Monastic Saints – Saint Benet Biscop – 12 January

Monastic Saints – Saint Benet Biscop – 12 January

[This is a series on saints from the Benedictine family (Benedictines, Cistercians—“the Benedictine order and its branches,” to attempt a translation of Peter Lechner’s “Benedictiner-Ordens und seiner Verzweigungen” in the subtitle of his martyrology).  There used to be a commemoration of all saints of the Benedictine family on 13 November.  But even in the days when the liturgical calendar was much more heavily festooned with saints’ feastdays, I suspect there were many monastic saints who had been lost to memory.  This series tries to introduce or re-introduce us to at least a few in this monastic cloud of witnesses.]

[Image: St. Peter’s Monkwearmouth from the south.  The tower survives from the era of SS. Benet and Bede and would have been one of the first stone structures built in that part of England.]

[The following account of the life of St. Benet Biscop is adapted from Alexius Hoffmann’s _A Benedictine Martyrology: Being a Revision of Rev. Peter Lechner’s Ausführliches Martyrologium Des Benedictiner-Ordens Und Seiner Verzweigungen_ (Collegeville, Minnesota: St. John’s Abbey Press, 1922), 11.  Earlier posts on the life of St. Benet Biscop that are taken from other sources can be found by clicking on the following links:

St. Benedict Biscop, abbot of Wearmouth and Jarrow in England, was an Angle of noble birth and possibly of the royal race of the Lindisfari.  He was a thane of King Oswy of Northumberland, but left his court at the age of twenty-five and set out on a pilgrimage to Rome.  Returning from a second pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles, he became a monk at Lerins, where he remained two years.  While visiting Rome a third time, he met St. Theodore—who had been appointed archbishop of Canterbury—and St. Adrian and accompanied them to his native land, where he was appointed abbot of the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul at Canterbury.  Two years later (671), he laid down the burdens of his office, and made a fifth pilgrimage to Rome, whence he returned with books, pictures and relics.  With the generous assistance of King Egfrid he founded the monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, in which he had the monks instructed in ecclesiastical discipline and in the Roman rite and chant.  The church of Wearmouth was built by masons brought over from the continent and was probably the first stone church in England.  During the three years preceding his death he was afflicted with sickness.  When he was aware that the end of his life was approaching, he summoned the brethren to this bedside, gave them his last fatherly exhortation and died after receiving the Holy Viaticum in the year 690.

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