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March 4.

St. Casimir. St. Lucius, Pope, A.D. 253. St. Adrian, Bishop, A.D. 874.

St. Casimir,

Was born a prince on the 5th of October, 1458, and died 4th March, 1482. He was second son of Casimir III. king of Poland; and, according to Ribadeneira, he wore under his princely attire a prickly hair shirt, fasted rigorously, prayed at night till he fell weary and exhausted on the bare floor; often in the most sharp and bitter weather went barefoot to church at midnight, and lay on his face before the door; studied to advance the catholic religion, and to extinguish or drive heresy out of Poland; persuaded his father to enact a law that no new church should be built for heretics, nor any old ones repaired; in a particular virtue "surpassed the angels;" committed suicide; resigned his soul amidst choirs of priests; had it carried to heaven surrounded with a clear bright light by angels; and thirty-six years after his death he appeared in glittering armour and gallantly mounted; led the Polish army through an impassable river, and conquered the Muscovites; and the next year marched before his beloved Poles in the air against the enemy, and as "he beat them before, so he beat them again."


On the 4th of March, 1583, died Bernard Gilpin. He was born at Kentmire, in Westmoreland, 1517, sent to Queen's college, Oxford, in 1553, read the writings of Erasmus, excelled in logic and philosophy, and studied Greek and Hebrew; being a Catholic he held a public disputation against John Hooper, the Protestant, who was martyred at the stake under Henry VIII. Appointed to hold a disputation against Peter Martyr, another eminent reformer, who read the divinity lecture in Oxford, he diligently studied the scriptures and the writings of the early fathers, and "was not sorry to be overcome by the truth." Cuthbert Tunstall, bishop of Durham, gave him a living, which he shortly afterwards resigned, because he desired to travel, and could not hold it while absent with peace of conscience. "But," saith the bishop, "thou mayst hold it with a dispensation, and thou shalt be dispensed withal." To this Gilpin answered, that when he should be called on for an account of his stewardship, he feared it would not serve his turn to answer, that he had been "dispensed withal." Whereupon the bishop admired, and "Father's soul!" said he, "Gilpin will die a beggar." He afterwards went to Lovaine and Paris, from whence he returned to England in the days of queen Mary; and bishop Tunstall gave him the rectory of Essingdon, by which he became archdeacon of Durham, and preached on scriptural authority against the vices in the church. Those who hated his integrity and feared his talents, sought his blood by insnaring controversy. He avoided vain jangling, and beat his adversaries in solid argument.

At one of these disputations, carried on in an under tone with bishop Tunstall's chaplains, and close behind the bishop, who was sitting before the fire, the bishop, leaning his chair somewhat backwards, hearkened to what was said; and when they had done, turning to his chaplains, "Father's soul!" said the bishop, "let him alone, for he hath more learning than you all." He was twice accused of heresy to Tunstall, who abhorred to shed blood; but information being given against him to Bonner, bishop of London, an order was issued for his apprehension. Gilpin had intelligence of the danger, yet he only provided against it by ordering William Airy, his house steward, to provide a long garment, that he might go the more comely to the stake. The sudden death of Mary cleared off the impending storm. Not long afterwards, bishop Tunstall presented Gilpin to the rectory of Houghton, a large parish with fourteen villages, which he laboriously served. He built a grammar school, from whence he sent students almost daily to the university, and maintained them there at his own cost. Honoured by the wise, and respected by the noble, the earl of Bedford solicited from queen Elizabeth the vacant bishopric of Carlisle for Gilpin. A conge d'élire was accordingly issued, but Gilpin resisted the dignity against all entreaties. "If I had been chosen to a bishopric elsewhere," he said, "I would not have refused it; but in Carlisle I have many friends and kindred, at whom I must connive in many things, not without hurt to myself, or else deny them many things, not without hurt to them, which difficulties I have avoided by the refusal of that bishopric." He was chosen provost of his own (Queen's) college in Oxford, but this advancement he also declined. Yet he did the office and work of a bishop, by preaching, taking care of the poor, providing for the necessities of other churches, erecting schools, encouraging learned men, and keeping open house to all that needed. Cecil, lord Burleigh, the queen's secretary, having visited Gilpin at Houghton, on his return towards Durham, when he came to Rainton-hill, reflected his eye upon the open country he had passed, and looking earnestly upon Gilpin's house, said, "I do not blame this man for refusing a bishopric. What doth he want that a bishopric could more enrich him withal! besides that he is free from the great weight of cares."

Gilpin annually visited the people of Ridsdale and Tindale, and was "little else than adored by that half barbarous and rustic people." When at Rothbury, in these parts, "there was a pestilent faction among some of them who were wont to resort to the church; the men being bloodily minded, practised a bloody manner of revenge, termed by them a deadly feud:" if one faction came to the church the other kept away, inasmuch as they could not meet without bloodshed. It so happened that when Gilpin was in the pulpit both parties came to the church; one party stood in the chancel, the other in the body of the church. Each body was armed with swords and javelins, and their weapons making a clashing sound, Gilpin, unaccustomed to such a spectacle, was somewhat moved, yet he proceeded with his sermon. A second time the weapons clashed; the one side drew near to the other; and they were about to commence battle in the church. Gilpin descended, stepped to the leaders on each side, appeased the tumult, and laboured to establish peace between them; but he could only obtain from these rude borderers, that they would not break the peace while Mr. Gilpin remained. On this he once more ascended the pulpit, and spent the allotted time in inveighing against this unchristian and savage custom, and exhorting them to forego it for ever. Another incident, further illustrating the manners of the people, will be mentioned below; it may be added here, however, that afterwards, when he revisited these parts, any one who dreaded a deadly foe, found himself safer in Gilpin's presence than with armed guards.

In his younger years, while on a ride to Oxford, Gilpin overtook a youth who was one while walking, and at another time running. He found that the lad came from Wales, knew Latin, had a smattering of Greek, and was bound for Oxford, with intent to be a scholar. "Wilt thou," said Gilpin, "be contented to go with me? I will provide for thee." The youth assented, Gilpin took him first to Oxford, afterwards to Houghton, where he improved him exceedingly in Greek and Hebrew, and sent him at last to Oxford. This youth was the learned Hugh Broughton; he is said to have requited this protection and care by something worse than inconstancy.

Gilpin's nature was kind and charitable, he visited sick chambers and prisons, and dispensed large bounties. He was firm in rectitude; and hence, on one occasion, when bishop Tunstall had inclined to his enemies, and insisted on Gilpin's preaching, sorely against the good man's petitions to be excused, and repeated refusals, he at length mounted the pulpit, and concluded his discourse by denouncing the enormities in the bishop's diocese; looking at Tunstall, he said "Lest your lordship should make answer, that you had no notice of these things given you, behold, I bring them to your knowledge. Let not your lordship say these crimes have been committed by the faults of others, without your knowledge; for whatsoever either yourself shall do in person, or suffer through your connivance to be done by others, is wholly your own. Therefore," thundered forth the faithful preacher, "in presence of God, his angels and man, I pronounce your fatherhood to be the author of all these evils; yea, and, in that strict day of the general account, I shall be a witness to testify against you, that all these things have come to your knowledge by my means: and all these men shall bear witness thereof, who have heard me speaking unto you this day." Gilpin's adherents, terrified at this unexpected and bold address, apprehended the worst consequences from the bishop's power. "You have," said they, "put a sword into his hand to slay you. If heretofore he hath been offended with you without a cause, what may you now expect from him who, being provoked, shall make use of his own power to injure you by right or wrong." Gilpin answered, "Be not afraid; the Lord God over-ruleth us all; so that the truth may be propagated, and God glorified, God's will be done concerning me." After dinner, Gilpin waited on the bishop to take leave of him, and return home. "It shall not be so," said the bishop, "for I will bring you to your house." When they arrived at Mr. Gilpin's house, and had entered the parlour, the bishop on a sudden caught Mr. Gilpin by the hand, and addressed him in these words:—"Father Gilpin, I acknowledge you are fitter to be bishop of Durham, than myself to be parson of this church of yours; I ask forgiveness for errors past; forgive me, father. I know you have hatched up some chickens that now seek to pick out your eyes; but so long as I shall live bishop of Durham, be secure; no man shall injure you." Thus the fearless integrity of Gilpin, by which it was conceived he had jeapoardized his life, saved him from his enemies and advanced him beyond the reach of their further hate.

After a life excellent for kindness, charity, and faithful dealing towards the people intrusted to his care, he died at the age of sixty-six worn out by labour in well doing.


Chickweed. Alsine media.
Dedicated to St. Casimir.


Notes [All notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. The paragraph divisions in the account of Gilpin have been editorially inserted to make the text more readable in an electronic format. While the original volume's double-column format makes it easy to read long paragraphs, computer screens are less forgiving. [return] [KG]