The United Benefice of
St Mary's, Henlow, and St Andrew's, Langford

Saints and Seasons

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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...

THIS MONTH we travel backwards in time, first meeting Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Friars Minor; then Edward the Confessor; and finally some of the Apostles...

Francis of Assisi 4th October: Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Friars Minor
Francis was born the son of a wealthy merchant in Assisi in 1181. In his youth he was easy-going, pleasure-seeking and irresponsible. A prolonged illness changed him and he later underwent a complete conversion. Gradually, like-minded men gathered around him to live the gospel life and in 1210 the Pope blessed him and approved his simple way of life. From this grew the Order of Friars Minor. Francis sent his friars out in pairs on missions throughout Italy and beyond. A powerful preacher himself, Francis travelled widely, and even tried to evangelize the Muslims in Palestine.

The Order grew fast and Francis was no administrator, so he resigned and returned to his hermitage on La Verna. There, on 14th September 1224, he received the stigmata, the marks of Christ's passion, on his body. Francis died in 1226 and was canonized only two years later. He was a unique human being, a soaring spirit, Il Poverello, who longed to be poorer than the poor, who blazed with love and drew people to himself. Thus began the Poor Clares, a contemplative order, and The Third Order, Tertiaries, men and women who live out their Franciscan vocation in their daily lives.

Edward the Confessor 13th October: Edward the Confessor, King of England
Edward was born in 1002, the son of English King Ethelred and his Norman wife Emma. Living in exile during the Danish supremacy, he was invited back to England in 1042 to become king. His reign was a balancing act between the influences of strong characters at court and overseas. He was concerned to maintain peace and justice in his realm, to avoid foreign wars, and to put his faith in practice.

Although he could be moody and snap at people, as his name implies, he always tried to get right with God afterwards. He was generous to the poor and hospitable to strangers and he began the royal patronage of Westminster Abbey. He died on 5th January 1066 and his remains were translated to the Abbey on this day in 1162.

Luke the Evangelist 18th October: Luke the Evangelist
Luke was a dear friend of Paul, mentioned by him three times in his letters. Paul describes him as 'the beloved physician', who accompanied him on some of his journeys. He is believed to be the author of the gospel of his name and of the Acts of the Apostles.

Luke's narrative of the life of Christ is pictorial and logical, moving from the nativity through to the death and resurrection. As a Gentile himself, Luke makes it clear that the good news of salvation is for everyone, regardless of gender, social position or nationality. Traditionally, Luke wrote his gospel in Greece and died in Boeotia at the age of eighty-four.

Simon & Jude, Apostles 28th October: Simon & Jude, Apostles
Simon and Jude were named among the twelve apostles in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Simon is called 'the Zealot', probably because he belonged to a nationalist resistance movement opposing the Roman occupying forces. According to tradition, Simon was martyred by being cut in half with a saw.

Luke describes Jude as the son of James, while the Letter of Jude has him as the brother of James. It seems that he is the same person as Thaddaeus. Owing to the similarity of his name to that of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, Jude was rarely invoked in prayer. It seems likely that calling on him was seen as a final resort when all else failed. He became known, therefore, as the patron saint of lost causes.

Unless otherwise indicated, notes based on material in Exciting Holiness: Collects and Readings, Brother Tristram SSF; Following in their Steps, Eleanor and Rachel Sayers; and All the Company of Heaven, Kenneth Stevenson. Illustrations from Signs, Symbols & Saints: Images from Turvey Abbey, CD Rom, © McCrimmons Publishing, used under license.


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