mardi 3 avril 2012

Saint RICHARD de CHICHESTER (de WICH ou WYCHE), évêque et confesseur




Saint Richard

Richard of Wich naquit à Droitwich (Worcester) en 1197. D'abord chancelier de l'université d'Oxford (1235), il se mit au service de son ami Edmond d'Abingdon, archevêque de Canterbury. Ordonné prêtre à Orléans lors d'un séjour en France où mourut l'archevêque, il rentra en Angleterre pour devenir évêque de Chichester (1244) où il eut à lutter contre les entreprises du roi Henri III. Prélat réformateur, il combattit les maux de l'Eglise d'alors : le népotisme et la simonie. Très austère pour lui-même, il était d'une infinie bonté pour les pauvres. Il mourut à Maison-Dieu, près de Douvres le 3 avril 1253.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/04/03/5865/-/saint-richard


Saint Richard de Chichester

Chancelier de l'université d'Oxford, évêque de Chichester (✝ 1253)

Confesseur et évêque de Chichester.

Gentleman anglais, né à Wiche dans le Worcestershire, le second fils des châtelains locaux se montre d'abord secourable à ses parents ruinés, en travaillant à la ferme familiale. Devenu adulte, il peut enfin assouvir sa passion des études à Oxford, Paris et Bologne, les trois perles universitaires de l'époque. En 1235, il devient chancelier de l'Université d'Oxford. Il n'a pas 40 ans. Juriste réputé, le voilà conseiller des trois archevêques successifs de Cantorbéry: Edmond, Riche et Boniface de Savoie. Il défend l'indépendance de l'Église face au pouvoir royal. Tardivement ordonné prêtre en France, il est d'abord curé de paroisse avant de redevenir chancelier de l'archevêque. Promu évêque de Chichester, chef-lieu du Sussex Occidental, il y restera une décennie, persécuté par Henri III, mais vénéré de ses diocésains.

De nombreuses paroisses sont sous son patronage comme celle de Chichester en Angleterre où l'hôpital aussi porte son nom, celle de Barnesville aux États-Unis (...)

À Chichester en Angleterre, l’an 1253, saint Richard, évêque, qui fut privé par le roi Henri III de son temporel, obligé de loger dans une maison d’emprunt et de manger à la table d’autrui, mais, malgré ces entraves, il visita à pied ses paroisses, veilla à la dignité du culte et aux mœurs des prêtres et, quand son temporel lui fut restitué, distribua de larges aumônes aux pauvres.

Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/913/Saint-Richard-de-Chichester.html

Saint Richard est né en 1198, Célestin III étant Pape, Othon IV empereur du saint Empire romain germanique, Alexis III l’un des derniers empereurs de Byzance, Philippe II-Auguste roi de France et Richard Cœur-de-Lion roi d’Angleterre. Il naît au château de Wich, près de Worcester en Angleterre.

Il manifesta pour son frère aîné un dévouement extrême, se mettant à son service afin de relever sa fortune en ruines ; puis, abandonnant les biens qu’il avait reconquis et que son frère lui avait donnés, il quitte le monde, va étudier à Oxford, à Paris et à Bologne, où il prend les grades les plus élevés.

De retour à Oxford, saint Edmond, archevêque de Cantorbéry, l’attache à lui comme chancelier en 1234, et saint Richard le suit dans son exil en 1240.

Ordonné Prêtre à Orléans, saint Richard est appelé à l’évêché de Chichester en 1245, et comme le roi Henri III s’opposait à son élection, il se rend à Rome et est sacré par le Pape Innocent IV.

Deux années durant il fut persécuté par le roi, qui ne céda que sur les instances et les menaces du Souverain Pontife.

Saint Richard, rentré dans son diocèse, y prit un soin admirable des pauvres, des infirmes, de la discipline ecclésiastique et des souffrances du peuple. Il prêcha ensuite la Croisade (le roi et les nobles refusèrent leur concours) et se mit en route pour les Saints lieux ; mais la mort l’arrêta, le 3 avril 1253, comme il se rendait à Douvres. Innocent IV était Pape, saint Louis IX roi de France, Baudouin II roi latin de Constantinople et Henri III roi d’Angleterre.

SAINT RICHARD

Évêque de Chichester

(1197-1253)

Saint Richard naquit en Angleterre. Ses parents occupaient alors un rang élevé et jouissaient d'une belle fortune; mais ils tombèrent dans une misère si profonde, qu'après leur mort, leur fils aîné fut longtemps retenu en prison pour dettes. Richard, son frère, travailla généreusement à sa délivrance; mais il s'appauvrit lui-même au point d'être obligé de gagner sa vie comme valet de ferme.

Bientôt il put aller à Paris continuer les bonnes études qu'il avait déjà faites dans sa jeunesse. Il se lia d'amitié avec deux amis choisis, aussi pauvres que lui; ils n'avaient qu'un manteau à tous les trois et se voyaient obligés de n'aller prendre leurs leçons que l'un après l'autre. Leur nourriture était plus que frugale, un peu de pain et de vin leur suffisait, et ils ne mangeaient de chair ou de poisson que le dimanche. Cependant Richard assura depuis que ce fut là pour lui le beau temps, tant il était absorbé par la passion de l'étude. Ses succès furent prompts et remarquables, si bien qu'à son retour en Angleterre il professa fort brillamment à l'Université d'Oxford.

Quelques années plus tard, sa modestie, sa chasteté, sa douceur et sa dévotion lui attirèrent le respect et l'amour de tout le monde; il fut élu chancelier de l'Université. Nommé ensuite évêque de Chichester, il eut à subir quelques temps les vexations du roi Henri III, en guerre avec Rome, mais il rétablit la paix par ses prières et ses procédés de conciliation.

Devenu désormais libre dans l'exercice de son ministère, il se fit remarquer par sa grande condescendance pour les petits et par sa miséricorde pour les pauvres. Comme on lui disait que ses dépenses excédaient ses revenus: "Il vaut mieux, dit-il, vendre son cheval et sa vaisselle d'argent que de laisser souffrir les pauvres, membres de Jésus-Christ."

Un jour, distribuant du pain, il en eut assez pour contenter trois mille pauvres, et il lui en resta pour cent autres qui survinrent après. Ces multiplications merveilleuses se renouvelèrent plusieurs fois. Il honorait les religieux et les embrassait souvent: "Qu'il est bon, disait-il, de baiser les lèvres qui exhalent l'encens des saintes prières offertes au Seigneur!"

Il mourut en baisant le Crucifix et en invoquant Marie contre les ennemis du salut.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_richard.html


Richard de Chichester, Chancelier de l'université d'Oxford, évêque de Chichester († 1253)

Saint Richard naquit en Angleterre. Ses parents occupaient alors un rang élevé et jouissaient d'une belle fortune ; mais ils tombèrent dans une misère si profonde, qu'après leur mort, leur fils aîné fut longtemps retenu en prison pour dettes. Richard, son frère, travailla généreusement à sa délivrance ; mais il s'appauvrit lui-même au point d'être obligé de gagner sa vie comme valet de ferme.

Bientôt il put aller à Paris continuer les bonnes études qu'il avait déjà faites dans sa jeunesse. Il se lia d'amitié avec deux amis aussi pauvres que lui ; ils n'avaient qu'un manteau à tous les trois et se voyaient obligés de n'aller prendre leurs leçons que l'un après l'autre.

En 1235, il devient chancelier de l'Université d'Oxford. Il n'a pas 40 ans. Juriste réputé, le voilà conseiller des trois archevêques successifs de Cantorbéry: Edmond, Riche et Boniface de Savoie. Il défend l'indépendance de l'Église face au pouvoir royal. Tardivement ordonné prêtre en France, il est d'abord curé de paroisse avant de redevenir chancelier de l'archevêque. Promu évêque de Chichester, chef-lieu du Sussex Occidental, il y restera une décennie, persécuté par Henri III, mais vénéré de ses diocésains. En effet le roi s’y oppose, le pape lui-même l’ordonne et le confirme dans sa charge. On lui retire ses biens et son habitation. Pendant deux ans il demande le gîte et le couvert à des amis. Mais sans que cela ne l’inquiète ni ne le détourne de sa mission.

Comme évêque, Richard vivait dans une grande austérité, offrant la plupart de ses revenus comme aumônes. Il parcourt son diocèse, assiste les pauvres et les malades, sanctionne les prêtres dévergondés. Quand le roi revient à de meilleures dispositions à son égard et lui rend ses biens, voilà qu’il vend ses chevaux et sa vaisselle et construit un hôpital pour les vieillards et les indigents.

En 1250, Richard fut l'un des collecteurs de la levée de fonds pour les croisades et deux ans plus tard le roi le nomma pour prêcher la croisade à Londres. Il fit des efforts acharnés pour soulever l'enthousiasme pour la cause dans les diocèses de Chichester et Cantorbéry.

Alors qu'il était en route pour Douvres, où il devait consacrer une nouvelle église dédiée à saint Edme, il tomba malade. En arrivant à Douvres, il alla dans un hôpital appelé la « Maison Dieu », procéda à la cérémonie de consécration le 2 avril et mourut le matin suivant. La fin de sa vie s’accompagne de miracles spectaculaires.

SOURCE : http://www.forum-politique.org/religion/saint-jour-t78698-200.html

St. Richard de Wyche

Bishop and confessor, b. about 1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, from which his surname is derived; d. 3 April, 1253, at Dover. He was the second son of Richard and Alice de Wyche. His father died while he was still young and the family property fell into a state of great delapidation. His elder brother offered to resign the inheritance to him, but Richard refused the offer, although he undertook the management of the estate and soon restored it to a good condition. He went to Oxford, where he and two companions lived in such poverty that they had only one tunic and hooded gown between them, in which they attended lectures by turns. He then went to Paris and on his return proceeded Master of Arts. At Bologna he studied canon law, in which he acquired a great reputationand was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford.


His learning and sanctity were so famed that Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Robert Grosseteste,Bishop of Lincoln, both offered him the post of chancellor of their respective dioceses. Richard accepted thearchbishop's offer and thenceforward became St. Edmund's intimate friend and follower. He approved thearchbishop's action in opposing the king on the question of the vacant sees, accompanied him in his exile toPontigny, was present at Soissy when he died, and made him a model in life. Richard supplied Matthew Paris with material for his biography, and, after attending the translation of his relics to Pontigny in 1249, wrote an account of the incident in a letter published by Matthew Paris (Historia major, V, VI). Retiring to the house of theDominicans at Orléans, Richard studied theology, was ordained priest, and, after founding a chapel in honour ofSt. Edmund, returned to England where he became Vicar of Deal and Rector of Charring. Soon afterwards he was induced by Boniface of Savoy, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, to resume his former office of chancellor.

In 1244 Ralph Neville, Bishop of Chichester, died; the election of Robert Passelewe, Archdeacon of Chichester, to the vacant see, was quashed by Boniface at a synod of his suffragans, held 3 June, 1244, and on his recommendation the chapter elected Richard, their choice being immediately confirmed by the archbishop. Henry III was indignant, as Robert Passelewe was a favourite, and he refused to surrender to Richard the temporalities of his see. The Saint took his case to Innocent IV, who consecrated him in person at Lyons, 5 March, 1245, and sent him back to England. But Henry was immovable. Thus homeless in his own diocese, Richard was dependent on the charity of his clergy, one of whom, Simon of Tarring, shared with him the little he possessed. At length, in 1246, Henry was induced by the threats of the pope to deliver up the temporalities. As bishop, Richard lived in great austerity, giving away most of his revenues as alms. He compiled a number of statutes which regulate in great detail the lives of the clergy, the celebration of Divine service, the administration of the sacraments, churchprivileges, and other matters. Every priest in the diocese was bound to obtain a copy of these statutes and bring it to the diocesan synod (Wilkins, "Concilia", I, 688-93); in this way the standard of life among the clergy was raised considerably. For the better maintenance of his cathedral Richard instituted a yearly collection to be made in every parish of the diocese on Easter or Whit Sunday. The mendicant orders, particularly the Dominicans, received special encouragement from him.

In 1250 Richard was named as one of the collectors of the subsidy for the crusades (Bliss, "Calendar of Papal Letters", I, 263) and two years later the king appointed him to preach the crusade in London. He made strenuous efforts to rouse enthusiasm for the cause in the Dioceses of Chichester and Canterbury, and while journeying toDover, where he was to consecrate a new church dedicated to St. Edmund, he was taken ill. Upon reachingDover, he went to a hospital called "Maison Dieu", performed the consecration ceremony on 2 April, but died the next morning. His body was taken back to Chichester and buried in the cathedral. He was solemnly canonized byUrban IV in the Franciscan church at Viterbo, 1262, and on 20 Feb. a papal licence for the translation of his relicsto a new shrine was given; but the unsettled state of the country prevented this until 16 June, 1276, when the translation was performed by Archbishop Kilwardby in the presence of Edward I. This shrine, which stood in theferetory behind the high altar, was rifled and destroyed at the Reformation. The much-restored altar tomb in the south transept now commonly assigned to St. Richard has no evidence to support its claim, and no relics are known to exist. The feast is celebrated on 3 April. The most accurate version of St. Richard's will, which has been frequently printed, is that given by Blaauw in "Sussex Archaeological Collections", I, 164-92, with a translation and valuable notes. His life was written by his confessor Ralph Bocking shortly after his canonization and another short life, compiled in the fifteenth century, was printed by Capgrave. Both these are included in the notice of St. Richard in the Bollandist "Acta Sanctorum".

Sources

HARDY, Descriptive catalogue of MSS. relating to the history of Great Britain and Ireland, III (London, 1871), 136-9; Acta SS., April, I (Venice, 1768), 277-318; CAPGRAVE, Nova legenda Angliae (London, 1516), 269; PARIS, Historia major, ed. MADDEN in R. S., II, III (London, 1866); Annales monastici, ed. LUARD in R. S. (London, 1864); Flores historiarum, ed. IDEM in R. S., II (London, 1890); Rishanger's Chronicle, ed. RILEY in R. S. (London, 1865); TRIVET, ed. HOG, Annales sex regum Angliae (London, 1845); Calendar of Papal Letters, ed. BLISS, I (London, 1893); Vita di S. Ricardo vescovo di Cicestria (Milan, 1706); STEPHENS, Memorials of the See of Chichester (London, 1876), 83-98, contains the best modern life; WALLACE, St. Edmund of Canterbury (London, 1893), 196-205; GASQUET, Henry III and the Church (London, 1905), 222, 343; CHALLONER, Britannia sancta (London, 1745), 206-13; STANTON, Menology of England and Wales (London, 1887), 141-3.

Huddleston, Gilbert. "St. Richard de Wyche." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1912. 2 Apr. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13043b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. For Richard M. Toporoski, Ph.D., of St Michael's College, Toronto.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13043b.htm



St. Richard, Bishop and Confessor

From his life by Ralph Bocking, some time his Confessarius, in two books, dedicated to Isabel, countess of Arundel; extant in the Acta Sanctorum. The same is abridged in Surius. See another life of this saint in Capgrave, written also soon after his death; and F. Papebroke, t. 1. April, p. 277.

A.D. 1253.

ST. RICHARD was born at the manor of Wiche, famous for its salt wells, four miles from Worcester, being second son to Richard and Alice de Wiche. In order to keep faithfully his baptismal vows, he from his infancy always manifested the utmost dislike to gay diversions, and ever held in the highest contempt all worldly pomp: instead of which his attention was wholly employed in establishing for himself a solid foundation of virtue and learning. Every opportunity of serving others he regarded as his happiness and gain. The unfortunate situation of his eldest brother’s affairs gave him an occasion of exercising his benevolent disposition. Richard condescended to become his brother’s servant, undertook the management of his farms, and by his industry and generosity effectually retrieved his brother’s before distressed circumstances. Having completed this good work, he resumed at Paris those studies he had begun at Oxford, leading with two select companions a life of piety and mortification, generally contenting himself with coarse bread and simple water for his diet; except that on Sundays and on particular festival she would, in condescendence to some visitors, allow himself a little meat or fish. Upon his return to England, he proceeded master of arts at Oxford, from whence he went to Bologna, in Italy, where he applied himself to the study of the canon law, and was appointed public professor of that science. After having taught there a short time, he returned to Oxford, and, on account of his merit, was soon promoted to the dignity of chancellor in that university. St. Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, having the happiness of gaining him for his diocess, appointed him his chancellor, and intrusted him with the chief direction of his archbishopric; and Richard was the faithful imitator of his patron’s piety and devotions. The principal use he made of his revenues was to employ them to charitable purposes, nor would he on any terms be prevailed on to accept the least present in the execution of his office as ecclesiastical judge. He accompanied his holy prelate in his banishment into France, and after his blessed death at Pontigni, retired into a convent of Dominican friars in Orleans. Having in that solitude employed his time in improving himself in theological studies, and received the order of priesthood, he returned to England to serve a private curacy, in the diocess of Canterbury. Boniface, who had succeeded St. Edmund in that metropolitan see, compelled him to resume his office of chancellor with the care of his whole diocess. Ralph Nevil, bishop of Chichester, dying in 1244, King Henry III. recommended to that see an unworthy court favourite, called Robert Passelew: the archbishop and other prelates declared the person not qualified, and the presentation void, and preferred Richard de Wiche to that dignity. He was consecrated in 1245. But the king seized his temporalities, and the saint suffered many hardships and persecutions from him and his officers, during two years, till his majesty granted him a replevin: upon which he recovered his revenues, but much impaired. Afterwards having pleaded his cause at Rome before Pope Innocent IV. against the king’s deputies, and obtained a sentence confirming his election, he had permitted no persecution, fatigue, or difficulty to excuse him to himself for the omission of any part of his duty to his flock: so now, the chief obstacles being removed, he redoubled his fervour and attention. He in person visited the sick, buried the dead, and sought out and relieved the poor. When his steward complained that his alms exceeded his income: “then,” said he, “sell my plate and my horse.” Having suffered a great loss by fire, instead of being more sparing in his charities, he said, “Perhaps God sent us this loss to punish our covetousness;” and ordered upon the spot more abundant alms to be given than usual. Such was the ardour of his devotion, that he lived as it were in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. He preached the word of God to his flock with that unction and success, which only an eminent spirit of prayer could produce. The affronts which he received, he always repaid with favours, and enmity with singular marks of charity. In maintaining discipline he was inflexible, especially in chastising crimes in the clergy: no intercession of the king, archbishop, and several other prelates could prevail with him to mitigate the punishment of a priest who had sinned against chastity. Yet penitent sinners he received with inexpressible tenderness and charity. Whilst he was employed in preaching a holy war against the Saracens, being commissioned thereto by the pope, he fell sick of a fever, foretold his own death, and prepared himself for it by the most melting ejaculations of divine love and thanksgiving. He died in an hospital at Dover, called God’s House, on the 3d of April, in the year of our Lord 1253, of his episcopal dignity the ninth, of his age the fifty-sixth. His body was conveyed to Chichester, and interred before the altar which he himself had consecrated in his cathedral to the memory of St. Edmund. It was removed to a more honourable place in 1276, on the 16th of June, on which day our ancestors commemorated his translation. The fame of miraculous cures of paralytic and other distempers, and of three persons raised to life at his tomb, moved the pope to appoint commissaries to inquire into the truth of these reports, before whom many of these miracles were authentically proved upon the spot; and the saint was solemnly canonized by Urban IV. in 1262.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/4/032.html

Richard Backedine B (RM)
(also known as Richard of Wyche, of Droitwich, of Chichester, of Burford) 


Born at Droitwich (formerly called Wyche), Worchestershire, England, in 1197; died at Dover, England, 1253; canonized 1262.



"Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults
Which Thou has borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day. Amen."
--Saint Richard of Chichester.
Richard's surname was Backedine, but he is better known as Richard Wyche or 'of Wich.' He was born into a family who held property and were counted among the minor nobility. Even as a toddler Richard haunted holy Mass. At five, standing on a chair, he was already preaching sermons: "Be good; if you are good, God will love you; if you are not good, God will not love you." A little simplistic but what do you expect of a five-year old? His knowledge of Latin amazed the pastor and the fervor of his prayers confounded his mother. His parents decided that the fruits of the earth would go to the eldest son, but those of heaven would go to the youngest--he would belong to the Church.

Richard's parents died while he was still small, and the heavily mortgaged family estate was left to his elder brother, who had no gift for management. The brother allowed the land to fall into ruin. When Richard was old enough, he served his brother out of kindness as a laborer to help rebuild the estate. He actually tilled the land for a time, and directed the replanting of the ruined gardens.

In time his management paid off, and the property was restored to its former value. His brother wanted to give it to Richard, but Richard only wanted to spend time with his books. Abandoning the estates and the possibility of a marriage to a wealthy bride, Richard went off to the newly opened Oxford University to finish his studies. At Oxford he became acquainted with the Dominicans who had arrived in 1221, Franciscans such as Grosseteste, and Saint Edmund Rich, who was then chancellor of the university and became one of Richard's lifelong friends.

Later, he went to Paris as a student of theology, and was so poor that he shared a room with two others. They lived on bread and porridge, and having only one good coat between them, they could only go one at a time to lectures, wearing it in turn, while the others remained at home. After taking his degree in Paris and finishing his master's degree at Oxford, he studied Roman and canon law at Bologna for seven years. There he received his doctorate and the esteem of many.

When one of his tutors offered to make Richard his heir and give him his daughter in marriage, Richard, who felt called to a celibate life, made a courteous excuse and returned to Oxford at age 38. In 1235, he was appointed chancellor of the university and then of the diocese of Oxford by Saint Edmund, who had become archbishop of Canterbury.

Richard remained in close contact with Saint Edmund during the long years of Edmund's conflict with the English king and, in fact, followed him into exile in France and nursed him until Edmund's death in 1240 at the Cistercian monastery of Pontigny. After Edmund died, he taught at the Dominican house of studies in Orléans for two years, where he was ordained a priest in 1242 and lived in the Dominican community until his return to England in 1243. At which time he served briefly as a parish priest at Charing and at Deal.

Those were the days when Henry III created great difficulties for the Church by encroaching on her liberties, seizing her revenues, and appointing to ecclesiastical vacancies his own relatives and followers. Crowned at the age of nine, when the barons had made an impetuous attack on his power, the Church had come to the aid of the frail child because God establishes all authority. Henry had acknowledged this service until he reached manhood. Then the king forgot his debt to the Church. He surrounded himself with favorites from the Continent: Bretons, Provençals, Savoyards, and natives of Poitou to "protect himself from the felony of his own subjects."

In 1244, Ralph Neville, bishop of Chichester died. Thus it came about that the king nominated a courtier, Robert Passelewe, to the bishopric of Chichester and pressured the canons to elect him. However, the new archbishop, Blessed Boniface of Savoy, refused to confirm appointment and called a chapter of his suffragans, who declared the election invalid. Instead they chose Richard Backedine, who had been chancellor to archbishops Edmund Rich and Boniface of Savoy and who was the primate's nominee, to fill the vacant see.

This roused the anger of the king, who retaliated by confiscating the cathedral revenues. It was a case in which retreat would be pure cowardice, so Richard accepted the unwelcome office and set about doing his best with it. At first he was almost starved out of office because the king, who already had the church revenues, forbade anyone to give Richard food or shelter. No bishop dared to consecrate him and, after a year of mendicant existence, he went to receive episcopal consecration from Pope Innocent IV, who was presiding over the Council of Lyons, on March 5, 1245.

But Richard, receiving the powerful support of the pope, though deprived of the use both of the cathedral and the bishop's palace, took up his residence at Chichester, and on a borrowed horse travelled through his diocese. He was given shelter in a country rectory by Father Simon of Tarring, and from this modest center Bishop Richard worked for two years like a missionary bishop, visiting fisherfolk and peasants, and cultivating figs in his spare time.

He called many synods during his travels, and drew up what are known as the Constitutions of Saint Richard, statutes that address the various abuses that he noticed in his travels. The sacraments were to be administered without payment, Mass celebrated with dignity, and the clergy to remain celibate, practice residence, and wear clerical garb. The laity were obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days and to memorize the Hail Mary, Our Father, and Creed. With great charity and humility he carried on his work until the king reluctantly yielded to a peremptory order of the pope to restore the revenues of the bishopric.

With his temporalities restored, Richard had the means to become a great alms-giver. "It will never do," he said, "to eat out of gold and silver plates and bowls, while Christ is suffering in the person of His poor," and he ate and drank always out of common crockery. His early poverty and recent experiences made him eschew riches. Whenever he heard of any fire or damage to his property, Saint Richard would say to his stewards, "Do not grieve. This is a lesson to us. God is teaching us that we do not give enough away to the poor. Let us increase our almsgiving."

Nor would he allow any quarrels over money or privilege to stand in the way of fellowship and charity. When an enemy came to see him, he received him in the friendliest manner and invited him to his table, but in matters of scandal and corruption he was stern and unyielding. "Never," he said of one of his priests who was immoral, "shall a ribald exercise any cure of souls in my diocese of Chichester."

And always he rose early, long before his clergy were awake, passing through their dormitory to say his morning office by himself. He encouraged the Dominicans and Franciscans in his diocese, who aided him in reforming it.

His final task was a commission from the pope to undertake a preaching mission for the Crusade throughout the kingdom. He saw this as a call to a new life, which would also reopen the Holy Land to pilgrims, not as a political expedition. He began preaching the Crusade in his own church at Chichester and proceeded as far as Dover, where, after he had dedicated a church to his friend Saint Edmund and sung matins, he was taken ill, and died at the Maison- Dieu, a house of poor priests and pilgrims, in his 56th year. Among his last words, as he turned his face, lit up with peace, to an old friend, were: "I was glad when they said to me, We will go into the house of the Lord."

If Richard was a thorn in the side of an avaricious king, he was a saint to his flock, whose affection he won during his eight-year episcopate. Many miracles of healing were recorded during his lifetime, and many more after his death. Richard was deep in the hearts of his people, the sort of saint that anyone can recognize by his simplicity, holiness, and endless charity to the poor.

Richard built a magnificent tomb for his friend, Saint Edmund, and was himself buried there after his death. In 1276, his body was translated to a separate tomb that erected for him behind the high altar of Chichester cathedral, which became one of the most popular pilgrimage places in England. It was utterly destroyed in 1538 by the Reformers, and his body was buried secretly.

Legend says that Richard Backedine was a third order Dominican, though there is no positive proof. One tradition says that he was actually on his way to join the Dominican house in Orléans, when the letters came appointing him bishop. In the early days of the Order of Preachers, the name of Saint Richard was inserted as a saint to be commemorated among their feasts, a fact that offers strong evidence that Richard himself was a member of the order. His biography was written by one of his clergy, Ralph Bocking (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Capes, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Walsh).

In art, Saint Richard is portrayed as a bishop blessing his people with a chalice by him, because he once dropped the chalice during a Mass, which remained unspilt. He may be shown (1) with the chalice at his feet; (2) kneeling with the chalice before him; (3) ploughing his brother's fields; or (4) blessing (Roeder). Unexpectedly, he is the patron of the coachmen's guild in Milan, Italy, presumably because he drove carts on his family farm (Farmer). His feast is observed in the dioceses of Southwark, Westminster, and Birmingham (Attwater2).


SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0403.shtml

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