JANUARY 19th FEAST OF ST WULSTAN, BISHOP OF WORCESTER
Born in the village of Itchington, not too far from Stratford-on-Avon, in 1008, Wulstan went to school in Evesham and Peterborough and entered the cathedral priory of Worcester and, later, became a priest and then prior. He distinguished himself in both his quest for monastic perfection and his pastoral zeal, and thus became a model for English Benedictines. As prior, he would wait by the door of the cathedral for any poor people who came to have their children baptized
In 1061, the Pope told the Bishop of Worcester that he couln't be both Bishop of Worcester and Archbishop of York at the same time; so the see became vacant and Wulstan was appointed and ordained.
In 1066 and all that, there was the Norman Invasion; and all Saxon bishops lost their sees except one. Legend has it that Wulstan was summoned to Westminster Abbey to surrender his pastoral staff to King William. However, when asked for it, he told the king that he would return it only to the one who gave it to him; and he went to the tomb of St Edward the Confessor and stuck the crozier into a crevice in the tomb where it held fast, and only Wulstan could withdraw it; and this was seen as a sign, so he kept his see. Perhaps his reputation for holiness was enough!
His fame spread; and people from all over Christendom asked for his prayers, including the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Archbishop of Bari, the kings of Ireland and the king of Scotland. He visited the parishes in his diocese with regularity and managed to stop the slave trade between England and Ireland that had been going on for centuries.
He died on Saturday, 19th January, 1095 and had been a bishop for thirty four years. His tomb became a centre of pilgrimage until it was destroyed by Henry VIII.
Belmont has its own Fr Wulstan who was born and bred in Evesham and went to the same school as St Wulstan (There's history for you!!). After a spell in the Royal Navy in the War, 1943 to 1946, he joined Belmont. At Belmont he humbly fulfilled many jobs in monastery, school and parishes, in recognition of which he was made Cathedral Prior of Worcester a few years ago, a post occupied by St Wulstan before he was bishop.
The English Benedictine Congregation began the practice after the Reformation of appointing cathedral priors to the cathedrals that were Benedictine before the Reformation. This was to make sure that, when the Anglican Church collapsed and the cathedrals were returned to their rightful owners, the Benedictines would be ready to take over before the Jesuits could get their hands oin them. Nowadays, in these ecumenical times, Fr Wulstan was conducted to his choir stall by the Anglican Dean, and he is invited to all big occasions. (Cathedral priors wear cross and ring. It is now a title that exists only among members of the English Benedictine Congregation.)
ANYWAY, A HAPPY FEASTDAY, FR WULSTAN!!