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Strange Vagabond of God

John Bradburne is one of Great Britain's most recent figures of holiness. John BradburnHe died in 1979, killed by guerilla fighters in Zimbabwe whilst caring for leppers. A convert from the Anglican Church, his love of Christ in the Eucharist and Our Lady was immense. The following book is a biography written by a friend and priest, Father John Dove. Here's the back cover resume, and one of his poems.

"John Bradburne's life was a remarkable spiritual odyssey. After wartime service on the Indian subcontinent, he became a perennial pilgrim, never at home in the world, not even in his native England. Restless wanderings lead him through Europe to the Holy Land, to a succession of religious communities, and ultimately to Africa where he met a violent death during the Zimbabwean war of independence. This deeply sympathetic biography, written by a personal friend, is enriched by extensive quotations from John Bradburne's poems and diaries, offing a rare insight into the mind and character of this quite extraordinary man. In particular, the account of his life among the lepers, and the astonishing happenings during his funeral service, make it clear that here was a man singled out for sanctity, marked with a special charisma. In the twenty years since his death, a devotion to his memory as sprung up in sothern Africa. Poet, mystic, hermit, and vagabond, John Bradburne's strange life was a ceaseless quest for God."

(Strange Vagabond Of God, Father John Dove, s.j., Gracewing 1997)

 

From John Bradburne's poems:

Strays and WAIFERS:John Bradburn2
To a wandering jew (all my eye is set on fancies....)

Strange vagabond, who knows not what to seek!
The rest you lack flies not thus far afield:
Much babel tumult renders hearing weak,
And, so replete with sights, your sight is sealed!
Far out you stray to find your Inmost Soul,
While souls His Eloquence in stillness find
Be still then! let God's Silence make you whole,
For He Alone can calm your troubled mind:
Your soul's Desire is nearest though unseen,
Your Haven of Perfection's close at hand,
And that wide wandering was fevered dream:
God's love within you is your Native Land!
Then seek none other, never more depart -
For you are homeless save God keeps your heart.

The Joy of man's desiring is the Lord,
And where the Treasure is, there is the Heart:
What then, if having wandered far abroad
A man finds God at Home? will he depart
Again? to seek his Treasure far and wide,
When he has found the House where it is safe:
Will he reject his Saviour Crucified?
The Risen Christ lives (like a little waif')
Hidden, unheard, uncared for by the World
Which passes busily His Sacrament,
In quest of treasure which must soon be furled
(With all the perishable firmament)
And put away for ever, by that KING
Who hides our folly in His Suffering!

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