Saint of the Day – 10 October – Saint John of Bridlington OSA (1319-1379) Priest, Prior, miracle-worker. In his lifetime he enjoyed a reputation for great holiness and for miraculous powers. John was commended for the integrity of his life, his scholarship , his humility and his quiet generosity. Born in 1319 at Thwing (near Bridlington), Yorkshire, England and died on 10 October 1379 of natural causes. Also known as – John Thwing, John of Thwing, John Twenge, John Thwing of Bridlington. Additional Memorial – 9 October among the Augustinian Canons Regular, 21 October on some calendars.
The Roman Martyrology states: “In Bridlington in England, St John, a Priest, who, Prior of the Monastery of the Canons Regular of St Augustine, shone with prayer, austerity and meekness.“
Born in 1320 in the village of Thwing on the Yorkshire Wolds, about nine miles west of Bridlington, he was of the Yorkshire family Twenge, which during the English Reformation would supply two Roman Catholic Priest-martyrs and was also instrumental in establishing the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Bar Convent, York.
John was educated at a school in the village from the age of five, completing his studies at Oxford University. He then entered the Augustinian Canons Regular community of Bridlington Priory. He carried out his duties with humility and diligence, and was in turn Novice Master, almsgiver, preacher and sub-prior. He became Canon of the Priory in 1346 and was eventually elected Prior in 1356. John initially declined out of humility but after being re-elected, probably in 1361, he took on the duties of Prior in January 1362. He served as Prior for 17 years before his death on 10 October 1379.
In his lifetime he enjoyed a reputation for great holiness and for miraculous powers. On one occasion he changed water into wine. On another, five seamen from Hartlepool in danger of shipwreck called upon God in the name of His servant, John of Bridlington, whereupon the Prior himself appeared to them in his Canonical habit and brought them safely to shore. The men left their vessel at the harbour and walked to the Monastery where they thanked John in person for saving their lives.
“The Vision of William Staunton,” recounts William’s visit to St Patrick’s Purgatory where he sees both purgatory and the earthly paradise and is conducted through the otherworld by St John of Bridlington and St Ive.
After his death from natural causes, the fame of the miracles brought by his intercession, spread rapidly through the land. Alexander Neville, Archbishop of York, charged his suffragans and others, to take evidence with a view to his Canonisation. Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York, assisted by the Bishops of Durham and Carlisle, officiated at a solemn translation of his body on 11 March 1401. Pope, Boniface IX, shortly afterwards Canonised him. The Canonisation had been lost but the original Bull was unearthed in the Vatican archives by T A Twemlow, who was engaged in research work there for the British government.
At the English Reformation, Henry VIII was asked to spare the magnificent Shrine of the Saint but it was destroyed in 1537. The nave of the Church, restored in 1857, is all that now remains of Bridlington Priory.