The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Oswald (d. 642), King of Northumbria, Martyr (source):
O Lord God almighty,
who didst so kindle the faith of thy servant King Oswald with thy Spirit
that he set up the sign of the cross in his kingdom
and turned his people to the light of Christ:
grant that we, being fired by the same Spirit,
may ever bear our cross before the world
and be found faithful servants of the gospel;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
In AD 635, the army of Prince Oswald defeated the forces of king Caedwalla of Gwynedd (north Wales) at the Battle of Heavenfield (near present-day Hexham, Northumberland). Oswald was a Christian and nephew of King Edwin, the man Caedwalla had defeated a few years earlier to conquer the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. Heavenfield proved to be a key battle in English history for it marked the end of paganism as a religious and political force in England.
Knowing that the fate of his kingdom would be decided on the following day, Oswald had a wooden cross erected beside which he and his men knelt and prayed to the Lord for victory. The badly outnumbered Christian soldiers defeated their apparently over-confident adversaries, and Oswald became King of Northumbria.
After his victory, Oswald invited monks to come from Iona and establish a monastery at Lindisfarne, the Holy Island. This was to become one of England’s most important centres of Christian scholarship and evangelism.
King Oswald was killed in battle in 642 defending his land and people against the pagan king Penda of Mercia.
Artwork: Saint Oswald, stained glass, Norwich Cathedral. Photograph taken by admin, 3 October 2014.