Monday, May 7, 2012

Beverley Minster and St. John of Beverley

St. John of Beverley died on May 7, 721 and was buried in Beverley Minster, Beverley, Yorkshire and was canonized in 1037. Devotion to him led to the building of a tremendous Perpendicular Gothic abbey church (beginning in 1220) and to many pilgrimages. Henry VIII ordered the destruction of his shrine 820 years after his death and the dissolution of the monastery, but the church survived as a parish church. His relics were discovered in the 17th century and are venerated in the church today.

The EWTN Library provides this biography of St. John of Beverley:

This illustrious saint was born at Harpham, a village in the province of the Deiri, which comprised Yorkshire, Lancashire, and the rest of the kingdom of the Northumbers, on the south side of the Tyne; what lay beyond it being called Bernicia.

An earnest desire of qualifying himself for the service of God drew him young into Kent, where he made great progress in learning and piety, in the famous school of St. Theodorus, the archbishop, under the direction of the holy abbot Adrian. . . .

In 717, being much broken with age and fatigues, he resigned his bishopric to his chaplain, St. Wilfrid the, younger, and having ordained him bishop of York, he retired to Beverley, where he spent the remaining four years of his life in the punctual performance of all monastic duties. He died there the death of the just, on the 7th of May, 721. His successor governed the see of York fifteen years, was a great lover of the beauty of God's house and is named among the saints, April the 29th. The monastery of Beverley having been destroyed by the Danes, king Athelstan, who had obtained a great victory over the Scots by the intercession of St. John, founded in his honor, in the same place, a rich collegiate church of canons. . .
Alcuin of York, Julian of Norwich and St. John Fisher all had tremendous devotion to St. John of Beverley. Henry V attributed his victory at Agincourt to him and encouraged--nay, ordered--devotion to him throughout England. His feast in the Church of England is a civil holiday in Beverley, with special prayers and processions. There is a Catholic church dedicated to St. John in his hometown, Hexham.

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