Monday, October 09, 2006

A bishop who passed the teste

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Today is the feat of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (1253). He was a gentleman and a scholar. He has been called "the real founder of the tradition of scientific thought in mediaeval Oxford, and in some ways, of the modern English intellectual tradition."

Grosseteste distinguished himself as a scholar in all branches of study--law, medicine, languages, sciences, and theology. He translated Aristotle and developed a scientific method based on St. Augustine. He was appointed Master of the Oxford School and first teacher of theology to the Franciscans when they established a house at Oxford. One famous pupil of Grosseteste was Roger Bacon.

Yet, Grossesteste was not one to simply sit on the mountaintop and write books. He was among the people as one who serves. He was mindful of the instruction from the reading appointed for his feast day, "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

In 1235, Grosseteste was consecrated Bishop of Lincoln. He once said, "I am obligated to visit the sheep committed to me with all diligence, as Scripture prescribes." In rare form for the time, he did so, and (after getting over the shock) the people loved him for it. On his first visitation, some people remarked, "My lord, you are doing something new and exceptional."

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