John Donne, Priest & Poet

31 March -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Spiritual Writers, page 473

John Donne was born in about the year 1571 and brought up as a Roman Catholic. He was a great-great nephew of Thomas More, although this seems to have had little influence on him, as he led a somewhat debauched youth and was extremely sceptical about all religion. He went up to Oxford when he was fourteen, studied further at Cambridge and perhaps on the Continent, and eventually discovered his Christian faith in the Church of England. After much heart-searching, he accepted ordination and later the post of Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. Much of his cynicism dissolved and he became a strong advocate for the discerning of Christian vocation, and in particular affirming his own vocation as a priest, loving and loved by the crucified Christ. The people of London flocked to his sermons. He died on this day in the year 1631. His love-poetry and religious poems took on a renewed life in the twentieth century and his place both as a patristic scholar and as a moral theologian are confirmed by his prolific writings and the publication of his sermons.