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monasteries," says Staveley, "were ever in reputation above ordinary parochial churches, and especially in matters of sepulture; for observable is it, that our ancestors generally desired to be buried in a monastery, rather than in a parish church, in confidence of some benefit to their souls in the other state, by the prayers of the Professed there, who usually prayed for the souls of such as were buried within their limits". One of the most remarkable of these tombs is that of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, surnamed the Good, who was regent during the minority of King Henry VI., and died by violence, as it was supposed, in 1446.
In 1539, the abbey-lands passed into the possession of the commissioners of King Henry VIII. The church was afterwards doomed to destruction, but was saved by the townsmen of S. Alban's, who purchased it for four hundred pounds. And the devout stranger who would now visit the tomb of the protomartyr will find, instead of the glorious shrine, a mean stone, and no hooded brother to bid him welcome for the love of God and of S. Alban. And as he turns away in sorrow from the desolate place, where the dust of the holy martyr still reposes, he may perchance think within himself, that God has a more grievous scourge for a faithless people than the iron rod of a pagan emperor.
The memory of S. Alban was always honoured in England on the 22nd of June, the day of his martyrdom, till the reign of King Edward VI. The reason of the day being changed to the 17th of June on the restoration of his name to the Kalendar in
5 History of English Churches.
1662, does not appear. This is another instance of the failure of Mr. Wheatley's theory.
To us the places where your ashes lie
Shall be as altars, whence shall steadier rise
Our prayers to heaven ; and that blest Sacrifice,
He here accepts your deaths as joined with His,
And hence your graves become a tower of aid,
Translation of S. Edward, King and Martyr.
WHEN the body of S. Edward had lain for a little time in its obscure grave at Werham, we have seen— March 18th-how honourably, it was distinguished by miracles. Queen Elfrida, whose ambition had been the cause of his death, could no longer resist the will of God, and gave orders that it should be translated with becoming reverence to Shaftesbury, anciently called Sceptonia. Elferius, duke of Mercia, was appointed to perform this duty. He had taken
the part of the secular clergy in the fierce disputes which they had with the monks, and had destroyed nearly all the monasteries which Ethelwold bishop of Winchester had built in Mercia. And within a year after the translation of S. Edward he came to a miserable end.
In obedience to the orders of the queen, he took up the holy body, and carried it to the convent of the Benedictine nuns at Shaftesbury, where it was enshrined. Some historians say that S. Dunstan assisted. This convent had been founded by King Alfred in 888, or, as it has been supposed with less probability, by Elgiva wife of King Edmund. It was at first dedicated in honour of the B. Virgin Mary; and after the translation of S. Edward it was placed under their united invocation. Hence in ancient chronicles the superior is styled "Abbatissa de S. Eduardo.'
'At Shaftesbury," says William of Malmesbury, "there shines the splendid mirror of royal sanctity; for to his merits it is due that a large choir of women devoted to God, illuminate the surrounding country with the brightness of religion, which reaches even to the stars. There dwell holy virgins, and widows who after their loss have known no second love, in whose manners such gentle modesty and severe elegance unite as nothing can surpass.... Hence they are not too credulous who say, that by the prayers of such religious the world is sustained, when it is already tottering under its crimes."
This translation is commemorated in the Anglican Kalendar on the 20th of June. The memory of another translation of S. Edward was anciently observed on
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the 18th of February, and some modern historians assert incorrectly that the latter was in honour of the removal to Shaftesbury, while the other, on the 20th of June, was in commemoration of a translation of the holy body to Glastonbury. But there is no reason to suppose that the body of S. Edward was ever at Glastonbury.
Yet for their bones meek Piety shall plead,
His habitation, each there, moulded by His grace,
6 Dugdale. Tanner.
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On this day the Church commemorates the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin S. Elizabeth, immediately after the Annunciation of the birth of the Redeemer. That part of the holy Gospel according to S. Luke in which it is related, is sung in the Latin Church on this feast, as it was anciently in the Church of England. God send us grace to read it with pure hearts and lips.
"And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda, and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, 'Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy saluta