

Ballads referring to the incidentcirculated in England, Scotland and France.[22] The earliest English and French versions appear to have been composed near the time. The Hugh myth continued to find resonance into the nineteenth century, when European antisemitic polemicists attempted to “prove” the veracity of the story. Langmuir describes the “fantasy” concocted by Lexington as contributing to some of the darkest strands of anti-Jewish prejudice. Lexington:

In 1955, the Anglican Church placed a plaque at the site of Little Hugh’s former shrine at Lincoln Cathedral, bearing these words:

Trumped up stories of “ritual murders” of Christian boys by Jewish communities were common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and even much later. These fictions cost many innocent Jews their lives. Lincoln had its own legend and the alleged victim was buried in the Cathedral in the year 1255.

Such stories do not redound to the credit of Christendom, and so we pray:

Lord, forgive what we have been, amend what we are, and direct what we shall be.

 

INTERCEDING

On this day, let us pray for:

  • All whose lives end in mystery and tragedy.
  • All who stand falsely accused.
  • People who are feared through ignorance, intolerance and for political ends.
  • People who are brave enough to confess their wrongdoings and to amend their lives.
  • All with the grace to forgive.

The Prophet Micah

After ter a bit of a hiatus, posts resume.

INTERCEDING 

On this day lift before God:

  • All dependent on others to speak truth to power.
  • Those charged with the welfare of others.
  • Those living under oppressive circumstances.
  • All who struggle to make their message heard.
  • All who are more used to speaking and doing than listening and responding.

Guest Post from Mull Monastery: St Fillan and the healing power of love.

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Our first commission of St Fillan was linked to the story of the repentant wolf that willingly bows down in obedience to the saint’s gentleness. It was a commission for which I am particularly grateful, because I had never prayed to St Fillan before having to think about the composition of that icon. Later on, while trying to find out more information about the Saint, we’ve discovered that he is a protector and healer of people suffering from mental illnesses.

There are ancient stories about a small loch next to his hermitage, the waters of which had healing powers through the saint’s prayers. People who suffered from many mental afflictions would travel to see the saint and to ask for his intercession. Once they immersed in the waters of the saint’s loch, they regained their health and spiritual strength. Some of them spent the night in the cold waters, waiting for God’s mercy to descend upon them.

Mental illness… Mental suffering… What exactly does that mean? How many of us, how many of the lovely, wonderful people I know who suffer from depression, loneliness and fear still thirst to this day for someone like St Fillan, whose love can heal them? There is something fearsome and beautiful about this Saint who made himself a vessel for the Holy Spirit, so that God’s presence in the temple of his holy body may soothe and heal the pain of his brothers.

Holiness does not come easy. We always forget that. Holiness only comes through self-denial and self-sacrifice to the point of death – be that physical death, or death by removing oneself from partaking into the world in order to open oneself to Christ. Only sacrifice bears the fruit of holiness, because only the one who has enough love as to give one’s life for the sake of one’s brother is perfect.

Saints are holy not because they are special, nor because they are loved more by God. Saints become holy because their hearts burn with love for the world – that holy fire kills them to the world, and turns them into temples of the Holy Spirit. The healing power of a Saint’s love has nothing to do with our romantic vision of holiness, and it has everything to do with their determination to self-sacrifice for the life and salvation of the world. Saints become Christ-like in their love and healing power because they become Christ-like in their willing self-sacrifice.

The whole world needs healing today. We all need someone to love us not because of who we are, but despite who we are. We need Saints like St Fillan to love us unreservedly and unconditionally – only such Christ-like love will drag us out of our profound sadness and loneliness. Through the prayers of St Fillan, may we all feel the healing power of Christ’s presence in our lives.

The Prophet Amos

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  •  shepherds of all nations
  • fig tree farmers, especially
  • the peoples of Israel/Palestine.
  • All nations who grieve God by participating in evil, mistreating the strangers in their lands.
  • All who are ready to loving others with renewed hearts .

Ternan – Bishop of the Picts.

I will soon be rector of St Ternan’s church in Banchory. Here is the little known story of Ternan, who is venerated as the “Bishop of the Picts.”

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He was a Pict of the Mearns in Alba who was converted during St Ninian’s Pictish mission, he was educated at Candida Cassa, he was baptized in early manhood by that disciple of St Ninian whom the Roman writers confused with Palladius, whose native name is Pawl Hen or Paul the Aged. Paul was a missionary, a Briton, and worked with St Ninian. He survived into the early years of the sixth century and thus lived long enough to meet St David, but he could not see him because he was blind with old age.

Ternan  founded a banchor (place of Christian learning) where is today the town of Banchory and, indeed, there are remains of a Celtic foundation to be seen in a number of carved stones close by the old grave-yard. It was here that St Ternan is said to have taught his convert, the Pict St Erchard. The Banchory in Erchard’s time was filled with  manuscripts, and active missionary teachers, spreading the Gospel and Christian civilisation.

What was thought to be Ternan’s skull, and his copy of St Matthew’s Gospel (mentioned in the Aberdeen Martyrology) in a case richly adorned with gilt and silver, are said to have been preserved at Banchory until the 16th Century. So also was his bell called Ronecht, said by tradition to have been given to him at Rome by the pope, and to have miraculously followed him to Alba. This bell is last recorded as being transferred to the custody of Alexander Symson, vicare of Banquhoriterne in 1491. When the glebe was being excavated for the railway in 1863 an old bronze bell was found. It is not clear if this really is Ternan’s bell, but it now hangs on the front wall of Banchory Ternan East Church as a visible reminder of the debt that is owed to this early pioneer of Christianity in Scotland

INTERCEDING

 

On this day lift before God:

  • All teachers, scholars and missionaries.
  • Bishops serving Christ’s church today.
  • The people of Banchory.
  • Tattooists and those who adorn their bodies with tattoos.
  • Bell makers and ringers.
  • The peoples of the once Pictish lands

 

 

Saint Meriadoc -7th June

On 7th June we remember St Meriadoc, Bishop, patron of Camborne in Cornwall. St Meriadoc (also known as Meriasek) was probably a Welshman who founded at least one church in Cornwall and several churches and monasteries in Brittany in the 4th century. He eventually became a bishop there (despite his desire to be a hermit) and his feast is celebrated in several Breton dioceses to this day.

The rare Cornish miracle play: Beunans Meriasek, tells his life story. St Meriadoc was once very rich but he gave away all his possessions – much to the consternation of his relatives – and devoted his life to prayer and caring for the sick and needy.

His bell is still in the church at Stival in Brittany. Placed on the heads of migraine sufferers or the deaf, it is said to heal them.

I came across BBC1’s video of Longfellow’s cafe. It is also doing healing work in the community, allowing teenagers with autism to be a blessing to those around them and to live dignified, purposeful lives. It seems appropriate to share that video today as a way of remembering that God is still working, saints are still serving and communities are still being made whole.

 

INTERCEDING

On this day lift before God:

  • The peoples of Cornwall and Brittany.
  • Those who work with others, despite a preference for quiet and solitude.
  • All who suffer migraines.
  • Those who enjoy their lives as part of the deaf community and those struggling with hearing loss.
  • Longfellow’s cafe and other kingdom places, where the world is already turning and glory is shining all around!