Monday, February 8, 2010

St. Botulph, Pray For Us

St. Botulph, after whom the name Boston is ultimately derived (ie, from "Bo[tolph]sto[w]n"), was an Anglo-Saxon Saint who founded the monastery at Ikanhoe in 654. There is some debate over just where exactly that was, but the best candidate is the little village of Iken. This website has lots of information about Iken and St. Botulph and the effect he had and has there:

His feast was/is celebrated locally in England on June 17th (the date he died in 680) and Scotland on June 25th.

The Proper Lessons for Matins on his feast day are mostly extant in one manuscript, and seem to be drawn mainly from a vita that is known, complete, in other sources:,

He is recognized as a Saint and was on the traditional calendar for the (post-restoration) British Catholic dioceses of Brentwood and Northampton, as you will find if you check the back of a Baronius hand-missal, though he is simply assigned the Mass Os Justi for an abbot.

He is not, however, in the traditional Roman Martyrology (though eight separate Sts. Valentine are listed, including two on February 14th alone); a little reminder perhaps of the victims of cultural (or liturgical) imperialism, about what is lost when one locality's meta-narrative attempts to devour those of others, to globalize tradition that is inherently local.

On that note, we might also do well to pray to St. Udalric of Augsburg, the first Saint from outside the Roman province canonized by a Pope, and to St. Walter of Pontoise, the last Saint in the West canonized by a bishop other than the Pope (who jealously hoarded that prerogative for himself alone in 1170). A tragic event we have perhaps never recovered from; in the First Millennium, there were over 10,000 Saints. In the Second...there were less than a thousand. Here's hoping the Third is more like the First!


Tim Ferguson said...

I've proposed an (albeit slight) reform of the current process by opening up beatification to local (provincial or national) Churches. Utilizing the canonical trial system of a verdict needing a confirmation by a second Court, if the bishops of the US, say, decided to beatify Fulton Sheen, their process would have to be confirmed by a Tribunal from, for example, Belgium. Only then would Fulton Sheen be able to be beatified, and allowed to develop a local cultus in the US.

Then, after the cultus has shown some stability and fruit (perhaps through a miracle, or merely through the strong devotion of the faithful), the Holy Father could raise him to the status of a saint.

This would see a multiplication of the ranks of the Beati, and allow for local holy men and women who would never get the energy or finance needed to launch a case before the Congregation, to get the attention they deserve, and foster the devotion of the faithful, more like the classical and medieval saints did.

A Sinner said...

Yes, I have often thought that the solution is to return the right of Beatification to the dioceses, even if "universal" canonization is retained by the universal authority.

The First Millennium canonizations (and Orthodox canonizations) were really more like modern beatifications in the sense of not being the infallible declaration of a "dogmatic fact" by the Pope...but simply the establishment of a LOCAL public cultus and feast.

Each local diocese where a devotion to the same Blessed developed could then decide whether to likewise add the beati in question to their martyrology, maybe even their calendar, etc.

If enough in a province did it, the archbishop could extend it to the whole province, if enough in a nation, the primate could to the same. If enough in the world, across all more local jurisdictional boundaries, only then the Pope might consider the person for "Universal" canonization.

The current process, before John Paul II, led to an extreme limitation in the number of Saints, stifling local holy men and women in favor of centralization and the few big figures with universal appeal.

John Paul began the "opening" of this process...but that has resulted in something of the opposite problem: all sorts of Saints canonized universally...whose appeal or cultus was really only local to some one place and aren't very well known elsewhere.

Tim Ferguson said...

One demographic that would be interesting to see is a century-by-century count of the number of recognized saints in proportion to the number of faithful. I realize that this would be largely conjecture, but it seems obvious that the saint-to-baptized ratio would be much higher in the first century than, say the 19th.

Those who complain about the explosion of saints under JPII seem to think that a rare and elite sainthood is the norm.