« НазадПродовжити »
THE life of this bright luminary of the Anglo
Saxon Church was cast in troublous times, and to this circumstance his celebrity may have been in some respects indebted, for it is
in such periods of difficulty that brilliant talents have an opportunity of displaying themselves. St. John was born at Harpham, a village in the province of Deira, of noble parentage, about ten years before the close of the first half of the Seventh Century one of the more tumultuous periods of English History
Besides the characters of the rulers of his country, other circumstances rendered the time of John's birth a fortunate one. Learning and religion, driven away by the Saxon invasion, were beginning to re-appear. The country was fast emerging from darkness and barbarism. At such a period, the arrival of the Greek monk St. Theodore, a native of Tarsus, in Cilicia, with his companion Adrian, on the shores of England, was a most auspicious event. Both were eminently versed in the languages of Greece and Rome, and perfect masters of every science which was then known. Compassionating the ignorance of the converts, they
dedicated their leisure hours to the instruction of youth ; and masters, formed under their guidance, were dispersed among the principal monasteries.
Their exhortations and example excited an ardour for improvement, which extended from the cloister to the courts of kings. Even the women caught the general enthusiasm; seminaries of learning were established in their convents; and they frequently exchanged the labours of the distaff for the more pleasing and elegant beauties of the Latin poets. Beda informs us that the disciples of Theodore and Adrian were as well acquainted with the languages of Greece and Rome as with their own native tongues.
Born when means of instruction were thus accessible, John showed an early disposition to avail himself of them. His youthful days were passed in the Monastery of Whitby, then called Streoneshalh, where he received instruction in the principles of the Christian faith from the saintly Abbess Hilda, the nursing mother of many an illustrious Churchman. The visit of Theodore to the Court of Egfrid, which occasioned the division of the extensive diocese of York and the deposition of the glorious St. Wilfrid, probably led to John's proceeding into Kent.
Under the sedulous care of the holy Abbot Adrian he soon eclipsed his contemporaries as well in literary acquirements as in sanctity. Proceeding thence to Oxford, the ancient college of the British Pheryllt, he completed his education and graduated M.A. and D.D., having been, it is supposed, the first on whom the
first-named degree was conferred. Afterwards, returning into his own country, he pursued the exercise of piety in the monastery of Streoneshalh till in the year 678, when, upon the death of Eata, he was advanced to the see of Hagulstadt (Hexham), by Alchfrid, King of Northumbria. Here his splendid talents had full scope for their exercise. He laboured incessantly for the conversion of that part of the population of his diocese which still remained enveloped in the fatal cloud of paganism. The good bishop personally visited his churches, and with the most laudable zeal, seconded by indefatigable attention, he conciliated the affections of his pagan opposers, and brought many of them into the fold of Christ. His austerity of discipline, when the subject of correction was himself, and his mildness and engaging deportment to others, soon exalted him in the public opinion, and he came to be regarded as a being of a superior order. What time he had to spare from his episcopal functions he consécrated to heavenly contemplation, retiring for that purpose into the churchyard of St. Michael's, beyond the river Tyne, about a mile and a half from Hagulstadt, especially during the holy season of Lent. He was accustomed at these times to take with him some poor person, whom he served during the period of his retirement. Once in the beginning of Lent he took with him a dumb youth who never had been able to utter a word, and whose head was so covered with hideous scales and scabs that no hair would grow upon it. The bishop caused a little cottage to be made, in which the