Page images


with a lamb by her side.

incredible constancy, singing hymns all the time, though she was then no more than thirteen or fourteen years old.

About eight days after her execution, her parents going to lament and pray at her tomb, where they continued watching all night, it is reported that there appeared unto them a vision of angels, arrayed with glittering and glorious garments; among whom they saw their own daughter appareled after the Why painted

same manner, and a lamb standing by her as white as snow; (which is the reason why the

painters picture her with a lamb by her side.) Ever after which time the Roman ladies went every year (as they still do) to offer and present her on this day the two best and purest white lambs they could procure. These they offered at St. Agnes's altar, (as they call it,) and from thence the pope gives orders to have them put into the choicest pasture about the city, till the time of sheep-shearing come; at which season they are clipt, and the wool is hallowed, whereof a fine white cloth is spun and woven, and consecrated every year by

the The original

pope himself, for the palls which he useth to of archbishops' send to every archbishop; and which till they palls.

have purchased at a most extravagant price, they cannot exercise any metropolitical jurisdiction. 22. Vincent, a

§. 6. Vincent, a deacon of the church in deacon of Spain Spain, was born at Oscard, now Huezza, a town and martyr.

in Arragon. He was instructed in divinity by Valerius, bishop of Saragossa; but, by reason of an impediment in his speech, never took upon him the office of preaching. He suffered martyrdom in the Diocletian persecution about the year 303, being laid all along upon burning coals, and, after his body was broiled there, thrown upon heaps of broken tiles.

Sect. II.-Of the Romish Saints-days and Holy-days in February. February 3.

Blassius was bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, Blassius, bishop reported to have been a man of great miracles

and power, put to death in the same city by Agricolaus the president, under Diocletian the emperor, in the year 289. His name is not put down in some editions of the Common Prayer Book, but it occurs in the most authentic. 5. Agatha, a Sici

§. 2. Agatha, a virgin honourably born in lian virgin and Sicily, suffered martyrdom under Decius the martyr.

emperor at Catanea. Being very beautiful,

and martyr.



Quintianus, the prætor or governor of the province, was enamoured with her: but not being able to work his ill design upon her, ordered her to be scourged, and then imprisoned, for not worshipping the heathen gods. After which, she, still persisting constant in the faith, was put upon the rack, burnt with hot irons, and had her breast cut off. And then being remanded back to prison, she had several divine comforts afforded her: but the prætor sending for her again, being half-dead, she prayed to God to receive her soul; with which petition she immediately expired; it being the fifth of February, A. D. 253. §. 3. Valentine was an ancient presbyter of

14. Valentine, the Church; he suffered martyrdom under Clau- bishop and dius at Rome. Being delivered into the custody of one Asterius, he wrought a miracle upon his daughter; whom, being blind, he restored to sight; by which means he converted the whole family to Christianity, who all of them afterwards suffered for their religion. Valentine, after a year's imprisonment at Rome, was beheaded in the Flaminianway about the year 271, and was enrolled among the martyrs of the Church; his day being established before the times of Gregory the Great. He was a man of most admirable parts, and so famous for his love and charity, that the

The original of custom of choosing Valentines upon his festival choosing Valen(which is still practised) took its rise from thence. SECT. III.- Of the Romish Saints-days and Holy-days in March. David, to whose memory the first of this

March 1. David, month was formerly dedicated, was descended archbishop of from the royal family of the Britons, being uncle to the great king Arthur, and son of Xantus prince of Wales, by one Melearia, a nun. He was a man very learned and eloquent, and of incredible austerity in his life and conversation. By his diligence Pelagianism was quite rooted out, and many earnest professors of the same converted unto the truth. He was made bishop of Caerleon in Wales, which see he afterwards removed to Menevia; from him ever since called St. David's. He sat long, viz. sixty-five years, and (having built twelve monasteries in the country thereabouts) died in the year 642: being, as Bale writes out of the British histories, a hundred and forty-six years old. He was buried in his own cathedral church, and canonized by Pope Calixtus





II. about five hundred years afterwards. Many things are reported of him incredible; as that his death was foretold thirty years beforehand; and that he was always attended by angels, who kept him company; that he bestowed upon

the waters of Bath that extraordinary heat they have; and that whilst he was once preaching to a great multitude of people at Brony, the ground swelled under his feet into a little hill ; with several other such stories 'not worth' rehearsing. 2. Cedde, or

§. 2. Cedde was, in the absence of Wilfride, Chad, bishop of archbishop of York, who was gone to Paris for

consecration, and gave no hopes of a speedy return, enforced by Egfrid king of Northumberland to accept of that see. But Wilfride being returned, Cedde was persuaded by Theodorus, archbishop of Canterbury, to resign the see to him : after which for some time he lived a monastical life at Leastingeag; till, by the means of the same Theodorus, he was made bishop of Lichfield, under Wolfhere, king of Mercia, whom he is said to have converted. He died March 2, A. D. 672.

$. 3. Perpetua was a lady of quality, who 7. Perpetua, a

suffered martyrdom in Mauritania, under the martyr.

emperor Severus, about the year 205. She is often very honourably mentioned by Tertullian and St. Austin ; the last of whom lets us know that the day of her martyrdom was settled into a holy-day in his time; and remarks of her, that she gave suck to a young child at the time of her sufferings.

§. 4. Gregory the Great, who stands next in 12. Gregory the Great, bishop of the calendar, was descended from noble parents.

He very early addicted himself to study and

piety, giving all his estate to the building and maintaining of religious houses. He was consecrated pope about the year 590, but vigorously opposed the title of universal bishop (which the bishops of Constantinople did then, and the bishops of Rome do now assume) as blasphemous, antichristian, and diabolical. Among other his glorious and Christian deeds, his memory was annually celebrated here in England, for his devout charity to our nation, in sending Austin the monk, with forty other missionaries, to convert the Saxons, (who had testified their desire to embrace Christianity,) which in a short time they happily achieved. Having held the popedom fourteen years, he died about the year

Rome and confessor.

18. Edward,



604, leaving many learned books behind him, which are still extant.

f. 5. Edward was descended from the West Saxon kings, and the son of king Edgar, who king of the West first reduced the heptarchy into one kingdom: after whose death, in the year 975, this Edward succeeded to the crown at twelve years of age, but did not enjoy it above two or three years. For paying a visit to Elfride his mother. in-law at Corfe-castle, in Dorsetshire, he was by her order stabbed in the back, (whilst he was drinking a cup of wine, to make way for her son Etheldred, his half-brother. His favour to the monks made his barbarous murder to be esteemeu a martyrdom; the day of which was appointed to be kept festival by pope Innocent IV. A. D. 1245.

§. 6. Benedict was born in Norcia, a town in Italy, of an honourable family. Being much

21. Benedict, given to devotion, he set up an order of monks, which bears his name, about the year 529. He was very remarkable for his mortification; and the monks of his own order relate, that he would often roll himself in a heap of briers to check any carnal desires that he found to arise in himself. St. Gregory 21 tells us of a very famous miracle wrought upon his account, viz. That the Goths, when they invaded Italy, came to burn his cell; and being set on fire, it burnt round him in a circle, not doing him the least hurt: at

a which the Goths being enraged, threw him into a hot oven, stopping it up close; but coming the next day, they found him safe, neither his flesh scorched, nor his clothes singed. He died on the twenty-first of March, A. D. 542. Sect. IV.-Of the Romish Saints-days and Holy-days in April.

Richard, surnamed de Wiche, from a place April 3. Richard, so called in Worcestershire, where he was born, bishop of Chiwas brought up at the universities of Oxford chester. and Paris. Being come to man's estate, he travelled to Bononia; where having studied the canon law seven years, he became public reader of the same. Being returned home, he was, in the vacancy of the see of Chichester, chosen bishop by that chapter; which the king opposing, (he having nominated another,) Richard appealed to Rome, and had his election confirmed by the pope, who consecrated him also at Lyons,

31 Greg. Dial, lib. iii.

[ocr errors]

4. Ambrose,

in the year 1245. He was very much reverenced for his great learning and diligent preaching, but especially for his integrity of life and conversation. Strange miracles are told of him: as that, by his blessing, he increased a single loaf of bread to satisfy the hunger of three thousand poor people; and that in his extreme old age, whilst he was celebrating the eucharist, he fell down with the chalice in his hand, but the wine was miraculously preserved from falling to the ground. About seven or eight years after his death, he was canonized for a saint by pope Urban IV. A. D. 1261.

§. 2. St. Ambrose was born about the year

340. His father was prætorian præfect of Gaul, bishop of Milan.

in whose palace St. Ambrose was educated. It is reported, that in his infancy a swarm of bees settled upon his cradle; which was a prognostication, as was supposed, of his future eloquence. After his father's death, he went with his mother to Rome, where he studied the laws, practised as an advocate, and was made governor of Milan and the neighbouring cities. Upon the death of Auxentius, bishop of Milan, there being a great contest in the election of a new bishop, this good father, in an excellent speech, exhorted them to peace and unanimity; which so moved the affections of the people, that they immediately forgot the competitors whom they were so zealous for before, and unanimously declared that they would have their governor for their bishop. Who, after several endeavours by flight and other artifices to avoid that burden, was at last compelled to yield to the importunities of the people, and to be consecrated bishop. From which time he gave all his money to pious uses, and settled the reversion of his estate upon the Church. He governed that see with great piety and vigilance for more than twenty years, and died in the year 396, being about fifty-seven years old: having first converted St. Augustin to the faith; at whose baptism he is said miraculously to have composed that divine hymn, so well known in the Church by the name of Te Deum.

$. 3. Alphege was an Englishman of a most 19. Alphege, archbishop of holy and austere life, which was the more admirCanterbury.

able in him, because he was born of great parentage, and began that course of life in his younger years. He was first abbot of Bath, then bishop of Winchester, in the year 984, and twelve years afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. But in the year 1012, the Danes being disappointed

« PreviousContinue »