Patron Saints

Our Church Patron Saints

 Matthew 11:11
 "I tell you the truth: Among those that are born of women there has not
risen anyone greater than John the Baptist: yet he who is least in the kingdom of
 heaven is greater than he”

 John 1:23
“John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling
 in the desert, Make straight the way for the Lord”

Wonersh Church - St John the Baptist

Our church in Wonersh is dedicated to John the Baptist, the first century preacher and martyr. St John's Saints Day is 24th June. He is the patron saint of Parish Priests, Tailors, Teachers. 

St John the Baptist was the son of Zachariah (Zechariah), a Temple priest, and his mother was Elizabeth, cousin of Mary. John was born when his mother was advanced in years, and after the foretelling of his birth and the choice of his name by an Angel and his birth, we hear nothing of him until he began his mission of preaching and baptising in the river Jordan around 27AD.  His career as a forerunner of the Messiah is fully described in the four Gospels, including the story of his birth in Luke 1:39-80, his life in Luke 3:1-21, Luke 7:18-35 and John 1:14-37John 3:22-36, John 5:31-36, and Mark 1:1-14 and Matthew 11:1-19,  his death in Matthew 14:1-12 and Mark 6:14-29 and Luke 9:7-9

John was a lot like an Old Testament prophet; he lived simply on locusts and honey in the wilderness, and his message was one of repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom. He went on to baptise Jesus, at Jesus’s firm request. John’s great desire was that Jesus “must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30

John denounced the incestuous union of Herod Antipas and his niece and brother’s wife Herodias. He was imprisoned and when Herod’s daughter Salome demanded John’s head, he was executed without trial c30AD at a prison near the Dead Sea, and his head was presented to Salome on a dish. 

St John has always been, and still is, one of the most popular of saints. He is remembered three times in the Christian calendar, in remembrance of his conception, his birth, and his martyrdom. His life in the desert appealed to many of the earliest monks and so he has always been a major patron of the monastic orders. 

When John saw Jesus he said that Jesus was the “Lamb of God”, and he is the only person to use this expression of Jesus.  He is depicted in art as lean and ascetic, with a rough robe and carrying a lamb or with a lamb near him, and a tall staff often ending in a cross; or carrying his own head. 

Have a look at sermons about John the Baptist by James Cooke  and John the Baptist by Ian Scott-Thompson.


Blackheath - St Martin (4th C Bishop of Tours  316-397) 

St. Martin of Tours is the dedication of St Martin’s Blackheath. St Martin's Day is November 11th

He was born in what is now Hungary in 316, son of a tribune (an officer) in the Roman army. It was natural therefore that he too joined the army. Early in his life he became a Christian. 

His regiment was sent to Amiens in Gaul, and this town became the scene of the celebrated legend of the cloak. At the gates of the city, one very cold day, Martin met a shivering and half-naked beggar. Moved with compassion, he divided his coat into two parts and gave one to the poor man. The part kept by himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Frankish kings under the name of "St. Martin's cloak".

He became a disciple of St Hilary at Poitiers and was baptised. That night in his dreams, Martin saw Jesus, surrounded by angels, wearing the half cloak he had given to the beggar, and he heard Jesus say, "See, this is the cloak which Martin has given me." Shortly afterwards Martin was baptised, but continued to serve in the Roman Army until he had completed his term of service.

From 360 onwards, Martin devoted himself to the monastic life; indeed, he is regarded as the virtual founder of Western monasticism. His houses were firstly at Ligugé near Poitiers, and then after 372, when he was chosen Bishop of Tours by popular acclaim, at Marmoutier which became a thriving monastery. In an age when Christianity was largely confined to towns, Martin saw monasteries as a way of promoting rural evangelisation based on spiritual centres. He himself was a most assiduous Bishop, carrying out frequent visitations and defending doctrine. 

He died on November 8th 397 at Candes, Touraine. His body was returned to Tours, and in stages a large basilica was built around it. This sanctuary was the centre of great national pilgrimages until 1562, when it was sacked and destroyed. In 1860 the site of St. Martin's tomb was relocated and the present day small basilica constructed. 

His great popularity as a saint was promoted largely by the biography of him, written by his friend Sulpicius Severus. The Church of France has always considered Martin one of her greatest saints. 

In England, 'Martinmas' was a key time of the year; it was the time for hiring new servants and for beginning to salt meat to last the winter through. 

Acknowledgement:-  CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Martin of Tours

St George

St George is the patron saint of England. In Wonersh parish church St George is depicted in the stained glass in the east window of the Lady Chapel. 

St George is among the most famous of saints and is the patron saint of England. Virtually nothing is known of the man himself. It is now generally agreed that St George was a martyr who suffered at Diospolis (Lydda, Ludd) in Palestine, probably under Diocletian around 300AD. According to versions in the Eastern church in 5th C George held the rank of Tribune in the Roman army and was beheaded for protesting at the execution of Christians. All the other legends which have grown up around his name may be regarded as fictitious, including the story of the dragon. He was popularised in plays and books which drew upon legend and existing culture for material. 

George was first made known in England in early 8th C when The Acts of St George recount his visits to Caerleon and Glastonbury. Because of his widespread following George became universally recognised as a Saint sometime after 900. The Crusaders certainly gave great impetus to devotion to St George in the West, with stories of his appearance in battle. In 1191-92 Richard I put the army in Palestine under the protection of St George. In 1348 George was adopted by Edward III as the patron of the new order of chivalry, the Knights of the Garter, and he had become the patron saint of England. Edward IV and Henry VII built the chapel of St George at Windsor Castle. Meanwhile Henry V’s famous speech before the battle of Agincourt, immortalised by Shakespeare, invoked “England, Harry and St George”. 

The famous story of George and the dragon became immensely popular in the west through the Golden Legend, translated into English and printed by Caxton in the 15th century. The dragon, a local pest, which terrorised the whole country, poisoned with its breath all who approached. Every day it was appeased with the offering of two sheep, but when these grew scarce a human victim was substituted. The lot fell on the king’s daughter who went to her fate dressed as a bride. George attacked the dragon and led it captive as if it were completely tame. George told the people not to be afraid: if they believed in Jesus Christ he would rid them of the monster. The king and people agreed and 15,000 people were baptised. George would take no reward but asked for the king to maintain churches, honour priests and show compassion for the poor. The Legend continued with an account of his sufferings and death in the persecutions of Diocletian, probably the only factual part of the story. 

He is venerated in the East as one of the fourteen Holy Helpers and, universally, as the model of knighthood and avenger of women. He is the acknowledged patron saint of England, Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Portugal, Lithuania, Palestine, Greece and Germany, also of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice, and protector of Ferrara. He is honoured as the patron of soldiers, especially cavalry and archers, also of Scouts. 

He is bound up with British history, traditions and popular culture, and his life has always been a source of inspiration to artists. He is shown as a youth in armour, often mounted, and slaying, or having slain, a dragon, his shield and lance pennant being a red cross on a white ground. 

His festival date is 23rd April. 

Acknowledgement:-  The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.

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