Thursday, 6 March 2008

Suffolk

Over the last week Mrs. CEP Oxfordshire and I have been in the fine old English county of Suffolk. Steeped in English history, it was rather nice to go to places such as Southwold, and visit churches dedicated to St. Edmund the Martyr, last Anglo-Saxon king of East Anglia.
Edmund was defeated in battle by the Danes in 869 and, on capture, was ordered to renounce his Christian faith. Being English he would have none of it- it would take more than a slow and painful death to get him to disown his beliefs! The Danes were furious, and so tied him to a tree and executed him. This is thought to have taken place at Hoxne in Suffolk. The Danes hid Edmund's head in the woods so as to prevent his followers finding it and giving him a Christian burial. A wicked thing to do in the very real sense of the word.


However, Edmund's followers returned to look for their fallen king. On searching the woods, a voice called out to them. "Here, here!". Edmund's people followed the calls until they found a wolf- craddling Edmund's head as if it were one of its cubs. When they took Edmund's head from the wild animal and brought it out of the woods, the animal followed them until it knew Edmund was to be laid to rest- and then disappeared back into the woods.


Edmund's holy remains were taken to what is now Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk. A huge Abbey and cathedral were built to honour him, which became one of the most famous pilgrimage sites of the times- the remains of the Abbey stand to this day. However, when the Abbey was disestablished in 1539, the Abbey was stripped of all its valuables. Edmund's holy remains were lost and have still not been found to this day.


Edmund's feast day is 20 November. Last year there was a campaign to have him restored as patron saint of England. Despite how highly I regard St. Edmund- I wouldn't change our St. George for anyone.

2 comments:

McFeagle said...

Come and visit Suffolk - even the prime minister did for his holidays !

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