All the Company of Heaven 2023-11-16T12:59:39-05:00


The Third Round of our Saintly Championship is over, and we’re down to the final two! After the first quarter of the competition, both Mary Magdalene and Hildegard Von Bingen held leads. At the half, Francis trailed by only two, but Michael was hoping for an extended half-time show. At the end of the third quarter Francis had taken the lead by the slimmest of margins, while Hildegard continued to punish Michael. Hildegard showed no mercy in the fourth quarter while Mary M turned the tables and surged to the win. Our final is set: Mary Magdalene takes on the Lady from Bingen, Hildegard!

Our Final Two:

Hildegard Von Bingen was born circa 1098 to a noble family, the youngest of ten. She began having visions at a young age, she wrote, and her parents offered her as an oblate to a Benedictine monastery, and she was “enclosed” (separated from the outside world) with another girl, Jutta, at a young age. She learned to read and write while there, to play music and sing, and helped tending the garden and the sick. Jutta was also said to have visions, and when she died, Hildegard was elected magistra of their community.
She was later asked to be prioress, but instead, Hildegard wanted to begin her own community. When the Abbot said no to her request, which was a move toward poverty and did not tax the monastery, Hildegard went over his head and received permission from Archbishop Henry I of Mainz. Abbot Kuno did not relent, however, until Hildegard was stricken with an illness that rendered her paralyzed, which she attributed to God’s unhappiness at the Abbot not following orders to allow her nuns to move. He finally granted their request, and Hildegard and about 20 nuns moved to the St. Rupersburg monastery in 1150. She founded a second monastery at Eibingen in 1165.
Prior to Hildegard’s death in 1179, a problem arose at the congregation in Mainz – a man buried in Rupertsburg had been excommunicated prior to his death, so clergy wanted to remove his body from the sacred ground. Hildegard did not agree, saying the man was reconciled to the church at the time of his death. The clergy in Mainz punished her congregation for not removing the man’s remains, disallowing them from having communion or singing the daily rites. She protested, but they only relented when she found witnesses who could attest that the man had in fact been reconciled to the church before his death.
During her lifetime, she wrote three volumes of visionary theology, many musical compositions for use in liturgy and otherwise, a musical morality play, invented a language known as Lingua Ignota, a gospel commentary, two volumes on natural medicine and cures, and two works of hagiography. She also had one of the largest bodies of letters to survive from the Middle Ages. Her correspondence included popes, abbots, emperors, and included many sermons she preached. She referred to her visionary voice as “the voice of the Living Light.”
Even though she had conversed and was visited by several popes, and was known for her visions in her lifetime, she was not canonized until 2012. Her feast day is September 17th.

Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala, the Magdalena) was known for being one of the few women to travel with Jesus, and was probably helping to support their travels monetarily. She was a witness to his crucifixion and resurrection, and is mentioned more than any other woman in the Gospels (besides Jesus’ family).
Very little is known of her life, as she did not leave behind any writings of her own. According to Luke, she had seven demons exorcised from her, which could be a symbolic number or mean there were seven attempts at exorcism – either one also meaning it was quite severe. Since she was mentioned as a financial support, she was probably quite wealthy.
During Jesus’ crucifixion, she was one of the women to remain at the site after the disciples had left. When Joseph of Arimathea claimed the body, Mary Magdalene was listed as witnessing the burial as well. While the details of the event differ, the gospels all agree that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the risen Jesus, and was the one who informed the disciples of this.
Pope Gregory I identified Mary Magdalene as a former prostitute in one of his homilies, after which her reputation was incorrectly assumed; historians and scholars have denied this idea though, and she is considered a saint by many denominations, with a feast day of July 22, and referred to as “apostle to the Apostles.”
Much speculation has taken place about her life after the resurrection, with historians and writers posing theories about further miracles, traveling with other disciples, and moving to France with Mary, Jesus’ mother. Many, many works of art have featured Mary Magdalene, both because of her story and things speculated about her.


Aloysius of Gonzaga (June 21)
Aloysius Gonzaga (Luigi Gonzaga, 1568-1591) gave up a privileged life and a princely inheritance to live the vows of religious life, even to the point of contracting the plague because of his selfless care for people already sickened with it. He was the eldest son of the Marquis of Castiglione, and heir to the family title. The Gonzagas were known as patrons of Renaissance artists, and they ruled what amounted to a kingdom. (keep reading about Aloysius)

Antony of Egypt (January 17)
Before the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in 312 AD, back in the days when Christianity was still a persecuted religion, the act of becoming a Christian involved turning one’s back on security, prestige, popularity, and success. After the Emperor had changed Christianity from a persecuted religion into a fashionable one, many earnest Christians felt the need to make such a renunciation in the service of Christ, and did not see mere Church membership as enough to constitute such a renunciation any longer. Many began fleeing from society into the desert and becoming hermits, devoting themselves to solitude, fasting, and prayer. Although this trend was much accelerated and reinforced by the conversion of Constantine and attendant changes, it had already begun earlier. An outstanding early example is Antony of Egypt, often reckoned as the founder of Christian monasticism. (keep reading about Antony)
Bridget (Brigid) of Ireland (February 1)
Saint Brigid was born Brigit, and shares a name with a Celtic goddess with whom many legends and folk customs are associated. There is much debate over her birth parents, but it is widely believed her mother was Brocca, a Christian baptized by Saint Patrick, and her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. Brocca was a slave, therefore Brigid was born into slavery. When Dubthach’s wife discovered Brocca was pregnant, she was sold to a Druid landowner. As Brigid did not tolerate anything the druid attempted to feed her, as he was impure, she was instead sustained by a white cow with red ears. (keep reading about Brigid)
Cecilia of Rome (January 21)
Saint Cecilia (Latin: Sancta Caecilia) is the patron saint of musicians and Church music because as she was dying, she sang to God. It was long supposed that she was a noble lady of Rome who, with her husband Valerian, his brother Tiburtius, and a Roman soldier Maximus, suffered martyrdom, c. 230, under the Emperor Alexander Severus. The research of Giovanni Battista de Rossi, however, appears to confirm the statement of Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers (d. 600), that she perished in Sicily under Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180. (keep reading about Cecilia)
Dominic (August 8)
Dominic was born in Castile, in Spain, in 1170. He entered the priesthood, and eventually became prior of the canons of the cathedral chapter (the clergy who formed the staff of the cathedral and conducted the daily worship services) at Osma (42:52 N 3:03 W). The turning point of his life came in 1206, when he was chosen to accompany the bishop on a visit to southern France, to an area held by the Albigenses, a heretical sect who held that there are two gods; one the god of goodness, light, truth, and spirit, and the other the god of evil, darkness, error, and matter. The material universe is the creation of the bad god. The good god made the souls of men, and the bad god kidnapped them and imprisoned them in bodies of flesh. On their first night in Albigensian country, they stayed at an inn where the innkeeper was an Albigensian. Dominic engaged him in conversation, they sat up all night talking, and by dawn the man was ready to become an orthodox Christian. From then on, Dominic knew what his calling in life was. Dominic and his bishop undertook to study the Albigensian beliefs and to engage in public debates with their opponents.  (keep reading about Dominic)
Francis of Assisi (October 4)
Francis was born in 1182, the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. His early years were frivolous, but an experience of sickness and another of military service were instrumental in leading him to reflect on the purpose of life. One day, in the church of San Damiano, he seemed to hear Christ saying to him, “Francis, repair my falling house.” He took the words literally, and sold a bale of silk from his father’s warehouse to pay for repairs to the Church of San Damiano. His father was outraged, and there was a public confrontation at which his father disinherited and disowned him, and he in turn renounced his father’s wealth – one account says that he took off his expensive clothes, laid them at his father’s feet, and walked away naked. He declared himself “wedded to Lady Poverty”, renounced all material possessions, and devoted himself to serving the poor. In his day, people with Leprosy (not the same as what we know as Leprosy now) were kept at a distance and regarded with fear and disgust. Francis cared for them, fed them, bathed their sores, and kissed them. He moved into the Church of San Damiano and began repairing it himself. (keep reading about Francis of Assisi)
George (April 23)
George was a soldier and martyr who suffered around 303 at Lydda (Diospolis) in Palestine. The earliest surviving record of him is a church inscription in Syria, dated about 346. Commemorations of him are numerous, early, and widespread. However, no details of his life are known. In 495 his name appears on a list of “good men, justly remembered, whose good deeds are known only to God.” The best-known story about him is that he rescued a beautiful princess in Libya by killing a dragon. It should be noted that this story is unknown before the appearance in 1265 of a romance called the Golden Legend (Legendum Aureum), translated into English in 1483. (keep reading about George)
Harriet Bedell (January 8)
Harriet Bedell, missionary and friend to the Seminole Indians of Florida, was born in Buffalo, New York on March 19, 1875. She was trained as a schoolteacher but was inspired several years later by an Episcopalian missionary who spoke at her church describing the many needs of missionary work. In 1906 she applied to, and was accepted by, the New York Training School for Deaconesses, where her one-year course of study included instruction in religious matters, missions, teaching, hygiene, and hospital nursing. Following her training she was sent as a missionary-teacher to the Cheyenne Indians at Whirlwind Mission in Oklahoma. (keep reading about Harriet)
Hildegard of Bingen (September 17)
Hildegard of Bingen has been called by her admirers “one of the most important figures in the history of the Middle Ages,” and “the greatest woman of her time.” Her time was the 1100’s (she was born in 1098), the century of Eleanor of Aquitaine, of Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux, of the rise of the great universities and the building of Chartres cathedral. She was the daughter of a knight, and when she was eight years old she was sent to the Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode to be educated. The monastery was in the Celtic tradition, and housed both men and women (in separate quarters). When Hildegard was eighteen, she became a nun. Twenty years later, she was made the head of the female community at the monastery. (keep reading about Hildegard)
Joseph (March 19)
All that we know of Joseph we learn from the first two chapters of Matthew and of Luke. Otherwise he is mentioned only in passing in Luke 3:23, John 1:45, and John 6:42 as the supposed father of Jesus. (Mark does not mention him at all.) In the face of circumstances where a man of lesser character might have reacted very differently, Joseph graciously assumed the role of Jesus’ father. He is well remembered in Christian tradition for the love he showed to the boy Jesus, and for his tender affection and care for Mary, during the twelve years and more that he was their protector. (keep reading about Joseph)
Jude (Thaddeus) (October 28)
Judas (often called Jude in English, but the Greek has Judas) is variously named, but this is not surprising. Before the Crucifixion, there would be a need to distinguish him among the apostles from Judas Iscariot, and after the Crucifixion there would be an additional reason for being emphatic about the distinction. “Thaddaeus” is possibly a variant of “Theudas,” which in turn is perhaps used as a Greek equivalent of “Judas” (with the Hebrew Name of God replaced by the Greek “theos”). He preached the Gospel with great passion, often in the most difficult circumstances. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he made profound differences in people’s lives as he offered them the Word of God.  (keep reading about Jude)
Mary Magdalene (July 22)
Mary Magdalene is mentioned in the Gospels as being among the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples, was present at His Crucifixion and Burial, and who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to annoint His body. She was the first to see the Risen Lord, and to announce His Resurrection to the apostles. Accordingly, she is referred to in early Christian writings as “the apostle to the apostles.” Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (sister of Martha and Lazarus), and the unnamed penitent woman who annointed Jesus’s feet (Luke 7:36-48) are sometimes supposed to be the same woman. (keep reading about Mary Magdalene)
Michael, Archangel (September 29)
On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it. The Holy Scriptures often speak of created intelligences other than humans who worship God in heaven and act as His messengers and agents on earth. We are not told much about them, and it is not clear how much of what we are told is figurative. Jesus speaks of them as rejoicing over penitent sinners (Luke 15:10). Elsewhere, in a statement that has been variously understood (Mt 18:10), He warns against misleading a child, because their angels behold the face of God. (Acts 12:15 may refer to a related idea.) (keep reading about Michael)
Monica (Monnica) (May 4)
We know about Monica almost entirely from the autobiography (the Confessions) of her son Augustine, a major Christian writer, theologian and philosopher. Monica was born in North Africa, near Carthage, in what is now Tunisia; perhaps around 331, of Christian parents, and was a Christian throughout her life. Her name has usually been spelled “Monica,” but recently her tomb in Ostia was discovered, and the burial inscription says “Monnica.” As a girl, she was fond of wine, but on one occasion was taunted by a slave girl for drunkenness, and resolved not to drink thereafter. She was married to a pagan husband, Patricius, a man of hot temper, who was often unfaithful to her, but never insulted or struck her. It was her happiness to see both him and his mother ultimately receive the Gospel. (keep reading about Monica)
Ninian (September 16)
Ninian is also called Nynia, Rigna, Trignan, Ninus, or Dinan. He was a Celt, born in southern Scotland in about 360, and is regarded as the first major preacher of the Gospel to the people living in Britain north of the Wall – that is, living outside the territory that had been under Roman rule. He is said to have studied in Rome (note that he is contemporary with Augustine), but was chiefly influenced by his friendship with Martin of Tours, with whom he spent some considerable time when he was returning from Italy to Britain. It is probable that he named his headquarters in Galloway after Martin’s foundation in Gall. He preached throughout Scotland and later England, and like Patrick and Columba, he was a principal agent in preserving the tradition of the old Romano-British Church and forming the character of Celtic Christianity. Some historians think that the number and extent of his conversions has been exaggerated, but throughout southern Scotland there are many and widespread churches that bear his name, and have traditionally been assumed to be congregations originally founded by him. (keep reading about Ninian)
Swithin (July 15)
Saint Swithin was a Saxon bishop. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. His feast day is 15 July and his emblems are rain drops and apples. Swithin was chaplain to Egbert, the 802-839 king of Wessex. Egbert’s son Ethelwulf, whom Swithin educated, made him bishop of Winchester in 852.
Only one miracle is attributed to Swithin while he was alive. An old lady’s eggs had been smashed by workmen building a church. Swithin picked the broken eggs up and, it is said, they miraculously became whole again. (keep reading about Swithin)

All the Company of Heaven Rules

Nominationtide – October 22nd

           On this day you will be able to nominate one saint that you want to be part of “All the Company of Heaven Championship”

Who can I nominate?

           To ensure your SUCCESSFUL nomination, please note the Nominationtide Rules & Regulations, which reside in a scary corner of the undercroft of Christ Church.

  1. The nominee must, in fact, be dead.

  2. The nominee must be on the official calendar of saintly commemorations of some church. The most readily available list is on pages 19-30 of our Book of Common Prayer.

  3. We will accept only one nominee per person.

  4. The only way to nominate a saint is by writing their name on a piece of paper and placing it in the Heavenly Bucket on the table near the Orrick Door. This bucket will be there on October 22nd with the nomination ballots.

How will I know about the sixteen saints who make the bracket?

           There will be a website detailing each of the sixteen saints with pictures and biographies.

What is the schedule of voting?

  •            On October 29th you will vote in the first round which will pit the sixteen chosen saints in one on one competition (see the bracket).

  •            On November 5th the saintly field will be down to 8 so you will vote on four matchups.

  •            On November 12th our heavenly host will be down to the top 4 so you will vote on 2 matchups.

  •            Finally, on November 19th there will only be one matchup to weigh in on as only two saints are left standing.

  •            The Champion Saint will be announced on Sunday November 26th!

[A big thanks to The Rev Tim Schenk and The Rev Canon Scott Gunn for their inspiration through their website “Lent Madness”]