The Original Patron Saint of England

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St. Edmund was the patron saint of England until Edward III (1312-1377) replaced Edmund by associating Saint George with the Order ofthe Garter. Edward III believed that England should have a fearless champion as its patron saint and not a king defeated in battle.

Local legend has it that, after being routed in battle against the Danes, King Edmund of East Anglia hid under the Goldbrook Bridge. The reflection of his golden spurs glinting in the water revealed his hiding place and the Danes who promptly captured Edmund and demanded he renounce his faith.

He refused and was tied to a nearby oak tree. After whipping him, the Danes shot spears at him until he was entirely covered with their missiles. Even then he would not forsake Christ and so was beheaded and the head was thrown into the woods.

 

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Edmund’s followers had no problem finding his body but his head was missing. Searching for his remains, they heard a cry of “here, here, here” and traced the voice to a wolf who was protecting Edmund’s severed head. The wolf allowed the followers to take the head and Edmund’s followers buried him nearby and built a wooden chapel over the spot.

Many years later, after the Danes raiding had settled down, they recovered Edmund and found his body was as sound as if he were alive, including a completely healed neck.

Edmund’s body was moved several times before finally coming to rest at what is now Bury St Edmund’s.

 

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

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