mercredi 30 décembre 2015

Saint EGWIN de WORCESTER, moine bénédictin, fondateur, évêque et confesseur

St. Egwin, Bishop of Worcester - © Nash Ford Publishing

Saint Egwin

Évêque de Worcester ( 717)

bénédictin anglais qui fut évêque de Worcester et fondateur de l'abbaye d'Evesham.

À Evesham en Angleterre, l’an 717, le trépas de saint Egwin, évêque , qui tint, non sans peine, le siège de Worcester dont il finit par se démettre pour mourir dans le monastère qu’il avait fondé.

Martyrologe romain

Egwin of Worcester, OSB B (AC)

(also known as Ecgwine)

Died at Evesham, England, on December 30, 717; feast of the translation of his relics on September 10 and January 11.

The translation of Egwin's relics in 1039 by Ælfward, bishop of London and former abbot of the monastery founded by Egwin, was the impetus for the first vita of Egwin, which bears some resemblance to that of Saint Aldhelm. It claimed to incorporate older elements but may not be entirely reliable.

According to this vita, Egwin was born into the royal house of Ethelred, king of Mercia. He was consecrated to God in his youth. About 692, he became the third bishop of Worcester. Egwin governed the see of Worcester until he incurred the enmity of some of his flock for his severity against vice, and they denounced him to the king and archbishop of Canterbury.

Seeking vindication, Egwin appealed to Rome. Before leaving England on a penitential pilgrimage to answer before the Holy See the complaints lodged against him, he is said to have locked his feet in fetters and to have thrown the key into the Avon River. Miraculously, this key appeared in the belly of a fish he bought at a market in Rome (no one says how he was able to get around the market with his feet shackled). Because of this miracle, the pope vindicated Egwin and he was reinstated in his episcopal chair until 711.

During his episcopacy he founded the abbey of Evesham under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin because of a vision of Mary seen first by the herdsman Eof and the by Egwin in a meadow by the River Avon. Probably about 709, Egwin undertook another pilgrimage to Rome in the company of Kings Cenred of Mercia and Offa of the East Saxons. It is recorded that Egwin received considerable privileges for his foundation from Pope Constantine. Evesham became one of the great Benedictine monasteries of medieval England after its refounding about 975.

Egwin's connection with Malmesbury was further emphasized by his conducting the funeral of Aldhelm in 709. Some connection with Wilfrid is possible, but unsupported by contemporary evidence, but Evesham could have been one of Wilfrid's seven unidentified Mercian foundations.

The monks of Evesham strongly supported the cultus of Egwin. In the late 11th century, when some of the cults of Anglo-Saxon saints were being questioned by Blessed Lanfranc and the Normans, Egwin's sanctity was verified in the minds of many by an ordeal by fire; miracles in Dover, Oxford, and Winchester; and, in 1077, a successful fundraising tour of southern England undertaken by the monks of Evesham, who carried Egwin's relics with them. The money was needed to buy the materials to build a new church for the rapidly expanding community. Two ancient churches are dedicated to Egwin (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Walsh).

Saint Egwin is portrayed as an English bishop with a fish and one key. (Not to be confused with the German Saint Benno) (Roeder).

St. Egwin

Third Bishop of Worcester; date of birth unknown; d. (according to Mabillon) 20 December, 720, though his death may have occurred three years earlier. His fame as founder of the great Abbey of Evesham no doubt tended to the growth of legends which, though mainly founded on facts, render it difficult to reconcile all the details with those of the ascertained history of the period. It appears that either in 692, or a little later, upon the death of Oftfor, second Bishop of Worcester, Egwin, a prince of the Mercian blood royal, who had retired from the world and sought only the seclusion of religious life, was forced by popular acclaim to assume the vacant see. His biographers say that king, clergy, and commonalty all united in demanding his elevation; but the popularity which forced on him this reluctant assumption of the episcopal functions was soon wrecked by his apostolic zeal in their discharge.

The Anglo-Saxon population of the then young diocese had had less than a century in which to become habituated to the restraints of Christian morality; they as yet hardly appreciated the sanctity of Christian marriage, and the struggle of the English Benedictines for the chastity of the priesthood had already fairly begun. At the same time large sections of England were more or less permanently occupied by pagans closely allied in blood to the Anglo-Saxon Christians. Egwin displayed undaunted zeal in his efforts to evangelize the heathen and no less in the enforcement of ecclesiastical discipline. His rigorous policy towards his own flock created a bitter resentment which, as King Ethelred was his friend, could only find vent in accusations addressed to his ecclesiastical superiors. Egwin undertook a pilgrimage to seek vindication from the Roman Pontiff himself. According to a legend, he prepared for his journey by locking shackles on his feet, and throwing the key into the River Avon. While he prayed before the tomb of the Apostles, at Rome, one of his servants brought him this very key — found in the maw of a fish that had just been caught in the Tiber. Egwin then released himself from his self-imposed bonds and straightway obtained from the pope an authoritative release from the load of obloquy which his enemies had striven to fasten upon him.

It was after Egwin's triumphant return from this pilgrimage that the shepherd Eoves came to him with the tale of a miraculous vision by which the Blessed Virgin had signified her will that a new sanctuary should be dedicated to her. Egwin himself went to the spot pointed out by the shepherd (Eoves ham, or "dwelling") and to him also we are told the same vision was vouchsafed. King Ethelred granted him the land thereabouts upon which the famous abbey was founded. As to the precise date of the foundation, although the monastic tradition of later generations set it in 714, recent research points to some year previous to 709. At any rate it was most probably in 709 that Egwin made his second pilgrimage to Rome, this time in the company of Coenred, the successor of Ethelred, and Offa, King of the East Saxons, and it was on this occasion that Pope Constantine granted him the extraordinary privileges by which the Abbey of Evesham was distinguished. One of the last important acts of his episcopate was his participation in the first great Council of Clovesho.

Macpherson, Ewan. "St. Egwin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 30 Dec. 2015 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Gerald M. Knight.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Saint Egwin of Worcester

Also known as

§  Egwin of Evesham
§  Ecgwin….
§  Ecgwine….
§  Eegwine….
§  Egvino….
§  Egwinus….

§  10 September (translation of his relics)
§  11 January (translation of his relics)


English nobility, and the descendant of Mercian kings. Consecrated to God in his youth. Benedictine monk. Bishop of Worcester, England from 692 to 711.

There was a need in his diocese for some reform, but Egwin let it get out of hand, and he was charged with being too severe with his priests. To answer the charges, give everyone a chance to cool off, and show his repentance for any harm done, he made a penitial pilgrimage to Rome. Legend says that he locked his feet in shackles and threw the key into the River Avon; when he arrived in Rome the key was miraculously found in the belly of a fish he bought in the market.

Founded the Benedictine monastery of Evesham, England; the site was chosen because of an apparition of the Virgin Mary to a local herdsman. It became one of the great Benedictine houses of the Middle Ages.


§  30 December 717 of natural causes
§  buried at the monastery at Evesham, England
§  relics translated for veneration in 1039
§  relics translated again in 1077 when they were taken on tour throughout the region which drew enough donations to rebuild the monastery church

§  bishop holding a fish and a key

St. Egwin, Bishop in England, Confessor

HE was of the royal blood of the Mercian kings, devoted himself to the divine service in his youth, and succeeded Ostfor in the episcopal see of Worcester, in 692. By his zeal and severity in reproving vice, he stirred up some of his own flock to persecute him, which gave him an opportunity of performing a penitential pilgrimage to Rome. Some legends tell us, that setting out he put on his legs iron shackles, and threw the key into the river Severn, others say the Avon; but found it in the belly of a fish, some say at Rome, others in his passage from France to England. After his return, with the assistance of Coenred or Kenred, king of Mercia, he founded the famous abbey of Evesham, under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin. After this he undertook a second journey to Rome, in the company of Coenred, king of the Mercians, and of Offa, of the East Saxons, who gave up their temporal principalities to labour with greater earnestness to secure an eternal crown. St. Egwin died on the 30th of December, in 717, and was buried in the monastery of Evesham. His body was translated to a more honourable place in 1183, probably on the 11th of January, on which day many English Martyrologies mark his festival. See his life in Capgrave, the Annals of Worcester, in Wharton’s Anglia Sacra; Malmesbury, l. 4. de Pontif. Ang. Harpsfield. Sæc. 8. c. 15. 18. and Dr. Thomas in his History of the Cathedral of Worcester. Monast. Anglic. vol. 1. p. 144, and vol. 2. p. 851. Leland’s Collections, vol. 1. p. 240, and 298. vol. 3. p. 160. Dr. Brown Willis, History of Abbeys, t. l. p. 90.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume I: January. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

St. Egwin,

Bishop of Worcester

(Died AD 717)

St. Egwin was of the Royal Blood of the Mercian Kings, possibly a nephew of King Aethelred during whose reign, he was born at Worcester. He was elected Bishop of that city in AD 693. By his zeal in rebuking the illicit connections formed by some of the great men in his diocese and his vehemence in reforming the corrupt morals of all, he stirred up a party against him and, with the connivance of the King, he was expelled from his diocese. Egwin, meekly bending to his fate, determined to make a pilgrimage to Rome. According to a popular medieval legend, he also resolved to expiate certain sins of his youth, at the same time, by putting iron fetters on his feet, which were fastened with a lock. He then cast the key into the Avon. As he neared Italy, on a ship from Marseilles, a huge fish floundered upon deck and was killed and cut open. Much to the surprise of the Saint, in its belly, was found the key to his fetters. He accepted this as an expression of the will of heaven and released his limbs. According to another version of the story, the fish was caught in the Tiber, after St. Egwin had appeared before the Pope in Rome. The latter dismissed the charges against Edwin and he was soon restored to his diocese.

After his return, with the assistance of Coenred King of Mercia - and possibly St. Wilfred the Elder who founded seven unnamed Mercian monasteries around this time - St. Egwin founded the famous Abbey of Evesham. After this, he undertook a second journey to Rome, in company with both Coenred and King Offa of Essex. St. Egwin died on 30th December AD 717 and was buried in his Abbey at Evesham, to which his shrine brought many a medieval pilgrim. His relics were so popular that, when the abbey church required a major rebuilding in 1077, they were taken on a highly successful fund-raising tour of southern England, initiating miraculous cures at Dover, Oxford, Winchester and elsewhere. He is represented in art as a Bishop holding a fish with a key in its mouth.

Edited from S. Baring-Gould's "The Lives of the Saints" (1877).

December 30

      Our holy father Egwin was born of royal stock in the region of Worcester. When he came of age, he left the world and embraced the monastic life, wherein he soon achieved a high standard of excellence. He was ordained through all the degrees of the priesthood; and in 693, on the repose of the bishop of Worcester, he was elected to the Episcopal see by all the clergy and the people, and with the assent of King Ethelred of Mercia and the archbishop of Canterbury. In this exalted position he showed himself to be a pattern of all virtue: a father of orphans, a protector of widows, a righteous judge of the oppressed and comforter of the afflicted. And by his powerful preaching many were converted from paganism or from an evil way of life.

    The righteous, however, must expect tribulation in this world, and malicious tongues began to war against the saint. He decided to travel to Rome and put his case before the highest tribunal in the West. But before leaving, and although he was innocent of the charges brought against him, he imposed a severe penance upon himself both for his own sins and for the sins of his people. He locked his feet in iron fetters and threw the key into the river Avon. Thus bound, he set off on the arduous journey to Rome.

    As he and his companions were passing through an arid region of the Alps, they began to thirst. Those among his companions who did not acknowledge the bishop's sanctity asked him mockingly to pray for water as Moses once did in the desert. But others, who did believe in him, rebuked the unbelievers and asked him in a different tone, with true faith and hope. The Saint prostrated himself in prayer to the Lord with his companions. On arising, they saw a pure stream of water gush forth out of the rock; whereupon everybody, believers and unbelievers alike, gave heartfelt thanks to God Who is wondrous in His saints.

    When they arrived in Rome and had prayed in the church of St. Peter, the Saint told his companions to go down to the river Tiber and see if they could catch a fish. They did as he said, and to their delight caught a medium-sized salmon which they brought to the holy father. When he saw it he gave thanks and ordered them to slit it open. Great was their astonishment when they found .inside the fish the key which the Saint had cast into the river Avon. News of the miracle spread throughout Rome, and from all sides the faithful came to seek the holy man's blessing.

    Pope Constantine, who had heard of Egwin's arrival, the great labors of his journey and the miracle of the key, did not allow the Saint to prostrate before him, but himself asked his blessing. And for the rest of his stay in Rome he treated him with great respect, celebrating_ the Divine Liturgy with him and having many private talks together. The case against the Saint was examined and annulled, and he returned to England laden with honors. The people greeted him with joy, and by the decree of the archbishop he was restored to the see from which he had been dismissed. King Ethelred, too, received him with love, ready to fulfill whatever the Saint might petition°

    One of the Saint's first requests was to be granted the pastureland beside the Avon where he had thrown the key into the river. One of the king's shepherds had once had a vision at this same spot, in which a Virgin of extraordinary splendor appeared holding a hook in her hands and chanting psalms in the company of two other virgins, when the shepherd told this to the Saint, he turned it over in his mind for a long time, praying to God with vigils and fasting. Then, early one morning, after the Saint and three companions had spent the whole night in prayer, they set out barefoot to the spot, chanting, psalms and hymns. Parting company with the others, St. Egwin fell to the earth with tears and groans. On arising from his prayer, he saw three virgins, of whom the middle one was most wondrous to behold, shining in light and surrounded by an ineffable fragrance. In her hands she held a book, and a cross which shone with a golden radiance. When Egwin realized that this was the Most Holy Mother of God, she, as if approving his thought, blessed him with the cross and disappeared.

     This vision gave the Saint to understand that it vas God's will that this place, later called Evesham, should be dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary. And he determined to build a church there in accordance with a vow he had made during a period of especially fierce temptation. So he bought the land and carried out the task to completion, endowing the foundation with many gifts solicited from the kings of England. At his request, the Pope granted his undertaking independent status which was confirmed by a council of the English Church held at Alcester in 709.

     In 711 the Saint retired from his see and devoted himself exclusively to the government of his monastery at Evesham. With fastings and vigils, with tears and groans, he poured out his prayer to the Lord, and was accounted worthy of many visitations of the angels and the saints. He was particularly devoted to the Mother of God, whose praises were always on his lips.

     Already rich in years and Divine Grace, he fell ill in the monastery which he had founded, and, feeling the approach of death, he called together the brethren and said: "Most reverend and beloved sons, I beseech you, be zealous in observing the commandments of God, and keep the vows which you made to Him. For it is written: 'Make your vows and pay them to the Lord.' And as the Apostle says: 'Follow peace and holiness, without which none will see the Lord.'" Then, having commended them to the Father and having partaken of the Body and Blood of the Lord, he departed this life on December 30, 717. Great was the sorrow of the brethren and all the people.

     But during the burial of the Saint, sorrow at his departure was mixed with joy at his triumph. After his burial many miracles proved that St. Egwin had obtained great favor with the Lord. On praying to him, the blind were given their sight, the deaf their hearing, the sick in body and soul were healed. And so his fame spread throughout the country, and many came to his tomb to seek his intercession.
    Once a penitent, grieving over a serious crime he had committed, bound himself with a number of iron fetters. He vowed that he would not loose himself from them until God had shown him that he was loosed from the fetters of his sins. He dragged himself to several shrines of the saints, and after diligent prayer and fasting all but one of the fetters broke loose. The ninth fetter was fastened more tightly than the others, so that the flesh around began to swell. In hope of being released also from this one, the unfortunate man travelled to Rome, to the tombs of the holy Apostles. There, after heartfelt prayer, he was told in his sleep: "Go to England and seek the place of the blessed bishop Egwin, and when you have given him due veneration, you will obtain mercy," Joyfully, the penitent set off on his journey, and, arriving at the church of St. Egwin, spent several days there in prayer and fasting. One day, after the brethren had chanted the third hour and celebrated the Divine Liturgy, the ninth fetter snapped with such force that all the brethren heard it, and the penitent himself was thrown some distance as if by the hand of a man. When the brethren ascertained the truth of the miracle, they rejoiced and gave glory to God.

    On the death of King Harold in 1040, the abbot of Evesham, Bishop Aelfward, took part in an embassy to bring Cnut's other son Hardicnut, to the English throne. As they were crossing the Channel to Flanders, a fierce tempest arose such that even the sailors were close to despair. Bishop Aelfvard turned in prayer to St. Egwin, begging him to free them from their peril, and promising that if God showed them mercy through his prayers, he would make a new reliquary for the Saint and cause his feast day to be celebrated with even greater honor. No sooner had he made this petition than the sea suddenly became calm, and they shortly reached their portal destination. The bishop was true to his promise. A splendid reliquary of gold and silver was prepared, and the translation of St. Egwin's relics was effected on Sept. 10. 

Vladimir Moss


Sant' Egvino Vescovo

m. 717

Martirologio Romano: Ad Evesham in Inghilterra, sant’Egvino, vescovo, che fondò il monastero di questo luogo. 

Tar­dive biografie, risalenti ai secc. XI-XIII, non con­sentono di stabilire con sicurezza i particolari del­la vita di Egwino, giacché queste compilazioni conten­gono notizie leggendarie, o si soffermano su aspet­ti miracolosi e prodigiosi. Egwino (Eduino, Eguino) sa­rebbe nato nella seconda metà del sec. VII da una nobile famiglia della Mercia. Si fece monaco e poi uscì dal monastero per divenire il consigliere del re della Mercia, Etelredo (675-704). Verso il 693 fu nominato vescovo di Worcester, ma incon­trò una notevole ostilità, soprattutto per aver ten­tato di attuare una riforma religiosa. I suoi nemi­ci lo denunziarono a papa Sergio I, per cui egli decise di recarsi a Roma per difendersi e giusti­ficarsi. Sul viaggio a Roma ha ricamato la leggen­da : egli si sarebbe legato i piedi con catene chiu­se con una chiave che fu gettata in mare, ma a Ro­ma fu prodigiosamente trovata nello stomaco di un pesce pescato nel Tevere. Riconosciuta dal papa la sua innocenza, Egwino rientrò in Inghilterra, ove ri­prese il suo seggio episcopale. L'amico re della Mercia, Etelredo, gli donò poi un terreno sul qua­le costruì il monastero di Evesham, che il succes­sore del re, Kenredo, ulteriormente beneficò. In questo periodo Egwino si interessò per una degna sepol­tura di s. Adelmo nella chiesa del monastero di Malmesbury. Nel 709 compì un nuovo viaggio a Roma per accompagnare Kenredo ed Offa, re dell'Essex, desiderosi di prendere l'abito monastico nell'Urbe. Dal papa Costantino I, Egwino ottenne esen­zioni per il proprio monastero. Rientrato in pa­tria, morì il 30 dic. 717. Il 10 sett. 1039 e l'11 genn. 1183 furono compiute ad Evesham solenni traslazioni, per cui negli Uffici era commemorato anche in queste date.

Autore: Gian Domenico Gordini