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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Saint Dunstan

As a young boy, St Dunstan (924-988) studied under the Irish monks who then occupied the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.

He took Holy Orders in 943 and returned to live the life of a hermit at Glastonbury.Against the old church of St Mary Dunstan built a small cell five feet long and two and a half feet deep. It was there that he studied, worked at his handicrafts, and played on his harp.

Dunstan is credited with making a harp which played by itself in the wind.

As Abbot of Glastonbury, Dunstan initiated reforms that proved to be a turning point in English religious life.

After spending two years in exile in Flanders where Dunstan witnessed the Benedictine reform movement on the Continent he returned to England where he was appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury.

As archbishop of Canterbury, Dunstan introduced monastic reforms based on a strict observance of the Benedictine rule, rebuilding many monasteries that had been destroyed by the Vikings. Dunstan also led a massive church-rebuilding project and promoted education.

In 973 at the coronation of King Edgar at Bath, the religious ceremony devised by Archbishop Dunstan, which stressed the analogy between kingship and priesthood became the basis for all the subsequent coronation services in England

In 975 when the English boy-King, Edward the Martyr was murdered, Dustan was forced to stand down from the archbishopship. For 28 years he had been the leading figure in England.

Dunstan's retirement at Canterbury consisted of long hours, both day and night, spent in private prayer, as well as his regular attendance at Mass and the daily office.

Until Thomas Becket's fame overshadowed Dunstan's, he was the favourite saint of the English people.

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