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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  November 2016

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION November 2016

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Subject:

FEAST - A Saint for the Day (November 16): St. Edmund of Abingdon

From:

John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 06:31:20 +0000

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Edmund (in French, Edme; the Roman Martyrology and many others call him Edmund Rich, albeit apparently without medieval authority for this form of his name) was born at Abingdon.  His parents were named Reginald and Mabel and his father was given the sobriquet _dives_ ("rich").  Raised ascetically by his mother, he was schooled at Oxford and at Paris and taught theology at Oxford from 1214 (probably) until his election as archbishop of Canterbury on 20. September 1233 (royal approval given on 10. October, which would have been around the start of Michaelmas Term).  During his time as a teaching theologian Edmund wrote both a moral gloss on the Psalms and a very successful treatise on the spiritual life, _Speculum ecclesie_, that also circulated in versions in Anglo-Norman and Middle English.

Edmund's consecration ensued on 2. April 1234.  In that year he worked successfully to prevent a general civil war between Henry III and rebel barons.  During his relatively brief prelacy he attempted to reconcile jurisdictional aspects of English canon and common law, an initiative that saw fruit on the canon law side in 1237.

In his last years Edmund was seriously at odds with his (monastic) chapter over his intent to form a college of canons in the diocese and over the chapter's assertion of the right to elect its own prior.  He died in France on his way to Rome in 1240 to prosecute a case against the Canterbury monks and was buried at the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny, where he had recently stayed and where he is said to have requested confraternity.  At their general chapter in the following year the Cistercians formally asked for Edmund's canonization.  After further postulations from England and France, commissions of inquiry were authorized in 1244; canonization followed in 1246.  Records of Edmund's canonization process survive, as do several Vitae composed within the decade following his death.

Today (16. November) is Edmund's feast day in the Church of England and in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.  It is also his day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.

A relic of Edmund on display in Westminster Cathedral in an unspecified year (photograph by Brother Lawrence Lew OP):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/5183259906/lightbox/

St Edmund's Chapel, Dover, consecrated by St. Richard of Chichester in Edmund's honor in 1253 and restored in the years 1966-1968:
http://www.dover.freeuk.com/church/stedmund.htm
http://www.urban75.org/photos/kent/images/dover-kent-02.jpg
Views of structure from just prior to its restoration through various stages of that effort:
http://www.stedmundschapel.co.uk/restoration.html

Edmund's nineteenth-century tomb in the choir of the abbatiale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Edme in Pontigny:
http://tinyurl.com/267y7uo


Some period-pertinent images of St. Edmund of Abingdon:

a) as depicted in glass (ca. 1290) at St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford (photograph courtesy of Gordon Plumb):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22274117@N08/5182948622/
A larger image and a detail view (photographs by Brother Lawrence Lew OP):
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/216/473617175_4b0e653859_z.jpg
http://tinyurl.com/bv3ycd6

b) as twice depicted (major illumination: preaching; initial "e" below it: guiding contemplation) at the outset of an earlier fourteenth-century copy of his _Speculum ecclesie_ in Anglo-Norman translation (ca. 1301-1325; Paris, BnF, ms. Franšais 13342, fol. 28r):
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b105094193/f61.item.zoom

c) as depicted (left margin, lower image) in a hand-colored woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century _Weltchronik_ (_Nuremberg Chronicle_; 1493) at fol. CCXIIv:
https://www.beloit.edu/nuremberg/book/6th_age/left_page/115%20(Folio%20CCXIIv).pdf

Best,
John Dillon
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