Benedictine saints & blesseds: March 2010 Archives
We beseech Thee, almighty God, grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birth of the blessed English Cistercian Martyrs, may be strengthened by their intercession in the love of Thy Name.
Under King Henry VIIIs order, many Cistercian monks were cruelly put to death for Catholic faith, the some may argue about pretexts. In the months of March and May 1537, died for the Catholic faith
Dom John Harrison, Abbot of Kirkstead, with Dom Richard Wade, Dom William Small and Dom Henry Jenkinson;
Dom John Paslew, Abbot of Whalley, with Dom William Haydock and Dom Richard Eastgate.
The Abbot of Fountains and a monk of Louth Park.
In 1538, these Cistercians were martyred:
Dom Robert Hobbes, Abbot of Woburn, with Dom Rudolph Barnes and Dom Laurence Blunham.
The Church also acknowledges as authentic confessors of the faith: Dom Thomas Mudd, monk of Jervaulx, who died on September 7, 1583;
Dom John Almond, who died on April 18, 1585;
Dom Gilbert Browne, the last Abbot of Sweetheart, who died on March 14, 1612.
2010 marks the ninth centenary of the birth of Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, an extraordinary English monk of the twelfth-century. At Ampleforth Abbey, a noted English Benedictine abbey, today marks the saint's birthday; and since I like Aelred and have a friend at Ampleforth, I am mentioning the saint again this year to mark his anniversary. (As an aside, his year of birth is variously noted as 1109 or 1110.) In Saint Aelred's time and location priestly was not universal, even if some scholars try to posit such a thought. Aelred's father and grandfather were both proprietary priests of Hexham in Northumberland. Aelred joined the newly founded abbey of Rievaulx, and because of his many gifts and influential friends (St Bernard of Clairvaulx and King David of Scotland and England whose mother was St Margaret, starters), he became the abbey's third abbot in 1147 after serving as abbot of Revesby Abbey. He was abbot for twenty years. Rievaulx became the mother house of other Cistercian monastic houses which fostered the Benedictine reform in England and Scotland. As abbot, Aelred was responsible for vast holdings of property and an abbey with 600 lay brothers and choir monks. In the Cistercian system of governance, abbots are required to be the Father-Immediate (an official visitor) to other communities in order to maintain the monastic way of life as established in the Charter of Charity (their constitution). The amazing part of Aelred's life became even more amazing when you consider that he was an author many works, most notably Christian Friendship (also called On Spiritual Friendship, which some say is a Christianized version of Cicero's De Amicita) and The Mirror of Charity written at the command of St Bernard and in-print today. Father David Knowles, OSB, called Aelred the "St Bernard of the North." Rievaulx Abbey no longer exists except in magnificent ruins located not far from Ampleforth Abbey.
Saint Aelred died on January 12, 1167. His feast day is January 12.