Today’s Saint

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January 19 | Conscience

Saint Wulfstan

A.D. 1008–1095

We humans have invented so many ways to be unkind, unjust, and cruel to each other. And we are often our most cruel when we engage in groupthink, because it becomes almost impossible to hear the voice of our conscience. It is only when we are attentive to our conscience that we can discern what is just from what is unjust.

Saint Wulfstan was a man very attentive to his own conscience, who sought justice even when it came at great personal cost.

Wulfstan was a Benedictine monk in England at the time of the Norman Conquest, when the slave trade began in Bristol. This was a port city in southwest England from which English men and women were sold into bondage. Wulfstan listened to his conscience when it told him this was a grave and cruel offense against human dignity. Hearing its message, he was courageous enough to start a campaign to end the slave trade.

Wulfstan may have been a monk, but he did not let his cloistered life stop him from actively fighting the injustice happening in his own country. Saint Wulfstan engaged with slave merchants, local authorities, and the wider community to bring about change. He preached fervently against the slave trade, urging both the laity and nobility to recognize the inhumanity of slavery and do something about it. 

It is widely recognized today that his work was instrumental in ending the slave trade in Bristol.

Just because no one else seems to be speaking out against an evil act doesn’t mean it’s not unjust. Only your own conscience, well-formed and given the silence to speak, can tell you that. 

Listen to your conscience. It is the barometer God has placed within you to detect unjust actions so you can address them with justice.

What is one aspect of my life where my conscience is trying to speak to me? How can I quiet my heart and mind to let my conscience speak more clearly?

I am attentive to the voice of my conscience.

This reflection is brought to you from book title.

Patron Saint of: Vegetarians and Dieters

Feast Day: January 19

Feast Day Shared by: Saint John Bishop of Ravenna and Saint Germanicus

Canonized: May 14, 1203

Canonized By: Pope Innocent III

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