This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September 24 -- Feast of St. Robert of Knaresborough

I might have talked about the burning of that statue of Mary taken from Walsingham to London in 1538, part of the Anglican attempt to root Catholicism out of England. I find iconoclasm both reprehensible and understandable, whether it is destruction of an image of Our Lady of Walsingham (whose feast is 9/24) or the Buddhas of Bamyan that the Taliban under Mullah Omar destroyed in 2001. Idols must look a lot like graven images to those who read the Bible very literally; I have been greatly relieved to learn that many of the earliest Church fathers were no more literal than I.

But, as Arlo Guthrie said more than once, that's not what I came to talk about. This saint, Robert of Knaresborough, seems to be more Robin Hood than the chief of the Merry Men himself. After spending some time living with an outlaw in a cave, he started a small chapel at Rudfarlington, but bandits destroyed it. He moved in with some monks, but didn't fit in, so he returned to his chapel. The town constable accused him of harboring thieves and outlaws, a charge that was likely true. Finding himself persona non grata, he returned to his cave.

King John donated forty acres to him in 1216. Clever to the last, the revenue from it was donated to the needy, forcing (or enabling) him to refuse to pay tithes on it. Cistercian monks tried to aggregate him to their order as he was dying (saints' bones were dollar dollar back in the day) but he rejected their request. They also tried to claim his body after his death, but he had left strict instructions that he be buried outside his cave.

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