Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Saint Gilbert of Dornoch

Gilbert de Moravia († 1245), later known as Saint Gilbert of Dornoch, was the most famous Bishop of Caithness and founder of Dornoch Cathedral.

His name may suggest that he came from the semi-Gaelicized family of Flemish origin who were Lords of Duffus, and who during Gilbert's episcopate would create the Earldom of Sutherland under Gilbert's possible cousin, William de Moravia, 1st Earl of Sutherland. It is known that Gilbert was the son of one Muiredach, son of Alexander de Moravia ("of Moray", so not necessarily a family name). If Gilbert was of purely Gaelic origin, his name may be a francization of the Gaelic name Gille Brigte (modern: Gillebrìghde). Gilbert allegedly had a younger brother, Richard de Moravia, who was killed fighting against Scandinavians and whose effigy-sarcophagus currently resides in the cathedral.

Gilbert then very likely came from Moray. He was for a long time the Archdeacon of the Bishopric of Moray. It is probable that Gilbert was elected to the see sometime in the year 1223, in the presence of King Alexander II of Scotland and his army. He was certainly bishop of Caithness by the summer of 1224. King Alexander probably decided that, after the murder of Gilbert's predecessor Adam of Melrose, the bishopric's seat (cathedra) should be moved closer to royal protection. So it was that Gilbert's episcopate saw the move of the bishopric from Halkirk in the far north of the diocese to Dornoch in the far south. It was to the new cathedral that, in 1239, Gilbert would move Bishop Adam's body. Gilbert nevertheless continued to reside for much of his episcopate in the north, and maintained a palace at Scrabster. It was here that he died in 1245, traditionally on April 1. The latter day is his feast day. He was buried at Dornoch. He is the last Scottish saint to appear in the Calendar of Saints, although it is not known if he was ever formally canonized.

Propers for Gilbert - Bishop

The Collect.

O GOD, who hast endowed thy servant ---------- with clarity of faith and holiness of life: Grant us to keep with steadfast minds the faith which he taught, and in his fellowship to be made partakers of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Wisdom 7:7-14.

I CALLED upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me. I preferred her before sceptres and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither compared I unto her any precious stone, because all gold in respect of her is as a little sand, and silver shall be counted as clay before her. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for the light that cometh from her never goeth out. All good things together came to me with her, and innumerable riches in her hands. And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them: and I knew not that she was the mother of them. I learned diligently, and do communicate her liberally: I do not hide her riches. For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth: which they that use become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts that come from learning.

The Gospel - St. John 17:18-23.

AS thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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