Alcuin (pronounced aelkwin) was born about 730 near York into a noble family related to Willibrord, the first missionary to the Netherlands. He was educated at the cathedral school in York under Archbishop Egbert, a pupil of Bede. He thus inherited the best traditions of learning and zeal of the early English Church. After ordination as a deacon in 770, he became head of the York school. Following a meeting in 781 with the Emperor Charlemagne in Pavia (Italy), he was persuaded to become the Emperor’s “prime minister,” with special responsibility for the revival of education and learning in the Frankish dominions.
Alcuin was named Abbot of Tours in 796, where he died on May 19, 804, and was buried in the church of St. Martin.
Alcuin was a man of vast learning, personal charm, and integrity of character. In his direction of Charlemagne’s Palace School at Aachen, he was chiefly responsible for the preservation of the classical heritage of western civilization. Schools were revived in cathedrals and monasteries, and manuscripts of both pagan and Christian writings of antiquity were collated and copied.
Under the authority of Charlemagne, the liturgy was reformed, and service books gathered from Rome were edited and adapted. To this work we owe the preservation of many of the Collects that have come down to us, including the Collect for Purity at the beginning of the Holy Eucharist. (1)
A powerful quote, attributed to Alcuin, serves as a guide for the Christian life: “Remember to care for the soul more than the body, since the former remains, the latter perishes.”(2)
Join us this Sunday, in saying that ancient prayer “The Collect for Purity”. Our pre-service music begins at 9:50 am and the Liturgy for the Word and Eucharist begins at 10:00 every Sunday.
(1)Church Publishing. Lesser Feasts and Fasts (Kindle Locations 4719-4729). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.
(2) Ellsberg, Robert (2016). Blessed Among Us: Day by Day with Saintly Witnesses. Liturgical Press. ISBN978-0-8146-4745-5.