Saints and Seasons was compiled in 2011 from notes written by the Revd Sue to introduce some of the heroes and occasions that mark the church year. Saints days are fixed and occur on the same date each year; festivals that relate to Easter, however, move with Easter: the months may or may not therefore correspond to the current year...
1st March: David, Patron Saint of Wales
David, or Dewi, was a monk and bishop in the sixth century. He was reputed to be an exemplar of the ascetic spiritual life but was also highly regarded for his kindness and compassion to others, particularly the poor and sick. He is believed to have founded the monastery at Menevia, now St. David’s, and also at least ten other monasteries.
David is said to have based his rule for his monasteries on that of the desert monks, with a strong emphasis on hard work, abstinence from alcohol and refraining from unnecessary speech. He died in about the year 601 and has been regarded as the Patron Saint of Wales since at least the twelfth century.
2nd March: Chad, Bishop of Lichfield
Chad was born in Northumbria, the youngest of four sons, all of whom became both priests and monks. They entered the monastery on the isle of Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island) and were taught by St Aidan. Chad’s brother Cedd had founded the abbey at Lastingham and, on his brother’s death, Chad was elected abbot. During the confusion in church discipline between the Celtic-oriented, Anglo-Saxon hierarchy, and the pressure from Rome for conformity, Chad became Bishop of York for a time. He graciously stepped back with arrival of Theodore in Britain.
Things were eventually sorted and Chad became Bishop of Mercia, a huge diocese. He moved the centre from Repton to Lichfield. Chad travelled extensively and became much loved for his wisdom and gentleness in otherwise difficult situations. Bede described him as humble, devout, zealous and apostolic. The plague was prevalent at this time and Chad died on this day in the year 672. He was immediately revered as a saint.
8th March: Felix, Apostle to the East Angles
Felix was born in Burgundy at the beginning of the seventh century. He reputedly converted the exiled King Sigebert of the East Angles. After the king’s return to Britain, Felix was consecrated bishop, the king then persuaded him to travel to Britain to convert his subjects. Felix was commissioned by Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury, to his work and he made Dunwich the centre of his new See. Felix established schools and monasteries and ministered in his diocese for seventeen years. He died in the year 647.
17th March: Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland
Patrick was born in Celtic Cornwall around the year 390. He was captured by Irish raiders when he was sixteen years old and taken to Ireland as a slave. After six years he escaped and eventually he found his way back to his own family, where his previously nominal faith grew and matured. He returned to Gaul where he trained as a priest and was influenced by the form of monasticism evolving under Martin of Tours.
When he was in his early forties, Patrick returned to Ireland as a bishop. He made his base at Armagh, which became the centre of his See. He evangelised the people by walking all over the island, gently bringing men and women to a knowledge of Christ. Although he faced fierce opposition, he continued his missionary journeys. He died on this day in the year 460.
20th March: Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne
Cuthbert was probably born in the Scottish lowlands around the year 640. At the age of eight a prophetic remark from a playmate turned his mind to sober and godly thoughts. His upbringing as a shepherd gave him ample time for prayer. One night he saw in the sky a dazzling light and angels carrying a soul up to heaven. He resolved to dedicate his life to God.
Some years later Cuthbert came to Melrose Abbey asking to be admitted as a monk. It was from there that he began his missionary work, which he continued from Lindisfarne when he became abbot there. Consecrated bishop in 685 he remained an untiring traveller and preacher, walking all over his diocese and spending time as a hermit on Farne Island inbetween. After only a year however, he felt his life coming to an end and resigned his office, retiring to die on Farne in the company of a few of his monks.
This month's notes are based on material found in Exciting Holiness: Collects and Readings by Brother Tristram SSF, and Following in their Steps by Eleanor and Rachel Sayers.