Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Saints of Britain: Saint Nectan of Hartland (c468-c510 AD) – 17th June

A 12th-century manuscript found in Gotha is the fullest remaining account of the Life of Nectan.
This account holds that Nectan was the eldest of the 24 children of
King Brychan of Brycheiniog (now Brecknock in Wales). Having received a vocation to become a monk earlier in his life, he and many of his relatives
sailed to north Devon where Nectan settled by a spring (now St Nectan's
Well) at Stoke, in the then dense forest of Hartland. Here, in this
solitude, he lived as a hermit. He is also associated with St Nectan's
Glen and Waterfall (or Kieve) at Trethevy, nr Tintagel, in Cornwall,
where it is claimed he spent some time as a hermit.
At Hartland, Nectan lived in the solitude of a remote valley where he
helped a swineherd recover his lost pigs and in turn was given a gift of
two cows. Nectan's cows were stolen and after finding them he attempted
to convert the robbers to the Christian faith. In return he was attacked by robbers who cut off his head. The same authority says that he picked his head up and walked back to his well before collapsing and dying.
According to tradition, one of the thieves died and the other went blind. Upon
realising what he had done, it is claimed that the thief later returned to bury
Monthly Newsletter of St. Michael’s Orthodox Church Audley, Staffordshire ~ June 2011 Nectan's body. Tradition also says that wherever Nectan's blood fell, foxgloves grew. After Nectan’s death a shrine was set up and a cult grew up around him, supported by both Saxon kings and Norman lords. Lyfing, Bishop of Crediton
approved the translation of Nectan’s body and provided bells, lead for the roof
and a sculptured reliquary for the church. Nectan’s staff was decorated with
gold, silver and jewels. A number of churches in Devon are dedicated to St
Nectan and there is also a medieval chapel of Saint Nectan near St Winnow in
His feast day is 17th June – the supposed day of his death – and the feast was
kept in Launceston, Exeter and Wells. There is still a tradition of taking foxgloves
to Saint Nectan’s well on that day.

The Apostles Fast (20th June to 28th June)

Having rejoiced for fifty days following Pascha, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,
the Apostles began to prepare for their departure from Jerusalem to spread
Christ's message. According to Sacred Tradition, as part of their preparation, they began a fast with prayer to ask God to strengthen their resolve and to be with them in their missionary undertakings. The scriptural foundation for the Fast is found in the Synoptic Gospels, when the Pharisees criticized the apostles for not fasting, Jesus said to them, "Can the children of the bridal chamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast." In the immediate sense, Christ was referring to his being taken to be crucified; but in the wider sense it is understood in terms of his Ascension into heaven, and his commission to the Apostles to preach the Gospel, which can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting.
The tradition of the Fast has existed at least since Pope Leo I (461 AD), as is
evidenced by his homilies, though it has subsequently been forgotten in the
West. The Fast is thought to have been instituted out of thanksgiving to God for
the witness of the apostles of Christ. With this Fast, believers express their
thanks for the Apostles' endurance of persecution during their mission.
The Feast of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul is on June 29th.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

O Foremost of the Apostles and teachers of the world, intercede ye with
the Master of all that He grant peace to the world and great mercy to
our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone

O Lord, receive unto the enjoyment of Your good things and Your rest,
the steadfast preachers of Godly words, the pinnacle of Your Disciples.
Receive their pain and death above every sacrifice, for You alone know
the hearts of men.