A feast commemorating American witnesses, Constance and Her Companions, is celebrated on 9 September . This company is recalled as “The Martyrs of Memphis” for their sacrificial service in 1878, when they nursed (and became) victims of the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis (in which one third of the population died). Those responsible for medical care were principally religious from Memphis and Boston, including physicians ordained as priests. The cathedral in Memphis served as the main hospital for fever victims, and the beautiful high altar at the cathedral is a memorial to the nuns who there perished as nurses. The grave of the martyr priests is inscribed, “Greater Love Hath No Man”. Saints are not just ancient and distant. Saints are around us today, and the example we see in Constance and her companions is that being Christ-centered means that the Cross is always a part of following our Lord; dying to self is always a part of new birth in new creation.
Holy Cross Day (14 September) commemorates the finding, in A.D. 335, of a relic of the cross on which Jesus died, on Mt. Calvary, during the excavation of the site supervised by the Dowager Empress Helena (Constantine’s mother). On this day we recall that in the cross is our sign of victory over death.
Additional notable dates include: Hildegard of Bingen (17 September, d. 1179), the Benedictine abbess, composer, and mystic; Edward Bouverie Pusey (18 September, d. 1882), an important figure in the Ritualist revival of which Grace is a direct heir; and Theodore of Tarsus (19 September, d. 690), a Syrian who served as the last Archbishop of Canterbury from the Eastern Church. The feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist is 21 September. Matthew was the tax collector who took up his own cross in following our Lord, and in authoring the Gospel which bears his name. The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels is 29 September, “Michaelmas”. This day still marks the official opening of the Fall term in English courts and universities, and recalls Michael the Archangel, named as the captain of the host of angels in Revelation 12. In the East this feast is referred to as the Synaxis, referring to the meeting of all angels.
Finally, let’s not forget Our Lady of Walsingham! The feast we observe (15 October, observed this year on 10 October) is the feast of the translation of Our Lady’s image, and is therefore appropriate for the celebration in Sheboygan, to which her image has been translated (in the establishment of the shrine at Grace). 24 September is, however, the date for the feast which commemorates the apparition of Mary to the Lady Richeldis in Walsingham in 1061. We will observe this feast as a Thursday daily Mass.