Pirates in church history

Ahoy! I wanted to make a YouTube video for International Talk like a Pirate Day that featured pirates in church history. It turns out I don’t know very much about the subject, and what little time I had for research didn’t really help me find anything new besides the story of St Symeon of Syracuse (who features in the video).

I hope you enjoy the video. And I hope maybe someone can point me to the question of pirates and religion, as well as stories of pirati conversi or something? Pirates who repent would make for good stories to tell.

Oh — although I don’t know too much about this intersection of two interests of mine (pirates and church history), I do know some pirate songs, and they feature in the video. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Pirates in church history

  1. On “Talk like a Pirate Day”, I tend to remember that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean where Johny Depp and Orlando Bloom are trying to capture a ship, and Orlando Bloom very clumsily says some Piratey Things. And all the real pirates are looking at him in confusion til Johnny Depp tells him to stop.

    That or the “Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” song from Veggie Tales.

    Nice singing voice, btw!

    Take care & God bless

  2. Thanks for this! For a contemporary of St. Symeon, D.H. Farmer in The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (ed.3, 1992) writes of King St. Olaf of Norway (995-1030) that he became a Christian “after a career of war and piracy in the Baltic and Normandy”.

    Of St. Godric, a couple generations later (c. 1069-1170), he writes that “he might be identical with the Godric, an ‘English pirate’, who took Baldwin I from Arsuf toJaffa in 1102”. I’m new to your site (and YouTube channel) and do not know if you know his three surviving songs, which Dr. Farmer describes as “the earliest surviving Middle English verse, which he himself set to music”, but if not, do look them up!

    Moving on two centuries, there is Baldassare Cossa (c. 1370-1419), reported to have been a pirate (together with his two brothers, who were sentenced to death for piracy by King Ladislaus of Naples), who went on to be a doctor of civil and canon law, Cardinal Deacon of Saint Eustachius, and, in 1410, became one of three claimants to being Pope (as John XXIII) and who convened the Council of Constance – and was deposed by it, while Gregory XII abdicated, Benedict XIII was also deposed, and Martin V elected Pope – with whom Cossa was reconciled and by him made Cardinal Bishop of Frascati.

    As to Sir Francis Drake, his chaplain, Francis Fletcher is reported to have celebrated the first English-language service in North American, using the Book of Common Prayer “on the shore of Drakes Bay about Saint John Baptist’s Day, June 24 Anno Domini 1579” – according an inscription on the monumental cross dedicated in 1894 in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

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