September 16: Ninian Bishop in Galloway, c. 430

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this commemoration

The dates of Ninian’s life, and the exact extent of his work, are much disputed. The earliest, and possibly the best, account is the brief one in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History.

Ninian was a Romanized Briton, born in the latter half of the fourth century in southern Scotland. He is said to have been educated in Rome and to have received episcopal ordination. But the main influence on his life was Martin of Tours, with whom he spent some time, and from whom he gained his ideals of an episcopal-monastic structure designed for missionary work.

About the time of Martin’s death in 397, Ninian established his base at a place called Candida Casa (“White House”) or Whithorn in Galloway, which he dedicated to Martin. Traces of place names and church dedications suggest that his work covered the Solway Plains and the Lake District of England. Ninian seems also to have converted many of the Picts of northern Scotland, as far north as The Moray Firth.

Ninian, together with Patrick, is one of the links of continuity between the ancient Roman-British Church and the developing Celtic Christianity of Ireland and Scotland.

COLLECTS

O God, who by the preaching of thy blessed servant and bishop Ninian didst cause the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we beseech thee, that, havingchis life and labors in remembrance, we may show forthcour thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, by the preaching of your blessed servant and bishop Ninian you caused the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we pray, that having his life and labors in remembrance we may show our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Lessons

Isaiah 49:1–6

Acts 10:21–35

Matthew 28:16–20

Psalm 97:1–2,7–12

Preface of Pentecost

Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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6 Responses to September 16: Ninian Bishop in Galloway, c. 430

  1. Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    Just a question: is “Picts” the correct current terminology for the people Ninian is said to have converted?

    • Michael Hartney says:

      Having checking the information available online, I would agree that Picts is the collective noun used to describe these noble people.

  2. Michael Hartney says:

    New New Testament reading: Of all of the new readings included for previous commemorations reviewed so far – finally, a reading of substantial length – 15 verses. TBTG. 🙂

  3. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    This seems to be unchanged from LLF, and that’s fine. Ninian is historically important, but I don’t think he has much of a popular cultus except among Church historians.

  4. Nigel Renton says:

    In the penultimate line of the third paragraph, the word “the” before “Moray” should be in lower case. (“Firth” is a Scottish word, which simply means an inlet, similar to a fjord in Norway.)

  5. Tom Broad says:

    The addition of the reading from Acts of the Apostles is an excellent selection.

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