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Biographies of the Saints

All of the biographical information found here is exerpted from the "Saintly Scorecard" from Lent Madness. Copies of the scorecard are available in the church undercroft.

Aelred of Rievaulx

Aelred was the abbot of a monastery which grew under his leadership to about 140 monks and 500 laymen. He was a prolific writer who authored several books on spirituality as well as historical works and biographies. He has been venerated as a saint since the 1400s.

Alban

Alban was the first martyr for his confession of Christ in the British Isles. Alban was instructed in the faith because he hid a priest in his house rather than allow him to be caught and killed by the authorities.

Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm was a Benedictine monk and theologian of the medieval church. He was the abbot of a monastery and known for his skillful leadership and loving discipline toward the monks. He fought with the kings of England over the Church’s authority to appoint leaders. Anselm espoused a philosophy of “faith seeking understanding”, by which he meant people’s love of God inspired them to seek deeper knowledge of God.

Augustine of Canterbury

Often called the apostle to the English, Augustine’s arrival in Britain allowed Christians to be more open about their faith, since many had been in hiding following the Saxon conquest. Augustine worked to purify rather than destroy the area’s pagan temples and practices. He and his monks spread Christianity while retaining some of the cultural traditions of the people. He is reported to have baptized thousands of people on Christmas Day 597. He was the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

Henry Budd

Henry Budd was the first person of Native American ancestry to be ordained to the priesthood. He was born Sakachuwescam to Cree Indian parents in Canada. He was baptized by an Anglican missionary who gave him the name Henry Budd. He taught at a parish school and served as a lay minister in the church, serving the Cree community. He built a house church elsewhere and held regular worship services. He was an eloquent preacher in Cree and in English. His legacy includes the Henry Budd College for Ministry in Canada which seeks to form indigenous people for Christian Ministry in the Anglican Church in Canada.

Cecilia

Cecilia was engaged to be married when she insisted she heard a chorus of angels calling her to a life of chastity and virginity. She prayed, fasted and sang and God protected her virginity by sending an angel on her wedding night. Cecilia preached and encouraged more than 400 souls to dedicate their lives to Christ. She was martyred for her faith. Cecilia is the patron saint of music, in honor of the heavenly chorus she is said to have heard each time she prayed to do God’s will in her life.

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby wrote more than 8000 sacred texts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She is referred to as the Queen of Gospel Song Writers and is arguably the most prolific author of American Hymns and gospel songs. She often donated the proceeds from her writing to rescue missions around New York City.

Henry Beard Delany

Henry Beard Delaney was born a slave in a Methodist household in Georgia and freed at the end of the war. He moved to Florida and learned bricklaying and carpentry. Delaney won a scholarship to a college founded by Episcopal clergy to educated emancipated African Americans. He studied music and theology and taught building trades. Upon his ordination to the priesthood he became vice president of the college. Delaney was part of the Commission for Work among Colored People, the leading association of African-American clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Church. He was elected as Suffragan Bishop for Negro work in North Carolina. He planted and nurtured many African-American congregations

G.F. Handel

Handel showed a propensity for music from an early age and mastered the pipe organ, harpsichord, oboe, flute and violin. He wrote 42 operas, 29 oratorios, and hundreds more pieces. He was commissioned to write an oratorio about the Bible and in 1742, Handel’s Messiah was first sung in Dublin Ireland. It is often considered his most famous work

Isaac the Syrian

Isaac the Syrian entered a monastery at a young age and dedicated himself to asceticism – a practice of withdrawing from the world to create a deeper spiritual life. He studied countless hours in the monastery’s library and became a renowned theologian. He wrote sermons about the inner spiritual life and the work of the Holy Spirit. His teachings about God’s providence, faith, prayer, obedience and neighborly love have inspired generations of Christians and continue to be translated and published in many languages.

Franz Jagerstatter

Franz Jagerstatter was born in Austria in 1907. He was a man of deep faith and unswerving conviction. In 1938, he was the only person in his village to vote against the German annexation of Austria. He became increasingly outspoken about his anti-Nazi views. When he was drafted by the German army in 1941, he declared himself a conscientious objector and was jailed by the Nazis. He spent the time in prison devoted to prayer and was executed in 1943 for undermining military morale. He lived out an extraordinary faith, witnessing to the importance of standing up against evil for Jesus’ sake.

Joan of Arc

Born in 1412, Joan began receiving visions as a teenager. She sought out Charles VII, the uncrowned king of France and said she had to be at the king’s side or there would be no help for the kingdom. She told the king that God had commanded her to lead her country’s army to victory. Advisers recommended she be sent to Orleans to see if she could lift the five-month siege. Nine days after her arrival, the siege ended. In 1430 she was captured by Burgundian forces and sold to the English who put her on trial for heresy for dressing like a man. She was killed in 1431. At the end of the Hundred Years War, a posthumous trial reversed her conviction and she was canonized in 1920.

John of Nepomuk

John was born around 1345 in Bohemia. He became the vicar general of St. Gilles Cathedral in Prague. John argued with the king over the appointment of a new abbot and John appointed an abbot that the king opposed. On March 20, 1393, he was thrown into the Vitava River and drowned. The story was told that the queen had a lover and John, who was her confessor, was ordered to reveal his name but would not and that is why he was drowned. He is considered the first martyr of the seal of the confessional.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther is considered the founder of the Protestant Reformation. Luther became a monk because his life was spared in a thunderstorm. He served as a university professor and parish priest. Luther became increasingly distressed by what he saw as failures of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the selling of indulgences (paying to receive pardons for sins), clerical celibacy and the crippling lack of faith formation among the common people. He posted his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, considered the beginning of the Reformation. He was intent on making worship the center of the life of the church, admonished priests to teach parents how to make their homes the center of childhood faith formation and translated the Bible into German.

Macrina the Younger

Macrina took a vow of chastity after the man she was engaged to died shortly before their wedding. After the death of her father, she convinced her mother to take vows and they both became nuns. Macrina experienced a miraculous healing of a tumor on her breast. Upon her mother’s death, she turned the family home into a monastery and convent. She worked with her hands and lived simply with the other monastics.

Mechtild of Magdeburg

Mechtild of Madgeburg received the first of the daily visions that would come to her for the rest of her life when she was 12. She called them greetings from the Holy Spirit. She left her family at 20 to join a religious community that stressed imitation of Christ’s life through religious devotion, voluntary poverty and care of the poor and the sick. One of her spiritual advisors suggested she write down her visions and she wrote a seven volume series. Her descriptions of her daily visions are filled with passion; her poetry is reminiscent of both love songs and folk songs.

Philipp Melanchthon

Philipp Melanchthon wrote some of the most important theological works of the Protestant movement. He and Martin Luther became faithful collaborators. He wrote Theological Commonplaces – the first systematic explanation of reformation thought and was part of the team that drafted the Augsburg Confession – the most widely accepted confessional document of the Lutheran tradition.

Moses the Black

Moses the Black was born in Ethiopia around 330. He was a thief until he took refuge with monks in a desert community. He converted to Christianity and denounced violence and carousing. Later, when robbers assaulted the monastery, Moses tied them up but suggested to the brothers that it would not be Christian to repay violence with violence. The robbers were moved by the compassion shown them and converted to Christianity. He ultimately became abbot of a community and despite racial stereotyping was ordained a priest. He remained non-violent until his death at the hands of attackers of the monastery

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale heard a call from God to serve and care for others when she was 17 and became the founder of modern nursing practices. She began documenting the effects of sanitary conditions on wartime injuries. She is said to have reduced the mortality rate during the Crimean War from 42 percent to two percent by addressing these conditions. She wrote much on nursing care and established a school for nurses, opening the door for women, providing them with skills that led to careers outside domestic service or factory positions. She was a believer in universal reconciliation and the overwhelming mercy of God.

Raymond Nonnatus

Raymond Nonnatus spent his childhood tending sheep and praying in his parish church. He joined a group of monks devoted to freeing Christians from slavery throughout the world. When money ran out he offered himself as ransom for 28 slaves. His captors according to legend bored a hole through his lips with a hot poker and padlocked them to keep him from preaching. His brothers came to his aid and paid his ransom so he could return to Spain where he died several months later.

David Oakerhater

David Oakerhater was born into the Cheyenne nation as Making Medicine around 1847. He became known as a skilled warrior. Oakerhater fell into conflict with the US government over a retaliatory raid on paoching settlers. The government responded with a war of attrition designed to deprive the Cheyenne and their allies of food and supplies. He surrendered to the government, where he was arrested, detained without trial and moved to Florida. Forced to assimilate into American society, Oakerhater had his first encounter with Christian missionaries. After education in the scriptures and baptism he was ordained a deacon. He returned to Oklahoma as a missionary and took part in the founding of schools and missions.

Odo of Cluny

When Odo was being trained as a noble warrior, he was seized with a violent pain in his head while praying and singing in court. He suffered for three years until his father confessed a promise to dedicate his son to St. Marin. After reading the Rule of St. Benedict, Odo was horrified to realize how much the lives of he and his brothers deviated from the rule. He committed himself to living the Rule of St. Benedict. He discarded his personal property, ate little and prayed fervently. He embraced the ascetic life and spoke out against the evils of the church of his time. He was eventually appointed abbot of Cluny and visited Rome several times to negotiate peace between violent warring nobles and the church.

Sarah

Sarah was the wife of Abraham and the mother of nations. Sarah lived with Abraham in tents for 25 years and Abraham and his God were the mainstays of her life. God allowed Sarah to have a child when she was 90 years old and she bore Isaac. She couldn’t believe it when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. Sarah died some years later. Hers was the first burial recorded in the Old Testament. She is remembered for her devotion, bravery, tenacity and laughter.

Joseph Schereschewsky

Born a Jew in Lithuania in 1831, Schereschewsky was groomed to be a rabbi. During his theological education, he read a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew. Becoming convinced of Christ’s divinity, he moved to Germany to continue his studies of Christianity and theology before immigrating to the United States. He was baptized the following year. He found his way to the Episcopal Church and offered himself as a missionary to China. He was consecrated a deacon and sent off. He translated the Bible into Chinese and the Book of Common Prayer into Mandarin. He became Bishop of Shanghai. Schereschewsky fell ill with a neurological disorder and spent the final years of his life entirely paralyzed except for one finger, which he used to type out his translations of the scriptures, which are still in use today.

Scholastica

Scholastica was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Benedictine monasticism. Learned, devout and authoritative, she is considered the founder of the female branch of Benedictine monasticism. She either began a convent or lived with other female monastics at the base of Monte Cassino where there is a church named after her. She and Benedict visited each other yearly for a day of prayer and discussion.

Elizabeth Ann Seton

Elizabeth Ann Seton was born in New York City in 1774 and raised Episcopalian. After a series of tragedies in her life she converted to Roman Catholicism in 1805. She met a Catholic priest who wanted to start a Catholic seminary for women in the United States. In 1809 she founded the Sisters of Charity, the first community of nuns who were also citizens of the United States. She made her vows and became Mother Seton. The sisters dedicated themselves to education, social services, and religious formation. In 1810, the community began St. Joseph’s Free School, the first Roman Catholic school in America, and launched the Roman Catholic parochial school system in the United States.

Stephen

Stephen was the first person to give his life as a witness to his faith in the gospel of Jesus. Along with six other Greek-speaking believers, Stephen was one of the first deacons, tasked with serving and providing for those in need. He performed wonders and signs for the people, but some in Jerusalem’s power structure did not like it and he was tried for blasphemy by the Sanhedrin. He delivered a powerful sermon recounting the relationship between God and the people, accusing listeners of murdering the prophets who foretold the coming of Jesus. The people immediately took him into the street and stoned him. With his last breath, he prayed for forgiveness for his killers.

Theodore the Studite

Theodore the Studite was a Greek Orthodox monk. He grew up in a prominent family in Constantinople. Theodore’s uncle encouraged the whole family to take monastic vows and transform the family farm into a monastery. Instead several family members went to Bithynia is Asia Minor and established a monastery there. Theodore ran the monastery well, despite his habit of denouncing the emperor’s divorce and remarriage, which led to years of exile, and fights with emperors and difficult popes. Ultimately, Theodore revived the monastic community in Constantinople and built it into a major artistic center, which became known for its literary output. He is best known for two great theological works: the theological treatise On Holy Icons, and a letter he wrote instructing his followers not to own slaves – the first recorded Christian theological stand against slavery.

Nikolaus von Zinzendorf

Nikolaus von Zindendorf was a german poet, preacher, hymn writer, theologian, religious teacher and bishop. He allowed the group Unitas Fratrum to settle on his land, and there the Moravian Covenant for Christian Living was born. Unitas Fratrum became the Moravian Church. Zindendorf was ordained a Lutheran minister in 1735 and consecrated a bishop in the Moravian Church two years later. Regarded as a strong leader, he dedicated his personal funds and fortune to the work of the church, becoming a strong advocate for ecumenism. He and a group of companions went to the American colonies to minister to the indigenous population and German-speaking immigrants. Zindendorf preached the gospel to everyone he encountered – free people, indentured servants, slaves and indigenous peoples.

John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe, called “the morning star of the English Reformation”, is best known for his translations of the Vulgate into Middle English and his attempts to reform church structures in England. Under the influence of both Plato and Augustine, Wycliffe added his voice to a growing undercurrent in medieval theology that questioned the political power, the wealth and control of the clergy embodied in the hierarchy based in Rome. Wycliffe rejected any kind of clerical control and issued his new literal translation in order to separate the word of scripture from the Church’s interpretation of it.