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Holy Days in June

Justin (1st June)
Christian apologist, born at Flavia Neapolis, about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165.

The Martyrs of Uganda (3rd June)
On 3 June 1886, thirty-two young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga of Buganda, were burned to death at Namugongo for their refusal to renounce Christianity. In the following months many other Christians throughout the country died by spear or fire for their faith. These martyrdoms totally changed the dynamic of Christian growth in Uganda. Introduced by a handful of Anglican and Roman missionaries after 1877, the Christian faith had been preached only to the immediate members of the court, by order of King Mutesa. His successor, Mwanga, became increasingly angry as he realized that the first converts put loyalty to Christ above the traditional loyalty to the king. Martyrdoms began in 1885. Mwanga first forbade anyone to go near a Christian mission on pain of death, but finding himself unable to cool the ardour of the converts, resolved to wipe out Christianity. The Namugongo martyrdoms produced a result entirely opposite to Mwanga's intentions. The example of these martyrs, who walked to their deaths singing hymns and praying for their enemies, so inspired many of the bystanders that they began to seek instruction from the remaining Christians. Within a few years the original handful of converts had multiplied many times and spread far beyond the court. The martyrs had left the indelible impression that Christianity was truly African, not simply a white man's religion. Most of the missionary work was carried out by Africans rather than by white missionaries, and Christianity spread steadily. Uganda now has the largest percentage of professed Christians of any nation in Africa

Petroc (4th June)
Younger son of King Glywys. On his father's death, the people of Glywysing called for Petroc to take the crown of one the country's sub-divisions, but Petroc wanted a religious life, and went to study in Ireland. Several years later he returned to Britain, landing on the River Camel in Cornwall. Directed by Saint Samson to the hermitage of Saint Wethnoc. Wethnoc agreed to give his cell to Petroc in order that he could found a monastery on the site. After 30 years as abbot, Petroc made a pilgrimage to Rome. On his return, just as he reached Newton Saint Petroc, it began to rain. Petroc predicted it would soon stop, but it rained for three days. In penance for presuming to predict God's weather, Petroc returned to Rome, then to Jerusalem, then to India where he lived 7 years on an island in the Indian Ocean. Petroc returned to Britain with a wolf companion he had met in India. Founded churches at Saint Petrox and Llanbedrog. In Cornwall, with the help of Saint Wethnoc and Saint Samson, he defeated a mighty serpent that King Teudar of Penwith had used to devour his enemies. He then left his monastery at Llanwethinoc to live as a hermit in the woods at Nanceventon, some fellow monks following his example at Vallis Fontis. While in the wilderness, a hunted deer sought shelter in Saint Petroc's cell. Petroc protected it from the hunter, King Constantine of Dumnonia, and converted the king to Christianity into the bargain. Petroc later moved deep into the Cornish countryside, encountering the hermit Saint Guron. Guron moved south allowing Petroc, with the backing of King Constantine, to establish a monastery called Bothmena (the Abode of Monks) at the site of the hermitage.

Boniface [Wynfrith] (5th June)
Educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter. Benedictine monk at Exeter. Missionary to Germany from 719, assisted by Saint Albinus and Saint Agatha. Destroyed idols and pagan temples, and built churches on their sites. Bishop. Archbishop of Mainz. Reformed churches in his see, and built religious houses in Germany. Ordained Saint Sola. Founded or restored the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringgia, and Franconia. Evangelised in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans, and he and 52 of his new flock were martyred. In Saxony, Boniface encountered a tribe worshipping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, "How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he." The crowd's reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun. One tradition about Saint Boniface says that he used the customs of the locals to help convert them. There was a game in which they threw sticks called kegels at smaller sticks called heides. Boniface bought religion to the game, having the heides represent demons, and knocking them down showing purity of spirit.

Ini Kopuria (6th June)

As a native policeman, Ini Kopuria's job took him all over Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, but a vision of Jesus, calling him to do different work for his people, led him to a life of evangelism in which he aimed to take and live the gospel in the remotest villages and islands in Melanesia. He began a Brotherhood for Melanesians in 1925 and, with help from his bishop, prepared a Rule and made vows himself in which he dedicated his life and his land to God. Men were asked to make only a five-year commitment to service within the community and many came to join him and stayed for much longer.It quickly grew into one of the largest religious communities in the Anglican Communion and its method of evangelism proved highly effective. Ini died in1945, revered throughout the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Thomas Ken (8th June)
Ken trained at Winchester and New College, Oxford, and was ordained an Anglican priest in 1662.  In 1663, he became Rector of Little Easton, and Rector of Woodhay and Prebendary of Winchester in 1669. He published Manual of Prayers for the use of the scholars of Winchester College, in 1674. He was briefly chaplain to Princess Mary, and later to the British fleet. He became Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1685. He was one of several bishops imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to sign James II’s “Declaration of Indulgence” (hoping to restore Catholicism to power in England); he was tried and acquitted. Ken wrote a great deal of poetry, published posthumously in 1721.

Columba (9th June)
Irish royalty, the son of Fedhlimidh and Eithne of the Ui Neill clan. Bard. Priest. Itinerant preacher and teacher throughout Ireland. Miracle worker. Founded monasteries. Spiritual teacher of Saint Corbmac. Exiled to Iona, he founded and led a monastic community there for 12 years. He and the monks of Iona, including Saint Baithen of Iona and Saint Eochod, then evangelised the Picts.

Ephrem (9th June)
Ephrem (or Ephren or Ephraim or Ephrain) of Edessa was a teacher, poet, orator, and defender of the Faith. (To English-speakers, the most familiar form of his name will be "Ephraim." It is the name of the younger son of Joseph, son of Jacob (see Genesis 41:52), and is thus the name of one of the largest of the twelve tribes of Israel.) Edessa (now Urfa), a city in modern Turkey about 100 kilometres from Antioch (now Antakya), was an early centre for the spread of Christian teaching in the East. It is said that in 325 he accompanied his bishop, James of Nisibis, to the Council of Nicea. Certainly his writings are an eloquent defence of the Nicene faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ. He countered the Gnostics' practice of spreading their message through popular songs by composing Christian songs and hymns of his own, with great effect. He is known to the Syrian church as "the harp of the Holy Spirit." Ephrem retired to a cave outside Edessa, where he lived in great simplicity and devoted himself to writing. He frequently went into the city to preach. During a famine in 372-3 he worked distributing food to the hungry, and organizing a sort of ambulance service for the sick. He worked long hours at this, and became exhausted and sick, and died. Of his writings there remain 72 hymns, commentaries on the Old and New Testaments and numerous sermons.

Barnabas (11th June)   Apostle

Richard Baxter (14th June)
Puritan evangelist of Kidderminster. There was an amazing transformation of that town under his ministry. Family catechising, family worship, a public worship pattern full of praise, church discipline, preaching, devotional reading, regular pastoralcounselling, and small-group ministry under Baxter's oversight, were all part of it, and reformation was Baxter's name for it. He wrote a classic book on ministerial practice entitled The Reformed Pastor. By the word reformed Baxter meant spiritually alive and morally in shape, not merely maintaining what we would call Calvinistic doctrines, though he assumes that. His meaning becomes clear when he writes: 'If God would but reform the clergy, the people of England would soon be reformed.'

Evelyn Underhill (15th June)
Evelyn Underhill was born in 1850 and grew up in London. Her friends  included Laurence Housman (poet and brother of the poet A E  Housman) and Sarah Bernhardt (actress), and Baron Friedrich von Huegel, a writer on theology and mysticism. Largely under his guidance, she embarked on a life of reading, writing, meditation, and prayer. From her studies and experience she produced a series of books on contemplative prayer.) Miss Underhill (Mrs. Hubert Stuart Moore) taught that the life of contemplative prayer is not just for monks and nuns, but can be the life of any Christian who is willing to undertake it. She also taught that modern psychological theory, far from being a threat to contemplation, can fruitfully be used to enhance it. In her later years, she spent a great deal of time as a lecturer and retreat director. She died on June 15, 1941.

Richard (16th June)
Richard of Wyche was born in 1197 at Droitwyche, the son of a prosperous yeoman farmer. He and his brother were orphaned at an early age, and an incompetent guardian wasted the inheritance. Richard worked long and hard to restore the family property, and when he had succeeded, he turned it over to his brother and went off to Oxford to become a scholar. He was too poor to afford a gown or a fire in winter, but he did very well at his studies, with Robert Grosseteste among his teachers. He established what would be a lifelong friendship with his tutor, Edmund Rich (Edmund of Abingdon). He studied canon law at Oxford (and probably also at Paris and Bologna) and, having acquired a doctorate, he became Chancellor of Oxford in 1235. Meanwhile, his tutor had become Archbishop of Canterbury, and soon asked Richard to become his Chancellor. When the Archbishop rebuked King Henry III for keeping various bishoprics vacant as long as possible (because as long as they were vacant their revenues went to the Crown), Henry forced him into exile, and Richard accompanied him to France and nursed him in his final illness. After the Archbishop's death in 1240, Richard studied at the Dominican house in Orleans, and was ordained priest in 1243. In 1244 he was elected Bishop of Chichester, but Henry would not recognize the election, locked him out of the bishop's residence, and pocketed the revenues. Richard accepted shelter with a village priest, and spent the next two years walking barefoot through his diocese, preaching to fishermen and farmers, and correcting abuses. He held synods to legislate, and insisted that the sacraments must be administered without payment, and the Liturgy celebrated with reverence and order. The clergy were required to be celibate, to wear clerical dress, and to live in the parishes they were assigned to and carry out their duties in person. The laity were required to attend services on all Sundays and holy days, and to know by heart the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles' Creed. After two years, Henry was pressured into recognizing Richard as Bishop, but Richard continued to live as he had before. One of his concerns was that the Moslems then in control of Jerusalem would not admit Christian pilgrims. In 1253 he travelled about appealing for a new Crusade, aimed solely at pressuring the Moslems into permitting pilgrimages. He caught a fever and died in 1253.

Joseph Butler (16th June)
Butler was born in 1692 and ordained in 1718. In 1726 he published Fifteen Sermons, preached at the Rolls Chapel in London, and chiefly dealing with human nature and its implications for ethics and practical Christian life. He maintained that it is normal for a man to have an instinct of self-interest, which leads him to seek his own good, and equally normal for him to have an instinct of benevolence, which leads him to seek the good of others individually and generally, and that the two aims do not in fact conflict. He served as parish priest in several parishes, and in 1736 was appointed chaplain to Queen Caroline, wife of King George II. In the same year he published his masterpiece, The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, To the Constitution and Course of Nature (often cited simply as "Butler's Analogy"), a work chiefly directed against Deism. Appended to the main work was a treatise, Of the Nature of Virtue, which establishes him as one of the foremost British writers on ethics, or moral philosophy. When the Queen died in 1737, Butler was made Bishop of Bristol. (In England at that time, bishoprics and parish churches were supported each by a separate source of income that had been established for it perhaps centuries earlier, and in consequence the funding was very unequal. Bristol, being the lowest paid of all bishoprics, was where a new bishop usually started. Later, he might be promoted to another diocese. The Reform movement of the 1830's and its aftermath have remedied this situation.) However, George II had been impressed with him earlier, and in 1746 he was called back to court and the next year offered the post of Archbishop of Canterbury. He refused the post, but in 1750 he became Bishop of Durham (well known even then as having a tradition of bishops whose speeches and writings attract public attention). He died there in 1752.

Samuel and Henrietta Barnett (17th June)
English clergyman and social worker. As vicar of St. Jude’s, Whitechapel, in the slums of London, he pioneered in the social settlement movement. Toynbee Hall, the first settlement house, was opened in 1884 with Barnett as its first warden. He was also active in the university extension movement. His wife, Henrietta Octavia Barnett, 1851–1936, was especially interested in housing and helped found a model garden suburb at Hampstead. She collaborated in some of her husband’s books, notably Practicable Socialism (1888) and wrote his biography (1918). In 1924 she became Dame Commander of the British Empire

Bernard Mizeki (18th June)
Bernard Mizeki was born in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) in about 1861. When he was twelve or a little older, he left his home and went to Capetown, South Africa, where for the next ten years he worked as a labourer, living in the slums of Capetown, but firmly refusing to drink alcohol, and remaining largely uncorrupted by his surroundings. After his day's work, he attended night classes at an Anglican school. Under the influence of his teachers, from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, he became a Christian and was baptized on 9 March 1886. Besides the fundamentals of European schooling, he mastered English, French, high Dutch, and at least eight local African languages. In time he would be an invaluable assistant when the Anglican church began translating its sacred texts into African languages. After graduating from the school, he accompanied Bishop Knight-Bruce to Mashonaland, a tribal area in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), to work as a lay catechist. In 1891 the bishop assigned him to Nhowe, the village of paramount-chief Mangwende, and there he built a mission-complex. He prayed the Anglican hours each day, tended his subsistence garden, studied the local language and cultivated friendships with the villagers. He eventually opened a school, and won the hearts of many of the Mashona through his love for their children. He moved his mission complex up onto a nearby plateau, next to a grove of trees sacred to the ancestral spirits of the Mashona. Although he had the chief's permission, he angered the local religious leaders when he cut some of the trees down and carved crosses into others. Although he opposed some local traditional religious customs, Bernard was very attentive to the nuances of the Shona Spirit religion. He developed an approach that built on people's already monotheistic faith in one God, Mwari, and on their sensitivity to spirit life, while at the same time he forthrightly proclaimed the Christ. Over the next five years (1891-1896), the mission at Nhowe produced an abundance of converts. Many black African nationalists regarded all missionaries as working for the European colonial governments. During an uprising in 1896, Bernard was warned to flee. He refused and would not desert his converts or his post. On 18 June 1896, he was fatally speared outside his hut. His wife and a helper went to get food and blankets for him. They later reported that, from a distance, they saw a blinding light on the hillside where he had been lying, and heard a rushing sound, as though of many wings. When they returned to the spot his body had disappeared. The place of his death has become a focus of great devotion for Anglicans and other Christians, and one of the greatest of all Christian festivals in Africa takes place there every year around the feast day that marks the anniversary of his martyrdom, June 18

Sundar Singh (19th June)
Sundar Singh (1889-1929), or Sadhu Sundar Singh, as he is commonly known, came from a well-to-do farming family in Punjab. In addition to the high ideals of the Sikh religion, his own devout mother brought him up in the Hindu bhakti tradition. In his later years, Sundar Singh often said that his mother made him a sadhu (a holy man in India) but the Holy Spirit made him a Christian. He knew the Granth, Sikhism's holy book, and memorised the Bhagavad Gita by the age of seven! At the local mission school, his rebellious spirit made him a most difficult student during Bible classes. He even led the local boys in stoning visiting Christian evangelists at the marketplace. But the sudden death of his beloved mother when he was 14 brought about the great crisis of his life. For days he struggled. Nothing comforted him. In his anger he even burnt parts of the Bible. Finally one night he resolved that unless God met him, he would commit suicide by laying himself on the railway track. As he waited upon God, yet not knowing what to expect, suddenly a light appeared in his room. To his utter amazement, he saw Jesus Christ, radiant with glory, love and peace, looking at him with compassion and asking, "Why do you persecute me? I died for you …"

Alban (22nd June)
First martyr of Britain,  c. 304. The commonly received account of the martyrdom of St. Alban meets us as early as the pages of Bede's "Ecclesiastical History". According to this, St. Alban was a pagan living at Verulamium (now the town of St. Albans in Hertfordshire), when a persecution of the Christians broke out, and a certain cleric fleeing for his life took refuge in Alban's house. Alban sheltered him, and after some days, moved by his example, himself received baptism. Later on, when the governor's emissaries came to search the house, Alban disguised himself in the cloak of his guest and gave himself up in his place. He was dragged before the judge, scourged, and, when he would not deny his faith, condemned to death. On the way to the place of execution Alban arrested the waters of a river so that they crossed dry-shod, and he further caused a fountain of water to flow on the summit of the hill on which he was beheaded. His executioner was converted, and the man who replaced him, after striking the fatal blow, was punished with blindness. A later development in the legend informs us that the cleric's name was Amphibalus, and that he, with some companions, was stoned to death a few days afterwards at Redbourn, four miles from St. Albans. What germ of truth may underlie these legends it is difficult to decide. The first authority to mention St. Alban is Constantius, in his Life of St. Germanus of Auxerre, written about 480. Still the whole legend as known to Bede was probably in existence in the first half of the sixth century and was used by Gildas before 547. It is certain that St. Alban has been continuously venerated in England since the fifth century

Etheldreda (23rd June)
Sister of Saint Jurmin. Relative of King Anna of East Anglia. Princess widowed after three years marriage; rumour had it that the marriage was never consummated, Etheldrda having taken a vow of perpetual virginity. She married again for reasons of state. Her new husband knew of her vow, but tired of living as brother and sister, and began to make advances on her; she refused him. He tried to bribe the local bishop, Saint Wilfrid of York, to release her from her vow. Wilfrid refused, and helped her to escape to a promontory called Colbert's Head. A seven day high tide, considered divine intervention, separated the two; the young man gave up. The marriage was annulled, and Audrey took the veil. She spent a year with her niece, Saint Ebbe the Elder. Founded the great abbey of Ely, where she lived an austere life. She died of an enormous and unsightly tumour on her neck. She gratefully accepted this as Divine retribution for all the necklaces she had worn in her early years. In the Middle Ages a festival called Saint Audrey's Fair, was held at Ely on her feast day. The exceptional shoddiness of the merchandise, especially the neckerchiefs, contributed to the English language the word tawdry, a corruption of Saint Audrey.

The Birth of John the Baptist (24th June)

Cyril (27th June)
Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church,  was born at Alexandria, Egypt. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him. He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412,but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions. In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antiochand forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril. Emperor Theodosius II arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council's actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile. During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition.

Irenaeus (28th June)
Bishop of Lyons, and Father of the Church. Information as to his life is scarce, and in some measure inexact. He was born in Proconsular Asia, or at least in some province bordering thereon, in the first half of the second century; the exact date is controversial - between the years 115 and 125, according to some, or, according to others, between 130 and 142. It is certain that, while still very young, Irenaeus had seen and heard the holy Bishop Polycarp (d. 155) at Smyrna. During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, Irenaeus was a priest of the Church of Lyons. The clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the Faith, sent him (177 or 178) to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleutherius concerning Montanism, and on that occasion bore emphatic testimony to his merits. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons. During the religious peace which followed the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the new bishop divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary and his writings, almost all of which were directed against Gnosticism, the heresy then spreading in Gaul and elsewhere. In 190 or 191 he interceded with Pope Victor to lift the sentence of excommunication laid by that pontiff upon the Christian communities of Asia Minor which persevered in the practice of the Quartodecimans in regard to the celebration of Easter. Nothing is known of the date of his death, which must have occurred at the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. In spite of some isolated and later testimony to that effect, it is not very probable that he ended his career with martyrdom.

Peter and Paul (29th June)   Apostles

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