St. Benedict Biscop
Another from the Revised Roman Martyrology and this one is a doozy. I don’t usually use that word so you know it has to be either good or truly bizarre. Let’s find out and then you can judge.
Benedict Biscop was born around 628 and was originally called Biscop Balducing. According to our sources, he was associated with King Oswui of Northumbira, St. Wilfrid, Pope Agatho, John the Abbot (of St. Martin’s in Rome), and a monastery called Wearmouth and Jarrow. Furthermore, he was known to have cavorted with Ethelred the Bald, Canute the Dane, and Ethelwulff the Dead. Finally, he had been seen with Peter the Mentally Challenged and Phillip the Blonde near Cambridge. I believe Phillip became Brunette when he traveled to Oxford.
In all seriousness, what we know of this man is not really so scant as the details make it seem. For all saints are sainted because they loved much and as Our Lord tells us, [one] “is forgiven because [he] loves much”. Therefore, we can forgive Biscop’s lack of taste in friends and their maliciousness in forcing us to pronounce their names. We know that he traveled back and forth from Britain to Rome a lot. Why’d he do this? Well, he was a Benedictine abbot who found himself in the position of having to assure the Roman pontiff that the Church in England was more or less keeping Herself in line with the theological goings-on of the continent. In other words, Britain was a bit of an outpost at the time and, with word traveling that things were getting a bit “weird” out there in the hinterlands of the former Roman empire, it fell to men like Biscop, er, Benedict to keep things in check. Now, how did he do this? That’s a great question. So glad you asked it. Seems he brought picture books to the pope to explain how things were done UK style. I would spit my gin across the room if I found out it was a pop-up book.
And so again, in the ordinary-ness of life — the diplomacy of assuring someone that everything’s OK in the every day here and now — Benedict Biscop found his path to heaven. As with most saints (Therese being a notable exception but we’ll get to her in October) I doubt Biscop had a clue he was even on this path. He probably thought his sainthood ship had sailed. Maybe not. But sainthood is a destination lain out by God for us all so do what Biscop did. Get there however you can.