Saturday, April 2, 2011
April 3 -- Feast of St. Richard of Chichester
You probably know this prayer, or at least the end of it. I recall it as folk song, accompanied by a guitar... I think it was a woman leading the song, but I have no idea where or when.
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day.
I didn't know, nor did I wonder, who wrote the words, but as it turns out, the author was Richard of Chichester. And while he did not suffer as much as Jesus (who did?), he bore his share of tribulations well.
He was one of those brilliant thirteenth century Oxford scholars who rose in the Church ranks. He became Chancellor to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who quarreled with Henry III over Crown & Cross prerogatives. The Archbishop, no doubt remembering Becket's quarrel with Henry II, beat feet to France, taking Richard with him. Archbishop Edmund died over there, and Richard stuck around to get ordained by the Dominicans before returning.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury appointed Richard to be bishop of Chichester, but Henry III had already named his own man to the post. The Pope backed up Richard, but Henry confiscated all church property in the diocese and ordered that no one give shelter to Richard. A priest disobeyed, and Richard walked the length and breadth of his diocese for a couple of years, tending his flock as best he could. Finally, Henry III relented and let him have the diocese, which he tended for seven years before dying.
Not the worst life a saint ever lived, but certainly not the most comfortable life a bishop ever led either. Day by day.
Posted by Tom Major at 6:36 PM