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Edmund, King and Martyr

The collect for today, the Feast of St. Edmund (841-869), King of the East Angles, Martyr (source [1]):

O eternal God,
whose servant Edmund kept faith to the end,
both with thee and with his people,
and glorified thee by his death:
grant us the same steadfast faith,
that, together with the noble army of martyrs,
we may come to the perfect joy of the resurrection life;
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.

The Epistle: 1 St. Peter 3:14-18 [2]
The Gospel: St. Matthew 10:16-22 [3]

Martyrdom of Edmund of England, Illuminated Miniature from The Life and Miracles of St. Edmund [4]Edmund was raised a Christian and became king of the East Angles as a young boy, probably when 14 years old. In 869 the Danes invaded his territory and defeated his forces in battle.

According to Edmund’s first biographer [5], Abbo of Fleury, the Danes tortured the saint to death after he refused to renounce his faith and rule as a Danish vassal. He was beaten, tied to a tree and pierced with arrows, and then beheaded.

His body was originally buried near the place of his death and subsequently transferred to Baedericesworth, modern Bury St. Edmunds. His shrine became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England, but it was destroyed and his remains lost during the English Reformation.

The cult of St. Edmund became very popular among English nobility because he exemplified the ideals of heroism, political independence, and Christian holiness. The Benedictine Abbey founded at Bury St. Edmunds in 1020 became one of the greatest in England.

Click here [6] to read Fr. David Curry’s sermon for the Feast of St. Edmund.

Artwork: Martyrdom of Edmund of England, Illuminated Miniature from The Life and Miracles of St. Edmund [7], c. 1120. Made at the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds in East Anglia by the Alexis Master of the St. Albans Psalter. The Morgan Library and Museum [8], New York.