About the Commemoration
Richard of Wyche was born in Droitwich, England, in 1197. As a young man he postponed his studies to restore the family farm after poor management by a guardian. He studied at Oxford under Robert Grosseteste (see October 9) and earned a degree in civil law from Bologna; in 1235 he became chancellor of Oxford but was soon called to be chancellor of the diocese of Canterbury of which his friend Edmund Rich was archbishop. When King Henry III forced Edmund into exile, Richard went with him to France and after Edmund’s death was ordained priest in France in 1243. He returned to England and soon afterwards, in 1244, was elected Bishop of Chichester. His election led to a battle of wills between Henry III, who had appointed his own candidate, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although Richard was confirmed and consecrated by the pope in 1245, it was two years until the king gave way under threat of excommunication by the pope and Richard was allowed to take full possession of the diocese (1246).
Richard was a reformer of the state of the Church, merciless toward simony and nepotism, a man of simple personal habits, generous in his charities, strict with his clergy, and comfortable among the humbler people of his diocese. He died at Dover April 3, 1253, the day after consecrating a new church there in honor of his teacher, St. Edmund.
The essence of St. Richard’s life is revealed in the prayer attributed to him:
Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ,
For all the benefits thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me:
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know thee more clearly,
May I love thee more dearly,
May I follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.
Richard was canonized in 1262. His shrine in Chichester Cathedral was destroyed by order of Henry VIII in 1538. Richard is on the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer; he is not on the General Roman Calendar.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.
See also: Richard of Chichester
From The Life of St. Richard by Ralph Bocking
Now it once happened that a pregnant woman, who was indeed guilty and deserved her punishment, was being held captive in bonds and in custody in one of the bishop’s manors. When this became known to the bishop, he found an opportunity and went to the place where the same woman was held in confinement. After the warden of the prison had been directed by him on purpose to other things, he approached nearer and asked the woman the reason for her imprisonment. He learnt that she was to be handed over for execution, and that her death was to be postponed only till she had given birth. Thereupon giving her such help and instruction as he could, he advised her to repent of her sins, and to take refuge in a church which was close at hand; and this she did. The news of this spread abroad, and came to the ears of the Chief Steward, who went worried and with a long face to the episcopal palace. When the bishop made enquiry for the reasons of his distress, he replied, “Small wonder; for because of the escape of a woman from prison, we shall have to pay out of our poverty a hundred shillings to the King.” The bishop exclaimed, “What or how much are a hundred silver shillings to the freeing of one captive. Blessed be God who has set her free!”
Ralph Becking, The Life of St. Richard, book 1, chap. 3, para. 37, Acta Sanctorum, April 1 (5 June 1986): 293, trans. Antony Snell, S.S.M.
We thank you, Lord God, for all the benefits you have given us in your Son Jesus Christ, our most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother, and for all the pains and insults he has borne for us; and we pray that, following the example of your saintly bishop Richard of Chichester, we may see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
LFF, from a prayer attributed to Richard
Readings: Psalm 84:7-12 or Psalm 3; Philippians 4:10-13; Matthew 25:31-40
Hymn of the Day: “Day by day, dear Lord, of thee three things I pray” (H82 654), by St. Richard; “Let us ever walk with Jesus” (LBW 487, L-SB 685, ELW 802)
Prayers: For the diocese of Chichester, its cathedral, bishop, clergy, and people; For all bishops and church administrators; For grace to know, love, and follow Christ.
Preface: A Saint(2) (BCP)