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Holy Days in September

Giles (1st September)
St. Giles was born in the early 7th century and died c.710. His Latin name was Aegidius. Little fact is known of his origin and early life but legend has it that he was born an Athenian and became a hermit near the mouth of the Rhone, not far from Nimes. Legend also relates that whilst the King Wamba was out hunting in a forest he chased a hind who went into a thicket into which the king shot an arrow. Upon investigating the King found Giles wounded by the arrow whilst protecting the hind. Giles founded a monastery at a place near Arles, which was later named Saint-Gilles (Provence). Towards the end of his life Giles went to Rome and offered the monastery to the pope who gave Giles two doors of cypress wood which Giles threw into the sea but which were washed up on a beach near his monastery. St. Giles became a popular saint in Western Europe due partly to the Crusaders who passed through Saint Gilles (Provence) on their way to the Holy Land. As a result of his encounter with King Wamba and becoming wounded and a cripple, St. Giles became the patron saint of cripples, lepers and nursing mothers. In Great Britain alone over 150 churches and 25 hospitals are dedicated to his name, the most famous being, (as well as Farnborough) at Edinburgh and Cripplegate London.

The Martyrs of Papua New Guinea (2nd September)
New Guinea (also called Irian), one of the world's largest islands, has a difficult terrain that discourages travel between districts, Consequently, it is home to many isolated tribes, with many different cultures and at least 500 languages. Christian missionaries began work there in the 1860's, but proceeded slowly. When World War II threatened Papua and New Guinea, it was obvious that missionaries of European origin were in danger. There was talk of leaving. Bishop Philip Strong wrote to his clergy: "We must endeavour to carry on our work. God expects this of us. The church at home, which sent us out, will surely expect it of us. The universal church expects it of us. The people whom we serve expect it of us. We could never hold up our faces again if, for our own safety, we all forsook Him and fled, when the shadows of the Passion began to gather around Him in His spiritual and mystical body, the Church in Papua." They stayed. Almost immediately there were arrests. Eight clergymen and two laymen were executed "as an example" on September 2, 1942. In the next few years, many Papuan Christians of all Churches risked their own lives to care for the wounded.

Gregory the Great (3rd September)
Son of a wealthy Roman senator and Saint Silvia Nephew of Saint Emiliana and Saint Tarsilla. Educated by the finest teachers in Rome. Prefect of Rome for a year, then he sold his possessions, turned his home into a Benedictine monastery, and used his money to build six monasteries in Sicily and one in Rome. Upon seeing English children being sold in the Roman Forum, he became a missionary to England. Elected Pope by unanimous acclamation on 3 September 590, the first monk to be chosen. Sent Saint Augustine of Canterbury and a company of monks to evangelise England, and other missionaries to France, Spain, and Africa. Collected the melodies and plain chant so associated with him that they are now known as Gregorian Chants. One of the four great Doctors of the Latin Church. Wrote seminal works on the Mass and Office.

Birinus (4th September)
Birinus was probably a Frank, consecrated a bishop by Archbishop Asterius in Genoa. In 634, he was sent by Pope Honorius I to convert the pagan people of Mercia. He landed at Portchester (Hampshire) and moved up through the Christian Celts of Hampshire to Silchester (Hampshire). Before he reached Mercia though, he encountered the pagan Saxons of the Thames Valley. Finding them greatly in need of Christian teaching, he decided to stay and was directed to the King's estate on the Berkshire Downs, probably at Cholsey (Berkshire). Here he met King Cynegils of Wessex who chose Churn Knob (Blewbury, Berkshire) as the site for the saint's first sermon. Birinus managed to persuade the King of the merits of Christianity. Cynegils allowed Birinus to preach throughout his Kingdom, but it took a while before he himself was totally converted. The King was, at the time, desperately trying to finalise an alliance with the powerful King Oswald of Northumbria. Together he hoped they could defeat the hated Mercians. Cynegils arranged negotiations at his palace in Easthampstead (Berkshire), and the King of Northumbria travelled down to meet him. On reaching Finchampstead (Berkshire), the King became thirsty and prayed for water. The Holy Dozell's (or St.Oswald's) Well instantaneously sprang up and flowed fresh water. At the Royal talks, the only sticking point was that Oswald was a Christian and would not ally himself to any pagan. So the King of Wessex decided it was time to be baptised into this new church. Oswald agreed the alliance could then be cemented by the marriage of his daughter and the southern King. Birinus was sent for and, at the nearby Fountain Garth (Bracknell, Berkshire), Cynegils was baptised immediately. The bishop was given the old Roman town of Dorcic (Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire) in which to build himself a cathedral, and the Royal party travelled north to examine the site. On the way many of the Royal courtiers also expressed a desire to become Christian, so at the Brightwell (Berskhire) crossing of the Thames near Dorchester, Birinus arranged for a large proportion of his Court to be baptised en mass. The King's son, Cwichelm, resisted at first, but he was eventually converted to Christianity the following year. King Cynegils died in 643 and, about five years later, the new King, Cenwalh, invited Birinus to establish an important Minster at Winchester.

Allen Gardiner (6th September)
The founder of what was to become the South American Mission Society, Allen Gardiner, was born in Basildon, Berkshire, entering Portsmouth naval college at the age of 13 and going to sea two years later. The death of his mother caused him to lose his Christian faith, only to undergo an evangelical conversion upon learning of his mother's prayers for him. He thenceforth decided to commit his life to mission, and, accompanied by his family, undertook extensive travel in search of suitable locations, for instance, in South Africa. However, he was repeatedly thwarted in his efforts by political indifference and the previous establishment of Catholic missions. He therefore decided to venture further afield, and in 1841 he visited the Falkland Islands in order to explore the possibility of establishing missions in nearby Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. He returned to England in order to rouse support and to establish, in 1844, the Patagonian Missionary Society (PMS). An initial attempt to establish the Society in Tierra del Fuego was met with hostility from the indigenous people, leading to a return to England. Despite the discouragement of the Society, Gardiner decided that a Fuegian mission could work from its own boat. Accordingly, he again set sail, in 1850, accompanied by a team of six volunteers. Unfortunately, supply arrangements for the underfunded party failed, leading to the death of the entire expedition from scurvy and starvation in Spaniard Harbour (now Aguirre Bay), Tierra del Fuego.

The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8th September)

Charles Fuge Lowder (9th September)
Charles Lowder was one of the earliest and greatest of that line of Anglo-Catholic priests who brought incense and hope to the east end of London. An Oxford graduate, Lowder was on the staff at St Barnabas, Pimlico in 1851 during the period of anti-ritual protests; then, in 1856 he went as a curate to St George's in the East in order to join the St George's Mission in Wapping. The mission, the first in the London slums, was a great success, and soon Lowder, now joined by Mackonochie, was in charge of a hired Danish church, an iron chapel, schools for 400 children, and a sisterhood. But in 1859 the church and its mission became
the object of hooligan attacks. The conflict was brutal (both priests were physically assaulted) and complicated; at one point the bishop closed the church, and at another the police refused to protect men they regarded as law-breaking priests - and as in Pimlico a cohort of gentlemen defenders was pressed into service: this became the English Church Union. The struggle had lasted for over a year when the rector was forced to resign. Father Lowder (who was a founder of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament) battled on, raising the funds by 1862 to build St Peter's, London Docks, of which he became vicar. His work during the cholera outbreak eventually made his position secure, and by the time he died in 1880 he had become a heroic figure, whose funeral was attended by some three thousand people.

John Chrysostom (13th September)
John's father died when he was young, and he was raised by a very pious mother. Well educated; studied rhetoric under Libanius, one of the most famous orators of his day. Monk. Preacher and Priest for a dozen years in Syria. While there he developed a stomach ailment that troubled him the rest of his life. It was for his sermons that John earned the title "Chrysostom" (golden mouthed). They were always on point, they explained the Scriptures with clarity, and they sometimes went on for hours. Made a reluctant bishop of Constantinople in 398, a move that involved him in imperial politics. Criticized the rich for not sharing their wealth, fought to reform the clergy, prevented the sale of ecclesiastical offices, called for fidelity in marriage, encouraged practices of justice and charity.Archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople. Revised the  Greek Liturgy. Greek Father of the Church. Proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 451.John's sermons caused nobles and bishops to work to remove him from his diocese; twice exiled from his diocese. Banished to Pythius, and died on the way.

Holy Cross Day (14th September)

Cyprian ((15th September)
Born to wealthy pagan parents. Taught rhetoric and literature. Adult convert in 246. Priest. Bishop of Carthage in 249. Writer. Latin Father of the Church. Exiled during the persecutions of Valerian. Friend of Saint Pontius. Involved in the great argument over whether apostates should be readmitted to the Church; Cyprian believed they should, but under stringent conditions. Martyr.

Ninian (16th September)
Bishop and confessor; date of birth unknown; died about 432; the first Apostle of Christianity in Scotland. The earliest account of him is in Bede. The southern Picts received the true faith by the preaching of Bishop Ninias. A most reverend and holy man of the British nation, who had been regularly instructed at Rome in the faith and mysteries of the truth; whose episcopal see, named after St. Martin the Bishop, and famous for a church dedicated
 to him.

Edward Bouverie Pusey (16th September)
1882, English clergyman, leader in the  Oxford Movement.  Having studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, Pusey was elected a fellow of Oriel College (1823) and thus became associated with John Keble,  John Henry Newman, and their group. In 1828 he was ordained an Anglican priest, was made regius professor of Hebrew at Oxford, and was appointed canon of Christ Church, a position he retained for the rest of his life. In late 1833 he formally aligned himself with the Oxford movement; the tracts on fasting (1834) and baptism (1836) in the series Tracts for the Times were Pusey's. As his tract on fasting was the first one not published anonymously the movement was sometimes known, usually derogatorily, as Puseyism. From 1836, Pusey was editor of the influential Library of Fathers and contributed several studies of patristic works. When Newman withdrew from the Oxford movement in 1841, Pusey became its leader. His influence in the High
 Church party was widened when he was suspended from preaching for two years because of the ideas expressed in his sermon, "The Holy Eucharist, a Comfort to the Penitent" (1843). In 1845 he assisted in the establishment of the first Anglican sisterhood and throughout his life continued his efforts toward establishing Anglican orders, His Eirenicon (3 parts, 1865–70), an endeavour to find some ground for reuniting Roman Catholicism and the Church of England, was answered by Cardinal Newman and generated considerable controversy. His name is perpetuated in Pusey House at Oxford, where his library is maintained.

Hildegard (17th September)
(1098-1179), born to a noble family, was convent-educated from the age of seven by Benedictine nuns at Disibodenberg, near Bingen, near the present-day town of Mainz. At age 43 she became abbess of her community, a position whose responsibilities did not keep her from pursuing an astonishing variety of creative and scholarly accomplishments. Historians know Hildegard for her correspondence with bishops, popes, abbots, and kings; mystics for her book of visions; medical historians and botanists for her two books on natural history and medicine; and literary scholars for her morality play, the Ordo Virtutum. Musicians are beginning to know Hildegard for her antiphons, hymns, and sequences, a large body of monophonic chants whose text and music are both by Hildegard. Her chants are rich in mystical images, and her melodies are elaborate, with florid melodic contours, ornamented inflections, and wide ranges.

Theodore (19th September)
When the Anglo-Saxons invaded England, they drove the native Celtic inhabitants north into Scotland and west into Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall. The Anglo-Saxons were subsequently converted to Christianity by Celtic missionaries from the north and west, and Roman and Gallic missionaries from the south and east. As a result, they ended up with two different "flavours" of Christianity. Soon after, the Archbishop of Canterbury died, and the English elected a successor, Wighard, and sent him to Rome to be consecrated by the Pope. Wighard died in Rome before he could be consecrated, and the
 Pope (Vitalian) took it upon himself to choose a man to fill the vacancy. He consecrated Theodore a learned monk (not a priest) from the East then living in Rome, 65 years old. This surprising choice turned out to be a very good one. Theodore was (as Bede put it in his Ecclesiastical History) "the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed." Having made a tour of his charge, Theodore filled the vacant bishoprics and in 672 presided over the first council of the entire English Church, at Hertford. He established definite territorial boundaries for the various dioceses, and founded new dioceses where needed. He found the Church in England an unorganised missionary body, and left it a fully ordered province of the universal Church. The body of canon law drawn up under his supervision, and his structure of dioceses and parishes, survived the turmoil of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and are substantially intact today. He founded a school at Canterbury that trained Christians from both the Celtic and the Roman traditions, and did much to unite the two groups. The school was headed by Adrian, an abbot born in Africa but later resident in Italy, who had been the Pope's first choice for Archbishop, but who had refused and recommended Theodore instead. Theodore died 19 September 690, being 88 years old.

John Coleridge Patteson & Companions (20th September)
Born in London in 1827. He attended Balliol College, Oxford, and graduated in 1849. After a tour of Europe and a study of languages, he became a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1852. In 1855, he heard Bishop George Selwyn of New Zealand call for volunteers to go the South Pacific to preach the Gospel. He went there, and founded a school for the education of native Christian workers. He was adept at languages, and learned twenty-three of the languages spoken in the Polynesian and Melanesian Islands of the South Pacific. In 1861 he was consecrated Bishop of Melanesia. The slave-trade was technically illegal in the South Pacific at that time, but the laws were only laxly enforced and in fact slave-raiding was a flourishing business. Patteson was actively engaged in the effort to stamp it out. However, injured men do not always distinguish friends from foes. After slave-raiders had attacked the island of Nakapu, in the Santa Cruz group, Patteson and several companions visited the area. They were assumed to be connected with the raiders, and Patteson's body was floated back to his ship with five hatchet wounds in the chest, one for each native who had been killed in the earlier raid. The death of Bishop Patteson caused an uproar back in England, and stimulated the government there to take firm measures to stamp out slavery and the slave trade in its Pacific territories. It was also the seed of a strong and vigorous Church in Melanesia today. Patteson and his companions died on 20 September 1871.

Matthew Apostle and Evangelist (21st September)

Lancelot Andrewes (25th September)
(1555-1626), Bishop of Winchester, was on the committee of scholars that produced the King James Translation of the Bible, and probably contributed more to that work than any other single person. It is accordingly no surprise to find him not only a devout writer but a learned and eloquent one, a master of English prose, and learned in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and eighteen other languages. His sermons were popular in his own day, but are perhaps too academic for most modern readers. He prepared for his own use a manuscript notebook of Private Prayers, which was published after his death. The material was apparently intended, not to be read aloud, but to serve as a guide and stimulus to devout meditation.

Sergei of Radonezh (25th September)
Born in Rostov in 1314, Sergei founded, together with his brother Stephen, the famous monastery of the Holy Trinity, near Moscow, which re-established the community life that had been lost in Russia through the Tartar invasion. Sergei had great influence and stopped civil wars between Russian princes and inspired Prince Dimitri to resist another invasion from the Tartars in 1380. Two years before that, he had been elected Metropolitan but had refused the office. Altogether, he founded forty monasteries and is regarded as the greatest of the Russian saints and is patron of All Russia. He died on this day in 1392.

Wilson Carlile (26th September)
Wilson Carlile was born in 1847 in Brixton. He suffered from a spinal weakness all his life, which hampered his education. He entered his grandfather's business at the age of thirteen but soon moved on and learnt fluent French, which he used to good advantage in France trading in silk. He later learned German and Italian to enhance his business, but was ruined in a slump in 1873. After a serious illness, he began to take his religion more seriously and became confirmed in the Church of England. He acted as organist to Ira D. Sankey, during the Moody and Sankey missions and in 1881 was ordained priest, serving his curacy at St Mary Abbots in Kensington, together with a dozen other curates. The lack of contact between the Church and the working classes was a cause of real concern to him and he began outdoor preaching. In 1882, he resigned his curacy and founded the Church Army, four years after the foundation of the Salvation Army. He continued to take part in its administration until a few weeks before his death on this day in 1942.

Vincent de Paul (27th September)
Born to a  peasant family. A highly intelligent youth, Vincent spent four years with
the Franciscan friars at Acqs getting an education. Tutor to children of a gentlemen in Acqs. He began divinity studies in 1596 at the University of Toulouse. Ordained. Taken captive by Turkish pirates to Tunis, and sold into slavery. Freed in 1607 when he converted one of his owners to Christianity. Returning to France, he served as parish priest near Paris where he started organizations to help the poor, nursed the sick, found jobs for the unemployed, etc. Chaplain at the court of  Henry IV of France. With Louise de Marillac, founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. Instituted the Congregation of Priests of the Mission (Lazarists). Worked always for the poor, the enslaved, the abandoned, the ignored, the pariahs.

Michael and All Angels (29th September)

Jerome (30th September)
Born to a rich pagan family, he led a misspent youth. Studied in Rome. Lawyer. Converted in theory, and baptised in 365, he began his study of theology, and had a true conversion. Monk. Lived for years as a hermit in the Syrian deserts. Reported to have drawn a thorn from a lion’s paw; the animal stayed loyally at his side for years. Priest. Student of Saint Gregory of Nazianzen. Secretary to Pope Damasus who commissioned him to revise the Latin text of the Bible. The result of his 30 years of work was the Vulgate translation, which is still in use. Friend and teacher of Saint Paula, Saint Marcella, and Saint Eustochium, an association that led to so much gossip, Jerome left Rome to return to the desert solitude. Lived his last 34 years in the Holy Land as a semi-recluse. Wrote translations of Origen, histories, biographies, and much more. Doctor of the Church, Father of the Church. Since his own time, he has been associated in the popular mind with scrolls, writing, cataloguing, translating, etc. This led to those who work in such fields taking him as their patron - a man who knew their lives and problems.  

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