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Holy Days in October

Remigius (1st October)
French-Roman nobility, the son of Emilius, Count of Laon, and of Saint Celina. A speaker noted for his eloquence, he was selected bishop of Reims at age 22 while still a layman, and served his diocese for 74 years. Evangelised throughout Gaul, working with Saint Vaast. Spiritual teacher of Saint Theodoric. Converted and baptised Clovis, King of the Franks. Blind at the time of his death.

Anthony Ashley Cooper (1st October)
Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, lived from 1671 to 1713. He was one of the most important philosophers of his day, and exerted an enormous influence throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on British and European discussions of morality, aesthetics and religion. Shaftesbury's philosophy combined a powerfully teleological approach, according to which all things were part of a harmonious cosmic order, with sharp observations of human nature. Shaftesbury is often credited with originating the moral sense theory. While he argued that virtue leads to happiness, Shaftesbury was also a fierce opponent of psychological and ethical egoism and of the egoistic social contract theory of Hobbes. Shaftesbury's view of aesthetic judgment was both sentimentalist and objectivist, in that he thought that correct moral judgment was based in human sentiments that reflected accurately the harmonious cosmic order. Shaftesbury's belief in an harmonious cosmic order also dominated his view of religion, which was based on the idea that the universe clearly exhibited signs of divine design; according to Shaftesbury, the ultimate end of religion, as well of virtue, beauty and philosophical understanding (all of which are turn out to be one and the same thing), is to identify completely with the universal system of which one is a part.

Francis of Assisi (4th October)
Son of a rich cloth merchant. Misspent youth. Street brawler and some-time soldier. During an imprisonment in Perugia, he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon release, Francis began taking his religion seriously. He took the Gospels as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the  streets, and took all men and women as siblings. He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing, founded the Franciscans. In 1212 Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. Visited and preached to the Saracens. Composed songs and hymns to God and nature. Lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1231 he resigned direction of the Franciscans. While in meditation on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life.

William Tyndale (6th October)
William Tyndale gave us our English Bible. Forbidden to work in England, Tyndale translated and printed in English the New Testament and half the Old Testament between 1525 and 1535 in Germany and the Low Countries. He worked from the Greek and Hebrew original texts when knowledge of those languages in England was rare. His pocket-sized Bible translations were smuggled into England, and then ruthlessly sought out by the Church, confiscated and destroyed. Condemned as a heretic, Tyndale was strangled and burned outside Brussels in 1536. His work has survived. Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was taken almost word for word into the much praised Authorised Version (King James Bible) of 1611, which also reproduces a great deal of his Old Testament. From there his words passed into our common understanding. His phrases are so well-known that they are often thought to be proverbial - 'let there be light', 'we live and move and have our being', 'fight the good fight', 'the signs of the times', 'the powers that be', 'a law unto themselves', and hundreds more. The familiar words telling the great Bible stories are usually Tyndale's.

Denys and his Companions (9th October)
Missionary to Paris. First Bishop of Paris. His success roused the ire of local pagans, and he was imprisoned by Roman governor. Martyred in the persecutions of Valerius with Saint Rusticus and Saint Eleutherius, who may have been his deacons. Legends have grown up around his torture and death including one that has his body carrying his severed head some distance from his execution site. Saint Genevieve built a basilica over his grave. His feast was added to the Roman Calendar in 1568 by Pope Saint Pius V, though it had been celebrated since 800. One of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Robert Grosseteste (9th October)
Robert was a peasant lad from Suffolk, born about 1175. He distinguished himself at Oxford
 in law, medicine, languages, natural sciences, and theology. He became what is now called Chancellor of Oxford University. In 1235, he was elected Bishop of Lincoln, in area the largest diocese in England. He promptly visited all the churches in the diocese and quickly removed many of the prominent clergy because they were neglecting their pastoral duties. He vigorously opposed the practice by which the Pope appointed Italians as absentee clergy for English churches (collecting salaries from said churches without ever setting foot in the country). He insisted that his priests spend their time in the service of their people, in prayer, and in study. He went on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he spoke out boldly against ecclesiastical abuses. Back in England, he spoke against unlawful usurpations of power by the monarch, and was one of those present at the signing of the Magna Carta. Grosseteste's scholarly writings embraced many fields of learning. He translated into Latin the Ethics of Aristotle and the theological works of John of Damascus and of the fifth-century writer known as Dionysius the Areopagite. He was skilled in poetry, music, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, optics, and physics (one of his pupils was Roger Bacon). His writings on the first chapter of Genesis include an interesting anticipation of modern cosmological ideas. (He read that the first thing created was light, and said that the universe began with pure energy exploding from a point source.) He knew Hebrew and Greek, and his Biblical studies were a notable contribution to the scholarship of the day.   

Paulinus (10th October)
Italian missionary, bishop of York (625–33). He was a Roman monk who went to England with the mission of St.Augustine of Canterbury in 601. For some years he worked in Kent, then went as archbishop to Northumbria. Paulinus succeeded temporarily in converting Northumbria and Lindsey; he was forced to flee to Rochester when paganism returned with King Penda after King Edwin’s death. He is sometimes considered the first archbishop of York.

Thomas Traherne (10th October)
Thomas Traherne was born the son of a Hereford shoemaker, in about 1636. He was raised by a wealthy innkeeper by the name of Traherne, after his own parents' death. Thomas had a good education and entered Brasenose College at Oxford University from 1652, achieving an M.A. in arts and divinity in 1661. In the meantime, he was admitted in 1657 to the rectory of Credenhill, near Hereford and was ordained in 1660. After being a parish priest for ten years, he became, from 1667, the private chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, on his appointment as Lord Keeper of the Seals of Charles II. After seven years in this service, Traherne died in his patron's house at Teddington, near Hampton court, and was buried on 10 October, 1674, in the church there. Thomas was one of the English Metaphysical poets and yet, in his lifetime, only one of his works was ever printed.

Ethelburga (11th October)
Daughter of the king of East Angles. During her childhood, Ethelburga lived in a Gallic convent under the direction of Saint Burgundofara, a home she would have for the rest of her life. She was known throughout the community for her adherence to the Rule of the order. In the mid-seventh century, Ethelburga was chosen abbess. She ruled with wisdom and justice until her death. Saint Tortgith of Barking was one of her nuns.

James the Deacon (11th October)
Italian monk and deacon. A companion of St. Paulinus in the missionary effort in Northumbria, he was so dedicated to the evangelising cause that he remained in the region despite the constant dangers of the severe pagan reaction.

Wilfred (12th October)
St Wilfred ( b 634 - 709 ) Chief spokesman at the synod of Whitby in 664. He advocated Roman practices of Christianity whilst arguing against the Celtic monastic style. Appointed bishop of York. In 664 and lived in a monastery in Ripon until 669. He lived the latter part of his life in Mercia and became bishop of Hexham on his return in 705.

Elizabeth Fry (12th October)
Elizabeth Fry, born at Norwich on May 21, 1780, was the daughter of wealthy banker and merchant, John Gurney. In August, 1800, she became the wife of Joseph Fry, a London merchant. As early as 1813, Elizabeth began to make several visits to Newgate prison but the great public work of her life dates effectively from the formation of the association for the improvement of the female prisoners in Newgate in April 1817. Its aims included the separation of the sexes, classification of criminals, female supervision for women and adequate provisions for religious and secular instruction. The accomplishments of this association led to the
 extension of similar methods in other prisons. She visited prisons in Scotland and northern England. Through a visit to Ireland, which she made in 1827, she directed her attention to other detention houses besides prisons. Her visits led to the improvement of the hospital systems and treatment of the insane. In 1838, Ms. Fry visited France, where she personally met with leading prison officials. In 1839 she received an official permit to visit all the prisons in France in return for a lengthy report. In the summer of 1840, she travelled through Belgium, the Netherlands and Prussia. In 1843, because of failing health, Ms. Fry was no longer able to travel but she still kept in contact with prison officials to monitor improvements. She died on October 12, 1845, at Ramsgate.

Edith Cavell (12th October)
Edith Cavell was an English nurse who, in 1907, became Matron of Belgium's first training school for nurses. When war broke out in August 1914, she formed a Red Cross hospital in Brussels and nursed wounded German and Belgian soldiers.  Following the German occupation of the city, her institution was placed at the disposal of the invading army, and despite being offered the chance to return to Britain, Miss Cavell decided to remain with her nurses. In addition to her humanitarian work, over the following year Edith Cavell is credited with helping some 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German occupied territory. On 5 August 1915, she was arrested by the German authorities along with five of her associates. Brought to trial on 7 October, she was executed five days later by firing squad on the orders of the Governor General of Brussels.

Edward the Confessor (13th October)
The penultimate Anglo-Saxon king, Edward was the oldest son of Æthelred II and Emma. He had gone to Normandy in 1013, when his father and mother had fled from England. He stayed there during the reign of Canute and, at his death in 1035, led an abortive attempt to capture the crown for himself. He was recalled, for some reason, to the court of Hardicanute, his half-brother. Canute had placed the local control of the shires into the hands of several powerful earls: Leofric of Mercia (Lady Godiva's husband), Siward of Northumbria and Godwin of Wessex, the most formidable of all. Through Godwin's influence, Edward took the throne at the untimely death of Hardicanute in 1042. In 1045, he married Godwin's only daughter, Edith. Resulting from the connections made during Edward's years in Normandy, he surrounded himself with his Norman favourites and was unduly influenced by them. This Norman "affinity" produced great displeasure among the Saxon nobles. The anti-Norman faction was led by Godwin of Wessex and his son, Harold Godwinsson, took every available opportunity to undermine the kings favourites. Edward sought to revenge himself on Godwin by insulting his own wife and Godwin's daughter, Edith, and confining her to the monastery of Wherwell. Disputes also arose over the issue of royal patronage and Edward's inclination to reward his Norman friends. A Norman, Robert Champart, who had been Bishop of London, was made Archbishop of Canterbury by Edward in 1051, a promotion that displeased Godwin immensely. The Godwins were banished from the kingdom after staging an unsuccessful rebellion against the king but returned, landing a force in the south of England in 1052. They received great popular support, and in the face of this,
 the king was forced to restore the Godwins to favour in 1053. Edward's greatest achievement was the construction of a new cathedral, where virtually all English monarchs from William the Conqueror onward would be crowned. It was determined that the Minster should not be built in London, and so a place was found to the west of the city (hence "Westminster"). The new church was consecrated at Christmas, 1065, but Edward could not attend due to illness. 

Tessa (15th October)
Spanish noble, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Doña Beatriz. She grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at "hermit" in the garden. Crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home, she was cured after prayer to Saint Joseph. Her mother died when Teresa was about 12. Her father opposed her entry to religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented. Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill, and her condition was aggravated by the inadequate medical help she received; she never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions,
 and was examined by Dominicans and Jesuits, including Saint Francis Borgia, who pronounced the visions to be holy and true. She considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of Saint John of Avila. Founded several houses, often against fierce opposition from local authorities. Mystical Writer. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 27th September 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Nicholas Ridley (16th October)
Nicholas Ridley c.1500–1555, English prelate, reformer, and Protestant martyr. In 1534, while a proctor of Cambridge, he signed the decree against the pope's supremacy in England.
 In 1537 he became chaplain to Thomas Cranmer, in 1540 master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and in 1541 chaplain to Henry VIII and canon of Canterbury. As bishop of Rochester (1547), Ridley was chosen to strengthen and establish the Reformed teachings at Cambridge. In the reign of Edward VI, he took part in compiling (1548) the Book of Common Prayer, and he was a commissioner in the examination that resulted in the deposition of bishops Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner. In 1550 he succeeded Bonner as bishop of London, where he did much to improve the condition of the poor by preaching on social injustices before the king. Ridley supported Lady Jane Grey's claims to the crown, and in 1553, shortly after Mary Tudor's accession as the Catholic Mary I, he was imprisoned. With Cranmer and Hugh Latimer he took part (1554) in the Oxford disputations against a group of Catholic theologians and would not recant his Protestant faith. He was burned at the stake with Latimer before Balliol Hall, Oxford. Latimer's parting words to Ridley are often quoted: "Be of good courage, brother Ridley, and play the man; for we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

Ignatius (17th October)
Convert from paganism to Christianity. Succeeded Peter as bishop of Antioch, Syria. During the persecution of Trajan, he was ordered taken to Rome to be killed by wild animals. On the way, a journey which took months, he wrote a series of encouraging letters to the churches under his care. First writer to use the term the Catholic Church. Martyr.

Luke the Evangelist (18th October)

Henry Martyn (19th October)
Henry Martyn was born in 1781, studied at Cambridge, and became Senior Wrangler. (That is, he won the Cambridge University annual mathematics problem-solving competition, and was accordingly recognized as the University's best undergraduate mathematician. "Wrangling" is a British University expression for solving mathematical problems.) He had, moreover, a considerable facility in languages. Under the encouragement of
 Charles Simeon he abandoned his intention of going into law and instead went to India as a chaplain in 1806. In the six remaining years of his life, he translated the New Testament into Hindi and Persian, revised an Arabic translation of the New Testament, and translated the Psalter into Persian and the Prayer Book into Hindi. In 1811 he left India for Persia, hoping to do further translations and to improve his existing ones, there and in Arabia. But travel in those days was not a healthy occupation, and he fell ill and eventually died at Tokat on October 16, 1812.  He was buried by the Armenian church there, with the honours ordinarily reserved for one of their own bishops. His diary has been called "one of the most precious treasures of Anglican devotion."

Crispin and Companions (25th October)
Roman noble. Brother of Saint Crispian with whom he evangelized Gaul in the middle 3rd century. Worked from Soissons, they preached in the streets by day, made shoes by night. The group's charity, piety, and contempt of material things impressed the locals, and many converted in the years of their ministry. Martyred under emperor Maximian Herculeus, being tried by Rictus Varus, governor of Belgic Gaul and an enemy of Christianity. A great church was built at Soissons in the 6th century in their honour; Saint Eligius ornamented their shrine.

Alfred the Great (26th October)
Youngest son of King Æthelwulf, Alfred became King of Wessex during a time of constant Viking attack. He was driven into hiding by a Viking raid into Wessex, led by the Dane, Guthorm, and took refuge in the Athelney marshes in Somerset. There he recovered sufficient strength to be able to defeat the Danes decisively at the Battle of Eddington. As a condition of the peace treaty which followed, Guthorm received Christian baptism and withdrew his forces from Wessex, with Alfred recognizing the Danish control over East Anglia and parts of Mercia. This partition of England, called the "Danelaw", was formalized by another treaty in 886. Alfred created a series of fortifications to surround his kingdom and provide needed security from invasion. The Anglo-Saxon word for these forts, "burhs", has come down to us in the common place-name suffix, "bury." He also constructed a fleet of ships to augment his other defences, and in so doing became known as the "Father of the English Navy." The reign of Alfred was known for more than military success. He was a codifier of law, a promoter of education and a supporter of the arts. He, himself, was a scholar and translated Latin books into the Anglo-Saxon tongue. After his death, he was buried in his capital city of Winchester, and is the only English monarch in history to carry the title, "the Great."

Cedd (26th October)
Bishop of the East Saxons, the brother of St. Ceadda; died 26 Oct. 664. There were two other brothers also priests, Cynibill and Caelin, all born of an Angle family settled in Northumbria. With his younger brother Ceadda, he was brought up at Lindisfarne under St. Aidan. In 653 he was one of four priests sent by Oswiu, King of Northumbria, to evangelise the Middle Angles at the request of their ealdorman, Peada. Shortly after, however, he was recalled and sent on the same missionary errand to Essex to help Sigeberht, King of the East Saxons, to convert his people to Christ. Here he was consecrated bishop and was very active in founding churches, and established monasteries at Tilbury and Ithancester. Occasionally he revisited his native Northumbria, and there, at the request of Aethelwald, founded the monastery of Laestingaeu, now Lastingham, in Yorkshire. Of this house he became the first abbot, notwithstanding his episcopal responsibilities. At the Synod of Whitby, like St. Cuthbert, he, though Celtic in his upbringing, adopted the Roman Easter. Immediately after the synod he paid a visit to Laestingaeu, where he fell a victim to the prevalent plague. Florence of Worcester and William of Malmesbury in later times counted him as the second Bishop of London, but St. Bede, almost a contemporary, never gives him that title.

Simon and Jude, Apostles (28th October)

James Hannington (29th October)
Among the new nations of Africa, Uganda is the most predominantly Christian. Mission work began there in the 1870's with the favour of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. However, his son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions. James Hannington, born 1847, was sent out from England in 1884 by the Anglican Church as missionary Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa. As he was travelling toward Uganda, he was apprehended by emissaries of King Mwanga. He and his companions were brutally treated and, a week later, 29 October 1885, most of them were put to death. Hannington's last words were: "Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood." The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded after having rebuked the king for his debauchery and for the murder of Bishop Hannington. On 3 June 1886  a group of 32 men and boys, 22 Roman Catholic and 10 Anglican, were burned at the stake. Most of them were young pages in Mwanga's household, from their head-man, Charles Lwanga, to the thirteen-year-old Kizito, who went to his death "laughing and chattering." These and many other Ugandan Christians suffered for their faith then and in the next few years. In 1977, the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under the tyrant Idi Amin. Thanks largely to their common heritage of suffering for their Master, Christians of various communions in Uganda have always been on excellent terms.

Martin Luther (31st October)
Martin Luther was born in Eisleben  in 1483, the son of a mining family of rural
origin. He attended the Latin School in Mansfeld from 1488 onwards, continuing his schooling in Magdeburg and later in Eisenach. In 1501 Luther began his studies in Erfurt and intended to become a lawyer. In 1505, however, he made a decision that changed the course of his life radically: he decided to enter the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. This decision shaped the rest of his life, and his search for a merciful God and His Will culminated in the development of the Reformation of the Church. Luther's negative personal experiences with the ecclesiastical means of grace resulted in not only increasing criticism of the deplorable state of affairs within the church but above all to a fundamental reconsideration of medieval theology. His public criticism of the misuse of letters of indulgence in 1517 did not result in the desired discussion but led to the start of a court of inquisition culminating in Luther's excommunication after the Imperial Diet of Worms in 1521. Friedrich the Wise organized a "kidnapping" to protect Martin Luther's life. Luther spent almost a year as Knight George on the Wartburg, where he translated the new testament into German. Luther's most obvious break with his monk's vows ensued when he married the former nun Katharina von Bora in June 1525. The basic unit of the protestant parish house had been born. After the Peasants' War in 1525, which Luther had disapproved of, the Reformer promoted the development of the protestant territorial church through visitations and church policies. He died in Eisleben  the town of his birth, in February 1546. By order of the Elector Luther was buried in the Castle Church in Wittenberg. With his translation of the Bible into German Martin Luther attained permanent fame as far as a unification of the German language was concerned. Today some 70 million believers on all five continents are members of the Lutheran Church.

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