Born to the English nobility. Spiritual student of Saint Colgan. Deacon. Head of the York cathedral school c.770. Minister of education under Blessed Charlemagne in 781. Established schools at cathedrals and monasteries. Established scriptoria dedicated to copying and preserving ancient manuscripts, both pagan and Christian; that we have as much as we do of the writings of classical Roman authors is largely due to Alcuin and his scribes. Credited with the invention of cursive script in which letters are connected for greater writing speed. Revised and organized the Latin liturgy, preserved ancient prayers, and helped develop plain chant. Advocated the doctrine that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son jointly. Unfortunately, the East resented Charlemagne‘s assumption of the title of Holy Roman Emperor; this hardened their opposition to the doctrine, and contributed to the rift between East and West.
Almighty God, who in a rude and barbarous age raised up your deacon Alcuin to rekindle the light of learning: Illumine our minds, we pray, that amid the uncertainties and confusions of our own time we may show forth your eternal truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
You should not agree to have anything to do with weapons of war. Throw yourself upon Christ’s mercy, crying: ‘My Love and my Stronghold, my Protector and Liberator, in whom my heart has put its hope” – Blessed Alcuin, writing to the monks in Mayo, Ireland
In the morning, at the height of my powers, I sowed the seed in Britain, now in the evening when my blood is growing cold I am still sowing in France, hoping both will grow, by the grace of God, giving some the honey of the holy scriptures, making others drunk on the old wine of ancient learning. – Blessed Alcuin in a letter written late in life looking back on his career
- “Blessed Alcuin“. CatholicSaints.Info. 14 May 2015. Web. 3 May 2016. <>