Saint Edmund The King and Martyr

St. Edmund, whose name means “blessed protection”, was probably born in 841. He lived during one of the most troubled periods of early English history, when hordes of Danish pirates were devastating English kingdoms one after another, burning churches and monasteries, ravaging them, murdering Christians and all inhabitants. According to tradition, Edmund was called to the throne of East Anglia by the kingdom’s people in this critical period. He landed from exile (according to one of the versions of his life) at St. Edmund’s Point near Hunstanton in Norfolk in 855, praying to God to give His blessing on him and his fellow countrymen. Then Edmund proceeded to the royal palace at Attleborough in Norfolk where he officially staked his claim to the throne.

For a year young Edmund was instructed in Attleborough by Bishop Humbert of Elmham (who would also be martyred by the Danes). It was said that within one year he then learned all the Psalms of David by heart, and this Psalter was kept as a relic until the Reformation. The people saw in him their only hope to preserve their small Christian state. On the day of Nativity of Christ, December 25, 855 (or 856), the 15-year-old Edmund was crowned and anointed King of East Anglia. The following years showed that the people’s choice was providential: not only did Edmund become an exemplary and devout king, but he came to be a true national hero and a holy man.

Edmund was tall, with fair hair, well-built and with a particular majesty of bearing. He was a wise and honest man, pious and chaste in all his deeds. In all things he always strove to please God and by his pure life and glorious works he won the respect of all his subjects. Edmund was very meek and humble: he knew that, becoming a king, he could never be conceited with his countrymen, but should only be on a par with everybody in the kingdom. Edmund was protector of the Church and a shelter for orphans, was generous to the poor and cared for widows like a loving father. All who pleaded to him for justice received help.Read More »