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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Advent: St Birinus

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Sometimes you come across the name of a saint and think, “Who?!” St Birinus is probably one of those saints, at least if you’re not from the Oxford area (and even then!).

St Birinus was a Benedictine monk, ordained priest in Rome, and then a bishop in Genoa as he was making his journey to Britain in 634 having been sent by Pope Honorius I. He is also known as the ‘Apostle to the West Saxons’ due to his converting the people of Wessex to the faith. St Birinus was given Dorchester-upon-Thames, not far from Oxford, as his See by King Cynegils, who had converted to the faith. St Birinus is said to have baptised also his son and grandson. 



The Catholic parish church in Dorchester is named after St Birinus, a beautifully restored little church, built in 1849, one of the first churches to be built after the restoration of the hierarchy in England during the pontificate of Pius IX. 

Like Our Lord in today’s Gospel, St Birinus went out and preached the Gospel to those in need of it. When he saw the pagan people of Wessex, he must have felt sorry for them, ‘sheep without a shepherd’. With great missionary zeal he won many people to the faith, and a cult built up around him, that is until the 16th century with the arrival of the English Reformation.

Let us pray that we may be true heralds of the Gospel like St Birinus, praying for all those who do not know Christ that they may encounter him, and that we may be instruments in making Him known in word and deed to all.

Br Joseph Bailham O.P.

Br Joseph Bailham O.P.


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