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Saint John Twenge

Saint John Twenge (Saint John of Bridlington) was born in the village of Thwing in the year 1320 AD. Thwing is a small village in the Yorkshire Wolds, about 8 miles west of the North Sea coast at Bridlington. (The town is famous for both the Church of All Saints - an early 12th century Norman church and a pub known as The Falling stone - its name comes from the Wold Cottage Meteorite that fell in 1795).

He came from the family Twenge which during the English Reformation would have two Roman Catholic priest-martyrs and establish the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary in York. After finishing his early studies, he left home and completed his education at Oxford. He undertook a vow of chastity at the age of 12. Afterwards, he entered the Augustinians Canons Regular community at the Priory of Bridlington. He became Canon of the Priory in 1346 before being elected full Prior in 1365.

Saint John Twenge was famous in England for his holiness and reported miracles. There are several miracles attributed to Saint Twenge:

  • Once Saint John was concerned about the people in the cottages around the monastery who were extremely poor. He began taking loaves of bread from the Priory and handing them through the gate secretly to the poor. Some of the more wealthy of the town were upset that Saint John was giving away bread so freely and tried to entrap him. When confronted, Saint John told him he was merely taking stones to mend the road - the angry men ripped open his cloak to the bread and prove he was lying only to find that the loaves of bread had turned into stones

  • Once a cottage had caught fire outside the monastery. Saint John ran to the cottage holding a ladder with ease and propped it against the building so that a woman could climb down. Once she had, the townspeople went to move the ladder only to find that it was so heavy it needed at least three grown men to move it.

  • His most famous miracle involved saving five sailors from drowning in the ocean near the town. A group of sailors from Hartlepool were caught in a terrible storm and their ship was in immediate danger of sinking. The men called out to Saint John and to their amazement he suddenly appeared in the waves. He led the men back to the harbor safely and disappeared. The men ran to the monastery only to find Saint John sitting in dry clothes.

  • Once while entertaining, a nobleman asked Saint John to try his wine. At this time Saint John was abstinent but did not wish his brothers to know. He blessed the water in the cup and handed it over. The guest began complimenting the quality and taste of the wine but there was only water in the cup.

Saint John served as Prior for 17 years before dying on October 10th, 1379 from natural causes. The Archbishop of York, Alexander Neville began gathering evidence of the miracles for canonization. Pope Boniface IX officially canonized him in 1401. Saint John was the last English Saint to be canonized before the start of the English Reformation.

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