This saint, who became the apostle of the southern Picts, was son to a prince among the Cumbrian Britons, who inhabited Cumberland and Galloway. From his cradle it seemed his only delight to visit churches, to discourse on heavenly things, and to be employed in exercises of devotion and piety. Whilst others take so much pains in their education to advance themselves in the world, our noble youth, sensible of the inestimable treasure of holy faith which he had found, thought nothing difficult, and no labour great, that he might improve his soul in the knowledge and practice of religion. With this view, he bade adieu to the world, cut off the very root of covetousness, sensuality, and ambition, by renouncing whatever might flatter, or afford fuel to those passions, and forsaking a court, his friends, and country, undertook a long journey to Rome. In that city he spent many years, applying himself with his whole heart to the exercises of the most heroic Christian virtue, and to the study of the sacred sciences.
In this race he ran, as it were, with the strides of a giant, and his soul was daily more and more inflamed with a mighty love and zeal for God, whose honour he studied in all things to promote. This motive and a compassion for his native country, which had received the grace of faith more slowly and more imperfectly than the southern provinces of Britain, engaged him at length to return home, to impart to his countrymen a share of that blessing in which their happiness consisted, and which was the great and sole end of their very being. Those few who had already received some tincture of the faith, he taught to set a due value on so great a treasure, and to apply themselves with their whole strength to cultivate the same in their hearts. He brought the idolaters of that province into the paths of eternal life, softened the fierce temper of Tudovald, king of the Picts, and built a church of stone at Whithern, now in Galloway; and as the northern Britons had never before seen any such building of stone, the town, according to Bede and Malmesbury, took from this edifice its name (importing a white house, in Latin Candida Casa) since changed into Whithern. The saint fixed here his episcopal see, and dedicated the church in honour of St. Martin, whose tomb he probably had devoutly visited in his journey through France. He converted from idolatry the Cumbrians, and all the provinces of the southern Picts, as far as Mount Grampus. The rest of North Britain was converted by Saints Columba and Palladius. The former was the apostle of the northern Picts in 565. The Scots, who, passing from Ireland, settled in part of the country possessed by the Picts in North Britain, acknowledge St. Palladius for their first bishop, though their modern historians tell us that they received the first seeds of faith in the year 200, under King Donald, by certain missionaries sent from Pope Victor. It is not to be doubted but the light of faith had penetrated among the Caledonian Britons before they were subdued by the Roman arms, in the expedition of Severus, in 208, as appears by Tertullian, (l. adv. Judæos c. 7.) The church of Whithern became a seminary of apostolic men and many glorious saints. St. Ninian died on the 16th of September in 432. He was illustrious for many miracles, and his relics were kept with veneration, till the change of religion, in the church which bears his name at Whithern.
INTROIT Psalm 131: 9-10
Let Thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with justice, and let Thy saints rejoice: for Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of Thy anointed. V. O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that the devout observance of this festival of blessed Ninian, thy Confessor and Bishop, may be profitable unto us for our advancement in all godliness, and for the attainment of everlasting salvation. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 44:16
Lesson from the Book of Ecclesiasticus: Behold a great priest who in his days pleased the Lord and was found righteous: and in the time of wrath he was taken in exchange for the world. There was none like unto him to keep the law of the Most High. Therefore by an oath the Lord assured him that he would increase him among his people. He established with him the blessing of all men and the covenant, and made it rest upon his head. He acknowledged him in his blessing: and preserved for him his mercy: so that he found favour in the sight of the Lord. He magnified him in the sight of kings: and gave unto him a crown of glory. An everlasting covenant he made with him and gave him a great priesthood and blessed him with glory, that he should execute the office of the priesthood and have honour in his name and offer unto him incense and a sweet savour.
GRADUAL Ecclus. 44.
Behold a great priest who in his days pleased the Lord. V. There was none like unto him to keep the law of the Most High. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Ps. 110. Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 25:14-23
At that time: Jesus spake this parable unto his disciples: the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 89.
I have found David my servant: with my holy oil have I anointed him: my hand shall hold him fast, and my arm shall strengthen him (alleluia).
GRANT, we beseech thee, O Lord, that we remembering with gladness the righteousness of thy Saints, may at all times and in all places feel the effectual succour of their intercession. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 12.
A faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household: to give them their portion of meat in due season (alleluia).
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we may so shew forth our thankfulness for he gifts which we have now received; that, at the intercession of blessed Ninian thy Confessor and Bishop, we may obtain yet more abundant mercies. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.