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Journey through June – Saint Pega of Peakirk – 16/26

Today I have drawn St Pega of Peakirk (c.673-719)

Her feast day is 8th January and she is commemorated by the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life

Pega belonged to one of the great noble families of Mercia, the daughter of Penwalh of Mercia. She lived as an anchoress at what is now Peakirk (“Pega’s church”) near Peterborough, not far from Guthlac’s hermitage at Crowland. When Guthlac realised that his end was near in 714, he invited her to his funeral. For this she sailed down the River Welland, curing a blind man from Wisbech on the way. She inherited Guthlac’s psalter and scourge, both of which, it was claimed, she later gave to Crowland Abbey. She went on pilgrimage to Rome and died there c.719. Ordericus Vitalis claimed that her relics survived in an unnamed Roman church in his day, and that miracles took place there.

It is said that her heart was returned to Peakirk and was kept as a relic in the church, contained in a heart stone, the broken remains of which, smashed by Cromwell’s troops, can be seen in the south aisle window.(Wikipedia) 

Orthodox Saints of the British Isles

 

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Journey through June – Saint Osyth of Essex – 15/26

Today I have drawn St Osyth (Osgyth) of Essex d.700.

Her feast day is 7 October and she is commemorated by the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life

Alternative spellings of her name include Sythe, Othith and Ositha. Born of a noble family, she founded a priory near Chich which was later named after her.

Born in Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire (at that time part of Mercia), she was the daughter of Frithwald, a sub-king of Mercia in Surrey. Her mother was Wilburga, the daughter of the pagan King Penda of Mercia. Her parents, with St. Erconwald, founded Chertsey Abbey in AD 675.

Raised in the care of her maternal aunts, St Edith of Aylesbury and Edburga of Bicester, her ambition was to become an abbess, but she was too important as a political pawn to be set aside. She was forced by her father into a dynastic marriage with Sighere, King of Essex. While her husband ran off to hunt down a beautiful white stag, Osgyth persuaded two local bishops to accept her vows as a nun. Upon his return some days later, he reluctantly agreed to her decision and granted her some land at Chich near Colchester where she established a convent, and ruled as first abbess. She was beheaded by some raiding pirates, perhaps because she may have resisted being carried off.

Her later death was accounted a martyrdom by some, but Bede makes no mention of Saint Osgyth. The 13th-century chronicler Matthew Paris repeats some of the legend that had accrued around her name. The site of her martyrdom became transferred to the holy spring at Quarrendon. The holy spring at Quarrendon, mentioned in the time of Osgyth’s aunts, now became associated with her legend, in which Osgyth stood up after her execution, picking up her head like Saint Denis in Paris, and other cephalophoric martyrs and walking with it in her hands, to the door of a local convent, before collapsing there. Some modern authors link the legends of cephalophores miraculously walking with their heads in their hands to the Celtic cult of heads. (More details of her life at Wikipedia)

 

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Journey through June – Saint Nino of Iberia – 14/26

Today I have drawn St Nino of Iberia, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia (c.296-340)

Her feast day is 14 January and she is commemorated by the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Eastern Catholic and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life (short excerpt)

was a woman who preached Christianity in the territory of Caucasian Iberia, of what is now part of Georgia. It resulted in the Christianization of the royal house of Iberia, with the consequent Christianization of Iberia.

According to most widely traditional accounts, she belonged to a Greek-speaking Roman family from Kolastra, Cappadocia, was a relative of Saint George, and came to Georgia (ancient Iberia) from Constantinople. Other sources claim she was from Rome, Jerusalem or Gaul (modern France). According to legend, she performed miraculous healings and converted the Georgian queen, Nana, and eventually the pagan king Mirian III of Iberia, who, lost in darkness and blinded on a hunting trip, found his way only after he prayed to “Nino’s God”. Mirian declared Christianity the official religion (c. 327) and Nino continued her missionary activities among Georgians until her death.

Her tomb is still shown at the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti, eastern Georgia. St. Nino has become one of the most venerated saints of the Georgian Orthodox Church and her attribute, a grapevine cross, is a symbol of Georgian Christianity. (More information on her life and miracles at Wikipedia )

 

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Journey through June – Saint Melangell of Powys – 13/26

Today I have drawn St Melangell of Powys (d. 590)

Her feast day is 27 May and she is commemorated by the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life

The daughter of an Irish king, she went to Powys in central Wales to become a hermit. The prince of Powys, Brochwel Ysgithrog, granted her land after meeting her on a hunting trip, and she founded a community of women, serving as abbess for 37 years. Her shrine remains at St Melangell’s Church, Pennant Melangell.

Her legend relates that she was the daughter of an Irish monarch, who had determined to marry her to a nobleman of his court. The princess had vowed celibacy. She fled from her father’s dominions and took refuge in this place, where she lived fifteen years without seeing the face of a man. Brochwel Yscythrog, Prince of Powys, being one day a hare hunting, pursued his game till he came to a great thicket; when he was amazed to find a virgin of surpassing beauty, engaged in deep devotion, with the hare he had been pursuing under her robe, boldly facing the dogs, who retired to a distance howling, notwithstanding all the efforts of the sportsmen to make them seize their prey. Even when the huntsman blew his horn, it stuck to his lips. Brochwel heard her story, and gave to God and her a parcel of lands, to be a sanctuary to all that fled there. He desired her to found an abbey on the spot. She did so, and died abbess at a good old age. She was buried in the neighbouring church, called Pennant, and from, her distinguished by the addition of Melangell. Her hard bed is shown in the cleft of a neighbouring rock. Her tomb was in a little chapel, or oratory, adjoining to the church, and now used as a vestry room. This room is still called ‘Cell-y-bedd’ or the Cell of the Grave. Her reliques as well as her image have been long since removed; but I think the last is still to be seen in the churchyard. The legend is perpetuated by some rude wooden carving of the Saint, with numbers of hares scuttling to her for protection. She properly became their Patroness. They were called ‘Oen Melangell’ (St. Monacella’s Lambs).

Thomas Pennant
 
There is an Orthodox Community in Manchester, England, named after her. https://www.orthodoxmanchester.org.uk/ourpatronsaints.htm

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Journey through June – St Lucy of Syracuse – 12/26

Today I have drawn St Lucy of Syracuse (283-304)

Her feast day is 13th December and she is commemorated by the Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life

The oldest record of her story comes from the fifth-century Acts of the Martyrs. The single fact upon which various accounts agree is that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian, and she was executed in Syracuse, Sicily, in the year 304 during the Diocletianic Persecution. Her veneration spread to Rome, and by the sixth century to the whole Church. The oldest archaeological evidence comes from the Greek inscriptions from the Catacombs of St. John in Syracuse. Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea was the most widely read version of the Lucy legend in the Middle Ages. In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy’s eyes were gouged out prior to her execution.

According to the traditional story, Lucy was born of rich and noble parents about the year 283. Her father was of Roman origin, but died when she was five years old, leaving Lucy and her mother without a protective guardian. Her mother’s name Eutychia seems to indicate that she came from a Greek background.

Like many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, and she hoped to distribute her dowry to the poor. However, Eutychia, not knowing of Lucy’s promise, and suffering from a bleeding disorder, feared for Lucy’s future. She arranged Lucy’s marriage to a young man of a wealthy pagan family.

Saint Agatha had been martyred 52 years before during the Decian persecution. Her shrine at Catania, less than 50 miles from Syracuse attracted a number of pilgrims; many miracles were reported to have happened through her intercession. Eutychia was persuaded to make a pilgrimage to Catania, in hopes of a cure. While there, St. Agatha came to Lucy in a dream and told her that because of her faith her mother would be cured and that Lucy would be the glory of Syracuse, as she was of Catania. With her mother cured, Lucy took the opportunity to persuade her mother to allow her to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor.

Eutychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered, “…whatever you give away at death for the Lord’s sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death.”

News that the patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to Lucy’s betrothed, who denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse. Paschasius ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the emperor’s image. When she refused Paschasius sentenced her to be defiled in a brothel.

The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Bundles of wood were then heaped about her and set on fire, but would not burn. Finally, she met her death by the sword thrust into her throat.

Absent in the early narratives and traditions, at least until the fifteenth century, is the story of Lucia tortured by eye-gouging. According to later accounts, before she died she foretold the punishment of Paschasius and the speedy end of the persecution, adding that Diocletian would reign no more, and Maximian would meet his end. This so angered Paschasius that he ordered the guards to remove her eyes. Another version has Lucy taking her own eyes out in order to discourage a persistent suitor who admired them. This is one of the reasons that Lucy is the patron saint of those with eye illnesses. When her body was prepared for burial in the family mausoleum it was discovered that her eyes had been miraculously restored. (Further information from Wikipedia

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Journey through June – St Keane (Ceinwen) of Cornwall – 11/26

Today I have drawn St Keane of Cornwall, a 5th century British saint. Her name is also spelled as Keyne, Kayane, Keyna, Cenau, Cenedion, Ceinwen.

Her feast day is  8 October and she is commemorated by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic church.

Keyne was one of the 12 daughters of the Welsh king King Brychan of Brycheiniog in what is now South Wales (A different source, De Situ Brecheniauc, says that he actually had 24 daughters, all of whom were saints). Although she was a great beauty and received many offers of marriage, Keyne took a vow of virginity and pursued a religious life (hence her Welsh name, Cain Wyry, or Keyne the Maiden). Her vita reports that she traveled widely, and is said to have founded several oratories, including Llangeinor in mid Glamorgan, Llangunnor and Llangain in Dyfed, and Rockfield (Llangennon) in Runston, Gwent. Eventually she is said to have crossed the Severn into Cornwall, where she resided as a hermitess for many years. The village of St Keyne in Cornwall, is named after her, and is the site of a church and a holy well which also take her name.

St Keyne's Well - geograph.org.uk - 1556016.jpg

 

Around 490, she is alleged to have visited her nephew Saint Cadoc at St Michael’s Mount. Cadoc persuaded her to return to Wales, and healing spring marked the location where she settled and eventually died. She died a virgin on 5 October in either 490 or 505. Llangeinor in Glamorgan has been proposed as a likely spot, as an ancient well is situated there, which is still said to have healing properties.

Legacy

Saint Keyne’s feast is celebrated on 8 October, although it is also recorded as 30 September. She was the original patron saint of what is now St Martin-by-Looe (Penndrumm) and is linked with the River Kenwyn in Truro. However, her most enduring and romanticized legacy is linked to the holy well that takes its name from her, located in St Keyne, Cornwall. According to legend, whichever partner in a marriage drinks from the well first will have the upper hand in the marriage, and rule over the other. This story was known in the Middle Ages, and was memorialized in Robert Southey’s poem “The Well of St Keyne.”

Some sources credit her as the patron saint of Keynsham in Somerset, where she is said to resided near the banks of the Avon, which was swarming with serpents and uninhabitable. After Saint Keyne issued a fervent prayer, the serpents were transformed to stone, and the area became habitable. (Today, these are considered to be the fossilized remains of ammonites). However, a similar miracle is also attributed to St. Hilda, and it has been suggested that Keynsham instead takes its name from “Ceagin’s (Caega) Hamm.” (Wikipedia)

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Journey through June – Saint Justina of Antioch – 10/26

Today I have drawn Saint Justina of Antioch (Third Century).

Her feast day is October 2 and she is commemorated in the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic church.

She is commemorated on the same day as St Cyprian as their lives and martyrdoms are entwined.

The holy virgin Justina lived in Antioch. After turning her own father and mother away from pagan error and leading them to the true faith in Christ, she dedicated herself to the Heavenly Bridegroom and spent her time in fasting and prayer. When the youth Aglaides proposed marriage to her, the saint refused, for she wished to remain a virgin. Agalides sought Cyprian’s help and asked for a magic spell to charm Justina into marriage. But no matter what Cyprian tried, he could accomplish nothing, since the saint overcame all the wiles of the devil through her prayers and fasting.

Cyrian sent demons to attack the holy virgin, trying to arouse fleshly passions in her, but she dispelled them by the power of the Sign of the Cross and by fervent prayer to the Lord.

Even though one of the demonic princes and Cyprian himself, assumed various guises by the power of sorcery, they were not able to sway Saint Justina, who was guarded by her firm faith in Christ. All the spells dissipated, and the demons fled at the mere mention of the saint’s name.

Cyprian, in a rage, sent down pestilence and plague upon Justina’s family and upon all the city, but this was thwarted by her prayer. Cyprian’s soul, corrupted by its domination over people and by his incantations, was shown in all the depth of his downfall, and also the abyss of nothingness of the evil that he served.

“If you take fright at even the mere shadow of the Cross and the Name of Christ makes you tremble,” said Cyprian to Satan, “then what will you do when Christ Himself stands before you?” The devil then flung himself upon the pagan priest who had begun to repudiate him, and attempted to beat and strangle him.

Saint Cyprian then first tested for himself the power of the Sign of the Cross and the Name of Christ, guarding himself from the fury of the enemy. Afterwards, with deep repentance he went to the local bishop Anthimus and threw all of his books into the flames. The very next day, he went into the church, and did not want to leave it, though he had not yet been baptized.

By his efforts to follow a righteous manner of life, Saint Cyprian discerned the great power of fervent faith in Christ, and made up for more than thirty years of service to Satan. Seven days after Baptism he was ordained reader, on the twelfth day, sub-deacon, on the thirtieth, deacon. After a year, he was ordained priest. In a short time Saint Cyprian was elevated to the rank of bishop.

The Hieromartyr Cyprian converted so many pagans to Christ that in his diocese there was no one left to offer sacrifice to idols, and the pagan temples fell into disuse. Saint Justina withdrew to a monastery and there was chosen Abbess.

During the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian, Bishop Cyprian and Abbess Justina were arrested and brought to Nicomedia, where after fierce tortures they were beheaded with the sword. Saint Cyprian, fearful that the holy virgin’s courage might falter if she saw him put to death, asked for time to pray. Saint Justina joyfully inclined her neck and was beheaded first.

The soldier Theoctistus, seeing the guiltless sufferings of Saint Justina, fell at Cyprian’s feet and declared himself a Christian, and was beheaded with them. (from the OCA )

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Journey through June – Saint Ite of Killeedy – 9/26

Today I have drawn Saint Ite of Killeen (480-570)

Her feast day is 15 January and she is recognised in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Her life

Saint Ithe or Ita, “the Foster Mother of the Irish Saints,” was born in the fifth century. She, like many of the Irish saints, was of the nobility. Her parents were devout Christians who lived in County Waterford. She founded a school and convent at Killeedy (Cille Ide) which still bears her name near Newcastle West in Co. Limerick. A holy well still marks the site of her church.

When she decided to settle in Killeedy, a local chieftain offered her a grant of land for the support of the convent, which Saint Ita accepted and cultivated. The convent became known as a training ground for young boys, many of whom became famous churchmen. She received Saint Brendan the Voyager (May 16) when he was only a year old, and kept him until he was six. She also cared for her nephew Saint Mochaemhoch (March 13) in his infancy. She called him “Pulcherius,” because he was such a handsome child.

Many people sought her spiritual counsels, and she also seems to have practiced medicine to some degree. Her life was spent in repentance and asceticism.

Saint Ita once told Saint Brendan that the three things most displeasing to God are: A face that hates mankind, a will that clings to the love of evil, and placing one’s entire trust in riches (Compare Proverbs 6:16-19).

The three things most pleasing to God are: The firm belief of a pure heart in God, the simple religious life, and liberality with charity.

Saint Ita fell asleep in the Lord in 570. Her Feast Day is a local holiday in the district, and her name is a popular one for Irish girls. (from OCA)

Her wikipedia entry

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Journey through June – Saint Hilda of Whitby – 8/26

Today I have drawn Saint Hilda of Whitby (c 614-680)

 https://youtu.be/fDcjdp1ECEc

Her feast day is 17/18 November and she is recognised in the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

Her life (from Orthodoxwiki) Practically speaking, all our knowledge of St. Hilda is derived from the pages of Bede. She was the daughter of Hereric, the nephew of King Edwin of Northumbria, and she seems like her great-uncle to have become a Christian through the preaching of St. Paulinus about the year 627, when she was thirteen years old.

Moved by the example of her sister Hereswith, who, after marrying Ethelhere of East Anglia, became a nun at Chelles in Gaul, Hilda also journeyed to East Anglia, intending to follow her sister abroad. But St. Aidan recalled her to her own country, and after leading a monastic life for a while on the north bank of the Wear and afterwards at Hartlepool, where she ruled a double monastery of monks and nuns with great success, Hilda eventually undertook to set in order a monastery at Streaneshalch, a place to which the Danes a century or two later gave the name of Whitby.

Under the rule of St. Hilda the monastery at Whitby became very famous. The Holy Scriptures were specially studied there, and no less than five of the monastics became bishops, St. John, Bishop of Hexham, and still more St. Wilfrid, Bishop of York, rendering untold service to the Anglo-Saxon church at this critical period of the struggle with paganism. Here, in 664, was held the important synod at which King Oswiu, convinced by the arguments of St. Wilfrid, decided, among other issues, a manner of calculating the date for Northumbria’s observance of Pascha. St. Hilda herself later on seems to have sided with Archbishop Theodore against Wilfrid. The fame of St. Hilda’s wisdom was so great that from far and near monks and even royal personages came to consult her. Seven years before her death the saint was stricken down with a grievous fever which never left her till she breathed her last, but, in spite of this, she neglected none of her duties to God or to her spiritual children. She passed away most peacefully after receiving Eucharist, and the tolling of the monastery bell was heard miraculously at Hackness thirteen miles away, where also a devout nun named Begu saw the soul of St. Hilda borne to heaven by angels.

With St. Hilda is intimately connected the story of Caedmon, the sacred bard. When he was brought before St. Hilda she admitted him to take monastic vows in her monastery, where he most piously died.

The cultus of St. Hilda from an early period is attested by the inclusion of her name in the calendar of St. Willibrord, written at the beginning of the eighth century. It was alleged at a later date the remains of St. Hilda were translated to Glastonbury by King Edmund, but this is only part of the “great Glastonbury myth.” Another story states that St. Edmund brought her relics to Gloucester. There are a dozen or more old English churches dedicated to St. Hilda on the northeast coast, and “South Shields” is probably a corruption of St. Hilda.

Orthodox England: Commemoration of St Hilda of Whitby service texts

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Journey through June – Saint Genevieve of Paris – 7/26

Today I have drawn St Genevieve of Paris

She is commemorated on 3 January and is recognised in the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Her life

Saint Genevieve was born of wealthy parents in Gaul (modern France) in the village of Nanterre, near Paris, around 422. Her father’s name was Severus, and her mother was called Gerontia. According to the custom of the time, she often tended her father’s flocks on Mt. Valerien.

When she was about seven years old, Saint Germanus of Auxerre (July 31) noticed her as he was passing through Nanterre. The bishop kissed her on the head and told her parents that she would become great in the sight of God, and would lead many to salvation. After Genevieve told him that she wished to dedicate herself to Christ, he gave her a brass medal with the image of the Cross upon it. She promised to wear it around her neck, and to avoid wearing any other ornaments around her neck or on her fingers.

When it was reported that Attila the Hun was approaching Paris, Genevieve and the other nuns prayed and fasted, entreating God to spare the city. Suddenly, the barbarians turned away from Paris and went off in another direction.

Years later, when she was fifteen, Genevieve was taken to Paris to enter the monastic life. Through fasting, vigil and prayer, she progressed in monasticism, and received from God the gifts of clairvoyance and of working miracles. Gradually, the people of Paris and the surrounding area regarded Genevieve as a holy vessel (2 Tim. 2:21).

Saint Genevieve considered the Saturday night Vigil service to be very important, since it symbolizes how our whole life should be. “We must keep vigil in prayer and fasting so that the Lord will find us ready when He comes,” she said. She was on her way to church with her nuns one stormy Saturday night when the wind blew out her lantern. The nuns could not find their way without a light, since it was dark and stormy, and the road was rough and muddy. Saint Genevieve made the Sign of the Cross over the lantern, and the candle within was lit with a bright flame. In this manner they were able to make their way to the church for the service.

There is a tradition that the church which Saint Genevieve suggested that King Clovis build in honor of Saints Peter and Paul became her own resting place when she fell asleep in the Lord around 512 at the age of eighty-nine. Her holy relics were later transferred to the church of Saint Etienne du Mont in Paris. Most of her relics, and those of other saints, were destroyed during the French Revolution.

In the Middle Ages, Saint Genevieve was regarded as the patron saint of wine makers. ( OCA website)