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, December 23, 2012

December 23 -- Feast of Saint John Stone

Whitefriars Shopping Centre
Whitefriars Shopping Centre looks like a nice place to get your Christmas shopping done, doesn't it?  It's in Canterbury, England, on the site of the old Augustinian friary.  In the 1960s and 1970s, Riceman's Department Store stood their, but they demolished it to make way for more stores, including Fenwick, Next, Topshop, Build-a-Bear, Sunglasses Hut, River Island, Monsoon... the list goes on.  Like I said, you could probably get all your shopping done there.

If you find yourself there amidst the bustle of shoppers, please take a moment to recall Saint John Stone.  One of the White Friars for whom the place is named, Saint John fell victim to King Henry VIII's murderous assault on the Church.  I mean to pick no bone with the Anglican Church today, but Fat Hank's insistence upon the death of anyone who did not recognize him as the head of the Church is indefensible.

The Whitefriar is wearing black?
To return to John, he was at the monastery of the Austin Friars when Richard Yngworth showed up.  Dick had been sent by Thomas Cromwell, chief lackey of Fat Hank himself, to get the autographs of all the brothers.  The King must have been a big fan of monks, as he was collecting the autographs of each and every one of them, as well as the signatures of all the priests and bishops.  They were all signing big posters that said something about the King being the Supreme Head of the Church, his divorce of Queen Catherine being legitimate, and his marriage to Anne Boleyn being equally legitimate.  There might have been a couple of words there mentioning that the King now owned all the monasteries and that they were closed, effective immediately.  The Franciscans and Dominicans had all signed.  In fact, at least one of the Dominicans, Dick Yngworth, traded up to become Bishop of Dover. 

Almost all the Augustinian Friars signed too.  Only John Stone decided to make a speech instead.  Bishop Dick testified to Tommy Crommy that he "very rudely and traitorously used himself before all the company... To write half his words and order there it were too long to write."  I will forgive the Bishop his syntax but not his participation in the murder.  Yngworth ordered that John Stone be arrested.  He was held for a time in Canterbury, but then transferred to the Tower of London.  Eventually the King (or perhaps Cromwell) got around to sending him back to Canterbury for trial and execution.

From the scaffold on Dane John, St. John could look down on Whitefriars
Sometime, maybe December 27, John Stone was lashed to a hurdle and hauled up on a high hill called Dane John.  The execution was well advertised to ensure the largest audience, and Dane John was a spot that could handle a large crowd.  Fat Hank wanted no expense spared to demonstrated his ability to kill -- slowly, deliberately, and painfully -- an unarmed man whose only resistance had been words.  John Stone was hanged, drawn, and quartered approximately one year after his arrest, and his head and body parts were displayed at the gates of Canterbury as a monition against the perils of free thought and dissent.

Although the dies natalis might have been December 27, and his own Order celebrates his feast on October 25, the good scholars at the Medieval-Religion Archives say that December 23 is among his feasts.  Their word is good enough for me. 

If all the shopping at Whitefriars (jewelry at Beaverbrooks, jeans at Republic)  wears you out, you can grab a sandwich and hot coffee at EAT.  After all, Marks and Spencer debuted their kitchen goods line at Whitefriars -- you wouldn't want to skip that. 

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