Roi de Northumbrie (✝ 633)
Encore païen, cet anglais, roi de Kent, demanda en mariage une chrétienne, Ethelburge. Avec le temps et au travers des événements qui marquaient son règne, il rejoignit la foi de son épouse, instruit par saint Paulin, l'évêque d'York. Il aida ainsi à la fondation de l'Eglise anglo-saxonne. Il n'en rencontra pas moins des oppositions violentes tant de la part de nombreux Anglo-Saxons demeurés païens que des Bretons chrétiens qui refusaient toujours la présence de ces envahisseurs étrangers à leur Grande-Bretagne. Il fut tué lors d'une bataille à Hatfield et sa mort fut considérée comme un martyre.
Edwin de Northumbrie
ROI, MARTYR, SAINT
Edwin, qui dut sa grandeur au bon usage qu'il fit de l'adversité,, était fils d'Alla, roi de Déïre. Mais à la mort de son père, il fut dépouillé de ses états par Ethelfred, roi des Berniciens, qui ne fit qu'une monarchie de tout le Northumberland. Il se retira auprès. de Redwald, roi des Est-Angles. Ce prince, gagné par les prières, et les promesses qu'on-lui avait faites, prit secrètement la résolution de le livrer à son ennemi. Edwin n'ignora pas longtemps ce qui se tramait contre lui; un ami qu'il avait dans le conseil de lledwald, l'avertit de tout. Etant une nuit à la porte du palais, occupé de pensées fort tristes, un étranger l'assura qu'il recouvrerait son royaume, et qu'il deviendrait même le principal roi d'Angleterre, s'il voulait pendre les précautions qu'on lui indiquerait pour la conservation de sa vie. Il le promit, et aussitôt l'étranger, lui mettant la main sur la tête, lui dit de se ressouvenir de ce signe.
Sur ces entrefaites, Redwald changea de sentiment, à la persuasion de la reine sa femme; il attaqua et tua même Ethelfred, qui lui avait déclaré la guerre, sur le bord oriental de la petite rivière d'Idle, dans la province de Notlingham. Par cette victoire, Edwin fut mis en possession du Northumberland, qui comprenait tout le nord de l'Angleterre. Le succès de ses armes le rendit depuis si formidable, que tous les rois anglais et même les bretons ou gallois reconnurent la supériorité de sa puissance. Il épousa Edilburge, fille de S. Ethelbert, premier roi chrétien d'Angleterre, et sœur d'Ealbad, roi de Kent. Mais 'e mariage ne fut conclu qu'à condition que la princesse aurait la liberté de professer le christianisme, et qu'on laisserait auprès d'elle S. Paulin qui venait d'être sacré évêque.
En 626, un assassin, envoyé par le roi des West-Saxons, voulut ôter la vie à Edwin, en le frappant avec un poignard empoisonné. C'en était fait de ce prince, si Lilla, son ministre et son favori, ne se fût jeté entre lui et l'assassin. Le ministre perdit la vie, mais le poignard atteignit aussi le roi, et lui fit une blessure qui ne fut cependant pas mortelle. Le coupable ayant été arrêté sur-le-champ, fut mis en pièces, après avoir tué toutefois un autre officier du roi. Edwin, préservé d'un si grand danger, rendit des actions de grâces aux idoles qu'il adorait. Mais S. Paulin lui représenta que son culte était sacrilège, et qu'il était redevable de sa conservation aux prières de la reine. Il l'exhorta ensuite à remercier le vrai Dieu, qui venait de lui faire éprouver si visiblement l'effet de sa protection. Edwin parut écouter avec plaisir le discours du saint, et il consentit que l'on consacrât à Dieu la princesse dont la reine venait d'accoucher : elle fut baptisée, avec douze autres personnes, le jour de la Pentecôte, et reçut le nom d'Eanflède.
Edwin promit à S. Paulin d'embrasser la religion chrétienne s'il guérissait parfaitement, et s'il remportait la victoire sur un ennemi qui avait attenté si lâchement à sa vie. Sa santé fut à peine rétablie, qu'il rassembla son armée pour marcher contre le roi des West-Saxons. Il le vainquit, et prit ou tua tous ceux qui étaient entrés dans le complot tramé contre lui. Il renonça dès-lors au culte des idoles ; mais il différa encore de recevoir le baptême. Le pape Boniface lui écrivit pour l'exhorter à tenir sa promesse, et il joignit à sa lettre divers présents, tant pour le roi que pour la reine. Cependant Edwin se fit instruire, et eut plusieurs conférences avec ses principaux officiers sur le changement de la religion qu'il projetait. S. Paulin, de son côté, priait pour sa conversion, et le pressait de ne pas résister plus longtemps à la grâce. Ou dit que ce saint évêque ayant appris par révélation, et ce que l'on avait prédit au roi, et ce qu'il avait promis en conséquence, lui mit la main sur la tête, en lui demandant s'il se ressouvenait de ce signe. Edwin, tremblant, voulait se jeter à ses pieds ; mais il l'en empêcha, et lui dit avec douceur : « Vous voyez que Dieu vous a délivré de vos ennemis ; non content de cette faveur, il vous offre encore un royaume éternel. Pensez de votre côté à remplir votre promesse en recevant le baptême et en conformant votre vie aux maximes de la religion que vous aurez embrassée. »
Le roi répondit qu'il voulait conférer avec les principaux membres de son conseil, pour les engager à suivre son exemple. S. Paulin y consentit. Le prince ayant assemblé ce qu'il y avait de plus distingué parmi ces officiers, leur demanda leur avis. Coifi, grand prêtre des idoles, parla le premier, et déclara qu'il était prouvé par l'expérience que les dieux qu'ils adoraient n'avaient aucun pouvoir. Une autre personne dit qu'on ne devait pas balancer de se rendre à ce que désirait le roi, puisqu'il n'y avait aucune comparaison à faire entre une vie de peu de durée et un bonheur éternel. S. Paulin, qui était présent à l'assemblée, parla ensuite avec beaucoup de force de l'excellence et de la nécessité de la religion chrétienne. Coifi applaudit à ce discours, et fut d'avis que l'on réduisît en cendres les temples et les autels des idoles. Le roi ayant demandé qui les profanerait le premier, Coifi répondit que c'était à lui à donner l'exemple, puisqu'il avait été le chef du culte idolâtrique. Il demanda qu'on lui fournît des armes et un cheval ; car, selon la superstition de ces peuples, l'usage des armes et du cheval était défendu au grand prêtre, et il ne pouvait avoir qu'une cavale pour monture. Etant monté sur le cheval du roi, avec une épée à son côté et une lance à sa main, il se rendit au principal temple, qu'il profana en y jetant sa lance. Il ordonna ensuite à ceux qui l'accompagnaient de le détruire et de le brûler avec son enceinte. Du temps de Bède on en voyait la place à peu de distance d'York, du côté de l'Orient, et on la nommait Godmundingham, c'est-à-dire réceptacle de dieux.
Edwin fut baptisé à York le jour de Pâques de l'année 627, la onzième de son règne. La cérémonie de son baptême se fit dans une église qui n'était que de bois, parce qu'on l'avait bâtie à la hâte, et qui était dédiée sous l'invocation de S. Pierre. Le prince jeta depuis les fondements d'une église de pierre, beaucoup plus vaste, dans l'enceinte de laquelle était la première, mais qui ne fut archevêque sous le règne de S. Oswald, son successeur. S. Paulin, du consentement du roi, fixa son siège épiscopal à York, et il continua de prêcher librement l'Evangile. Il administra le baptême à un grand nombre de personnes, parmi lesquelles on comptait les enfants d'Edwin et des officiers de distinction. Le roi et la reine étant à leur château d'Yeverin, parmi les Berniciens du Northumberland, il employa plus d'un mois, depuis le matin jusqu'au soir, à instruire les Infidèles, et il les baptisa dans la petite rivière de Glen. H n'y avait encore ni oratoires ni baptistères, et c'est pour cela qu'on baptisait les catéchumènes dans les rivières ; cette coutume prouve d'ailleurs que le baptême s'administrait alors par immersion. Lorsque S. Paulin était à la campagne avec le roi chez les Deïres, il administrait le baptême dans la rivière de Swale, près de Cataract, et la tradition s'en est conservée dans le pays jusqu'à ce jour.
Le roi fit bâtir une église en l'honneur de S. Alban ; et de là se forma une nouvelle ville qui fut appelée Albansbury, et depuis Àlmondbury. Il y avait en ce lieu un palais royal que les Païens brûlèrent après la mort de S. Edwin. Les successeurs de ce prince avaient un château dans le territoire de Loidis ou Leeds, où l'on bâtit dans la suite une ville de ce nom.
Edwin, non content de pratiquer lui-même l'Evangile, cherchait tous les moyens de répandre la connaissance du vrai Dieu parmi ses sujets. On peut dire en général que la nation anglaise reçut la foi avec une ferveur digne des premiers siècles de l'Eglise. Les conversions furent aussi sincères que nombreuses. On voyait de toutes parts des hommes parfaitement détachés de ce monde, qui ne pensaient qu'au bonheur du ciel, et qui travaillaient chaque jour à se perfectionner dans la science des saints. Les rois eux-mêmes ne trouvaient rien de pénible dans la pratique de la vertu, et savaient maîtriser leurs passions pour les assujettir au joug de la foi. Ils étaient, en un mot, les modèles de leurs sujets. Ils n'avaient que du mépris pour les grandeurs, et foulaient aux pieds ces couronnes pour lesquelles ils avaient tout sacrifié avant leur conversion. On en vit plusieurs qui préféraient le cilice à la pourpre, et une pauvre cellule aux plus riches palais; qui se dépouillèrent volontairement de leur puissance, et qui allèrent vivre sous les règles de l'humilité et de l'obéissance. D'autres portèrent toujours le sceptre; mais ce fut pour donner à leur zèle plus de force et d'autorité, pour accroître le royaume de Jésus-Christ et pour l'étendre chez les peuples barbares. Ce zèle se trouva dans Edwin et lui mérita une mort glorieuse.
Redwald, roi des Est-Angles, avait reçu le baptême dans le royaume de Kent. Mais s'étant depuis laissé séduire, il voulut ailier le culte du vrai Dieu avec celui des idoles. Earpwald, son fois et son successeur, se laissa toucher par les conseils d'Edwin, et embrassa le christianisme avec beaucoup de sincérité. Il fut tué quelque temps après, et ses sujets retombèrent dans l'idolâtrie. Au bout de trois ans, Sigebert, revenu des Gaules, où il avait été exilé, rétablit la religion chrétienne. Les Etats d'Edwin ne se ressentirent point de ces variations. La paix et la tranquillité y accompagnèrent toujours la pratique du christianisme; cette paix même passa en proverbe, et l'on assure qu'une femme tenant son enfant dans ses bras pouvait sans rien craindre aller seule d'une mer à l'autre. Il y avait aux fontaines qui se trouvaient sur les grands chemins des vases d'airain pour puiser de F eau, et personne n'était même tenté de les enlever, tant les lois étaient parfaitement observées.
Il y avait dix-sept ans qu'Edwin régnait sur les Anglais et les Bretons, lorsqu'il plut à Dieu de l'éprouver par les afflictions ; et Penda, prince du sang royal de Mercie, fut l'instrument dont il se servit. Penda, qui protégeait l'idolâtrie, secoua le joug de l'obéissance qu'il devait à notre saint. Il composa une armée de vieux soldats vétérans, semblables à ceux qui s'étaient d'abord emparés de la Bretagne, et qui étaient fort attachés à leurs anciennes superstitions. Son dessein était de détruire le christianisme. Les Merciens le reconnurent pour leur souverain, et il régna vingt-deux ans. En levant l'étendard de la révolte, il fit alliance avec Cadwallon, roi des Bretons ou Gallois qui, à la vérité, professaient le christianisme, mais sans en suivre la morale. Il était d'un caractère barbare, et portait aux Anglais une haine implacable ; il croyait qu'il lui était permis de leur causer tous les maux qui dépendraient de lui, et même de les exterminer sans égard pour leur religion et sans aucune différence d'âge ou de sexe. Comme Edwin était le prince le plus puissant de l'éparchie anglaise, et que les autres lui rendaient une espèce d'obéissance, toute la fureur de la guerre se tourna principalement contre lui, et il fut tué dans une bataille qui se donna à Heavenfield, aujourd'hui Hatfield, dans la province d'York. Le corps du saint roi fut enterré à Whitby : mais sa tête le fut dans le porche de l'Eglise qu'il avait fait bâtir à York. Il a le titre de martyr dans le martyrologe de Florus et dans tous les calendriers d'Angleterre. On voit par le catalogue de Speed qu'il était patron titulaire de deux anciennes églises, bâties, l'une à Londres, et l'autre à Brève, dans la province de Sommerset. S. Edwin mourut en 633, dans la quarante-huitième année de son âge.
SOURCE : Alban Butler : Vie des Pères, Martyrs et autres principaux Saints… – Traduction : Jean-François Godescard.
EDWIN saint (585-632) roi de Northumbrie (616-632)
Fils de Aelle (Ella) de Deira, roi du Northumberland, saint Edwin (Eadwine, vieil anglais Aeduini) succéda au premier roi, Aethelfrith. Ce dernier était tombé en 616 dans une bataille contre Raedwald, roi de l'East Anglia, qui soutenait Edwin. Primitivement païen, Edwin épousa la fille d'Ethelbert, du Kent, qui, elle, était chrétienne ; le contrat de mariage stipulait qu'elle et sa cour auraient toutes facilités pour pratiquer leur religion. Edwin se fit lui-même baptiser à York en 627, après avoir miraculeusement échappé au poignard d'un émissaire du roi des Saxons de l'Ouest. Les princes et la plupart des sujets d'Edwin se convertirent également.
Dans le but d'agrandir son domaine, il fait la guerre aux Gallois et conquiert le royaume d'Elmet. Il occupe aussi l'île d'Anglesey, ainsi que l'île de Man, mais ne peut conserver ces deux dernières conquêtes. Cependant Cadwallon (Caedwalla), roi gallois de Gwynedd qu'Edwin a combattu, s'allie à Penda, de la maison de Mercie ; ils viennent à bout d'Edwin, tué dans le Nord le 14 octobre 638.
Le règne d'Edwin marque le début de l'unité anglaise et son nom est associé à la naissance du christianisme anglais.
Paul QUENTEL, « EDWIN saint (585-632) - roi de Northumbrie (616-632) », Encyclopædia Universalis [en ligne], consulté le 4 octobre 2015. URL : http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/edwin/
Edwin, King M (AC)
Born c. 585; died October 12, 633. Son of King Aella of Deira (southern Northumbria, Yorkshire area), Saint Edwin was only three when his father died. The saint was deprived of the throne by King Ethelfrith of Bernicia (North Northumbria), who seized Aella's kingdom. Edwin spent the next 30 years in Wales and East Anglia. As a young man he married Cwenburg of Mercia by whom he had two sons.
Finally in 616, with the help of King Baedwald (Redwald) of East Anglia who had hosted him during his exile, Edwin was restored to the throne by defeating and killing Ethelfrith at the Battle of Idle River.
Edwin ruled ably and, in 625, after the death of his first wife, married Ethelburga, sister of King Eadbald of Kent, and a Christian. At first his embassy seeking her hand was rebuffed because he was not a Christian. But eventually a contract was reached wherein Ethelburga would be permitted the freedom to practice her religion and Edwin would seriously consider joining her in faith. With the agreement made, Ethelburga brought with her to Northumbria her confessor, Saint Paulinus, a Roman monk who had been sent by Pope Saint Gregory the Great to help Saint Augustine in the conversion of England and who had just been consecrated bishop of York. The bishop also saw this as an opportunity to spread the faith in the northern parts of the island.
The thoughtful and melancholy king was not naturally inclined to impetuous acts and, thus, it took some time before his conversion. The examples of Christian virtue displayed by his wife and her chaplain played an important role in his decision, but three specific events were determinative. First, an unsuccessful assassination attempt by the West Saxons. Second, the abandonment of paganism by Coifi the high priest. And, finally, a reminder by Paulinus of a mysterious experience Edwin had undergone while in exile some years earlier.
Following these incidents, Edwin was converted to Christianity in 627, and baptized by Paulinus at Easter (attested by Bede) after the birth of a daughter. Many in Edwin's court and subjects in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire also came to faith. Thus, began Christianity in Northumbria. The idols and false gods had already been destroyed by the high priest himself.
King Edwin established law and order in the kingdom and soon became the most powerful king in England. He expanded his territory north into the land of the Picts, west into that of the Cumbrians and Welsh, and into Elmet near Leeds. The Venerable Bede relates that during the last year's of King Edwin's reign there was such peace and order in his dominions that a proverb said 'a woman could carry her newborn baby across the island from sea to sea and suffer no harm.'
His intention to build a stone church at York (an unprecedented event in those days) never materialized when his kingdom was invaded by pagan King Penda of Mercia and Cadwallon of North Wales. Edwin was defeated and killed at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633. This church was constructed, enshrined his head, and became the center of his cultus.
After his death, Northumbria reverted to paganism and Paulinus had to conduct Ethelburga and her children by sea to safety in Kent, where for the last 10 years of his life, he embellished his diocese of Rochester. The massacres and chaos that followed Edwin's death ended with the accession of Saint Oswald in 634.
Saint Edwin is view as a tribal hero, model Christian king, and martyr. Although his feast was not included in any of the surviving liturgical books of Northumbria, there was at least one ancient church dedication in his honor. Pope Gregory XIII implicitly approved his cultus by including Edwin among the English martyrs in the murals of the English College at Rome.
Edwin's cultus had another locus at Whitby, which had a shrine of his body, supposedly discovered by revelation and brought there from Hatfield Chase. Whitby Abbey was governed in turn by Edwin's daughter, Saint Enfleda, and his granddaughter, Saint Elfleda. It became the burial site for the royal members of the house of Deira and the home of Saint Gregory I's first biographer (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
The first Christian King of Northumbria, born about 585, son of Ælla, King of Deira, the southern division of Northumbria; died 12 October, 633. Upon Ælla's death in 588, the sovereignty over both divisions of Northumbria was usurped by Ethebric of Bernicia, and retained at his death by his son Ethelfrid; Edwin, Ælla's infant son, being compelled until his thirtieth year to wander from one friendly prince to another, in continual danger from Ethelfrid's attempts upon his life. Thus when he was residing with King Redwald of East Anglia, Ethelfrid repeatedly endeavoured to bribe the latter to destroy him. Finally, however, Redwald's refusal to betray his guest led in 616 to a battle, fought upon the river Idle, in which Ethelfrid himself was slain, and Edwin was invited to the throne of Northumbria. On the death of his first wife, Edwin, in 625, asked for the hand of Ethelburga, sister to Eadbald, the Christian King of Kent, expressing his own readiness to embrace Christianity, if upon examination he should find it superior to his own religion. Ethelburga was accompanied to Northumbria by St. Paulinus, one of St. Augustine's fellow missionaries, who thus became its first apostle. By him Edwin was baptized at York in 627, and thenceforth showed himself most zealous for the conversion of his people. In instance of this, Venerable Bede tells how, at their royal villa of Yeverin in Northumberland, the king and queen entertained Paulinus for five weeks, whilst he was occupied from morning to night in instructing and baptizing the crowds that flocked to him. By Edwin's persuasion, moreover, Eorpwald, King of East Anglia, son of his old friend Redwald, was led to become a Christian. In token of his authority over the other kings of Bretwalda, Edwin used to have the tufa (a tuft of feathers on a spear, a military ensign of Roman origin) borne publicly before him, and he received tribute from the Welsh princes. Under him the law was so respected, that it became, as the Venerable Bede attests, a proverb that "a woman might travel through the island with a babe at her breast without fear of insult". St. Edwin was slain on 12 October, 633, in repelling an attack made on him by Penda, the pagan King of Mercia, who, together with the Welsh prince Cadwallon (a Christian only in name), had invaded his dominion. Perishing thus in conflict with the enemies of the Faith, he was regarded as a martyr and as such was allowed by Gregory XIII to be depicted in the English College church at Rome. His head was taken to St. Peter's church at York, which he had begun. His body was conveyed to Whitby. Churches are said to have been dedicated to him at London and at Breve in Somerset.
Plummer ed., Bedae Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (Oxford, 1896), II, 9-20; Tynemouth and Capgrave, Nova Legenda Angliae (Oxford, 1901); Acta SS., 12 October; Butler, Lives of Saints (Dublin, 1872), 4 Oct.; Lingard, History of England (London, 1883); Stanton, Menology of England and Wales (London, 1892); Raine in Dict. Christ. Biog,, s.v.
Phillips, George. "St. Edwin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 4 Oct. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05323b.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by J. Christopher McConnell.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
St. Edwin, King and Martyr
THE SCHOOL of adversity prepared this prince for the greatest achievements, as necessity often makes men industrious, whilst affluence and prosperity ruin others by sloth and carelessness. Edwin was son of Alla, king of Deira; but at his father’s death was deprived of his kingdom by Ethelfred, king of the Bernicians, who united all the Northumbrians in one monarchy. Edwin fled to Redwald, king of the East-Angles, who, by threats and promises, was secretly brought to a resolution to deliver him into the hands of his enemy. The young prince was privately informed of his danger by a friend in the council, and as he sat very melancholy one night before the palace gate, a stranger promised him the restoration of his kingdom, and the chief sovereignty over the English, if he promised to do what should be taught him for his own life and salvation. Edwin readily made this promise, and the stranger, laying his hand upon his head, bade him remember that sign. In the meantime Redwald was diverted from his treacherous intention by the persuasion of his wife, and discomfited and slew Ethelfred, who was marching against him, on the east side of the little river Idle, in Nottinghamshire. By this victory Edwin was put in possession of the whole kingdom of the Northumbrians, which comprised all the north of England; and, in a short time, he became so formidable by the success of his arms, that he obliged all the other English kings, and also the Britons or Welch, to acknowledge his superior power. He took to wife Edilburge, daughter to the late St. Ethelbert, the first Christian king of the English, and sister to Ealbald, then king of Kent. St. Paulinus received the episcopal consecration, and was sent to attend her. On Easter-eve, in 626, the queen was delivered of a daughter; and, on Easter-day, an assassin named Eumer, sent by Quichelm, king of the West-Saxons, being admitted into the presence of King Edwin, attempted to stab him with a poisoned dagger, which he took from under his cloak. He made a violent stab at the king, and would have certainly killed him, if Lilla, his favourite and faithful minister, had not, for want of a buckler, interposed his own body, and so saved the king’s life with the loss of his own. The dagger wounded the king through the body of this officer. The ruffian was cut to pieces upon the spot, but first killed another of the courtiers. The king returned thanks to his gods for his preservation; but Paulinus told the king it was the effect of the prayers of his queen, and exhorted him to thank the true God for His merciful protection of his person, and for her safe delivery. The king seemed pleased with his discourse, and was prevailed upon to consent that his daughter that was just born should be consecrated to God. She was baptized with twelve others on Whitsunday, and called Ean-fleda, being the first fruits of the kingdom of the Northumbrians. These things happened in the royal city upon the Derwent, says Bede; that is, near the city Derventius, mentioned by Antoninus, in his Itinerary of Britain; it is at present a village called Aldby, that is, Old Dwelling, near which are the ruins of an old castle, as Camden takes notice.
The king, moreover, promised Paulinus, that if God restored him his health, and made him victorious over those who had conspired so basely to take away his life, he would become himself a Christian. When his wound was healed, he assembled his army, marched against the King of the West-Saxons, vanquished him in the field, and either slew or took prisoners all the authors of the wicked plot of his assassination. From this time he no more worshipped any idols; yet he deferred to accomplish his promise of receiving baptism. Pope Boniface sent him an exhortatory letter, with presents; and a silver looking-glass and an ivory comb to the Queen Edilburge, admonishing her to press him upon that subject. Edwin was willingly instructed in the faith, often meditated on it by himself, and consulted with the wisest among his great officers. Paulinus continued to exhort him, and to pray zealously for his conversion; at length, being informed, it is believed, by revelation, of the wonderful prediction made formerly to the king, and of his promise, he came to him, whilst he was thinking one day seriously upon his choice of religion, and, laying his hand upon his head, asked him if he remembered that sign? The king, trembling, would have thrown himself at his feet; but the bishop, raising him up, said, with an affectionate sweetness: “You see that God hath delivered you from your enemies; he moreover offers you his everlasting kingdom. Take care on your side to perform your promise, by receiving his faith, and keeping his commandments.” The king answered, he would confer with his chief counsellors to engage them to do the same with him; to which the bishop consented. The king having assembled his nobles, asked their advice. Coifi, the high priest of the idols, spoke first, declaring that by experience it was manifest their gods had no power. Another person said, the short moment of this life is of no weight, if put in the balance with eternity. Then St. Paulinus harangued the assembly. Coifi applauded his discourse, and advised the king to command fire to be set to the temples and altars of their false gods. The king asked him who should first profane them. Coifi answered that he himself, who had been the foremost in their worship, ought to do it for an example to others. Then he desired to be furnished with arms and a horse; for, according to their superstition, it was not lawful for the high priest to bear any arms, or to ride on a horse, but only on a mare. Being therefore mounted on the king’s own horse, with a sword by his side, and a spear in his hand, he rode to the temple, which he profaned by casting his spear into it. He then commanded those who accompanied him to pull it down, and burn it with the whole inclosure. This place, says Bede, is shown not far from York, to the east, beyond the Derwent, and is called Godmundingham, that is, Receptacle of Gods. It retains to this day the name of Godmanham; and near it is Wigton, that is, Town of Idols, as Camden mentions, in Yorkshire.
King Edwin was baptized at York on Easter-day, in the year of Christ 627, the eleventh of his reign. The ceremony was performed in the church of St. Peter, which he had caused to be built of timber, through haste; but he afterwards began a large church of stone, in which this was inclosed, and which was finished by his successor, St. Oswald. St. Paulinus fixed his episcopal see at York, with the approbation of King Edwin, and continued to preach freely during the remaining six years of this prince’s reign. He baptized, among others, four sons, one daughter, and one grandson of the king’s; and both nobles and people flocked in crowds to be instructed, and to receive the holy sacrament of baptism. When the king and queen were at their country palace of Yeverin, in Glendale, among the Bernicians in Northumberland, the bishop was taken up thirty-six days together, from morning till night, in catechizing persons, and in baptizing them in the little river Glen. Oratories and baptisteries not being yet built, the people were baptized in rivers; which shows that baptism was then administered by immersion. When St. Paulinus was with the king in the country of the Deiri, he was wont to baptize in the river Swale, near Cataract, now the village of Cattaric, which the tradition of that country confirms to this day, say Mr. Drake, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Steevens. St. Edwin built a church in honour of St. Alban, from which a new town arose which was called Albansbury, and since Almondbury. The royal palace in that place was burnt by the pagans after the death of St. Edwin. His successors had their country palace in the territory of Loidis or Leeds, where a town of that name was afterwards built.
King Edwin was equally zealous to practise himself, and to propagate on all sides the holy religion which he professed. The English nation generally received the faith with a fervour equal to that of the primitive Christians, and many among them became by their conversion quite another people, having no other views but those of another world, and no other thoughts but of the inestimable happiness which, by the divine mercy, they were possessed of, to improve which was their only study. Even kings, who find the greatest obstacles to virtue, and, whilst they command others at will, are often, of all men, the least masters of themselves, and the greatest slaves to their own passions—these, I say, among the newly converted English, often set their subjects the strongest examples of the powerful influence of grace, which is omnipotent in those who open their breasts to it. No sooner had they got sight of heaven and immortality, but earth appeared contemptible to them, and they trampled under their feet those crowns for which, a little before, they were ready to suffer everything. Several exchanged their purple and sceptres for hair-cloth, their palaces for mean cells, their power and command for the humility of obedience. Others wore still their crowns, but looked on them with holy contempt; and regarded it as their chiefest glory to make Christ reign in the hearts of their subjects, and to impart to other nations the blessing they had received. In these zealous endeavours St. Edwin deserved for his recompence the glorious crown of martyrdom. Redwald, king of the East-Angles, had received baptism in the kingdom of Kent; but, being returned home, was seduced by his wife and other evil teachers, and joined together the worship of his ancient gods and that of Jesus Christ; erecting, Samaritan-like, two altars in the same temple, the one to Christ, and another, smaller, for the victims of devils. His son and successor, Earpwald, was prevailed upon by St. Edwin to embrace with his whole heart the faith of Christ; though, he being killed soon after, that nation relapsed into idolatry for three years, till Sigebert, returning from his exile in Gaul, restored the Christian religion. The English enjoyed such perfect tranquillity and security throughout the dominions of King Edwin, that this peace became proverbial among them; and it was affirmed that a woman with her newborn infant might safely travel from sea to sea. To the fountains on the highways the king had caused copper cups to be chained, which none durst remove or take away, so strictly were the laws observed.
This good king had reigned seventeen years over the English and the Britons, of which he had spent the last six in the service of Christ, when God was pleased to visit him with afflictions, in order to raise him to the glory of martyrdom. Penda, a prince of royal blood among the Mercians, a violent abetter of idolatry, revolted from his obedience, and got together an army of furious veteran soldiers, such as had first invaded Britain, and all that still adhered to their ancient superstitions. Penda fought to extirpate Christianity, and from this time reigned over the Mercians twenty-two years. In this first revolt he entered into a confederacy with Cadwallo, king of the Britons or Welch, who was indeed a Christian, but ignorant of the principles of this holy religion, savage and barbarous in his manners, and so implacable an enemy to the English, as to seem rather a wild beast than a man; for, in his violent rage utterly to destroy that people, with all that belonged to them, he paid no regard to churches or religion, and spared neither age nor sex. King Edwin being the most powerful prince in the English Heptarchy, to whom all the rest paid a kind of obedience, the fury of this war was entirely bent against him, and he was killed in a great battle against these two princes, fought in Yorkshire, at a place now called Hatfield, originally Heavenfield, which name was given it on account of the great number of Christians there slain in this engagement. The body of St. Edwin was buried at Whitby, but his head in the porch of the church he had built at York. He is honoured with the title of martyr in the Martyrology of Florus, and in all our English calendars. Speed, in his catalogue, mentions an old church in London, and another at Breve, in Somersetshire, of both which St. Edwin was the titular patron. His death happened in the year of Christ 633, of his age the forty-eighth. In what manner the Christian religion was restored in Northumberland is related in the life of St. Oswald, 5th Aug. On St. Edwin, see Bede, Hist. l. 2, c. 9, 10, 12, 15, 20; William of Malmesbury and Alford, who has inserted, ad ann. 632, the letter of Pope Honorius to this holy king, which is also extant, together with his letter to Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury, in Bede, and Conc. t. 6. See the life of St. Paulinus, Oct. 10.
The relics of St. Ethelburge, wife of St. Edwin, were honoured with those of St. Edburg at Liming monastery. Lel. Collect. t. 1, p. 10.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/10/046.html
St Edwin, King and Martyr
St Edwin, King and Martyr
Saint Edwin (Eadwine) was the son of Alla, King of Deira, and was born around 584. When his father died, Edwin was cheated out of his kingdom by King Ethelred of Bernicia, who united Bernicia and Deira into a single kingdom of Northumbria.
Edwin fled to East Anglia and took refuge with King Redwald. Redwald, because of the threats and promises he had received, was persuaded to give Edwin up to his enemies. Edwin was warned by a friend of the danger he faced. That night, a stranger promised that his kingdom would be restored to him if Edwin would do as he taught him. Edwin agreed, and the stranger laid his hand on Edwin’s head, telling him to remember the gesture.
In time, Edwin became ruler of the entire north of England and, by force of arms, obliged the other kings to acknowledge him as sovereign. He married Ethelburga, the daughter of St Ethelbert (February 25), the first Christian king in England. Ethelburga was also the sister of King Ealbald of Kent.
There was an attempt on Edwin’s life in 626, on the eve of Pascha. That night the queen gave birth to a baby girl, and King Quichelm of the West Saxons sent an assassin named Eumer to kill Edwin with a poisoned dagger. Eumer was admitted to Edwin’s presence and tried to stab him. He would have succeeded if it had not been for Lilla, King Edwin’s faithful minister, who placed himself between the king and the assassin. The blade passed through his body, however, and wounded the king. The assassin was killed, and Lilla saved Edwin’s life at the cost of his own. This event is commemorated by a stone cross which stands on Lilla Howe near Flyingdales Ballistic Missle Early Warning System on the North Yorkshire Moors. Before the Pickering-Whitby road was built in 1759, this cross served as a guide for those who walked across the moors from Robin Hood’s Bay to Saltergate.
Edwin thanked his gods that he had been spared, but he was told by Bishop Paulinus of York (October 10) that he had been saved by the prayers of his queen. The bishop said that he should show his gratitude to the true God by allowing his newborn daughter to be baptized. The child was baptized on Pentecost, and was given the name Eanfleda.
The king, who had been slightly wounded in the attack, promised Bishop Paulinus that he would become a Christian if he were restored to health, and if he would triumph over those who conspired to kill him.
As soon as his wound healed, King Edwin marched against the King of the West Saxons with an army. He vanquished the opposing army, killing or capturing those involved in the plot against him. He no longer followed the pagan religion, but he put off his promise to embrace Christianity, and it was many years before Edwin converted. He would sit alone for hours trying to decide which religion he should follow. St Paulinus, informed by a revelation about the stranger’s promise to the king, went to Edwin and laid his hand upon his head. “Do you remember this gesture?” he asked.
The king trembled with astonishment, and would have fallen at the bishop’s feet. St Paulinus gently raised him up and said, “You see that God has delivered you from your enemies. Moreover, He offers you His everlasting Kingdom. See that you fulfill your promise to become a Christian and keep the commandments of God.”
King Edwin said that he would seek the counsel of his advisers and urge them to convert with him. He asked them what he should do. Coifi, a pagan priest, said it was readily apparent that their gods had no power. Another person said that this brief life was inconsequential, compared to eternity.
St Paulinus addressed the gathering, and when he had finished, Coifi told the king that the altars and temples of their false gods should be burned. The king asked him who should be the first to profane them. Coifi replied that he should be the first, since he had been foremost in leading their worship. The chief priest of the pagans was not permitted to bear arms or to ride a horse. It was customary that he ride a mare. Coifi, however, asked for a horse and for arms. Mounted on the king’s own horse, Coifi threw a spear into their temple, commanding the others to pull it down and set it afire. This place was not far from York, and today it is known as Godmanham.
In 627, the eleventh year of his reign, St Edwin was baptized by St Paulinus of York in the wooden church of St Peter. St Edwin began the construction of a new stone church, which was completed by his successor St Oswald (August 5).
St Edwin ruled his kingdom in peace for six more years, and continued to practice and promote Christianity. He was killed in a battle with Penda of Mercia and Cadwalla of Wales in 633, when he was forty-eight years old, at a place now known as Hatfield.
St Edwin’s body was buried at Whitby, but his head was buried at York in the church he had built. Most of the early English calendars list St Edwin as a martyr.
After the death of St Edwin, his wife St Ethelburga (April 5) returned to Kent, where she became the abbess of a monastery which she founded at Lyminge.
SOURCE : https://oca.org/saints/lives/2010/10/12/102947-st-edwin-king-and-martyr
Saint Edwin of Northumbria
Saint Edwin of Northumbria
- Edwin of Bernicia
- Edwin of Deira
- Edwin the King
A prince, born a pagan, the son of King Ella of Northumbria. King of Northumbria from 616 to 633. Married to Saint Ethelburga of Kent. Adult convert to Christianity, baptized in 627 by Saint Paulinus of York; first Christian King of Northumbria. Father of Saint Eanfleda of Whitby and Saint Edwen of Northumbria. Great-uncle of Saint Hilda of Whitby. Grandfather of Saint Elfleda. Worked for the evangelization of his people. Listed as a martyr as he died in battle with the pagan king, Penda of Mercia, an enemy of the Faith.
- 633 in battle with pagan Welsh and Mercians at Hatfield Chase, England
- relics at Whitby
- head in Saint Peter’s Church, York
- valuable friend (teutonic)
- wealthy friend (old english)
SOURCE : http://catholicsaints.info/saint-edwin-of-northumbria/