Monday, November 20, 2006

Saint Edmund

King of East Anglia. On Christmas Day 855, at the age of 14, Edmund was declared King of Norfolk by the ruling men and clergy. In the following year, Suffolk also declared him to be their king. For the next 15 years he ruled over East Anglia with Christian dignity and justice. Edmund was noted for his piety and often recited the psalms during Masses.

When the Great Army of the Vikings, under Ingwar, invaded the country, they captured Edmund and tried to force him to reject his faith. He refused and according to tradition was killed with arrows, beheaded and offered to the Viking gods at Hellesden in Suffolk.

His body was buried in a small wooden chapel nearby. In 915, it was found to be uncorrupt and was transferred to what later became Bury St Edmunds.

When Danish invaders arrived at Ipswich it was taken to London for safety, but eventually returned to Bury.

A great cult formed around St Edmund during mediaeval times. More than 60 churches in England are dedicated to to him and he features in many church murals and paintings.

The exact whereabouts of his remains now is not known. One story claims they were taken by French solders to Toulouse in 1215. In 1912 these relics were offered to Westminster cathedral, but the authorities decided not to accept them as they were not sure whether they were authentic. Many claim he still lies in Bury St Edmunds.

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