Saints on the Edge

Saints on the Edge

Dear Daily Devotion

I hope you’ve found our long read through and reflections on Matthew’s Gospel interesting and useful; the last week’s readings were generally longer but allowed us to have a focus on Holy Week and Easter as we read.  I’m always grateful to our team of writers and know that you appreciate them too.  Now, in the days of unremitting Easter joy we turn to think about some saints.

Over the next three weeks or so we look at some of the people who have been declared to be saints (or are on the journey to such a declaration) – people whose lives especially pointed to God.  The Church has declared many people to be saints but we thought it would be good to look at lesser known, edgy, saints.  Some of the folk we look at lived on the edge of what we now consider the centre of things.  Others were edgy for other reasons – their politics, influence, the way they subverted convention or, in one case, for being a dog!  Some were acclaimed by the people long before, or despite never, being proclaimed as saints by the Church.  So as we read about people we, probably, have never really heard of, we think about what it might mean to be edgy saints and contemplate how they made a difference and how we might too. 

This series has been written by five people – the Rev’d Professor Elizabeth Stuart, (left) an Anglican priest and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the University of Winchester.  I’ve known Liz for years – back when she was a jobbing theologian – and one occasion she was declared a saint herself; the label hasn’t, however, stuck – probably to her relief. 

The Rev’d Dave Herbert, (right) retiring Moderator of the Northern Synod notes that:  It is impossible to live in the Northeast of England and not be aware of the Christian  heritage, where the lingering spirituality and lives of the Celtic saints is hefted to the land like the sheep of upland farms in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland.  One truly walks in the footsteps of the saints as the hills, rivers, coastline and islands of the region are experienced by visitors today.  Many more are coming to appreciate this landscape and rich legacy walking the many new pilgrimage routes extending their web of footpaths criss-crossing the area. 

The Rev’d Dr Jack Dyce (below, left) has an interest in all things northern and introduces us to two saints from Orkney and a royal princess turned Northumbrian abbess.  Jack has had a keen interest in Orkney for years and has, amongst his many academic interests, expertise in the Vikings – who, of course, ruled Orkney for centuries.

The Rev’d Dr John McNeil Scott, (right) Principal of the Scottish College, an Irish National who has spent much of his life in the UK reflects on St Brigid, St Columbanus and St Colmcille – another man who lived between Ireland and Scotland.  St Brigid’s day has recently been made an Irish national holiday, Colmcille/Columba still has considerable interest – maybe because of the popularity of the Iona Community, whilst Columbanus is rather…well, I’ll let you make your minds up but his way of ruling his monks involved slapping them!

I have added some reflections: one on Catherine of Sienna who used her self induced visions to have power in the Church, two on radical bishops from South America – Oscar Romero and Hélder Câmara who are both heroes of mine and one reflection on the mediaeval polymath Hildegard of Bingen who has been adopted by a range of people in recent years. 

We hope that these edgy saints stimulate you in your own journeys of sanctity.


The Rev’d Andy Braunston,
Minister for Digital Worship


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