Monday, February 10, 2014

Sixth, 14th, and 20th Centuries

February 10 is the Feast Day of St. Scholastica.  Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict, well-known as the founder of the Benedictine order.  The lady, in her service to God, founded a nunnery near Benedict's monastery.1  While neither could visit the other on the site of their residences, they met once a year at a neutral site for prayers and conversation.  Scholastica died a few days after one of these annual visits, and it is said that Benedict in a vision saw her soul ascend into heaven.  He brought her body to the monastery for interment in the tomb he had constructed for himself.2

St. Scholastica died in 543.  Now fast-forward 812 years.  In Oxford, England on the saint's feast day, two students from university got into a dispute with an innkeeper over the quality of the drinks, continuing to the tossing of said drinks into the barkeep's face.  The immediate result of this contretemps was the death over a period of two days of more than ninety people of whom two-thirds were students.  The end was not to be seen for yet another 600 years.  Events went briefly as follows:

The resolution in favor of the university required the mayor and councillors of the town to march bareheaded through the streets on St. Scholastica's Day each year and pay to the university a penny for each student who lost his life in the riots.  This continued until 1825 when the mayor refused to participate.

Finally, the matter was resolved when, on February 10, 1955, an act of conciliation saw the Mayor awarded an honorary degree from University, and the Vice-Chancellor was made an Honorary Freeman.3

Long memories, those Brits.

1I first typed "monkery" which is what I have long thought the places should be called, but spell-check objected to the usage.
2Catholic Online


Secondary Roads said...

Why do they have to have feast days? I'd be content with a day dedicated to napping.

vanilla said...

Ah, Chuck, every day is a nap day! But apparently every day is also a feast day honoring some saint, or in many cases more than one.

Shelly said...


vanilla said...

Shelly, in study of the history of education in English-speaking countries. ;-)

Pearl said...

Human beings are such interesting creatures, are they not? :-)


Sharkbytes said...

I'd never heard that one! So Scholastica was a woman? Didn't know that either.

vanilla said...

Pearl, people are an unending source of amusement!

Sharkebytes, I didn't know Scholastica, but reading something about Benedict led me off on this path.