Mission of the St. Benet Biscop Chapter of St. John’s Abbey Oblates.

St. Benet Biscop - illum

The mission of the St. Benet Biscop Chapter of the St. John’s Abbey Oblates is fourfold.

First, it offers the opportunity for spiritual formation according to The Rule of St. Benedict as oblates of St. John’s Abbey.

Second, it offers support to oblates who value the Anglican patrimony, especially as it has been embraced by, and reincorporated into, the Catholic Church thanks to the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.   St. John’s oblates of the St. Benet Biscop Chapter will thus be supported in maintaining “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing [their faith].”  AC.III.

Third, by supporting oblates in deepening their understanding and lived experience of the Benedictine roots of the Anglican patrimony, the St. Benet Biscop Chapter helps the Church discover ways in which “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion [constitute] a treasure to be shared.”  AC.III.

Finally, by valuing the liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion, the St. Benet Biscop Chapter fosters ecumenical dialogue and prayer between Catholics and Anglicans.  Indeed, non-Catholics who value the Anglican patrimony are welcome to become oblates of the St. Benet Biscop Chapter.  Catholic and non-Catholic oblates celebrate the divine office together, a concrete realization of Christ’s longing that we all “may be one.”  (John 17:22).  “Not … only can we pray together, we must pray together, giving voice to our shared faith and joy in the Gospel of Christ, the ancient Creeds, and the power of God’s love, made present in the Holy Spirit, to overcome all sin and division. And so [we do not] neglect or undervalue that certain yet imperfect communion that we already share.” (5 October 2016 common declaration between Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby)  Moreover, St. John’s oblates of the St. Benet Biscop Chapter pray for the day when Catholics and Christians from other traditions, especially the Anglican tradition, will be able to receive the Sacrament of the altar together and from the same altar.

Life of St. Benet Biscop

Born around 628 to a noble Anglo-Saxon family, the young Biscop Baducing served as a thane (lord) in the court of King Oswy (Oswiu) of Northumbria. At twenty-five, Biscop made the first of five pilgrimages to Rome.  Impressed by what he saw in Rome, the young Biscop returned to Northumbria and contributed to King Oswy’s 664 declaration that shifted Christianity in Northumbria from Irish to Roman practices.

It was on Biscop’s second pilgrimage that he stopped at Lérins in 666 and took both the monastic habit and the name Benedict (shortened to Benet, — pronounced phonetically). A study trip to Rome in 668 resulted in Pope Vitalian asking Benet to accompany Theodore of Tarsus to England since the latter, a Greek who had never been to England, was to become that country’s next Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 674, St. Benet founded St. Peter’s monastery Wearmouth and founded St. Paul’s monastery Jarrow in 682, both on land given by Oswy’s successor, King Ecgfrith. From Rome, St. Benet brought relics, books, and paintings.  Abbot John, Arch-cantor of St. Peter’s in Rome, also made the trip to teach chant at Wearmouth and Jarrow.  The Venerable St. Bede, one of St. Benet’s pupils, relates that the abbot of Wearmouth-Jarrow brought craftsmen from what is now France to erect the first English ecclesiastical structure in stone and with glass windows.

In 686, the indefatigable traveler fell ill and was bedridden. Never recovering fully, he died 12 January 690.  His feast day is January 12th.

As a monk whom circumstances drew out of the cloister, St. Benet serves as a model for oblates who strive to lead lives of recollected prayer apart from the monastic enclosure. St. Benet’s breadth of vision and his appreciation of the importance of worthy liturgy played an immense role in influencing English Christianity.