Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

St Edward the Confessor

Today is the feast of St Edward the Confessor. The anniversary is not that of his death, January 5th, but rather that of the translation of his relics to a new shrine in Westminster Abbey in 1163. I wonder if the date, a day before the anniversary of the battle of Hastings, was chosen deliberately for that reason - a hermeneutic of continuity perhaps.

St Edward was born at Islip, near Oxford, so he can be accounted as a local as well as a national saint.

The Oxford DNB life by Frank Barlow, who has written the standard biography of the King, and who stresses that St Edward was much more than the possibly rather colourless figure he often appears to be presented as, can be read here.

Last year I posted St Edward and St Edward's Crown to mark this feast, and I think it is worth reading again.


St Edward the Confessor from the Bayeux Tapestry

Image: stedmundsbury.gov.uk

His cult has remained central to the monarchy and hence the survival of his shrine, as well as the designation of the Crown of St Edward, and the centuries-long notion of the good laws of King Edward which were to be upheld by his successors. His cult was promoted by successive monarchs, notably King Henry III who initiated the rebuilding of Westminster abbey and King Richard II. It remained essentially one for the court rather than being a popular devotion, but it underpinned the sacrality of the monarchy.

May St Edward continue to pray for The Queen and the Royal Family, and for the realm.

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