mardi 19 mai 2015

Saint DUNSTAN de CANTORBERY, abbé bénédictin, archevêque et confesseur


Saint Dunstan

Archevêque de Cantorbery ( 988)

abbé bénédictin, il devint évêque de Worchester et de Londres, puis archevêque de Cantorbery. Durant ce siècle de fer, il ranima la ferveur monastique en Grande-Bretagne. C'était un homme assez extraordinaire. On dit de lui qu'il n'était pas seulement théologien, mais aussi orfèvre, peintre, fondeur, architecte. L'Église anglicane en conserve la mémoire. 

À Cantorbéry en Angleterre, l’an 988, saint Dunstan, évêque. D’abord abbé de Glastonbury, il y restaura la vie monastique et la propagea au-delà. Sur le siège épiscopal de Worcester, puis de Londres et enfin de Cantorbéry, il travailla à promouvoir une règle commune pour les moines et les moniales.

Martyrologe romain
Dunstan de Cantorbéry

Évêque, Saint

+ 988

S. Dunstan, issu d'une famille illustre, naquit à Glastenbury. Il eut pour maîtres dans les sciences certains moines irlandais qui avaient beaucoup de réputation, et qui s'étaient établis dans le lieu de sa naissance. La ville de Glastenbury se trouvait alors, par une suite des ravages de la guerre, dans un état de désolation.
Dunstan se distingua de tous ses compagnons d'étude par la rapidité de ses progrès; Athelnie, son oncle, archevêque de Cantorbéry, avec lequel il vécut quelque temps, le mena à la cour avec lui, et le fit connaître au roi Athelstan. Ce prince, qui aimait la vertu et qui protégeait les talents, conçut pour lui une grande estime, le retint auprès de lui, et lui donna plus de marques de bienveillance qu'à tous ceux qui approchaient de sa personne. Mais l'envie, qui ne peut souffrir les distinctions du mérite, chercha les moyens de le mettre mal dans l'esprit du roi, et elle vint à bout d'y réussir. Dunstan comprit alors mieux que jamais combien peu l'on doit compter sur la faveur des grands. Il avait reçu dans sa jeunesse la tonsure et les ordres mineurs; toujours il avait vécu d'une manière conforme à l'Evangile ; et quoiqu'il eût pratiqué toutes les vertus chrétiennes, il s'était spécialement rendu recommandable par son humilité, sa modestie et la pureté de ses mœurs.
Lorsqu'il eut quitté la cour, il prit l'habit monastique, de l'avis d'Elphège, son oncle, évêque de Winchester, qui peu de temps après l'éleva au sacerdoce. S'étant parfaitement affermi dans la connaissance et la pratique des devoirs de sa profession, il fut envoyé à Glastenbury pour en desservir l'église. Il s'y bâtit une petite cellule qui n'avait que cinq pieds de long sur deux pieds et demi de large. Il s'y bâtit aussi un oratoire attenant à la muraille de la grande église dédiée sous l'invocation de la Mère de Dieu. Dans cet ermitage, il joignait le jeûne à la prière. Il avait aussi des heures marquées pour le travail des mains. Par là il se proposait d'éviter l'oisiveté, et de s'entretenir dans l'esprit de pénitence. Son travail consistait à faire des croix, des vases, des encensoirs et autres choses destinées au culte divin. D'autres fois, il s'occupait à peindre ou à copier des livres,
Le roi Athelstan étant mort en 900, après avoir régné seize ans avec beaucoup de gloire, Edmond, son frère, monta sur le trône. Comme ce prince allait souvent par dévotion à l'église de Glastenbury , qui n'était qu'à neuf milles de son palais de Chedder, il eut occasion de connaître par lui-même la sainteté de Dunstan. Il i crut ne pouvoir mieux faire que de lui donner le gouvernement du monastère. Dunstan fut le dix-neuvième abbé de Glastenbury, à compter de S. Brithwald, le premier Anglais qui avait eu la même dignité deux cent soixante-dix ans auparavant. Edmond fut massacré après un règne de six ans et demi. On enterra son corps à Glastenbury. Ses fils Edwi et Edgar étant trop jeunes pour gouverner, on plaça sur le trône Edred, leur oncle. Ce prince religieux se conduisit toujours par les conseils de S. Dunstan. Il mourut en 955, et la couronne retourna à Edwi dont les mœurs étaient fort déréglées. En voici un exemple : le jour de son sacre, il quitta brusquement la table où était rassemblée toute la noblesse, pour aller se livrer à d'infâmes plaisirs. S. Dunstan le suivit et lui représenta avec une généreuse liberté ce qu'il devait à Dieu et aux hommes. L'exil fut la récompense de son zèle. Edwi persécuta les moines de son royaume, et ruina toutes les abbayes qui avaient échappé aux déprédations des Danois. Il n'épargna que celles de Glastenbury et d'Abbington.
S. Dunstan, exilé, se retira en Flandre, où il passa un an. Il y répandit de toutes parts la bonne odeur de Jésus-Christ, par l'exemple de ses vertus et par la force de ses discours.
Cependant les Merciens et les peuples du nord de l'Angleterre accablés sous la pesanteur du joug qu'ils portaient, ôtèrent la couronne à Edwi, pour la mettre sur la tête d'Edgar, son frère. Le nouveau roi rappela S. Dunstan, et lui donna une place distinguée parmi ceux qui composaient son conseil. En 957, il le nomma évêque de Worcester. La cérémonie de son sacre fut faite par S. Odon, archevêque de Cantorbéry. Le siège de Loudvet étant venu à vaquer peu de temps après, Dunstan fut obligé d'en prendre le gouvernement malgré lui. C'était l'homme qui paraissait le plus en état de rétablir dans cette église et la discipline et la pureté des mœurs.
Edwi, qui s'était toujours maintenu dans la souveraineté des provinces du midi, termina, en 958, une vie souillée de crimes, par une mort malheureuse. Edgar réunit alors en sa personne toute la monarchie anglaise, qu'il gouverna toujours avec beaucoup de sagesse et de gloire, il continua de donner à notre saint des marques de son estime et de sa confiance.
S. Odon, archevêque de Cantorbéry, étant mort en 961, Duns tan fut élu pour lui succéder. Il employa toutes sortes de moyens pour ne pas accepter cette dignité; mais il lui fut impossible de réussir. Le pape Jean XII, qui l'estimait singulièrement, le fit légat du saint Siège. Dunstan, revêtu de cette autorité, ne pensa plus qu'à rétablir partout la discipline ecclésiastique, qui avait beaucoup souffert des incursions des Danois et des troubles occasionnés par la tyrannie d'Edwi. Il avait la consolation de se voir puissamment protégé par le roi Edgar. Il recevait aussi de grands secours de deux de ses disciples, de S. Ethelwold, évêque de Winchester, et de S. Oswald, évêque de Worcester et archevêque d'Yorck. Les trois prélats commencèrent par la réformation des monastères; et afin d'entretenir partout l'uniformité de discipline, S. Dunstan publia la Concorde des règles, qui était un recueil des anciennes constitutions monastiques, combinées avec celles de l'ordre de Saint-Benoît. La réformation des moines fut suivie de celle des clercs. Le saint fit aussi, pour l'usage de ces derniers, de sages règlements connus sous le titre de Canons publiés sous le roi Edgar. Quelques clercs étaient tombés par le malheur du temps dans plusieurs désordres; ils avaient même osé se marier, contre Va disposition des anciens canons. Le saint les chassa des églises et des monastères dont ils s'étaient emparés, et mit en leur place des religieux fervents. C'était une espèce de restitution que l'on faisait à ceux-ci, puisque, avant les guerres des Danois, ils avaient été en possession des églises et des monastères dont il s'agissait.
S. Ethelwoid, voyant que les chanoines de sa cathédrale menaient une vie scandaleuse, leur substitua aussi des moines. Les coupables appelèrent de la sentence rendue contre eux. Il se tint pour cet effet un synode à Winchester, en 968. On rapporte qu'une voix, paraissant sortir d'un crucifix qui était dans le lieu de l'assemblée, fit entendre ces paroles : « Dieu défend de réformer ce qui a été fait. On a bien jugé, ce serait un mal que de  juger autrement. » Le synode confirma la sentence de S. Ethelwold, et le roi Edouard, le Martyr, fit de ce décret une loi de l'État.
L'archevêque de Cantorbéry montra aussi beaucoup de zèle contre les laïques, violateurs de la discipline ecclésiastique. Il n'y avait point de considération qui pût le faire mollir, lorsqu'il s'agissait de maintenir le bon ordre. Les pécheurs scandaleux surtout, de quelque rang qu'ils fussent, redoutaient sa fermeté, et étaient obligés de se soumettre aux règles de la pénitence canonique. Nous allons en citer un exemple.
Le roi Edgard, maîtrisé par une passion honteuse, abusa d'une vierge qui résistait depuis longtemps à ses désirs, et qui, pour mettre son honneur en sûreté, avait pris le voile de religieuse, sans toutefois faire profession. Cette dernière circonstance ajoutait un nouveau degré d'énormité au crime du roi. S. Dunstan fut informé de ce qui s'était passé. Il se rendit aussitôt à la cour, et comme un autre Nathan, il dit au prince, avec un zèle mêlé de 'respect, qu'il avait offensé le Seigneur. Edgar, agité de salutaires remords, s'avoua coupable, témoigna son repentir par ses larmes, et demanda une pénitence proportionnée à son crime. Le saint lui en imposa une de sept ans, qui consistait à ne point porter la couronne durant tout ce temps-là, à jeûner deux fois la semaine, et à faire d'abondantes aumônes. Il lui enjoignit en outre, pour expier son crime d'une manière plus spéciale, de fonder un monastère où plusieurs vierges pussent se consacrer à Jésus-Christ. Edgar accomplit fidèlement tous les articles de sa pénitence, et fonda le monastère de Shaftsbury. Les sept ans écoulés, c'est-à-dire en 973, le saint archevêque lui remit la couronne sur la tête, dans une assemblée composée des évêques et des seigneurs de la nation.
Edgar étant mort dans la seizième année de son règne, et la trente-deuxième de son âge, Édouard, son fils aîné, lui succéda. Ce prince avait beaucoup de piété, et donnait de grandes espérances. Mais il périt bientôt par la trahison d'Elfride, sa belle-mère. C'est lui que l'on appelle Edouard le Martyr. Sa mort tragique causa une vive douleur à S. Dunstan ; et lorsqu'il couronna son jeune frère, en 979, il lui prédit tous les malheurs qui devaient arriver sous son règne.
Le saint sacra Gaeon, évêque de Landaff, vers l'an 983. Les évêques du pays de Galles avaient été soumis jusque là à l'archevêque de Saint-David. Ce prélat perdit alors la juridiction de métropolitain, sans qu'on puisse précisément en assigner la raison. S. Dunstan faisait souvent la visite des différentes églises du royaume. Partout il prêchait et instruisait les fidèles. Ses discours étaient si touchants et si persuasifs, que les cœurs les plus insensibles ne pouvaient s'empêcher de se rendre. Ses revenus étaient employés au soulagement des pauvres. Il conciliait les différends, réfutait les erreurs, et s'appliquait continuellement à extirper les vices et à corriger les abus. Malgré les soins qu'il était obligé de donner à son diocèse, aux églises du royaume, et souvent aux affaires de l'État, il trouvait encore du temps pour vaquer aux exercices de piété ; il consacrait à la prière une bonne partie de la nuit. Quelquefois il se retirait à Glastenbury, afin de converser avec Dieu plus librement. Étant à Cantorbéry, il visitait, dans la saison même la plus rigoureuse, l'église de Saint-Augustin, située hors les murs, et celle de la Mère de Dieu, qui était attenante.
Ce fut dans cette ville qu'il tomba malade. Il se prépara à sa dernière heure par un redoublement de ferveur dans tous ses exercices. Le jour de l'Ascension, il prêcha trois fois sur la fête, pour exhorter les fidèles à suivre leur chef en esprit, et par la k vivacité de leurs désirs. Pendant qu'il parlait, son visage paraissait tout rayonnant de gloire. A la fin de son troisième discours, il se recommanda aux prières de son auditoire, et dit à son troupeau qu'il ne tarderait pas à être séparé de lui. A ces dernières paroles, tout le monde fondit en larmes. Après midi, le saint retourna à l'église, et indiqua le lieu où il voulait être enterré. Il se mit ensuite au lit; puis, ayant reçu le saint viatique le samedi suivant,
II est assez probable que ce fut par un effet de la grande puissance d'Edgar, qui par là voulait commencer à unir les Gallois avec les Anglais.
Dunstan passa de cette vie à l'immortalité bienheureuse. Sa mort arriva le 19 mai 988. Il vécut soixante-quatre ans, et en gouverna dix-sept l'église de Cantorbéry. Son corps fut enterré dans la cathédrale, à l'endroit qu'il avait lui-même marqué.
SOURCE : Alban Butler : Vie des Pères, Martyrs et autres principaux Saints… – Traduction : Jean-François Godescard.
Né près de Glastonbury, en Angleterre, Dunstan fut élevé dans l'abbaye de ce nom, où l'on ne suivait plus aucune règle monastique, mais où l'on avait conservé la précieuse bibliothèque. Il pensait à se marier quand il fut atteint d'une grave maladie dont il devait souffrir toute sa vie. Il se rendit alors à Winchester, où l'évêque, son oncle, lui imposa la consécration monastique et l'ordonna prêtre. En 943, le roi Edmond le nomma abbé de Glastonbury.
D'après ce que ses lectures lui avaient appris, Dunstan essaya d'y rétablir l'observance de la règle de saint Benoît. Exilé en 955 par le roi Edwig, Dunstan se réfugia au Mont-Blandin, près de Gand, où, pour la première fois de sa vie, il rencontra des moines. Rappelé en 957 par le roi Edgar, il devint évêque de Worcester, puis de Londres et, dès 959, archevêque de Cantorbéry. Primat d'Angleterre, conseiller et ami des rois, réformateur de l'Église et du clergé, organisateur de la vie monastique, initiateur d'un vaste mouvement artistique, créateur de l'unité anglaise, Dunstan eut, jusqu'à la mort du roi Edgar (975), un rôle prépondérant. Durant ses dernières années, il se cantonna dans sa charge pastorale, mais son œuvre se prolongea après lui. À sa mort, il laissa une telle renommée qu'il fut le saint le plus populaire d'Angleterre jusqu'au martyre de son successeur Thomas Becket (mort en 1170).
Jacques DUBOIS, « DUNSTAN saint (909-988)  », Encyclopædia Universalis [en ligne], consulté le 19 mai 2015. URL : http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/dunstan/
Saint Dunstan de Canterbury,
Abbé de Glastonbury, 26ième archévêque de Canterbury
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Né à Baltonsborough près de Glastonbury, Angleterre, vers 909; mort en 988.

Dunstan, né d'une noble famille Anglo-Saxonne aparentée à la maison dirigeante du Wessex, fut une des grandes figures de l'Histoire Anglaise. Il reçut sa prime éducation des moines Irlandais à Glastonbury. Pendant qu'il était jeune, il fut envoyé comme page auprès de la cour d'Athelstan.

Il avait déjà reçu la tonsure, et son oncle, l'évêque Saint Alphege le Chauve (12 mars) de Winchester, l'encouragea à s'engager dans la vie religieuse. Dunstan hésita quelque temps et faillit même se marrier, mais après avoir été sauvé d'une maladie de peau qu'il pensait être la lèpre, il reçut l'habit (en 934) et les saints ordres de son oncle le même jour que Saint Ethelwold (1er Août) vers 939.

Il retourna à Glastonbury et on pense qu'il s'y construisit une petite cellule près de la vieille église, où il entama une vie de prière, d'étude, et de travail manuel qui inclut la réalisation de cloches et de vases sacrés pour l'église, et la copie ou l'enluminure de livres. On le décrit comme excellant dans la peinture, la brodure, la harpe, comme fondeur de cloche, et comme artisan du métal. Dunsant jouait de la harpe pendant que les moniales de l'abbaye brodaient ses dessins. On rapporte qu'un jour qu'il avait raccroché sa harpe au mur et quitté la pièce quelque temps, la harpe continua de jouer sur son propre accord. Les moniales prirent cela comme un signe de la future grandeur de Dunstan.

Dunstan aimait aussi la musique vocale : quand il chantait à l'autel, rapporte un contemporain, "il semblait être occupé à converser face à face avec le Seigneur". Etant très habille dans les arts, Dunstan stimula la renaissance de l'art ecclésial.

Le successeur d'Athelstan, Edmund, l'appela à la court pour devenir conseiller royal et trésorier. En 943, le roi Edmond I échappa de peu à la mort durant une chasse, il nomma Dunstan abbé de Glastonbury avec pour tâche d'y restaurer la vie monastique et de richement doter le monastère. Selon la vieille Chronique Saxone, Dunsan n'avait que 18 ans quand il devint abbé de Glastonbury.

Dunstan restaura les bâtiments du monastère et l'église de Saint-Pierre. En introduisant des moines parmi les prêtres qui y vivaient déjà, il mit en vigueur la disciple régulière sans que cela ne provoque de troubles. Il transforma l'abbaye en grand centre d'enseignement. Dunstan revitalisa aussi les autres monastères de Glastonbury.

Le meutre du roi Edmund fut suivit par l'accession de son frère Edred, qui fit de Dunstan un de ses principaux conseillers. Dunstan devint profondément impliqué dans la politique séculière, et encourru la colère des nobles Saxons de l'Ouest pour avoir dénoncé leur immoralité et pour son appel urgent à faire la paix avec les Danois.

En 955, Edred mourrut et ce fut son neveu de 16 ans, Edwy, qui lui succéda. Le jour de son courronement, Edwy quitta le banquet royal pour aller voir une fille appelée Elgiva et sa mère. Pour cela, il fut vertement tancé par Dunstan, et le prince n'accepta pas l'admonition. Avec le soutien des partis opposants, Dunstan tomba en disgrâce, sa propriété fut confisquée et il fut exilé.

Il passa une année à Gand, dans les Flandres [B], et là il entra en contact avec le monachisme continental réformé. Cette expérience alimenta sa vision d'un parfait monachisme Bénédictin, ce qui inspirera ses travaux ultérieurs.

Une rébellion éclata en Angleterre; le Nord et l'Est déposèrent Edwy et choisirent son frère Edgar le Pacifique (cfr 8 juillet) pour le trone. Edgar rappela Dunstan et en fit son conseiller principal, en 957 l'évêque de Worcester, et l'évêque de Londres en 958.
A la mort d'Edwy en 959, le royaume fut réunifié sous Edgar, qui nomma Dunstan archévêque de Canterbury en 961.
Ensemble, ils initièrent une politique de réforme pour renforcer tant l'Eglise que le pays. A Canterbury, Dunstan fonda une abbaye à l'est de la ville, et 3 églises : Sainte-Marie, Saints Pierre-et-Paul, et Saint-Pancrace.

En 961, Dunstan partit pour Rome pour recevoir le pallium et fut nommé par le pape [de Rome] Jean XII comme légat du saint-siège. Avec cette autorité, il entreprit de réétablir la discipline ecclésiastique, sous la protection du roi Edgar, et assisté par saint Ethelwold, évêque de Winchester, et Saint Oswald (28 février), évêque de Worcester et l'archévêque d'York. En ces jours, la vie monastique Anglaise avait quasiment disparu, résultat des invasions Danoises. Ils restaurèrent la plupart des grand monastères, comme Abingdon, qui avait été détruits durant les invasions Danoises, et en fondèrent de nouveaux.

Dunstan fonda des monastères à Bath, Exeter, Westminster, Malmesbury, et d'autre lieux. Il rédigea des Règles pour chaque, afin d'y insufler le bon ordre. Les prêtres séculiers récalcitrants furent éjectés et remplacés par des moines à Winchester,
Chertsey, Surrey, et Dorset. Vers 970 une conférence d'évêques, d'abbés et d'abbesses établit un code national d'observances monastiques, le "Regularis Concordia." En harmonie avec les coutumes continentales et la Règle de Saint-Benoît, il avait néanmoins ses particularités : les monastères devaient être intégrés dans la vie des gens, et leur influence ne devait pas rester confinée à l'intérieur des murs du monastère.

Le clergé qui avait vécu une vie scandaleuse et des situations irrégulières fut réformé. Dunstan demeura ferme dans ses normes morales, au point de faire postposer le couronnement d'Edgar pour 14 ans - probablement à cause de sa désaprobation du comportement scandaleux d'Edgar. Il modifia le rite de couronnement, et certaines de ses modifications réalisées pour le couronnement d'Edgar à Bath en 973 ont survécu jusqu'à nos jours.

Durant les 16 ans de règne d'Edgar, Dunstan fut son principal conseiller, le critiquant librement. Un jour que le roi s'était rendu coupable d'immoralité, Dunstan se tint debout devant sa face, refusant de prendre sa main tendue et faisant brusquement demi-tour en disant : "Je ne suis pas l'ami de l'ennemi du Christ". Plus tard, il imposa comme pénitence au roi de ne pas porter sa couronne 7 ans durant.

Dunstan continua à diriger le pays durant le court règne du roi successeur, Edouard le Martyr (18 mars http://www.amdg.be/sankt/mar18.html ), le protégé de Dunstan. La mort du jeune roi, reliée aux réactions anti-monastiques ayant suivit la mort du roi Edgar, affectèrent terriblement Dunstan. Sa carrière politique étant terminée, il retourna à Canterbury pour enseigner à l'école cathédrale, où on lui attribue des visions, des prophéties et des miracles. Il eut une dévotion particulière pour les saints de Canterbury, dont il visitait la tombe de nuit.

A la fête de l'Ascenscion en 988 l'archévêque tomba malade, mais il offrit la Messe et prêcha 3 fois à son peuple, à qui il déclara qu'il mourrait bientôt. 2 jours plus tard, il mourrut. Il est considéré comme le restaurateur du monachisme en Angleterre. On dit que le 10ième siècle forma l'Histoire Anglaise, et que Dunstan forma le 10ième siècle. Il composa nombre d'hymnes, nottament le "Kyrie Rex spendens" (Attwater, Bénédictins, Bentley, Delaney, Duckett, Fisher, Gill, White).

Dans l'art, on le montre comme un évêque tenant le diabile (ou son nez) avec une paire de tenailles; ou avec un crucifix lui parlant (White). On peut aussi le voir représenté (1) tenant les pinces; (2) travaillant comme orfèvre; (3) jouant de la harpe; (4) avec un groupe d'anges près de lui; (5) avec une colombe; ou (6) comme un moine prosterné aux pieds du Christ (dans un dessin qu'on lui attribue)
(Roeder).

Il est le saint patron des armuriers, des orfèvres, des bijoutiers et des serruriers (Delaney, White), des forgerons, des musiciens et des aveugles (Roeder).

Office à notre saint Père Dunstan, Archévêque de Canterbury
Vêpres et Matines [en anglais]


http://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/servduns.htm

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Par les prières de saint Dunstan et de tous les Saints d'Angleterre, Christ notre Dieu, fais-nous miséricorde et sauve-nous.

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Liturgie du Rite Occidental pour Saint Dunstan:
Bénédiction de l'Archévêque chantée sur le Peuple

Puisse Dieu, l'Illuminateur de tous les Ages, Qui fit briller l'illustre et exalté hiérarque Dunstan comme un d'entre les Apôtres, faire que vous soyez remplis de toutes les célestes bénédictions par ses justes prières, qu'en suivant les pas d'un si radieux prédécesseurs, vous puissiez devenir le peuple qui gravit l'échelle vers le Ciel.
Le peule : Amen.

And may He that granted him such noble standing with Himself that being reverenced and glorified by all the people he might blossom as an unsurpassed and angelic patron for all the English, Himself kindle the ardour of your hopes towards that place where this magnificent Saint flourisheth amidst a choir of Angels. People: Amen.

And may ye that glory to be honoured with such a sublime patron, being filled with great joy by his miracles and illumined by his teachings, attain this from the Lord: that ye may be reunited with him in the kingdom of heaven. Amen.

Which may He deign to grant, Whose kingdom & dominion abideth, etc. ... May the blessing, etc. ...

The Preface of the Mass, May 19:

It is truly meet and just, right and availing to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to Thee, pay our vows to Thee, and consecrate our gifts to Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: Who didst beforehand elect Thy blessed confessor Dunstan for Thyself, a Bishop of sanctified confession, a man shining brightly with the ncircumscribable light, prevailing by the gentleness of his ways, afire with the fervour of the Faith, and flowing over with the brook of eloquence. And in what his glory lay, the multitudes at his sepulchre reveal, and their purification from demonic assaults, their healing from diseases, and the miracles of his power, of which we stand in awe. For even if he made an end here by his passing, according to nature, the hierarch's righteous deeds live on after the grave, in that place where there is the presence of the Saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord. By Whom Angels praise Thy majesty, Dominions worship, the Powers tremble. The heavens, and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, concelebrate in one exultation:- with whom command our voices also to have entrance, we
beseech Thee, humbly confessing Thee and saying: Holy, Holy, Holy, ...etc.

(The blessing, sequence, and preface are given in full in the complete Old Sarum Rite Missal, (c) 1998 St. Hilarion Press 1998)

Icones de Saint Dunstan:
http://www.holycross-hermitage.com/pages/Icons/Samples/fj_st_dunstan.htm

Allez ici pour accèder à toutes leurs icônes,
http://www.holycross-hermitage.com/ et utilisez le menu déroulant pour aller à "Our Products." ["nos produits"]

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/temporary-celt/message/7624

http://www.odox.net/Icons-Dunstan.htm##1

Sources:


Attwater, D. (1983).
The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, NY: Penguin Books.
Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.
Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1966). The Book of Saints. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell.
Bentley, J. (1986). A Calendar of Saints: The Lives of the Principal Saints of the Christian Year, NY: Facts on File.
Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints, NY: Doubleday Image.
Duckett, E. S. (1955). St. Dunstan of Canterbury.
Fisher, D. J. V. (1965). The Earliest Lives of St. Dunstan, St. Ethelwold, and St. Oswald.
Gill, F. C. (1958). The Glorious Company: Lives of Great Christians for Daily Devotion, vol. I. London: Epworth Press.
Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and Their Attributes, Chicago: Henry Regnery.
White, K. E. (1992). Guide to the Saints. NY: Ivy Books.


St. Dunstan
Archbishop and confessor, and one of the greatest saints of the Anglo-Saxon Church; b. near Glastonbury on the estate of his father, Heorstan, a West Saxon noble. His mother, Cynethryth, a woman of saintly life, was miraculously forewarned of the sanctity of the child within her. She was in the church of St. Mary on Candleday, when all the lights were suddenly extinguished. Then the candle held by Cynethryth was as suddenly relighted, and all present lit their candles at this miraculous flame, thus foreshadowing that the boy "would be the minister of eternal light" to the Church of England. In what year St. Dunstan was born has been much disputed. Osbern, a writer of the late eleventh century, fixes it at "the first year of the reign of King Aethelstan", i.e. 924-5. This date, however, cannot be reconciled with other known dates of St. Dunstan's life and involves many obvious absurdities. It was rejected, therefore, by Mobillon and Lingard; but on the strength of "two manuscripts of the Chronicle" and "an entry in an ancient Anglo-Saxon paschal table", Dr. Stubbs argued in its favour, and his conclusions have been very generally accepted. Careful examination, however, of this new evidence reveals all three passages as interpolations of about the period when Osbern was writing, and there seem to be very good reasons for accepting the opinion of Mabillon that the saint was born long before 925. Probably his birth dates from about the earliest years of the tenth century.

In early youth Dunstan was brought by his father and committed to the care of the Irish scholars, who then frequented the desolate sanctuary of Glastonbury. We are told of his childish fervour, of his vision of the great abbey restored to splendour, of his nearly fatal illness and miraculous recovery, of the enthusiasm with which he absorbed every kind of human knowledge and of his manual skill. Indeed, throughout his life he was noted for his devotion to learning and for his mastery of many kinds of artistic craftsmanship. With his parent's consent he was tonsured, received minor orders and served in the ancient church of St. Mary. So well known did he become for devotion of learning that he is said to have have been summoned by his uncle Athelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, to enter his service. By one of St. Dunstan's earliest biographers we are informed that the young scholar was introduced by his uncle to King Aethelstan, but there must be some mistake here, for Athelm and probably died about 923, and Aethelstan did not come to the throne till the following year. Perhaps there is confusion between Athelm and his successor Wulfhelm. At any rate the young man soon became so great a favourite with the king as to excite the envy of his kingfolk court. They accused him of studying heathen literature and magic, and so wrought on the king that St. Dunstan was ordered to leave the court. As he quitted the palace his enemies attacked him, beat him severely, bound him, and threw him into a filthy pit (probably a cesspool), treading him down in the mire. He managed to crawl out and make his way to the house of a friend whence he journeyed to Winchester and entered the service of Bishop Aelfheah the Bald, who was his relative. The bishop endeavoured to persuade him to become a monk, but St. Dunstan was at first doubtful whether he had a vocation to a celibate life. But an attack of swelling tumours all over his body, so severe that he thought it was leprosy, which was perhaps some form of blood-poisoning caused by the treatment to which he had been subjected, changed his mind. He made his profession at the hands of St. Aelfheah, and returned to live the life of a hermit at Glastonbury. Against the old church of St. Mary he built a little cell only five feet long and two and a half feet deep, where he studied and worked at his handicrafts and played on has harp. Here the devil is said (in a late eleventh legend) to have tempted him and to have been seized by the face with the saint's tongs.

While Dunstan was living thus at Glastonbury he became the trusted adviser of the Lady Aethelflaed, King Aethelstan's niece, and at her death found himself in control of all her great wealth, which he used in later life to foster and encourage the monastic revival. About the same time his father Heorstan died, and St. Dunstan inherited his possessions also. He was now become a person of much influence, and on the death of King Aethelstan in 940, the new King, Eadmund, summoned him to his court at Cheddar and numbered him among his councillors. Again the royal favour roused against him the jealousy of the courtiers, and they contrived so to enrage the king against him that he bade him depart from the court. There were then at Cheddar certain envoys from the "Eastern Kingdom", by which term may be meant either East Anglia or, as some have argued, the Kingdom of Saxony. To these St. Dunstan applied, imploring them to take him with them when they returned. They agreed to do so, but in the event their assistance was not needed. For, a few days later, the king rode out to hunt the stag in Mendip Forest. He became separated from his attendants and followed a stag at great speed in the direction of the Cheddar cliffs. The stag rushed blindly over the precipice and was followed by the hounds. Eadmund endeavoured vainly to stop his horse; then, seeing death to be imminent, he remembered his harsh treatment of St. Dunstan and promised to make amends if his life was spared. At that moment his horse was stopped on the very edge of the cliff. Giving thanks to God, he returned forthwith to his palace, called for St. Dunstan and bade him follow, then rode straight to Glastonbury. Entering the church, the king first knelt in prayer before the altar, then, taking St. Dunstan by the hand, he gave him the kiss of peace, led him to the abbot's throne and, seating him thereon, promised him all assistance in restoring Divine worship and regular observance.
St. Dunstan at once set vigorously to work at these tasks. He had to re-create monastic life and to rebuild the abbey. That it was Benedictine monasticism which he established at Glastonbury seems certain. It is true that he had not yet had personal experience of the stricter Benedictinism which had been revived on the Continent at great centres like Cluny and Fleury. Probably, also, much of the Benedictine tradition introduced by St. Augustine had been lost in the pagan devastations of the ninth century. But that the Rule of St. Benedict was the basis of his restoration is not only definitely stated by his first biographer, who knew the saint well, but is also in accordance with the nature of his first measures as abbot, with the significance of his first buildings, and with the Benedictine prepossessions and enthusiasm of his most prominent disciples. And the presence of secular clerks as well as of monks at Glastonbury seems to be no solid argument against the monastic character of the revival. St. Dunstan's first care was to reerect the church of St. Peter, rebuild the cloister, and re-establish the monastic enclosure. The secular affairs of the house were committed to his brother; Wulfric, "so that neither himself nor any of the professed monks might break enclosure". A school for the local youth was founded and soon became the most famous of its time in England. But St. Dunstan was not long left in peace. Within two years after the appointment King Eadmund was assassinated (946). His successor, Eadred, appointed the Abbot of Glastonbury guardian of the royal treasure of the realm to his hands. The policy of the government was supported by the queen-mother, Eadgifu, by the primate, Oda, and by the East Anglian party, at whose head was the great ealddorman, Aethelstan, the "Half-king". It was a policy of unification, of conciliation of the Danish half of the nation, of firm establishment of the royal authority. In ecclesiatical matters it favoured the spread of regular observance, the rebuilding of churches, the moral reform of the secular clergy and laity, the extirpation of heathendom. Against all this ardour of reform was the West-Saxon party, which included most of the saint's own relations and the Saxon nobles, and which was not entirely disinterested in its preference for established customs. For nine years St. Dunstan's influence was dominant, during which period he twice refused an bishopric (that of Winchester in 951 and Credition in 953), affirming that he would not leave the king's side so long as he lived and needed him.

In 955 Eadred died, and the situation was at once changed. Eadwig, the elder son of Eadmund, who then came to the throne, was a dissolute and headstrong youth, wholly devoted to the reactionary party and entirely under the influence of two unprincipled women. These were Aethelgifu, a lady of high rank, who was perhaps the king's foster-mother, and her daughter Aelfgifu, whom she desired to marry to Eadwig. On the day of his coronation, in 956, the king abruptly quit the royal feast, in order to enjoy the company of these two women. The indignation of the assembled nobles was voiced by Archbishop Oda, who suggested that he should be brought back. None, however, were found bold enough to make the attempt save St. Dunstan and his kinsman Cynesige, Bishop of Lichfield. Entering the royal chamber they found Eadwig with the two harlots, the royal crown thrown carelessly on the ground. They delivered their message, and as the king took no notice, St. Dunstan compelled him to rise and replace his crown on his head, then, sharply rebuking the two women, he led him back to the banquet-hall. Aethelgifu determined to be revenged, and left no stone unturned to procure the overthrow of St. Dunstan. Conspiring with the leaders of the West-Saxon party she was soon able to turn his scholars against the abbot and before long induced Eadwig to confiscate all Dunstan's property in her favour. At first Dunstan took refuge with his friends, but they too felt the weight of the king's anger. Then seeing his life was threatened he fled the realm and crossed over to Flanders, where he found himself ignorant alike of the language and of the customs of the inhabitants. But the ruler of Flanders, Count Arnulf I, received him with honour and lodged him in the Abbey of Mont Blandin, near Ghent. This was one of the centres of the Benedictine revival in that country, and St. Dunstan was able for the first time to observe the strict observance that had had its renascence at Cluny at the beginning of the century. But his exile was not of long duration. Before the end of 957 the Mercians and Northumbrians unable no longer to endure the excesses of Eadwig, revolted and drove him out, choosing his brother Eadzar as king of all the country north of the Thames. The south remained faithful to Eadwig. At once Eadgar's advisers recalled St. Dunstan, caused Archbishop Oda to consecrate him a bishop, and on the death of Cynewold of Worcester at the end of 957 appointed the saint to that see. In the following year the See of London also became vacant and was conferred on St. Dunstan, who held it in conjunction with Worcester. In October, 959, Eadwig died and his brother was readily accepted as ruler of the West-Saxon kingdom. One of the last acts of Eadwig had been to appoint a successor to Archbishop Oda, who died on 2 June, 958. First he appointed Aelfsige of Winchester, but he perished of cold in the Alps as he journeyed to Rome for the pallium. In his place Eadwig nominated Brithelm, Bishop of Wells. As soon as Eadgar became king he reversed this act on the ground that Brithelm had not been able to govern even his former diocese properly. The archbishopric was conferred on St. Dunstan, who went to Rome 960 and received the pallium from Pope John XII. We are told that, on his journey thither, the saint's charities were so lavish as to leave nothing for himself and his attendants. The steward remonstrated, but St. Dunstan merely suggested trust in Jesus Christ. That same evening he was offered the hospitality of a neighbouring abbot.

On his return from Rome Dunstan at once regained his position as virtual ruler of the kingdom. By his advice Aelfstan was appointed to the Bishopric of London, and St. Oswald to that of Worcester. In 963 St. Aethelwold, the Abbot of Abingdon, was appointed to the See of Winchester. With their aid and with the ready support of King Eadgar, St. Dunstan pushed forward his reforms in Church and State. Throughout the realm there was good order maintained and respect for law. Trained bands policed the north, a navy guarded the shores from Danish pirates. There was peace in the kingdom such as had not been known within memory of living man. Monasteries were built, in some of the great cathedrals ranks took the place of the secular canons; in the rest the canons were obliged to live according to rule. The parish priests were compelled to live chastely and to fit themselves for their office; they were urged to teach parishioners not only the truths of the Catholic Faith, but also such handicrafts as would improve their position. So for sixteen years the land prospered. In 973 the seal was put on St. Dunstan's statesmanship by the solemn coronation of King Eadgar at Bath by the two Archbishops of Canterbury and York. It is said that for seven years the king had been forbidden to wear his crown, in penance for violating a virgin living in the care of the nunnery of Wilton. That some severe penance had been laid on him for this act by St. Dunstan is undoubted, but it took place in 961 and Eadgar wore no crown till the great day at Bath in 973. Two years after his crowning Eadgar died, and was succeeded by his eldest son Eadward. His accession was disputed by his step-mother, Aelfthryth, who wished her own son Aethelred to reign. But, by the influence of St. Dunstan, Eadward was chosen and crowned at Winchester. But the death of Eadgar had given courage to the reactionary party. At once there was an determined attack upon the monks, the protagonists of reform. Throughout Mercia they were persecuted and deprived of their possessions by Aelfhere, the ealdorman. Their cause, however, was supported by Aethelwine, the ealdorman of East Anglia, and the realm was in serious danger of civil war. Three meetings of the Witan were held to settle these disputes, at Kyrtlington, at Calne, and at Amesbury. At the second place the floor of the hall (solarium) where the Witan was sitting gave way, and all except St. Dunstan, who clung to a beam, fell into the room below, not a few being killed. In March, 978, King Eadward was assassinated at Corfe Castle, possibly at the instigation of his step-mother, and Aetheled the Redeless became king. His coronation on Low Sunday, 978, was the last action of the state in which St. Dunstsn took part. When the young king took the usual oath to govern well, the primate addressed him in solemn warning, rebuking the bloody act whereby he became king and prophesying the misfortunes that were shortly to fall on the realm. But Dunstan's influence at court was ended. He retired to Canterbury, where he spent the remainder of his life. Thrice only did he emerge from this retreat: once in 980 when he joined Aelfhere of Mercia in the solemn translation of the relics of King Eadward from their mean grave at Wareham to a splendid tomb at Shaftesbury Abbey; again in 984 when, in obedience to a vision of St. Andrew, he persuaded Aethelred to appoint St. Aelfheah to Winchester in succession to St. Aethelwold; once more in 986, when he induced the king, by a donation of 100 pounds of silver, to desist from his persecution of the See of Rochester.

St. Dunstan's life at Canterbury is characteristic; long hours, both day and night, were spent in private prayer, besides his regular attendance at Mass and the Office. Often he would visit the shrines of St. Augustine and St. Ethelbert, and we are told of a vision of angels who sang to him heavenly canticles. He worked ever for the spiritual and temporal improvement of his people, building and restoring churches, establishing schools, judging suits, defending the widow and the orphan, promoting peace, enforcing respect for purity. He practised, also, his handicrafts, making bells and organs and correcting the books in the cathedral library. He encouraged and protected scholars of all lands who came to England, and was unwearied as a teacher of the boys in the cathedral school. There is a sentence in the earliest biography, written by his friend, that shows us the old man sitting among the lads, whom he treated so gently, and telling them stories of his early days and of his forebears. And long after his death we are told of children who prayed to him for protection against harsher teachers, and whose prayers were answered. On the vigil of Ascension Day, 988 he was warned by a vision of angels that he had but three days to live. On the feast itself he pontificated at Mass and preached three times to the people: once at the Gospel, a second time at the benediction (then given after the Pater Noster), and a third time after the Agnus Dei. In this last address he announced his impending death and bade them farewell. That afternoon he chose the spot for his tomb, then took to his bed. His strength failed rapidly, and on Saturday morning (19 May), after the hymn at Matins, he caused the clergy to assemble. Mass was celebrated in his presence, then he received Extreme Unction and the Holy Viaticum, and expired as he uttered the words of thanksgiving: "He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: He hath given food to them that fear Him." They buried him in his cathedral; and when that was burnt down in 1074, his relics were translated with great honour by Lanfranc to a tomb on the south side of the high altar in the new church. The monks of Glastonbury used to claim that during the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1012, the saint's body had been carried for safety to their abbey; but this claim was disproved by Archbishop Warham, by whom the tomb at Canterbury was opened in 1508 and the holy relics found. At the Synod of Winchester in 1029, St. Dunstan's feast was ordered to be kept solemnly throughout England on 19 May. Until his fame was overshadowed by that of St. Thomas the Martyr, he was the favourite saint of the English people. His shrine was destroyed at the Reformation. Throughout the Middle Ages he was the patron of the goldsmiths' guild. He is most often represented holding a pair of smith's tongs; sometimes, in reference to his visions, he is shown with a dove hovering near him, or with a troop of angels before him.

Toke, Leslie. "St. Dunstan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 19 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05199a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
May 19
St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Confessor
HE was a native of the town of Glastenbury, of noble birth, and received his education under certain Irish monks who were excellent masters of the sciences, and at that time resided at Glastenbury, which, the wars had left in a most ruinous condition. Dunstan outstripped his companions in every branch of literature which he thought worth his attention, and through the recommendation of Athelmus, archbishop of Canterbury, his uncle, with whom he had lived some time, was called to the court of the great king Athelstan, a lover of virtue and learned men. He enjoyed the favour of that prince above all the rest who had the honour to approach his person, till envy made him feel the usual instability of the fortune of courtiers. Dunstan had in his youth received the clerical tonsure and the lesser orders, and from his cradle been fervent in practising every means of virtue, especially of modesty, purity, and humility. After he left the court he took the monastic habit, being advised thereto by Elphegus the Bald, bishop of Winchester, also his uncle, who not long after ordained him priest. When he was well grounded in the knowledge and practice of the duties of his profession, the bishop, on giving him proper instructions for his conduct, sent him to Glastenbury, with the view of serving that church. Here he built for himself a small cell, five feet long, and two and a half broad, with an oratory adjoining to the wall of the great church which was dedicated under the invocation of the Mother of God. In this hermitage he spent his time in prayer and fasting. He had also his hours for manual labour, which is a part of penance, and necessary to shun idleness. His labour consisted in making crosses, vials, censers, and sacred vestments; he likewise painted and copied good books. King Athelstan dying after a glorious reign of sixteen years, the throne was filled by his brother Edmund, who succeeded to the crown in 900. His palace of Chedder was but nine miles from Glastenbury, to which church he often resorted with singular devotion, and having been long acquainted with the sanctity of St. Dunstan, he installed him the nineteenth abbot of that house from St. Brithwald, who was the first Englishman who had governed it, two hundred and seventy years before. 1 King Edmund had reigned only six years and a half, when he was treacherously murdered, and buried at Glastenbury. His sons Edwi and Edgar being too young to govern, his brother Edred was called to the crown, who did nothing but by the advice of St. Dunstan. He ended his pious life in 955, and was succeeded by his nephew Edwi, a most debauched and profligate youth, who, on the very day on which he was anointed king, left his nobles at the royal banquet to go to see his harlot and impious flatterers. St. Dunstan followed him, and endeavoured by a severe check to put him in mind of the duty which he owed to God and men. In requital, the tyrant banished him, persecuted all the monks in his kingdom, and ruined all the abbeys which had escaped the devastation of the Danes, except Glastenbury and Abingdon.
St. Dunstan spent one year in exile in Flanders, and, according to Osbern, at St. Peter’s at Ghent, where his vestment is still shown; but, according to John of Glastenbury, at St. Amand’s; the tradition and monuments of both places show, that he divided the year between them. He filled all Flanders with the odour of his sanctity, and the example of his virtues; but the Mercians and northern provinces shaking off the yoke of the tyrant Edwi, placed the crown on Edgar, who immediately recalled St. Dunstan, made him his principal counsellor, and in 957 preferred him to the bishopric of Worcester, to which he was consecrated by St. Odo, archbishop of Canterbury. The see of London becoming vacant shortly after, he was compelled at the same time also to govern that diocess, notwithstanding his opposition, the public disorders requiring so strenuous a reformer of discipline and manners. King Edwi having reigned over all England one year, and over the southern part four years, ended a wicked life by an unhappy death in 959, when Edgar became sole monarch of the English nation, which he governed with the greatest courage, prudence, and glory. In 961, St. Dunstan was raised to the metropolitan see of Canterbury, though he used every device possible to decline that dignity. He was moreover appointed by Pope John XII., legate, of the holy see. Being vested with this authority, he set himself about re-establishing every where ecclesiastical discipline, which had been much impaired by the confusion of the Danish invasions, and the tyranny of king Edwi; in which he was powerfully protected by king Edgar, and assisted by his two disciples, St. Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, and St. Oswald, bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York. These three prelates restored most of the great monasteries in England. To establish in them a uniform and perfect regular discipline, St. Dunstan compiled the Concord of Rules, extant in Reyner and Spelman, in which he incorporates several old monastic customs with the rule of St. Bennet. The reformation of the clergy was no less the object of his zeal. For their use he drew up excellent regulations, which may be seen in Spelman 2 under this title: Canons published under King Edgar. Several among the secular clergy had, through the disorder of the times, fallen into so open a violation of the canons as to presume to marry. These St. Dunstan expelled from the churches and monasteries into which they had intruded themselves, and brought in monks in their place, who had been in possession of divers of them before the Danish devastations. At Winchester, when St. Ethelwold had ejected the secular canons for incontinency, and placed monks in his cathedral, the former appealed from his proceedings. A synod therefore was held at Winchester, in 968. In this venerable assembly was heard a voice as coming from a crucifix in the place, which said distinctly, “God forbid it should be so. You have judged well: to change your decree is not good.” Upon which the synod confirmed what St. Ethelwold had done, and king Edward the martyr made this decree a law of the state.
St. Dunstan was no less vigorous in maintaining discipline among the laity, in which no motives of human respect were ever able to daunt him, or to damp his zeal. King Edgar had the misfortune to fall into a scandalous crime, by deflouring a virgin who had been educated in the monastery of Wilton, and who, to elude his pursuits, had put on a religious veil, but had not made any profession or vows. St. Dunstan being informed of this scandal, went in haste to the court, and like another Nathan reproved the king in a zealous, but respectful manner. The prince, struck with remorse, begged with many tears that a suitable penance might be enjoined him, and became a faithful imitator of the perfect royal penitent David. The archbishop enjoined him a penance for seven years; during which term he was never to wear his crown, was ordered to fast twice a week, and to give large alms. Another part of his penance was to found a nunnery, in which many holy virgins might consecrate themselves chaste spouses to Christ, in satisfaction for his crime in having violated a virgin. These conditions the king faithfully performed, and founded a rich monastery of nuns at Shaftsbury. The term of his penance being elapsed in 973, St. Dunstan, in a public assembly of the lords and prelates, set the crown again upon his head. This great king ruled sixteen years, and dying in the thirty-second year of his age, left the kingdom to his eldest son, Edward the martyr. The death of that pious young prince was a grievous affliction to St. Dunstan, who, when he crowned his younger brother, in 979, foretold the weakness and the dreadful calamities of his reign. The Welsh bishops had always been governed by the archbishop of St. David’s till about the year 983, when we find Gacon consecrated bishop of Landaff by St. Dunstan; from which time the see of St. David’s lost its metropolitical jurisdiction.
St. Dunstan frequently visited the churches over the whole kingdom, everywhere preaching and instructing the faithful with great zeal. Such were the dignity and the eloquence with which he delivered the word of God, that few were so hardened as to withstand the power of his exhortations. He employed his revenues in relieving the poor, he reconciled differences, refuted errors, and laboured incessantly in extirpating vices and abuses. But neither the care of his church, nor the attendance he was obliged often to give to the state, made him ever forget to find time for holy prayer and retirement; and after the occupations of the day, he watched late at night in the private communications of his soul with God. Glastenbury was his dearest solitude, and thither he would often retire from the world to devote himself entirely to heavenly contemplation. At Canterbury it was always his custom to visit in the night, even in the coldest weather, the church of St. Austin without the walls, and that of the Blessed Virgin adjoining to it. Finding himself taken ill in that city, he prepared himself for his last hour by redoubling his fervour in all his practices of penance and devotion. On the feast of the ascension of our Lord, he preached thrice on that triumphant mystery, exhorting all to follow our Redeemer and Head in spirit and desire. Whilst he spoke, his countenance, like that of Moses coming down from the mount, seemed to shine and dart forth rays of light. In the close of his last discourse, he begged the prayers of his audience, and told his flock that God called him from them. At which words all that heard him were filled with inexpressible grief. In the afternoon he went again to the church, and appointed a place for his burial; then he took to his bed, and on the Saturday following, the 19th of May, having received the viaticum, he calmly expired; closing his corporal eyes to the world, and at the same instant opening those of his soul to behold God with his angels in glory. His death happened the 19th of May, 988, the sixty-fourth year of his age, and the twenty-seventh of his archiepiscopal dignity. He was buried in his own cathedral in the place he had appointed. John of Glastenbury relates that his bones were translated to Glastenbury in 1012, two years after the martyrdom of St. Elphege; but this at most could only be true of some portion thereof; for in 1508, archbishop Warham found his relics remaining under his monument, which was then on the south side of the high altar. See his life in Mabillon, (Sæc. Ben. 5, p. 659,) by Osbern, precenter of Canterbury in 1070, and that by Eadmer, in 1121; in Wharton, t. 1, p. 211. See also John of Glastenbury, in his history of that abbey, published by Mr. Hearne, t. 1, p. 115, ad p. 147, likewise Henschenius, t. 4, Maij, p. 334.
Note 1. The West-Saxon kings exceedingly enriched the abbey of Glastenbury, as may be seen by their charters extant in John of Glastenbury, &c. But it had been famous in the times of the Britons, and its church was the oldest in Britain, founded by those who first planted the faith of Christ in this island; which happened about the end of the reign of Tiberius, says Gildas, though few at first embraced it, as he adds. Metaphrastes quotes a passage from Eusebius, importing that St. Peter preached in Britain. Fortunatus, Sophronius, &c. affirm the same of St. Paul. It is at least certain from Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Theodoret, &c. that the light of the gospel had diffused its rays into Britain soon after the dispersion of the apostles. William of Malmesbury, (l. de Antiquitatibus Glastoniæ, published by the learned Thomas Gale,) relates from very ancient records, that the old church of Glastenbury was built by those who had sown the first seeds of faith in Britain. This island amidst marshes was first called Avallona, or isle of apples, from the British word Aval, apples, because it abounded with apple-trees, which were very scarce in those parts. When twelve brothers came from North-Britain to seek settlements in that country, the youngest, named Glasteing, settled in this island, which from him took the name of Glastenbury. William of Malmesbury, (l. de Antiq. Glaston.) says, that St. Patrick, in 433, finding in this island twelve anchorets, gathered them together in a monastery which he built near the old church, and was himself the first abbot. Some think this St. Patrick the same who was the apostle of Ireland; but all the Glastenbury writers agree, that this St. Patrick died and lay buried at Glastenbury. Most of the British saints of note, who lived before the coming of the Saxons, are said to have been buried here, or at least to have for some time retired to this place of devotion. In Powel’s History of Wales, p. 13, 14, it is related that Cadwallader, the last king of the Britons, fled from the swords of the Saxons into Wales, and soon after went to Rome never to return. Alan his cousin, a British king, reigned in Armorica, where a great number of Britons, who had followed Maximus by his grant, had settled themselves with their leader, named Conan, lord of Meriadoc. This prince, hearing of the retreat of Cadwallader, sailed to Wales, and having raised an army, sent his son Ivor at the head of it against the West-Saxons, whom he defeated. The conquest of Cornwall, Devon, and Somersetshire, was the fruit of his victory, and by a treaty and intermarriage he obtained quiet possession of the same, and was first king of that British state. This historian tells us that Ivor founded the monastery of Glastenbury, called by the Britons Inys-Avalon; for though he found there a church which was as ancient as Christianity in Britain, he first converted it into an abbey about the year 700. If monks had been placed there before, the wars had probably dispersed them, or much reduced their number. The annals of the abbey of Morgan in Glamorganshire, published by Gale, relate that in 1191, in digging a grave for a monk, were found here the bones of King Arthur, of an enormous size, with this inscription: “Here lies the illustrious King Arthur, buried in the isle of Avallona.” Those of his wife Queen Guenhavere, with the hair entire, lay above his coffin in the same grave. Powel places this discovery in 1179, and mentions that their bodies were laid in a hollow elder-tree, buried fifteen feet in the earth. Over the bones was laid a stone with a cross of lead, and on the lower side the above-mentioned inscription. On the king’s skull were the marks of ten wounds, one of them very large. The queen’s hair seemed to the sight fair and yellow, but when touched crumbled presently to dust. This discovery is also related by John of Glastenbury, in his history of that abbey, published by Mr. Hearne. This last author enumerates the principal relics which were possessed by this abbey, as those of SS. Aidan, Ceolfrid, Boisil, Bede, Bennet, Biscop, Oswald, &c. (brought thither from the North by King Edmund the elder in his victorious wars); also of St. Valerius, B. M., St. Anastasius, and SS. Abdon and Sennen, given by King Edgar, St. David, &c., likewise a considerable portion of the true cross of Christ, given by King Alfred, who had received it from Pope Martin. Some account of the rich treasury formerly belonging to this most venerable church, in which were innumerable monuments of the piety of all the most glorious among the West-Saxon kings, may be seen in the history of the said John, and in the Monasticons. [back]
Note 2. Conc. Angl. t. 1, p. 447. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.
Dunstan of Canterbury, OSB B (RM)

Born at Baltonsborough near Glastonbury, England, c. 909; died 988. Dunstan, born of a noble Anglo-Saxon family with connections to the ruling house of Wessex, was one of the great figures in English history. He received his early education from the Irish monks at Glastonbury. While still young, he was sent as a page to the court of Athelstan.

He had already received the tonsure, and his uncle, Bishop Saint Alphege the Bald of Winchester, encouraged him to join the religious life. Dunstan hesitated for some time and nearly got married, but after recovering from a skin condition he believed to be leprosy, he received the habit (in 934) and holy orders from his uncle the same day as Saint Ethelwold circa 939.

He returned to Glastonbury and is thought to have built a small cell next to the old church, where he engaged in prayer, study, and manual labor that included making bells and sacred vessels for the church and copying or illuminating books. He is said to have excelled as a painter, embroiderer, harpist, bell-founder, and metal worker. As Dunstan would play the harp and sing to the nuns of the abbey as they embroidered his designs. Once, it is said, when he hung up his harp on the wall and left the room for a while, the harp continued to play of its own accord, caused, no doubt, by a current of air vibrating the strings. But the residents of the abbey took it to be an omen of Dunstan's future greatness.

Dunstan also loved the music of the human voice: when he sang at the altar, wrote a contemporary, "he seemed to be talking with the Lord face to face." As one skilled in the arts, Dunstan stimulated the revival of church art.

Athelstan's successor, Edmund, called him to court to act as a royal counselor and treasurer. In 943, King Edmund I narrowly escaped death while hunting, he appointed Dunstan abbot of Glastonbury with the commission to restore monastic life there and richly endowed the monastery. According to the old Saxon chronicle, Dunstan was only 18 when he became abbot of Glastonbury.

Dunstan restored the monastery buildings and the Church of Saint Peter. By introducing monks among the priests already in residence, he enforced regular discipline without making waves. He made the abbey into a great center of learning. Dunstan also revitalized other monasteries in Glastonbury.

The murder of King Edmund was followed by the accession of his brother Edred, who made Dunstan one of his top advisors. Dunstan became deeply embroiled in secular politics and incurred the wrath of the West Saxon nobles for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes.

In 955, Edred died and was succeeded by his 16-year-old nephew Edwy. On the day of his coronation, Edwy left the royal banquet to see a girl named Elgiva and her mother. For this he was sternly rebuked by Dunstan, and the prince deeply resented the chastisement. With the support of the opposing party, Dunstan was disgraced, his property confiscated, and he was exiled.

He spent a year then in Ghent, Flanders, and there he came into contact with reformed continental monasticism. This experience fueled his vision of Benedictine perfection that would inspire his work from then on.

A rebellion broke out in England; the north and east deposed Edwy and put his brother Edgar the Peaceful on the throne. Edgar recalled Dunstan and appointed him chief adviser, in 957 bishop of Worcester, and bishop of London in 958. On Edwy's death in 959, the kingdom was reunited under Edgar, who appointed Dunstan archbishop of Canterbury in 961. Together the two initiated a policy of reform to solidify both the Church and the country. At Canterbury, Dunstan founded an abbey east of the city and three churches: Saint Mary, SS. Peter and Paul, and Saint Pancras.

In 961, Dunstan went to Rome to receive the pallium and was appointed by Pope John XII a legate of the Holy See. With this authority, he set about re-establishing ecclesiastical discipline, under the protection of King Edgar and assisted by Saint Ethelwold, the bishop of Winchester, and Saint Oswald, the bishop of Worcester and the archbishop of York. In those days, English monastic life had almost vanished as a result of the Danish invasions. They restored most of the great monasteries, such as Abingdon, that had been destroyed during the Danish incursions and founded new ones.

Dunstan founded monasteries at Bath, Exeter, Westminster, Malmesbury, and other places. He drew up rules for each to instill good order. Recalcitrant secular priests were ejected and replaced by monks in Winchester, Chertsey, Surrey, and Dorset. About 970 a conference of bishops, abbots, and abbesses drew up a national code of monastic observance, the Regularis Concordia. It was in line with continental custom and the Rule of Saint Benedict but had its own features: the monasteries were to be integrated into the life of the people, and their influence was not to be confined within the monastery walls.

Clergy who had been living scandalous lives or boldly disregarding canonical laws of celibacy were reformed. Dunstan remained firm in his moral standards, even to deferring Edgar's coronation for 14 years--likely due to a disapproval of Edgar's scandalous behavior. He modified the coronation rite, and some of his modifications devised for Edgar's coronation in Bath in 973 survive to this day.

Through 16 years of Edgar's reign, Dunstan acted as his chief adviser, criticizing him freely. One on occasion when the king had been guilty of immorality, Dunstan withstood him to his face, refusing to take his outstretched hand and turned abruptly from him with the words: "I am no friend of the enemy of Christ." Later he imposed a penance that for seven years the king was not to wear his crown.

Dunstan continued to direct the state during the short reign of the succeeding king, Edward the Martyr, Dunstan's protege. The death of the young king, connected with the antimonastic reaction following Edgar's death, grieved Dunstan terribly. His political career now over, he returned to Canterbury to teach at the cathedral school, where visions, prophecies, and miracles were attributed to him. He was especially devoted to the Canterbury saints, whose tombs he visited at night.

On the feast of the Ascension in 988 the archbishop was ill but celebrated Mass and preached three times to his people, to whom he declared that he would soon die. Two days later he died peacefully in his Cathedral of Christ Church, where he is buried. He is considered the reviver of monasticism in England. It has been said that the 10th century gave shape to English history, and that Dunstan gave shape to the 10th century. He composed several hymns, notably Kyrie Rex spendens (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Duckett, Fisher, Gill, White).

In art, he is shown as a bishop holding the devil (or his nose) with a pair of pincers; or with a crucifix speaking to him (White). He might also be shown (1) holding the tongs; (2) working as a goldsmith; (3) playing a harp; (4) with a host of angels near him; (5) with a dove; or (6) as a monk prostrate at the feet of Christ (in a drawing said to be his own) (Roeder).

He is the patron saint of armorers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, jewelers (Delaney, White), blacksmiths, musicians, and the blind (Roeder).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0519.shtml

Saint Dunstan of Canterbury

Profile

Son of Heorstan, a Wessex nobleman. Nephew of Saint Athelm, and related to Saint Alphege of Winchester. Educated at Glastonbury Abbey by Irish monks. Hermit. Monk. Expert goldsmith, metal-worker, and harpist. Ordained by Saint Alphege. Appointed abbot of Glastonbury in 944 by King Edmund I of England. He rebuilt the abbey, introduced the Benedictine Rule, and established a famous school. Close advisor to King Eadred and King Eadgar. Bishop of Worcester, England, and of London, England. Archbishop of Canterbury, England in 960. The combination of spiritual authority and political influence made him the virtual regent of the kingdom. Spiritual director of Saint Wulsin of Sherborne. Reformed church life in 10th century England. Advisor to King Edwy until he commented on the king‘s profligate sexual ways – which caused the bishop to be exiled. In 978, with the ascension of King Ethelred the Unready, he retired from political life to Canterbury. Had the gift of prophecy.

Born


San Dunstano Monaco e vescovo


Baltonsborough, Somerset, 910 c. - 19 maggio 988

Nasce a Baltonsborough, nella contea di Somerset, intorno al 910. Ancora fanciullo è affidato all'abbazia di Glastonbury, tenuta da sacerdoti secolari. Nel 925 suo zio Atelmo, arcivescovo di Canterbury, lo introduce nella corte di Atelstano. Ne viene cacciato dieci anni dopo per le accuse di consanguinei invidiosi. Spinto da uno zio, sant'Elfego, vescovo di Winchester, Dunstano decide di farsi monaco durante una grave malattia. Emessi i voti monastici a titolo puramente personale, perché il monachismo è pressocché scomparso dall'isola, e ordinato poco dopo sacerdote assieme all'amico sant'Etelvoldo, va già progettando la restaurazione della vita monastica, quando nel 943 il nuovo re Edmondo lo nomina abate di Glastonbury. In 15 anni, Dunstano fa di questa abbazia il centro del nuovo monachismo benedettino in Inghilterra. Degli oppositori, però, inducono il nuovo re, Edwig, sedicenne, ad espellerlo dall'isola. Due anni dopo, nel 958, il nuovo re Edgaro il Pacifico lo richiama in patria e gli affida la sede di Worcester (958), poi quella di Londra (959) e finalmente la sede primaziale di Canterbury (960). Dopo aver fatto fiorire la riforma del monachesimo inglese, muore il 19 maggio 988. (Avvenire)

Patronato: Ciechi, Fabbri

Emblema: Bastone pastorale, Pinze

Martirologio Romano: A Canterbury in Inghilterra, san Dunstano, vescovo, che, dapprima abate di Glastonbury, rinnovò e propagò la vita monastica e nella sede episcopale di Worcester, poi di Londra e, infine, di Canterbury si adoperò per promuovere la concordia dei monaci e delle monache prescritta dalla regola.

Nacque a Baltonsborough, nella contea di Somerset, intorno al 910, da nobile famiglia, imparentata con quella reale e che aveva già dato tre vescovi. Ancora fanciullo fu affidato all'abbazia di Glastonbury, tenuta da sacerdoti secolari. Vi ricevette una buona formazione non solo nelle lettere, ma anche nelle arti della pittura, miniatura, oreficeria e nel suono dell'arpa. La tradizione gli attribuisce il Kirie, Rex splendens, il VII dell'ed. Vaticana.

Nel 925 suo zio Atelmo, arcivescovo di Canterbury, lo introdusse nella corte di Atelstano (92439). Ne fu cacciato dieci anni dopo per le accuse di consanguinei invidiosi; pensava di sposarsi, ma un altro zio, s. Elfego, vescovo di Winchester, insisteva perché si facesse monaco. Dunstano prese questa decisione durante una grave malattia che lo portò sull'orlo della tomba. Emessi i voti monastici a titolo puramente personale, perché il monachismo era pressocché scomparso dall'isola, e ordinato poco dopo sacerdote assieme all'amico s. Etelvoldo, andava già progettando la restaurazione della vita monastica, quando nel 94345 il nuovo re Edmondo (939-46) lo nominò abate di Glastonbury. In quindici anni, Dunstano fece di questa abbazia il focolare del nuovo monachismo benedettino in Inghilterra, una fucina di abati e di vescovi. Di là egli influiva anche sulla politica religiosa di Edmondo e del suo successore Edred (946-55). Non mancavano però degli oppositori, i quali indussero il nuovo re, lo scostumato Edwig (955-58), sedicenne, ad espellerlo dall'isola. Allora Dunstano fu ospite del monastero di S. Pietro a Gand, di recente riformato da Cluny, sicché poté arricchirsi anche di quest'altra esperienza monastica. Due anni dopo, nel 958, il nuovo re Edgaro il Pacifico (957-75) lo richiamò in patria e gli diede la sede di Worcester (958), poi quella di Londra (959) e finalmente la sede primaziale di Canterbury (960).

In qualità di primate Dunstano, nel 961, consacrò vescovo di Worcester s. Osvaldo, già monaco di Fleury, e nel 963 vescovo di Winchester s. Etelvoldo. E così tre grandi vescovi provenienti dal monachismo erano alla testa della riforma monastica dell'isola, che in questo tempo toccò il suo apogeo con una trentina di monasteri maschili e sei femminili. Per impedire che la diversità delle consuetudini e l'ingerenza dei laici provocassero divisioni e contrasti, il concilio di Winchester del 975 ca. promulgò la Regularis concordia Anglicae nationis monachoram sanctimonialiumque, opera di s. Etelvoldo, ma composta sotto l'influsso dell'esperienza monastica di Dunstano il quale continuava anche ad influenzare la politica religiosa del re Edgaro e poi quella del successore s. Edoardo il Martire. Dopo l'assassinio di questi, Dunstano, vecchio ormai, si limitò alla cura della diocesi.

I biografi ce lo mostrano occupato nell'istruzione religiosa del suo popolo, nell'esercizio della giustizia ecclesiastica e nelle opere di misericordia, ma soprattutto nella preghiera liturgica e privata; unico svago la correzione di qualche manoscritto. Morì il 19 maggio 988 e fu sepolto nella cattedrale di Canterbury. Numerosi miracoli gli furono attribuiti in vita e ancor più dopo la morte, sicché il culto verso di lui si diffuse rapidamente. "Ci volle la gloria di s. Tommaso Becket, l'arcivescovo martire, per eclissare quella del grande riformatore del sec. X" (Vies des Saints, V, p. 370).

Autore:
Ireneo Daniele