Edgy Saints – A Lenten Study Series

Edgy Saints in Lent

Dear Friends,


Many churches like to have a small group series for Lent – which starts this year on 22nd February.  I have adapted material which is going out after Easter each morning to create five small group sessions.

The sessions look at some of the people who have been declared to be saints by the Church (or are on the journey to such a declaration) – people whose lives especially pointed to God.  The Church has declared many people to be saints but we thought it would be good to look at lesser known, edgy, saints. 

Some of the folk we look at lived on the edge of what we now consider the centre of things.  Others were edgy for other reasons – their politics, influence, the way they subverted convention or, in one case, for being a dog!  Some were acclaimed by the people long before, or despite never, being proclaimed as saints by the Church.  So as we read about people we, probably, have never really heard of, we think about what it might mean to be edgy saints and contemplate how they made a difference and how we might too. 

This series has been written by five people – the Rev’d Professor Elizabeth Stuart, an Anglican priest and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the University of Winchester.  I’ve known Liz for years – back when she was a jobbing theologian – and one occasion she was declared a saint herself; the label hasn’t, however, stuck – probably to her relief.  The Rev’d Dave Herbert, retiring Moderator of the Northern Synod notes that:  It is impossible to live in the Northeast of England and not be aware of the Christian  heritage, where the lingering spirituality and lives of the Celtic saints is hefted to the land like the sheep of upland farms in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland.  One truly walks in the footsteps of the saints as the hills, rivers, coastline and islands of the region are experienced by visitors today.  Many more are coming to appreciate this landscape and rich legacy walking the many new pilgrimage routes extending their web of footpaths criss-crossing the area.  The Rev’d Dr Jack Dyce has an interest in all things northern and introduces us to two saints from Orkney and a royal princess turned Northumbrian abbess.  The Rev’d Dr John McNeil Scott, Principal of the Scottish College, Irish National who has spent much of his life in the UK reflects on St Bridget, St Columbanus and St Colmcille – another man who lived between Ireland and Scotland.   I have added some reflections: one on Catherine of Sienna who used her self induced visions to have power in the Church, two on radical bishops from South America and one on the mediaeval polymath Hildegard of Bingen. 

Each session looks at three saints and offers information on the saint, a reading, reflection, discussion questions and a prayer.  Each week a hymn is suggested and you can email me for backing track music for them if that would be useful.  The material comes with leaders’ notes and is in large print or booklet format.  It could be used in person in church, across a pastorate, as an ecumenical Lent course or online via Zoom.  

The material is on our website here
(Go to urc.org.uk click on Your Faith, then Prayer and Worship and then Small Groups.)

We hope that these edgy saints stimulate you in your own journeys of sanctity.

With every good wish


The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship

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