Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19 in Other Years: 804 and 988

With all due respect to Anne Boleyn, two other deaths on May 19 should be remembered.

The great scholar Alcuin of York died on May 19 in 804 and St. Dunstan of Canterbury on May 19 in 988.

This BBC History article offers detail about Alcuin's life and influence, particularly at the Court of Charlemagne:

King Charles the Great, known often as Charlemagne (768-814), recognised in Alcuin a scholar who could help him to achieve a renaissance of learning and reform of the Church. At the king's invitation, Alcuin joined the royal court in 781, and became one of Charlemagne's chief advisers on religious and educational matters.

Alcuin was made head of the palace school at Aachen, which was attended by members of the royal court and the sons of noble families, and he established a great library there. He revised the church liturgy and the Bible and, along with another great scholar, Theodulf of Orleans, he was responsible for an intellectual movement within the Carolingian empire in which many schools of learning were attached to monasteries and cathedrals, and Latin was restored to a position as a literary language.

St. Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury from 960 to 978. His shrine and relics were destroyed during the English Reformation, after having been discovered by William Warham, Cranmer's predecessor, in 1508. Before the cult of St. Thomas a Becket took hold, St. Dunstan was one of the most popular saints in England. During his clerical career, he was Abbot of Glastonbury and Bishop of both London and Worcester. He is honored in the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and the Church of England on his feast day.

St. Dunstan's in Canterbury is famous as the resting place of St. Thomas More's head.

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