Saturday, 15 May 2021

Seventh Sunday of Eastertide

This week (Wednesdy) sees the Feast of Saint Dunstan of Canterbury. Another reminder of the rich tapestry of our Catholic Faith that is embedded in England as our true heritage. 

Born of a noble family at Baltonsborough, near Glastonbury, England, Dunstan was educated there by Irish monks and while still a youth, was sent to the court of King Athelstan. He became a Benedictine monk about 934 and was ordained by his uncle, St. Alphege, Bishop of Winchester, about 939. After a time as a hermit at Glastonbury, Dunstan was recalled to the royal court by King Edmund, who appointed him abbot of Glastonbury Abbey in 943.

He developed the Abbey into a great center of learning while revitalizing other monasteries in the area. He became advisor to King Edred on his accession to the throne when Edmund was murdered, and began a far-reaching reform of all the monasteries in Edred's realm. Dunstan also became deeply involved in secular politics and incurred the enmity of the West Saxon nobles for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes.

 When Edwy succeeded his uncle Edred as king in 955, he became Dunstan's bitter enemy for the Abbot's strong censure of his scandalous lifestyle. Edwy confiscated his property and banished him from his kingdom. Dunstan went to Ghent in Flanders but soon returned when a rebellion replaced Edwy with his brother Edgar, who appointed Dunstan Bishop of Worcester and London in 957.

When Edwy died in 959, the civil strife ended and the country was reunited under Edgar, who appointed Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury. The king and archbishop then planned a thorough reform of Church and state. Dunstan was appointed legate by Pope John XII, and with St. Ethelwold and St. Oswald, restored ecclesiastical discipline, rebuilt many of the monasteries destroyed by the Danish invaders, replaced inept secular priests with monks, and enforced the widespread reforms they put into effect.

Dunstan served as Edgar's chief advisor for sixteen years and did not hesitate to reprimand him when he thought it deserved. When Edgar died, Dunstan helped elect Edward the martyr king and then his half brother Ethelred, when Edward died soon after his election. Under Ethelred, Dunstan's influence began to wane and he retired from politics to Canterbury to teach at the Cathedral school and died there. Dunstan has been called the reviver of monasticism in England. He was a noted musician, played the harp, composed several hymns, notably Kyrie Rex splendens, was a skilled metal worker, and illuminated manuscripts.

For over 200 years St Dunstan was England’s favourite saint, partly perhaps because he is said to have pulled the devil’s nose with his blacksmith’s pincers when he disguised himself as a beautiful girl in order to tempt the monk, as in this old rhyme:

St Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pulled the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more!

Another tradition says that the devil returned to pester Dunstan again when he was at his forge, this time Dunstan nailed a horseshoe onto one of the devil’s cloven feet and for this reason the devil can still never bear the sight or go near a horseshoe!

Before he became the Archbishop of Canterbury in 960, Dunstan worked as a blacksmith and goldsmith in his forge at Glastonbury Abbey, and he is still the patron saint of these trades – his feast day is May 19th and this is also the date from which annual hallmarks for precious metals change every year, not January 1st.


Seventh Sunday of Easter. Mass at 8.30am & 10am

Monday  9.30am Mass.  

Weekday of Easter

Tuesday of Eastertide  12 noon (EF) Mass. St Venantius

Wednesday 9.30am Mass. St Dunstan of Canterbury

Thursday of Eastertide 7pm Novena of the Miraculous Medal & Benediction

Friday 9.30am Mass. Weekday of Easter 

Saturday:   Confessions 11.30m - 11.50am

                    12 noon Mass (EF) Vigil of Pentecost 

Pentecost Sunday. Mass at 8.30am & 10am


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