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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 15 -- Blessed John Rugg et al.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor abridging the free exercise thereof." Bear that in mind as you read about John Rugg and his fellow martyrs.

A little background: King Henry VIII of England wanted to change his woman, as the sentiment was expressed in A Man for All Seasons. The Pope at the time was tight with the King of Spain, whose sister was King Henry's wife; the Spanish king had no desire to see his sister cast aside, so the Pope declined to dissolve the marriage. Not yet uxoricidal, Fat Hank decided to proclaim himself head of his nation's church and annul his own marriage. Lots of English Christians refused to acknowledge the Meaty Monarch as the head of the Church, and by doing so forfeited their lives.

Now for the Beati: On November 15, 1532, several English citizens who had refused to accept Henry as the head of the Church were hanged, drawn, and quartered. Their bodies were left in chains to rot as a warning to other would-be dissenters. Among them were Hugh Faringdon, an abbot and former friend of the Corpulent King, John Eynon, a priest at St. Giles, John Thorne, the treasurer of a Benedictine monastery who refused to turn the abbey's wealth over to the King's men, Roger James, the assistant treasurer, Richard Witing, the abbot of the same monastery, and John Rugg, a former college prof and official at Chichester Cathedral.

John Rugg had hidden the hand of St. Athanasius, a holy relic held at Chichester Cathedral. The king's men were seizing holy relics along with all other treasures held by the church. John went to his grave without revealing where the hand was hidden, but it was discovered during renovations for the cathedral in 1786.

The Observations: St. Athanasius (May 2) was known as the Father of Orthodoxy. He led the original fight against the Arians, for which he spent many years in exile while the Arians held sway in Alexandria. It is remarkable that Athanasius' fight for orthodoxy was initiated by Emperor Constantine's involvement in the Church at the Council of Nicea (which Athanasius attended). This began the long, tragic history of state involvement in ecclesiastical disputes, the tradition that ultimately claimed John Rugg.

It is also worth observing that the body of Athanasius was dismembered and scattered as a sign of devotion -- that way cathedrals as far away as Chichester could have a piece of him to venerate. Yet the bodies of John Rugg and his fellow martyrs were quartered as a sign of disrespect. So if you find yourself being dismembered by a Christian, don't automatically be affronted -- it could be the highest praise.

1 comment:

  1. WHAT A BLOODY LOT THEY WERE. But then, beheading, and other atrocities are still going on so I guess man hasn't improved in nature much.