From the Rectory – July

For church junkies who enjoy nothing more than travelling around the country and visiting places of worship – and there are some – the lack of imagination when it comes to the naming of Anglican Churches must be quite striking. St Mary is far and away the most frequently used. More than 2300 churches in the UK are dedicated to her, with the catch all ‘All Saints’ the next most popular, followed by St Peter, St Michael & St Andrew.

This makes it even more noticeable when a church is dedicated to a Saint that is unique to one particular place.

Chittlehampton in Devon is one such village. The eight hundred or so residents live in the shadow of a strikingly large parish church that rejoices in the name of St Hieritha, the only one in the UK with that dedication.

Hieritha was born in East Stowford near Barnstaple in Devon sometime in the 8th century. Having converted to Christianity, she founded a church in Chittlehampton, before meeting her death at the wrong end of a scythe at the behest of her non believing step-mother. According to legend, a spring of water appeared in the place that her body hit the ground – a welcome miracle at a time of drought.

Although the vast majority of church buildings that have been built in recent times are not dedicated to one Saint or another, there is a special place for those that are. They honour the heroes and heroines of the faith. Those that have given so much for what they believe in. Those who we would do well to remember.

I wonder what kind of legacy we expect to leave behind us?

The late American president Ronald Reagan has a Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs named after him. Another President, Herbert Hoover, will be remembered by a dam on the Colorado river. Musician John Lennon has an airport, pop star Lady Gaga a type of fern and Pope John Paul the Second a beetle.

Will we be remembered by the games we won, the business we ran, the families we raised or the money we made? Or might we be remembered for the way we loved the stranger and the outcast. The way that we loved God.

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