Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
Whoever welcomes you welcomes me,
and the man who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me.
From the Dominican Ordo:
Blessed Sebastian, the son of a noble family, was born at Brescia, Italy, in 1414 and entered the Order in 1429. Twice he was Vicar General of the reformed Province of Lombardy and served as prior in several convents. He was severe in his personal life, but kind and patient in his dealings with others. He was one of the notable reformers of Dominican life in the fifteenth century. He died at Genoa at the monastery of Santa Maria di Castello in 1496.
For more on the life of Blessed Sebastian, click here.
you made Blessed Sebastian an outstanding example
of evangelical perfection and truth.
By following his example
may we enter upon the path of perfect charity,
deepen the life of the spirit through penance
and so obtain your glory and eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirt,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Continuing his series on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his General Audience address today to the life and work of John of Salisbury, a twelfth-century scholar who served as secretary to the archbishops of Canterbury, including St. Thomas Becket, before his own election as Bishop of Chartres. John’s scholarship reveals his high regard for the powers of human reason, especially its ability to discern the contours of the natural law in creation. As the Holy Father notes, appreciation of reason’s competence remains as vital as ever. For example, within the political sphere, reason’s view of the natural law can act to safeguard human law from the “dictatorship of relativism.”
GENERAL AUDIENCE ADDRESS
December 16, 2009
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today we will meet the figure of John of Salisbury, who belonged to one of the most important philosophical and theological schools of the Middle Ages, that of the cathedral of Chartres, in France. John, too, like the theologians about whom I’ve spoken over the past weeks, helps us to understand how faith, in harmony with the just aspirations of reason, pushes thought toward revealed truth, in which the true good of man is found.
John was born in England, in Salisbury, between the year 1100 and 1120. Reading his works, and above all, his rich epistles, we discover the most important events of his life. For 12 years, between 1136 and 1148, he dedicated himself to study, availing of the most qualified schools of the epoch, where he heard lectures from famous teachers.
He headed to Paris and then to Chartres, the environment that particularly marked his formation and from which he assimilated his great cultural openness, his interest for speculative problems, and his appreciation of literature. As often happened in that time, the most brilliant students were picked by prelates and sovereigns, to be their closest collaborators. This also happened to John of Salisbury, who was presented by a great friend of his, Bernard of Claraval, to Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury — the primary see of England — who happily took him in among his clergy.
For 11 years, from 1150 to 1161, John was the secretary and chaplain of the elderly archbishop. With tireless zeal, despite continuing his studies, he carried out an intense regimen of diplomatic activities, traveling 10 times to Italy with the specific objective of nourishing the relationship of the kingdom of England and the Church there with the Roman Pontiff.
Among other things, during those years, the Pope was Adrian IV, an Englishman who was a close friend of John of Salisbury. In the years following the 1159 death of Adrian IV, a situation of serious tension was created in England between the Church and the kingdom. The king, Henry II, aimed to wield authority over the internal life of the Church, limiting its liberty. This endeavor brought about a reaction from John of Salisbury, and above all, valiant resistance from Theobald’s successor in the episcopal see of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket. St. Thomas went to exile in France because of this. John of Salisbury accompanied him and remained at his service, always working for reconciliation. In 1170, when both John and Thomas Becket had returned to England, Thomas was attacked and killed in the cathedral. He died as a martyr and was immediately venerated as such by the people.
John continued faithfully serving the successor of Thomas as well, until he was elected bishop of Chartres, where he stayed from 1176 to 1180, the year of his death.
I would like to point out two of John of Salisbury’s works, which are considered his masterpieces and which are elegantly named with the Greek titles of “Metalogicon” (In Defense of Logic) and “Policraticus” (The Man of Government).