Lent Madness: Peter vs. Dunstan

In this corner, wearing the white tunic we have Simon-I-Mean-Peter “The Rock.” In this corner is Dunstan of Canterbury who appears to be rubbing a horse shoe for good luck. the winner will face off against Joseph of Arimathea in the next round. In recent action, John Chrysostom handily defeated Jerome. Click to see the updated tournament bracket: Lent Madness 2010

Simon Peter (1-67 AD) is featured prominently throughout the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. A fisherman by trade, Peter was called by Jesus to drop his nets and become a “Fisher of Men.” His brother Andrew is also an apostle, having both grown up in Bethsaida. There are various stories about the eager and sometimes impetuous Peter in Scripture. Jesus healed his mother-in-law of a fever, Peter attempted to walk on the water toward Jesus, and he was present along with James and John at the Transfiguration.

The Confession of Peter occurs when Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus goes on to say, speaking of Peter, “On this rock I will build my church.” During the Last Supper, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times before the cock crows. Although he denies it, this is exactly what happens. In John’s gospel, Peter is the first one to encounter the empty tomb following the resurrection.

Peter was an important figure in the early church and had an authority that superseded the other apostles. It is said that he was crucified in Rome.

A Collect for Peter: Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dunstan (909-988) was a man on an ecclesial mission. He served as Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London, and Archbishop of Canterbury. He was known as a reformer against the excesses of the church. It is said that as he traveled to Rome to receive his call from Pope John XII as archbishop, he gave so much charity away on the journey that there was little left for him and his traveling party. His response was that they should trust in Jesus.

Of the various stories and legends that developed around Dunstan, one in particular still has implications. Asked to re-shoe the devil’s horse, Dunstan instead nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof. Dunstan agreed to remove the shoe only after the devil promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is placed over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.

A Collect for Dunstan: Almighty God, who raised up Dunstan to be a true shepherd of the flock, a restorer of monastic life and a faithful counsellor to those in authority: give to all pastors the same gifts of your Holy Spirit that they may be true servants of Christ and all his people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


5 Comments on “Lent Madness: Peter vs. Dunstan”

  1. My favorite quip about Peter comes from Gary Wills (Why Am I Catholic?) who wrote something like this: I have to believe Jesus was speaking with literal irony when he called Peter his “rock.” Even though I would’ve voted with Peter at the Council of Jerusalem, I have to ditch him now in favor of Dunstan.

  2. Scott Gunn says:

    Wow. It’s neck and neck. This contest will expose the bias of readership. Dunstan’s real claim to fame is that brass ensembles throughout the Anglican Communion are named after him. Peter, on the other hand, is one of the key players in actually making the church come to life.

    So we’ll see how anti-papal sentiment stacks up with Anglican aesthetics versus historic awareness and biblical literacy.

  3. Father Tim says:

    Scott, that pretty much sums up the whole intrigue here.

  4. Kevin Harper says:

    He was also a great musician. As a part of the celebration of the Millennium of his death in 1988, John Tung Yep and I wrote a mass setting in his honour ‘The Dunstan Service’. He gets my very bias vote.

  5. Father Tim says:

    Kevin, that’s pretty amazing. Can you share a link to the mass setting or any portion thereof?


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