March 2 Saints of the Day – Arsenius of Tver and Chad

Arsenius of TverOn this day in 1933, “King Kong” premiered in New York City. It would be too easy to make some wisecrack about the paucity of apes existing outside of zoos and the halls of Congress, so I won’t.

In the Orient today we see Arsenius of Tver (d. 1409). Tonsured in the Kievan Caves, Arsenius served in Kiev as archdeacon. In 1390 he got dragged by Metropolitan Cyprian to the trial of the bishop of Tver, who had run afoul of the local politicos and ended up getting deposed to a monastery for his trouble. The newly-vacated cathedra was offered to Arsenius, but he was wary of stepping into the fray (can’t imagine why). Cyprian and Arsenius returned to Moscow, but before their bags were unpacked the prince of Tver sent a request that Arsenius be made bishop. Arsenius again refused, but when the Metropolitan threatened him with suspension, he suddenly realized what a great place Tver was, and what a wonderful opportunity being its bishop would afford. Amazingly, through his great humility and piety, he was able to bring peace to the diocese, and even build some monasteries and a cathedral or three. The copy of the Kievan Caves Paterikon (book of saints) he had copied for his monks is now the oldest extant copy of that document.

ChadIn the Occident we see Chad (ca. 634 – 672), a one-time wandering monk who became abbot of the Lastingham (Yorks.) monastery upon the death of plague of his brother (Saint) Cedd. It was said of his time as abbot that when if a great wind came up while he was studying, he would stop and pray for God’s mercy on humanity. If that didn’t work, he would go to the chapel to sing the psalms until the storm calmed down. His monks thought this was something of an overreaction, but he told them God sent storms to remind men of the Judgment Day, and to humble them.

After Colmán shipped out and his replacement succumbed to the plague, Northumbria (York) found itself bishopless. A certain Wilfrid was sent to Gaul to be consecrated, but when he kept not returning, King Oswiu pressed Chad to accept the position. He went to Canterbury (perhaps boats made him queasy), but the Archbishop had also recently been plagued, and dead men consecrate no bishops. Chad then traveled to Wessex and was bishopified by (it later came to light) irregular bishops. He returned to York and ruled the see for a while, and when Wilfrid finally found his way home, he laid low and didn’t cause a ruckus.

When Theodore of Tarsus was installed in Canterbury, he toured the countryside righting wrongs, and instructed Chad to step aside and allow Wilfrid to be bishop. Chad, only too glad to get out of the limelight, immediately agreed. His humility so touched the new Archbishop that Theodore regularized his bishopification (don’t ask me how that works), but nevertheless sent him back to Lastingham.

Later that year, King Wulfhere of Mercia, recently converted to Christianity, requested a bishop for his kingdom. Theodore recalled Chad and sent him thither. Chad faithfully traversed his vast diocese, as missionary to the pagans and pastor to the Christians. At first he refused to ride a horse, thinking it more modest to walk, but Theodore insisted that he ride, at one time even lifting him into the saddle.

One day Chad’s faithful retainer Owin heard heavenly voices sweeping across the land and into the oratory. There was silence for an hour; then the voices resumed and swept away again. Chad told him the heavenly choir came to warn him of his impending death, and 7 days later it returned to usher his soul to heaven. One witness said his brother Cedd was in the choir. Needless to say Chad’s relics did not stay put. They were hidden away during the dissolution of the monasteries, and made an amazing journey all over Britain and to France and back, finally ending up at St. Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham.

This Day in History for 2nd March
Arsenius of Tver (Orthodox Wiki) – Main source
Chad of Mercia (Wikipedia) – Main source
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (book on paper)
St. Ceadda (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Wine (bishop) (Wikipedia)

Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.