Posted by: anna | January 29, 2010

St Fursey

St. Fursey of Burgh Castle, Enlightener of East Anglia (650).

S. FURSEY, AB. (about A.D. 653.) [Roman, Donegal, and Scottish Martyrologies, but English on March 4th ; Feb. 2Sth is noted in several Kalendars as the festival of the translation of his relics, also Sept. 28. A very ancient life of S. Fursey, of the date of Bede, exists ; later and more prolix lives exist, but are of less authority. Bede himself relates the principal events of the life of this Saint in his history, and quotes the above-mentioned life, lib. iii. c. 19.]

Fursey, son of Fintan, an Irish prince, was abbot of a monastery in the diocese of Tuam. Afterwards, travelling with two of his brothers, Fullan and Ultan, through England, he entered the province of Essex, and was honourably received by the king, Sigebert, “and performing his usual employment of preaching the Gospel,” says Bede, ” by the example of his virtue, and the efficacy of his discourse, he converted many unbelievers to Christ, and confirmed in faith and love those that already believed. Here he fell into some infirmity of body, and was thought worthy to see a vision from God ; in which he was admonished diligently to proceed in the ministry of the Word, and indefatigably to continue his usual vigils and prayers. Being confirmed by this vision, he applied himself with all speed to build a monastery on the ground which had been given him by King Sigebert, and to establish regular discipline therein. The monastery was pleasantly situated in the woods, and with the sea not far off; it was built within the area of a castle called Cnobheresburg (Burghcastle, in Suffolk.) There, falling sick, he fell into a trance, and quitting his body from evening till cock-crow, he was found worthy to behold the choirs of angels, and to hear the praises which are sung in heaven.'”

The abbot Fursey, becoming desirous of ridding himself of all business of this world, quitted his monastery, having first confided the care of it to his brother Fullan; and resolved to end his life as a hermit. He repaired to his brother Ultan, who had already adopted the life of a solitary, and lived a whole year with him in prayer and hard labour.

Afterwards, the province being desolated by war, he crossed the sea to France, and was there honourably entertained by Clovis, King of the Franks, and then by the noble Erconwald. He built a monastery at Lagny, about six miles north of Paris, on the Mame, and falling sick not long after, departed this life.

Erconwald took his body, and deposited it in the porch of a church he was building in his town of Peronne, till the church itself should be dedicated. This happened twenty-seven days after, and the body being taken from the porch to be re-buried, near the altar, was found as entire as if he had but just died.

Fursey in French is Fourcy, and in Flemish Fro. Patron of Lagny and Peronne. Relics, at Peronne. In art, (i), with oxen at his feet, because his body was placed on a wagon, and the oxen allowed to conduct it without guide, and they went to Peronne ; or (2), making a fountain spring up at Lagny, by thrusting his staff into the soil ; or beholding a vision, (3), of angels, or (4), of the flames of purgatory and hell, in reference to his remarkable vision. (There is not space to give an account of St Fursey’s vision, which seems to have been the original of Dante’s Divina Commedia.)

Not space?? Some of these lives go on for ten pages, give us a summary! Wikipedia does! Dr Baring-Gould is holding out on us here; there are lots more details of Fursey’s life…

Troparion of St Fursey of Burgh Castle tone 5
Establishing thy monastery in a Roman fortress thou didst teach men
that the Orthodox Faith is a true bastion/ against the onslaughts of
every evil force, O Father Fursey./ Wherefore pray to God for us/ that
we may all be bastions of the Faith/ standing firm against the rising
tide of falsehood,/ that our souls may be saved.

Kontakion of St Fursey tone 4
Thou didst need the walls of stone/ to defend the Faith against its
pagan enemies, O Father Fursey,/ but pray for us that we may have a
spiritual wall around us/ to defend the Faith against its enemies./
Following thee and praising thy eternal memory,/ we stand firm against
every error, ever singing:/ Rejoice, beloved of God, our Father Fursey.

Holy St Fursey, pray to God for us.
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