Monday, May 24, 2010

Stephen Langton Archibisop of Cantebury

Stephen Langton may perhaps be the least known great Catholic that ever lived, yet his impact on the world was quite significant. He was born in England in 1155 and studied in Paris, remained there as a teacher of theology until 1206 when Pope Innocent III named him Cardinal because of his great learning and holiness. Innocent procured his election to the See of Canterbury. The king of England was King John. That is the same treacherous, evil King John whom we know of from the Legends of Robin Hood. King John refused to allow Stephen Langton to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Finally in 1213 the king relented and allowed Stephen Langton to the See of Canterbury as Archbishop. Stephen Langton along with other barons were able to restrain the king's lawlessness by drawing up a document that secured individual rights and legal protections for the common man. That document is the Magna Carta. It is from the Magna Carta that the rule of habeus corpus - the right to a hearing for the accused before being jailed, was created. Archbishop Langton was a great Biblical scholar and was the first person to break holy Scriptures into chapters, for example we all know John 3:16 "God so loved the world," Langton decided where chapters began and ended. One last thing about Stephen Langton, every Pentecost Sunday the great hymn Veni, Sancte, Spiritus is either sung or recited. He composed that great hymn. What a marvelous man who is relatively unknown in Catholic circles.

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