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Stained glass window of a doveWilliam, Archbishop of York, is a rather intriguing saint due to the conflicts surrounding his “on again, off again” reign as archbishop, due in part to its timing.

It was during a period of great civil unrest in England known as the Anarchy (1135-54) when the armies of the two cousins – Stephen of Blois and Empress Matilda – were fighting each other for the English crown. William was the nephew of Stephen of Blois, which launched his ecclesiastical career right into the middle of the political conflict.

William was the unusually young treasurer of York Minster prior to his election as Archbishop of the diocese in 1141; but, even though he was elected by majority vote and with the support of Stephen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald of Bec, who stood behind Empress Matilda on the other side of the political chasm, refused to recognize the canonical election and would not consecrate William. Indignant, Stephen authorized his brother, also William’s uncle, Archbishop Henry of Winchester, to consecrate him…without waiting for papal approval. Despite this, the clergy and people of York loved their new bishop for they saw in him a man of deep and intense piety, personal austerity, kindheartedness, and devoted generosity, especially towards the poor.

St. William of YorkHowever, the Cistercians of Yorkshire, who had supported Henry Murdac, the Cistercian Abbot of Fountains Abbey, in the election, with the support and help of the renowned St. Bernard of Clairvaux, succeeded in accusing him of simony, sins against chastity, and intrusion, resulting in his deposition by Pope Eugenius III (also a Cistercian) and the corresponding appointment of Henry Murdac to head the diocese in William's place. However, the clergy of York refused to admit Murdac into the city and he was forced to withdraw and retire to Beverley for the remainder of his days. He died in 1147.

From this time until 1153, William took refuge with his friend the King of Sicily, where he lived a very austere life as a monk. By this time, the opponents to his election had died and the civil war in England had ended, and William appealed to the new pope, Anastasius IV, to restore him to his office. The Pope concurred and conferred on William the papal pallium. Thus, Archbishop William reentered his diocese in April, 1154, to the accompaniment of such a mass of exuberant supporters that the bridge over the Ouse collapsed under the weight. That no one was killed in the accident is considered a miracle.

Sadly, he was hardly back in office a month, before he died on June 8th, 1154, allegedly from his chalice being poisoned during Mass.

He was canonized in 1227, by Pope Honorius III due to the large number of miracles reported at his tomb.

 


 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 25, 2020

“I will take away not the grace but the feeling of grace...

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May 25

 

“I will take away
not the grace but the feeling of grace.
Though I will seem to leave you
I will be closer to you.”

Our Lord to St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Pope St. Gregory VII

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cri...

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Pope St. Gregory VII

Pope Gregory VII was born Hildebrand in Tuscany, Italy. Little else is known of his early life. Hailed, historically, as one of the greatest of the Church's pontiffs and one of the most remarkable men of all time, his name, Hildebrand, meant “bright flame”. Those who hated him, which were many, interpreted the name as “brand of Hell”.

Hildebrand was a Benedictine monk, for a time living in Cluny, from whence he certainly gleaned the monastery’s ideal of societal reform.

As a cleric, he became chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, and a few years later, under Leo IX was made Cardinal Deacon. A man of outstanding energy and insight, Hildebrand became a power in Rome. It is greatly due to him that the practice of electing popes through a college of cardinals was established.

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cried out for the holy genius who had helped steer the Church for twenty years, “Hildebrand for Pope! Holy Peter wants Hildebrand, the Archdeacon!” Once before the holy monk had eluded the tiara but this time a proper college of cardinals, seconding the popular cry, induced him to accept an honor duly his.

Hildebrand assumed the name Gregory VII, and threw his energy and zeal into a continued reform, especially fighting simony (the sale of ecclesiastical posts) and clerical incontinence.

He confronted Emperor Henry IV head- on about his practice of choosing men for ecclesiastical positions. On meeting with dogged resistance, the pontiff finally had recourse to excommunication which drastically curtailed the proud monarch’s power, ultimately bringing Henry on foot to the Pope at the Castle of Canossa. Because of Henry’s rebellious obstinacy, Pope Gregory saw fit to leave him out in the cold for three days before receiving and reinstating the royal penitent.

But Henry failed to make any true personal reform and alienated his princes who elected another ruler. Still, he later rallied and went as far as electing another Pope, a Clement III, calling down upon himself another sentence of excommunication. He also attacked and entered the Eternal City in 1084, which forced Pope Gregory into exile. Henry had his protégée “pope” crown him Emperor. Ultimately repelled by an army fighting for the true pope, the Emperor Henry left Rome, but complications sent Gregory VII again into exile, this time to die.

His last words before his death were a summary of how he had lived, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion t...

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Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.

One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.

On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.

As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.

When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”

“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”

And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”

She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

 

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There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier.

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