From The Rector - June 2016

Dear Friends,

We are trying something new for this year in the Benefice of St Bartholomew. In recent years the only one of our churches that kept a "patronal festival” has been Donhead St Andrew. For this year we have made all of our patronals benefice services, meaning that in most cases the only service on that day will be at 10.30 am and we encourage people to attend and celebrate with each church. l believe patronal festivals are important as they are a way of recognising the importance of each church community; the truth that we are connected to something larger than each community while celebrating each particularity. This is not without difficulty as many of our Patron Saints’ days fall very close together and one is always squeezed by other major events for the church such as Christ the King and Advent Sunday. We also have seven patronals for the benefice which creates its own questions. The list for this year looks something like this:

June 26th:  St John the Baptist, Charlton

July 31st:    St Catherine's, Sedgehill

Aug. 14th:  St Mary's, East Knoyle
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev’d Dom Giles Hill OSB, Abbot of Alton Abbey

Aug. 21th:  St Leonard's, Semley - Benefice Patronal of St Bartholomew
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev’d John Kirkham, Retired Bishop of Sherborne and Bishop to the Forces

Aug. 28th:  St Andrew's, Donhead St Andrew

Sept. 4th:  St Mary's, Donhead St Mary
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev’d Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury

Nov. 6th:  St Leonard’s, Semley
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev‘d Nicholas Holtham, Bishop of Salisbury

The practice of adopting patron saints goes back to the building of the first public churches in the Roman Empire, most of which were built over the graves of martyrs. The churches were then given the name of the martyr. Soon, Christians began to dedicate churches to other holy men and women - saints - who were not martyrs. The people we call saints are often heroes of the faith, so to speak, people who have been important for one reason or another and are part of our story. The holy lives lived by the saints are themselves testimony to the saving power of Christ. At a point in time a Saint (with a big S) became people who were officially recognised by the church. Saint simply means holy. The Church of England, in our calendar, recognises Saints (with big S) and some of those heroes of the faith which we don't call Saint but we still recognise as part of the Christian story. Interestingly the Church of England does not only remember English heroes of the faith in addition to the major Saints; nor do we stop at British examples of faithful Christians. In fact we don’t even stop at Anglican holy men and women but we remember people such as Cardinal Newman who left Anglicanism to become a Roman Catholic, George Fox the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), William and Catherine Booth founders of the Salvation Army, Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan Friar arrested as an 'intellectual’ and murdered in Auschwitz, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer the Lutheran pastor regarded as a Martyr, among many others. These are as well as holy men and women from our own part of the church, many of whom were modern day martyrs such as the Martyrs of Uganda, poets like Christina Rossetti and George Herbert. and social reformers such as Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce and Josephine Butler.

Yours ever,

Richard