Anglo-Saxon Week in the Sanctorale

Yes, it’s an Anglo-Saxonist’s favorite week of the sanctoral cycle. Let’s dust off those feast day books and get ready…

May 19–Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury and one of the main architects of the Benedictine Revival

May 20–Alcuin, the learned Deacon of York, right-hand man of Charlemagne who brought liturgical uniformity and better orthography to the liturgy and Scriptures

May 25–Bede, my personal patron, the “Candle of the Church” as Wynfrith, er, Boniface, put it so well

May 26–Augustine of Canterbury, first archbishop of Canterbury

Not only that, this year the Temporale aligns perfectly too; the 22nd, 23rd and 24th are the Rogation Days! Gangweek as it was known was an intensive time of catechesis and long processions with relics which included the custom of (I kid you not) slamming the heads and other body parts of the youths of the community into the various trees, rocks and other hard obstacles that served as boundary markers. Apparently Angl-Saxon peasant pedagogy felt that you wouldn’ forget where the field boundaries were if you were slammed into them enough times…

8 thoughts on “Anglo-Saxon Week in the Sanctorale

  1. Lutheran Zephyr


    Your immersion in and love of the particularity of Anglican and Benedictine spirituality and liturgy is well beyond my comprehension – yet I read your posts with interest and curiosity.

    But a question – how does one get a “personal patron” such as Bede? Is this a simple choice, or a liturgical calendar thing, or a formation with a spiritual guide thing? Just wondering . . .

  2. LutherPunk

    Geez..and parents here get mad when I give kids catechism tests.

    I happen to be fond of Dunstan as well. Thanks for this post.

  3. Derek the Ænglican


    A patron saint may involve the liturgical calendar; some folks may have or develop an affinity for the saint honored on their birthday–particularly if they received the name of that saint, a custom now dying out.

    For me it was a formation thing. As you well know, saints function in a number of ways within Christian life. Certain portions of the Anglican tradition and of course the Roman and Orthodox traditions invoke the prayers of the blessed dead. This custom, derived from the social groupings and hierarchies of Late Antique Rome, may seem rather foreign to us and many protestants consider it out and out idolatry or polytheism. I’ve written on that topic here.

    But, another important function of the saints–and one celebrated in Article 21 of the Augsburg Confession–is the imitation of the saints. They are holy examples of those who have gone before us in faith. St Bede was many things. He’s best remembered these days as being the author of the five book ecclesiastical history of the English people. He himself would not have put that at the head of his works. Rather, he was a biblical scholar of great skill, thoroughly versed in the texts and the interpretive techniques of his day, and was a committed contemplative. His While his historical writings and even many of his biblical works are available in modern editions and translations, his poetry and hymnody has been all but forgotten. After his death, his works were revered for their clarity, his command of the patristic sources and his skillful adaptation of them to his interpretive circumstances. These were not simply academic works for academic shelves. Several times in his correspondence, St Boniface writes home from the mission fields of Germany beseeching his English relatives and patrons to send him manuscripts of Bede’s works. This was scholarship that grew from contemplation for the growth and spiritual flourishing of the Church.

    That’s what I want my scholarship to be and the pattern that I want to follow. So, I have taken Bede as my patron to hold up before myself an exemplary Benedictine biblical scholar for imitation.

  4. Annie

    Until I choose one for myself, I’ll stick to St. Jerome. My son chose him for me a couple of years ago for some reason I can’t remember. But, when I went to check him out and found out that he was opposed to Augustine, I rather liked him. ;)

    Do we get to feast? Or fast?


  5. Caelius

    I cannot remember the exact dates when I was baptized or confirmed. My Reaffirmation BCP says that I reaffirmed on June 2. Martyrs of Uganda, of course. I almost was killed by a tornado on that day a few years later.

  6. Derek the Ænglican

    We feast.. Well, we feast for the saints, we fast for the Rogation Days.

    Jerome…interesting guy. A talented liguist and translator but had a temperment like a mule with sore teeth… If you’d like somebody who was non-Augustinian I’d recommend John Cassian over Jerome. Much more gentle-spirited.

  7. *Christopher

    I second Derek’s advice. Cassian. Br. Jerome shows us that any of us can be saints; the man was downright acidic most of the time, brilliant, but vinegar.

    I took Dominic as my patron at Baptism, but my experience of Dominicans has been so poor, that I don’t identify much with him. Christopher is a good saint ready for revival anytime as more historical data comes in.

    With regard to who would I find that I identify most with my callings in life, perhaps Alcuin or Gregory the Great. But my heart belongs to Mary.

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