Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
St John of Beverley (-721)
John of Beverley was born at Harpham a few miles from Driffield on the Yorkshire Wolds. He studied at Canterbury under St Adrian, the African-born abbot of the famous monastery there, who was a great scripture scholar and a fine teacher of Greek and Latin. When John returned to the North, he entered the double monastery at Whitby under the remarkable abbess, St Hilda, who had a great influence on many of the outstanding religious people of her time.
In 687 John was consecrated Bishop of Hexham in succession to Bishop Eata, one of the twelve disciples of St Aidan and the teacher of St Cuthbert. During his time at Hexham, John ordained the future St Bede as priest. He was a good pastoral bishop, a man who loved the Scriptures, and a patient teacher. Like many of his contemporaries he also had a deep seated need for prayerful solitude and used to retire to a quiet place on the banks of the Tyne for prayer and the study of Scriptures, especially during the season of Lent. In 705 he was appointed to the See of York in succession to St Bosa, himself a former monk of the monastery at Whitby. John remained in the diocese for 12 years but the call of solitude remained strong, and four years before his death he retired to Beverley to a religious house he founded there.
John died on 7 May 721, having worked for more than thirty years as a bishop. His shrine became famous up and down the country and was considered to be one of the chief places of devotion in England for many years.
Many miracles of healing are ascribed to John, and the popularity of his cult was a major factor in the prosperity of Beverley during the Middle Ages. He was celebrated for his scholarship as well as for his virtues. He was canonized in 1037. In 1541, his shrine was destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII. About a hundred years later workmen discovered a vault under the floor of the Minster’s nave. The inscription on it indicates that the contents contained the relics of St John. In 1738, when the present Minster floor was laid, these relics were disinterred and replaced in the same position with an arched brick vault over them. The inscription on the tomb now reads:
THE BODY OF SAINT JOHN OF BEVERLEY
FOUNDER OF THIS CHURCH
BISHOP OF HEXHAM A.D. 687-705
BISHOP OF YORK A.D. 705-718
HE WAS BORN AT HARPHAM
Other saints: Bl. Albert of Bergamo OP (1214 - 1279)
7 May (where celebrated)
Lay Dominican and Husband.
Blessed Albert was born in Valle d’Ogna near Bergamo in 1214. As a married man he was known for his generosity to the poor, a virtue for which his wife reproached him. Upon the death of his wife, being childless, he left his father’s farm and went to Cremona where he lived in poverty. His poverty was a witness to a group of heretics there who boasted of their own poverty. Attracted by the life of Saint Dominic he joined the Brothers of Penance, which later became the Order of Penance of Saint Dominic, and lived at the Dominican priory. He died on May 7, 1279.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: Blessed Isaac of Stella (c.1105 - c.1178)
All that is known for certain about Isaac is that he abandoned his studies at the cathedral schools in about 1140 and became a Cistercian monk, at the time of St Bernard’s reforms. He became abbot of the small monastery at Stella, outside Poitiers, in 1147, from where he was exiled to a remote monastery on the Ile de Ré on the Atlantic coast of Gascony, perhaps in 1167, perhaps because of his support for Archbishop Thomas Becket. Scholars incline to the view that he returned to Stella some time later and died there in about 1178. The date of his birth has been given as anywhere between 1105 and 1120.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Acts 2:32,36 ©|
God raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witnesses to that. For this reason the whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Galatians 3:27-28 ©|
All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
|Afternoon reading (None)||1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ©|
Get rid of all the old yeast, and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened as you are meant to be. Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed; let us celebrate the feast, then, by getting rid of all the old yeast of evil and wickedness, having only the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.