When I was growing up, there was a programme ( I believe it was only shown in North-East England ) presented by Eric Robson ( of Gardener's Question Time, when he was a local news journalist ) called "Heroes". In it local celebrities talked about their heroes and why they were important to them.
The Christian Community has always had ways of celebrating its own heroes. The early church soon began to celebrate and venerate those who had died as martyrs or who lived lives which were good examples for the faithful. This developed across the centuries into the formal canonisation rite. Today the church is no different. Of course the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches have maintained this formal process but others maintain the memory of influential members in their own ways. It is a way of demonstrating to a new generation how to live lives consistent with the Gospel.
Recently, I came across the Anglican Calendar of Holy Days to be used in conjunction with Common Worship. Its a great document in ecumenical terms as celebrated there are not just the great saints of the Pre-Reformation era but also many others who have lived since. These are drawn from a whole raft of denominations, chosen for their relevance and example to today's Church. There are Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Salvationists, Methodists, and Quakers. To this list could be added many more, who are our heroes of today, people who worked hard in the ecumenical field as well as their own denomination for example Basil Hume, Michael Ramsay or Donald Soper.
So that we can all celebrate these figures I intend to include biographies of these people, who should be our heroes whatever denomination we come from, in this blog, on Saturdays Choosing who gets into any hagiographical calendar is difficult and I hope to strike a balance across the denominations
To start with I will look over the next few weeks at the men and women, imortalised in stone on the West Front of Westminster Abbey, the 20th Century martyrs. Coming for many different denominations they symbolise the thousands who died for their faith in what has rightly been referred to as the "Martyrs Century"