Saturday, September 10, 2011

John Colet, Dean of St. Paul's

John Colet, Dean of St. Paul's died on September 10, 1519. He was a friend of St. Thomas More and of Desiderius Erasmus, a humanist reformer of Catholicism. He also founded St. Paul's School with funds from his inheritance.

Colet was born in 1467 in London and took his MA at Magdalen College in Oxford. His father Sir Henry Colet served twice as Lord Mayor of London and left him very comfortably well off.

After studying in France and Italy he returned to Oxford and lectured on the epistles of St. Paul, eschewing scholastic method.

While he influenced Erasmus, he was influenced by the great Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, called upon Colet to preach to the Convocation of his diocese in 1512. He called upon the priests gathered there to reform their lives, to be humble, to serve their people by prayer, preaching, and teaching, and providing examples to their people of true Christian lives.

Colet also preached rather bravely before King Henry VIII opposing England's war with France in 1513.

As a humanist reformer, Colet is often claimed as a proto-Protestant and yet even as he said in the 1512 Convocation sermon, no new laws or regulations needed to be passed; the clergy of his day just needed to follow the Church's own teaching and reforming efforts to become better priests and servants of the people.

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