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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Many images of Edmund, of course. You can see a selection in glass and 
mural paintings on my Flickr stream: 
https:[log in to unmask] Look under "Edmund, saint". 
Includes Martyrdom in 15thC. wall paintings at Pickering in North 
Yorkshire: https:[log in to unmask]

Gordon Plumb

-----Original Message-----
From: Cate Gunn <[log in to unmask]>
To: MEDIEVAL-RELIGION <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thu, 20 Nov 2014 17:33
Subject: [M-R] Saint of the Day: St Edmund King and Martyr


medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and 
culture

Edmund, King of East Anglia, is commemorated on 20 November so, since 
I’m sure
I’m not the only one who misses ‘Saints of the Day’ I thought I’d send 
an email
that is compiled from previous postings on Edmund, and a couple of 
booklets I
have (by Anne Dineen and J. M. Matten) on St Edmund.  May be others 
could do the
same for their favourite saint on the appropriate day?

Edmund was born about 840/841 and elected king of East Anglia aged 14.  
It is
believed he was crowned on the hillside at Bures, overlooking the 
beautiful
Stour valley (just five miles from where I am writing this: hence my 
interest).
He was renowned for his piety in his personal life, and desire for 
justice. He
led the defence of his Christian realm against the Danish chiefs 
Hinguar and
Hubba; Hinguar laid his land waste and killed the people ‘men, women 
and
innocent children’ (according to the account from Alefric’s Lives of 
Saints
translated by Anne Dineen); Edmund refused to defile his hands with 
Hinguar’s
blood but ‘mindful of his Saviour’ he discarded his weapons and 
imitated
Christ’s example. In order to save his people, he submitted to the 
invaders; he
was ‘bound and humiliated and beaten with sticks. Soon the King was 
taken to a
tree rooted in the ground and tied and was beaten there with whips for 
a long
time; and he always, between the beatings, called with true faith to 
Christ the
Saviour. Then, because of his faith, the heathens became made angry, 
for he
called on Christ to help. They shot him then with arrows, as in sport, 
until he
was all covered with arrows like a hedgehog’s bristles, as Sebastian 
was.’
Finally his head was chopped off. Other sources suggest that he may 
have had the
‘Blood Eagle’ carved on his back.  This martyrdom is supposed to have 
occurred
on 20th November 869/70, maybe at Hoxne in Suffolk.
When his men went later to recover his body, they couldn’t find his 
head;
eventually it was found guarded by a wolf, who surrendered it and 
followed the
procession to the grave in Heglesdune wood.  Years later the body was 
removed to
Beodricksworth [variously spelt] where a church was built, later to 
become the
great abbey of Bury St Edmunds. When Edmund’s coffin was opened the 
body was
found to be incorrupt and the head reattached to the body, with only a 
thin red
mark round the neck.
Edmund’s shrine was guarded by the Benedictine Ailwin, but when, around 
the year
1010 there was fresh trouble, the body was moved to London for safety, 
where it
rested in St Gregory’s church. At this time, the martyr’s fame 
increased; when
peace returned Ailwin wanted to take the body back to Suffolk, but 
Alphun,
Bishop of London, planned to retain it and take it instead to St 
Paul’s. Edmund,
however, seemed to have other ideas, and the coffin became too heavy to 
move
until Alphun relented and Ailwin was able to leave London with the body 
in
procession. All along the route people turned out to offer respect to 
the
martyr, and were rewarded with miracles of healing.
Edmund’s body was returned in 1013, and last year a pilgrimage followed 
the
route from London to Bury St Edmunds to celebrate the 1000th 
anniversary.
Edmund’s cult is discussed in the essays in St Edmund, King and Martyr: 
Changing
Images of a Medieval Saint, ed. by Anthony Bale, published York 
Medieval
Press/Boydell & Brewer 2009.

Best wishes
Cate

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