Sonnet for St Constantine (March 9)

Constantine was a Cornish king with a Roman name. Retiring from kingship at the death of his wife, he became a monk and tended the monastery grist mill until his identity was revealed and he was forced to take a “more suitable job”. This didn’t suit him, so he moved to Iona and then undertook missionary journeys; one one such trip he was martyred.

I take from his story a reminder that a good life is made of many chapters and episodes – some of leadership, some of followership, some of service and some of witness. We can be decision-makers, problem-solvers, menial task-doers, spouses and servants of God all in the same life.

Constantine, king of a forgotten land,
Monkish millwright dragged from loving labor,
To many sorts of lives you put your hand:
Warlord, and judge, and husband and father.
When widowed you abandoned worldly cares
For life by mill-stream, and rumbling stones.
Not knowing your fame, all watched unawares,
Until recognition brought abbots’ thrones.
What is the crook to one who wore the crown?
Iona took you in, then sent you out,
And you died at peace on some adventure
Doing the Lord’s work: make my life so broad,
that I go to my death praising my God.

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