Churches Kent Saints

Saint Clement’s Day

23rd November is known as Saint Clement’s Day but in the Middle Ages was also considered to be the beginning of Winter.

Saint Clement was the fourth Christian Pope who lived from 53 to 117 AD. After being banished to the Crimea, he converted heathens to Christianity and built 75 churches. Emperor Trajan then had him thrown into the Black Sea, with an anchor tied around his neck. He is usually depicted alongside a ship and anchor. Saint Clement is also known as the Patron Saint of Marble Workers.

Right on my doorstep is the beautiful medieval church of Old Romney, which lies in the heart of Romney Marsh. Old Romney was once a port, and therefore it’s dedication to Saint Clement is perhaps unsurprising. The church is well worth a visit as it contains many unique and unusual features including a beautiful altar made of local stone and a tomb thought to be that of a Crusader!

The church dates to the twelfth century and was badly damaged in world war two. It was saved thanks to a local book – ‘Doctor Syn,’ which was set in Dymchurch and written by Russell Thorndike. Walt Disney Productions asked to use the interior of the church, painting it pink and black and giving the church a donation to fund it’s repairs.

Saint Clement’s is one of thirteen fabulous medieval churches, which are looked after by the Romney Marsh Historic Churches Trust.

The Altar at the East end

St Gregory the Great

Our next Saint is St Gregory whose death we commemorate on 12th March each year. The Second Vatican Council revised the General Roman Calendar in 1969, moving his Feast Day to 3rd September, which was the day of his consecration in 590AD, as of course 12th March falls during Lent.

Pope Gregory 1, also known as Gregory the Great was born around 540AD and died in 604AD

It was Pope Gregory the Great who sent Augustine on a mission to England to convert pagans to Christianity following King Ethelbert’s marriage to a Christian wife – Bertha. Gregory went on to become a very important figure in church history and Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

Although Gregory suffered from chronic indigestion and slow fevers, caused by a lifetime of prolonged fasting, he had a huge influence on the doctrine, discipline and organisation of the early Catholic Church.

Gregory is also the Patron Saint of of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.

During his final years, he was also a martyr to gout, a most unpleasant disease of the foot.

St Gregory’s Day used to be remembered as ‘Farmer’s Day’ when the clergy went into the fields to bless the Spring crops.

Depictions of Saint Gregory can be seen in many churches local to Kent such as Wye,, which is dedicated to both St Gregory & St Martin. Gregory is depicted in the West window together with St Martin of Tours either side of Christ in Majesty.

Canterbury Cathedral has two figures on the handsome pulpit in the Nave, with cope and mitre, which represent Augustine of Canterbury shown here on the left and Pope Gregory 1 on the right hand side.

Immanuel Giel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The relics of Saint Gregory are enshrined in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.