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The Church Year - November


The list shows holy days with fixed calendar dates in November.  Dates in bold red are Principal Feasts.  Those in red are FestivalsLesser Festivals are shown in green and Commemorations are shown in grey italic.

Use your mouse to click on the date for a little information on the Holy Day.  The information has been gleaned from various sources on the Internet and may not be completely accurate.


November 1 All Saints' Day

November 2 Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day)

November 3 Richard Hooker, Priest, Anglican Apologist, Teacher of the Faith, 1600

Richard Hooker was born in March 1554 in Exeter. He was educated in Exeter until he was sent, with Bishop Jewel as his patron, to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He graduated M.A. in 1577, and became a fellow of the college in the same year. He became assistant professor of Hebrew at the University, and took holy orders, becoming a clergyman in the Church of England in 1581. Hooker was Master of the Temple (i.e. Dean of the Law School) in 1585-1591. Thereafter he lived in London and then at Boscombe, Wiltshire. He died at Bishopsbourne, in Kent, where he had become vicar. Hooker's masterpiece is a long work in eight books called Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. The first four books were published together in 1593, the fifth was published in 1597, and the rest appeared after his death. Although the last three volumes were Hooker's work, they seem to have been heavily edited. The work represents one of the most distinguished examples of Elizabethan literature.

November 3 Martin, Friar, 1639

Illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a young freed black slave, he grew up in poverty. Spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick. At age 11 he became a servant in the Dominican priory. Promoted to almoner, he begged large amounts of money each week from the rich to support the poor and sick of Lima. Placed in charge of the Dominican's infirmary; known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that "no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order" and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother. Established an orphanage and children's hospital for the poor children of the slums. Set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. Lived in self-imposed austerity, never ate meat, fasted continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation. Great devotion to the Eucharist. Friend of Saint John de Massias. First black American saint.

November 6 Leonard, Hermit, 6th century

That the seaside town near Hastings is named after this 6th. century hermit who lived near Limoges in central France is witness to the spread of the cult of this saint. Nearly 180 medieval English churches are dedicated to him. He was a nobleman, baptised by St. Remi of Rheims (+533), with the King of the Franks, Clovis, as his godfather. Declining the offer of a bishopric, he became a hermit; through his prayers, Clovis’ wife survived a difficult pregnancy and in gratitude the King offered him a large tract of land around his hermitage at Noblac (now named St. Leonard after him). It was here that he founded an abbey, where he was to be buried – the foundation greatly aided the spread of the cult of his sanctity. He is the patron saint of pregnant women and also of prisoners of war – thanks to a visit to his shrine by the crusader prince Bohemond, released from a Moslem prison in 1103

November 6 William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teacher of the Faith, 1944

William Temple 1881–1944, archbishop of York (1929–42) and archbishop of Canterbury (1942–44); son of Frederick Temple. At Balliol College, Oxford, he became (1904) president of the Oxford Union. He was fellow and lecturer in philosophy (1904–10) at Queen's College, Oxford, and in 1909 was ordained a priest. Temple served as headmaster (1910–14) of Repton School and as rector (1914–17) of St. James's, Piccadilly. He joined the Life and Liberty Movement, which strove for an autonomous Church of England; the goal was achieved in part by the Enabling Act of 1919. He was canon (1919–21) of Westminster and bishop (1921–29) of Manchester. He was made archbishop of York in 1929, and in 1942 he became archbishop of Canterbury. Keenly interested in social and economic reform, he was a friend of Labour and the first president (1908–24) of the Workers' Educational Association. His leadership in the movement to form a world council of churches was outstanding. Among his numerous publications are 'Christianity and the State' (1928), 'Nature, Man, and God' (1934), and 'The Church Looks Forward' (1944).

November 7 Willibrord, Bishop, Apostle of Frisia, 739

Willibrord was born in Northumbria and educated at Ripon but the main part of his life was dedicated to his missionary work in Frisia and northern Germany. He built many churches, inaugurated bishoprics and consecrated cathedrals: the Cathedral of Utrecht, with a diocesan organisation based on that of Canterbury, is his most well-known foundation. Together with his younger contemporary Boniface, he began a century of English Christian influence on continental Christianity. Alcuin described him as venerable, gracious and full of joy, and his ministry as based on energetic preaching informed by prayer and sacred reading. He was buried at Echternach monastery in Luxembourg, which he founded. He is the patron saint of Holland.

November 8 The Saints and Martyrs of England

November 9 Margery Kempe, Mystic, c.1440

Born at Lynn in Norfolk in about 1373, Margery married and had fourteen children. After she had received several visions, she and her husband went on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Her fervent denunciations of all pleasure aroused stiff opposition and she was accused of Lollardy. In 1413 she and her husband took vows of chastity before the Bishop of Lincoln. She also made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Book of Margery Kempe, which is almost the sole source of information about the author, describes her travels and mystical experiences. It also shows her closeness to the passion of Christ for the sins of the world. The last reference to her is on a pilgrimage to Danzig in 1433.

November 10 Leo the Great, Bishop ofrome, Teacher of the Faith, 461

Italian nobility. Strong student, especially in scripture and theology. Priest. Eloquent writer and homilist. Pope from 440 to 461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun. When Attila marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to Saint Peter, it is generally believed the first pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns. When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo's sanctity and eloquence saved the city again. Called the Council of Chalcedon to condemn heresies of the day. Fought Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Manichaeism, and Pelagianism. Built churches. Wrote letters and sermons encouraging and teaching his flock, many of which survive today; it is for these writings that Leo was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1574.

November 11 Martin, Bishop of Tours, c.397

Pagan parents; his father was a Roman military officer and tribune. Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy. Discovered Christianity, and became a catechumen in his early teens. Joined the Roman imperial army at age 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard, rarely exposed to combat. Cavalry officer, and assigned to garrison duty in Gaul. Trying to live his faith, he refused to let his servant wait on him. Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (modern France), he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak. Baptised into the Church at age 18. Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. Charged with cowardice, he was jailed, and his superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service at Worms Spiritual student of Saint Hilary at Poitiers. On a visit to Lombardy to see his parents, he was robbed in the mountains - but managed to convert one of the thieves. At home he found that his mother had converted, but his father had not. The area was strongly Arian, and openly hostile to Catholics. Martin was badly abused by the heretics, at one point even by the order of the Arian bishop. Learning that the Arians had gained the upper hand in Gaul and exiled Saint Hilary, Martin fled to the island of Gallinaria (modern Isola d'Albenga). Learning that the emperor had authorized Hilary's return, Martin ran to him in 361, then became a hermit for ten years in the area now known as Ligugé. A reputation for holiness attracted other monks, and they formed what would become the Benedictine abbey of Ligugé. Preached and evangelised through the Gallic countryside. Many locals held strongly to the old beliefs, and tried to intimidate Martin by dressing as the old Roman gods, and appearing to him at night; Martin continued to win converts. He destroyed old temples, and built churches on the land. When the bishop of Tours died in 371, Martin was the immediate choice to replace him. Martin declined, citing unworthiness when he arrived in the city, he was declared bishop by popular acclamation, consecrated on 4 July 372. Moved to a hermit's cell near Tours. Other monks joined him, and a new house, Marmoutier, soon formed. Rarely left his monastery or see city, but sometimes went to Trier to plead with the emperor for his city, his church, or his parishioners. Once when he went to ask for lenience for a condemned prisoner, an angel woke the emperor to tell him that Martin was waiting to see him; the prisoner was reprieved. Martin himself was given to visions, but even his contemporaries sometimes ascribed them to his habit of lengthy fasts. He was the first non-martyr to receive the cult of a saint.

November 13 Charles Simeon, Priest, Evangelical Divine, 1836

Two hundred years ago, students at the English Universities were required to attend church regularly, and to receive the Holy Communion at least once a year. This latter requirement often had bad effects, in that it encouraged hypocrisy and an irreverent reception of the sacrament. Occasionally, however, it had a very good effect, as with the Cambridge student Charles Simeon. He wrote: "On 29 January 1779 I came to college. On 2 February I understood that at division of term I must attend the Lord's Supper. The Provost absolutely required it. Conscience told me that, if I must go, I must repent and turn to God." By this experience his life was transformed. Upon finishing his college work he was ordained, and shortly appointed chaplain of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, where he remained for 55 years, until shortly before his death on 12 November 1836. His ministry helped to transform the lives of many undergraduates, of whom we may mention two in particular. Henry Martyn, inspired by Simeon, abandoned his intention of going into law and instead devoted his life and his considerable talents to preaching the Gospel in India and Persia. William Wilberforce, also led in part by Simeon's ministry of teaching and example, devoted his life to the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire. Simeon's enthusiasm and zeal brought him much ridicule and abuse, which he bore uncomplainingly. Though he himself remained in one place, his influence extended through the Anglican world.

November 14 Samuel Seabury, first Anglican Bishop in North America, 1796

Samuel Seabury 1729–96, American clergyman, first bishop of the Episcopal Church, b. Connecticut, grad. Yale, 1748. He studied medicine at the Univ. of Edinburgh, then turned to theology and was ordained (1753) a priest in the Church of England before returning to America as a missionary in New Brunswick, N.J. He was then rector at Jamaica (Long Island) and in Westchester co., New York, until 1775. He then avowed himself a Loyalist in the American Revolution, and for a time he had to practice medicine in New York City, which was under British occupation. He later became (1778) a chaplain to a royal regiment. After the war he was chosen bishop of Connecticut in 1783. The English bishops wit eld consecration because of a legal difficulty, but in 1784 he was consecrated at Aberdeen by bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. In 1789 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States confirmed his position and he became presiding bishop.

November 16 Margaret, Queen of Scotland, Philanthropist, Reformer of the Church, 1093

Margaret (born c. 1045) was the grand-daughter of Edmund Ironside, King of the English, but was probably born in exile in Hungary, and brought to England in 1057. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, she sought refuge in Scotland, where about 1070 she married the King, Malcolm III. She and her husband rebuilt the monastery of Iona and founded the Benedictine Abbey at Dunfermline. Margaret undertook to impose on the Scottish the ecclesiastical customs she had been accustomed to in England, customs that were also prevalent in France and Italy. But Margaret was not concerned only with ceremonial considerations. She encouraged the founding of schools, hospitals, and orphanages. She argued in favour of the practice of receiving the Holy Communion frequently. She was less successful in preventing feuding among Highland Clans, and when her husband was treacherously killed in 1093, she herself died a few days later (of grief, it is said).

November 16 Edmund Rich of Abingdon, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1240

1170?–1240, English churchman, archbishop of Canterbury, b. Abingdon. He taught at Oxford. A forceful preacher, he successfully preached (1227) the crusade against the Saracens. Edmund was made archbishop in 1234 and mediated the peace between Wales and England. His zeal for reform antagonized Henry III who, to isolate St. Edmund, secured from Rome a papal legate sympathetic to himself, with jurisdiction over the archbishop. His episcopacy thus neutralized, St. Edmund retired reluctantly to Pontigny, a Cistercian abbey in France, where he died soon after.

November 17 Hugh, Bishop of Licoln, 1200

Son of William, Lord of Avalon. His mother Anna died when he was 8, and he was raised and educated at a convent at Villard-Benoit. Monk at 15. Deacon at 19. Prior of a monastery at Saint-Maxim. Carthusian. Priest. In 1175 he became abbot of the first English Carthusian monastery, which was built by King Henry II as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. His reputation for holiness spread through England, and attracted many to the monastery. He admonished Henry for keeping dioceses vacant in order to keep their income for the throne. He resisted the appointment, but was made bishop of Lincoln in 21 September 1181. Restored clerical discipline in his see. Rebuilt the Lincoln cathedral, destroyed by earthquake in 1185. Denounced the mass persecution of Jews in England in 1190-91, repeatedly facing down armed mobs, making them release their victims. Diplomat to France for King John in 1199, a trip that ruined his health. While attending a national council in London a few months later, he was stricken with an unnamed ailment, and died two months later. Hugh's primary emblem is a white swan, in reference to the story of the swan of Stowe which had a deep and lasting friendship for the saint, even guarding him while he slept

November 18 Elizabeth of Hungary, Princess of Thuringia, Philanthropist, 1231

Princess, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary. Great-aunt of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal. She married Prince Louis of Thuringa at age 13. Built a hospital at the foot of the mountain on which her castle stood; tended to the sick herself. Her family and courtiers opposed this, but she insisted she could only follow Christ's teachings, not theirs. Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Louis stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculously changed to roses. Upon Louis' death, Elizabeth sold all that she had, and worked to support her four children. Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine stricken Germany, led to her patronage of bakers and related fields.

November 19 Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, 680

Hilda was the grandniece of King Edwin of Northumbria, a kingdom of the Angles. She was born in 614 and baptized in 627 when the king and his household became Christians. In 647 she decided to become a nun, and under the direction of Aidan (see 31 Aug) she established several monasteries. Her last foundation was at Whitby. It was a double house: a community of men and another of women, with the chapel in between, and Hilda as the governor of both; and it was a great centre of English learning, one which produced five bishops. Here a stable-boy, Caedmon, was moved to compose religious poems in the Anglo-Saxon tongue, most of them metrical paraphrases of narratives from Genesis and the Gospels. The Celtic peoples of Britain had heard the Gospel well before 300 AD, but in the 400's and 500's a massive invasion of Germanic peoples (Angles, Jutes, and Saxons) forced the native Celts out of what is now England and into Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. The invaders were pagans, and missionaries were sent to them in the north and west by the Celts, and in the south and east by Rome and other churches on the continent of Europe. Roman and Celtic traditions differed, not in doctrine, but on such questions as the proper way of calculating the date of Easter, and the proper style of haircut and dress for a monk. It was, in particular, highly desirable that Christians, at least in the same area, should celebrate Easter at the same time; and it became clear that the English Church would have to choose between the old Celtic customs which it had inherited from before 300, and the customs of continental Europe and in particular of Rome that missionaries from there had brought with them. In 664 the Synod of Whitby met at that monastery to consider the matter, and it was decided to follow Roman usage. Hilda herself greatly preferred the Celtic customs in which she had been reared, but once the decision had been made she used her moderating influence in favour of its peaceful acceptance. Her influence was considerable; kings and commoners alike came to her for advice. She was urgent in promoting the study of the Scriptures and the thorough education of the clergy.

November 19 Mechtild, Béguine of Magdeburg, Mystic, 1280

Mechtild of Magdeburg (1210 - ca. 1285) was a medieval mystic, a Beguine, and a Cistercian nun, whose book "Das fliessende Licht der Gottheit" described her supposed visions of God. Named after St. Mechtilde of Hackeborn, Mechtild was born to a noble Saxon family, and claimed to have had her first vision of the Holy Spirit at the age of 12. In 1230 she left her home to become a Beguine, and live a life of prayer and mortification under the guidance of Dominican friars. Around 1270, she joined the Cistercian nunnery at Helfta, where she lived the final years of her life favoured by all who came to see her, and where she finished writing down the contents of the many divine revelations she claimed to have experienced. Mechtild's writing is exuberant and emotional: her descriptions of her visions are filled with passion. Her images of Hell are believed by some scholars to have influenced Dante Alighieri when he wrote "The Divine Comedy", and Mechtild is thought to have been represented by Dante in that work, in the character of Matelda. Despite her popularity while alive, Mechtild was never canonized by the Catholic Church, though Catholics to this day have great admiration for her work, and most believe it to be divinely inspired.

November 20 Edmund, King of the East Angles, Martyr, 870

When the heathen Anglo-Saxons invaded Christian Britain in the 400's, they eventually established seven kingdoms: Essex, Wessex, Sussex (East Saxons, West Saxons, and South Saxons), Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia (three kingdoms of the Angles), and the Jute kingdom of Kent. (The borders between these ancient kingdoms are still borders between regions speaking English with different accents today.) Under the influence of missionaries from the Celts and from continental Europe, these peoples became Christian, only to be faced themselves by a wave of heathen invaders. Edmund was born about 840, became King of East Anglia in about 855, and in 870 faced a horde of marauding Danes, who moved through the countryside, burning churches and slaughtering villages wholesale. On reaching East Anglia, their leaders confronted Edmund and offered him peace on condition that he would rule as their vassal and forbid the practice of the Christian faith. Edmund refused this last condition, fought, and was captured. He was ill-treated and killed. His burial place is the town of Bury St. Edmunds.

November 20, Priscilla Lydia Sellon, a Restorer of the Religious Life in the Church of England, 1876

Priscilla Lydia Sellon was born probably in 1821. Although never enjoying good health, she responded to an appeal from the Bishop of Exeter in 1848 for workers amongst the destitute in Plymouth. The group of women she gathered around her adopted a convent type lifestyle and, in the face of much opposition, she created the Sisters of Mercy. Her crucial role in the revival of Religious Life in the Church of England was enhanced when, in 1856, her sisters joined with the first community founded - the Holy Cross sisters - thereby establishing the Society of the Holy Trinity. She led her community in starting schools and orphanages, in addition to sisters nursing the sick in slum districts and soldiers in the Crimea. In her last years, she was an invalid, dying in her mid-fifties in 1876.

November 22 Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c.230

Cultivated young patrician woman whose ancestors loomed large in Rome's history. She vowed her virginity to God, but her parents married her to Valerian of Trastevere. Cecilia told her new husband that she was accompanied by an angel, but in order to see it, he must be purified. He agreed to the purification, and was baptised; returning from the ceremony, he found her in prayer accompanied by a praying angel. The angel placed a crown on each of their heads, and offered Valerian a favour; the new convert asked that his brother be baptised. The two brothers developed a ministry of giving proper burial to martyred Christians. In their turn they were arrested and martyred for their faith. Cecilia buried them at her villa on the Apprian Way, and was arrested for the action. She was ordered to sacrifice to false gods; when she refused, she was martyred in her turn. The Acta of Cecilia includes the following: "While the profane music of her wedding was heard, Cecilia was singing in her heart a hymn of love for Jesus, her true spouse." It was this phrase that led to her association with music, singers, musicians, etc.

November 23 Clement, Bishop of Rome, Martyr, c.100

Clement I, Pope, generally known as Clement of Rome, or Clemens Romanus (c. 96), was one of the Apostolic Fathers, and in the lists of bishops of Rome is given the third or fourth place, either before or after Anacletus. There is no ground for identifying him with the Clement of Philippians 4:3. He may have been a freedman of T. Flavius Clemens, who was consul with his cousin, the Emperor Domitian, in 95. A 9th century tradition says he was martyred in the Crimea in 102; earlier authorities say he died a natural death..

November 25 Catherine of Alexandria, Martyr, 4th century

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr. She is the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced Maxentius for persecuting Christians. Fifty of her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius. Maxentius offered Catherine a royal marriage if she would deny the Faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius' wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death. Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine's was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.

November 25 Isaac Watts, Hymn Writer, 1748

In 1674, Isaac Watts was born in Southampton. Because his family were Dissenters or Non-Conformists he did not attend Oxford or Cambridge, but instead was educated at the Dissenting Academy in Stoke Newington, London, until 1694. He then began a two-year period of writing. In 1696 he became tutor and chaplain to the family of Sir John Hartopp of Leicestershire. In 1699 he became assistant minister at Mark Lane Independent (Congregational) Chapel in London, and full pastor in 1702. Then his health failed. In 1712 he was invited to spend a week at the home of the wealthy Dissenter Sir Thomas Abney in Hertfordshire. He ended up staying there for the rest of his life, devoting himself to writing. His works included, Logic, Or the Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth, a standard text at Oxford and elsewhere for several generations. His poems and songs for children were extremely popular, and became the object of parody in Alice in Wonderland. Even as a small boy, Watts had a great interest in versifying. Once, during family prayers, he began to laugh. His father asked him why. He replied that he had heard a sound and opened his eyes to see a mouse climbing a rope in a corner, and had immediately thought, "A little mouse for want of stairs Ran up a rope to say its prayers." His father thought this irreverent, and proceeded to administer corporal punishment, in the midst of which Isaac called out, "Father, father, mercy take, And I will no more verses make". When he was older, he complained of the bad quality of writing in the metrical Psalters of his day. His father promptly challenged him to do better, and he undertook the effort. During his lifetime he wrote about 600 hymns altogether, but most of his best efforts were turned out between his graduation from school when he was 20 and his taking a job teaching when he was 22. During these two Golden Years, hymns poured from his pen with the impetus of true genius. He died in 1748

November 29 Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church

November 30 Andrew the Apostle

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