Saturday, October 25, 2014

Crispin and Crispinian

Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, winding up in Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls and made shoes by night. Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, the governor of Belgic Gaul, who had them tortured and beheaded c. 286. In the 6th century, a church was built in their honour at Soissons. Crispian and Crispinian are also associated with the town of Faversham in Kent. In early 2007 the parish church of St Mary of Charity dedicated an altar to Crispin and Crispinian in the South aisle of the church.

The supposed tombs of the saints are in Rome in the church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna.

The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is October 25. However, these saints were removed from the liturgical calendar (but not declared to no longer be saints) during the Catholic Church's Vatican II reforms. The feast remains as a 'Black Letter Saints' Day' in the calendar of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1662) and a 'commemoration' in Common Worship (2000).

The St. Crispin's Day Speech;

Crispin is perhaps best known for lending his name to the famous speech given by the eponymous king in Shakespeare's Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt (which occurred on 25 October 1415, though the speech was not written until 1599). In the speech, Crispinian's name is spelled Crispian, perhaps reflecting London pronunciation in Shakespeare's time.

The full text of the speech is:

King Henry V (IV, iii):

What's he that wishes so? My cousin Westmorland. No, my fair cousin: If we are marked to die, we are enow To do our country loss; and if to live, The fewer men, the greater share of honour. God's will, I pray thee, wish not one man more. By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; It ernes me not if men my garments wear; Such outward things dwell not in my desires: But if it be a sin to covet honour, I am the most offending soul alive. No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England: God's peace, I would not lose so great an honour As one man more, methinks, would share from me For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more. Rather proclaim it presently through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart. His passport shall be made And crowns for convoy put into his purse: We would not die in that man's company That fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the Feast of Crispian: He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall see this day and live t'old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian": Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars And say "These wounds I had on Crispin's day." Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, But he'll remember with advantages What feats he did that day. Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember'd; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now abed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Propers for Crispin and Crispinian

The Collect:

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyrs Crispin and Crispinian with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - 2 Esdras 2:42-48.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22.

References and Resources:

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