Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sancti Eduardi Confessoris...

A very happy feast day to you all! Today is the feast of St Edward the Confessor (A.D 1003-1066), a patron of this blog and a saint for whom I have a special devotion. Edward was the last (save one, the traitor Harold Godwinson) Saxon king of England, and his death in 1066 precipitated the crisis which led to the Norman Conquest. A generous, lordly man, renowned for his personal holiness and humility, I think he was one of the better kings of this Isle, reverend and wise - whatever the historians might say about his alleged weakness. How better could he exact his revenge upon the Eorl Godwin than by his unconsummated marriage to Edith of Wessex and by promising the succession to William, Duke of Normandy, kinsman of the king (at least so the Norman chroniclers allege - I am inclined to believe them, especially given the fact that Edward's Saxon thegns were largely under the thumb of the scheming Godwins)?

The cult of St Edward arose rapidly, and he was seen throughout the Middle Ages as the archetypal king (the Patron Saint not only of the Plantagenets, but of the nation - only to be supplanted later by the foreigner St George). In 1160 Henry II finally secured his canonization, and on 13th October 1163 the relics were solemnly translated. I encourage readers to go to Westminster Abbey sometime during Edwardtide. I shall make the effort to go on Saturday to venerate his shrine.

In the name of the Holy Trinity, I promise three things to the Christian people, my subjects:
First, that God's Church and all Christian people within my dominions shall experience true peace.
Second, that I forbid robbery and all crime to every class of people.
Third, I promise and order laws based on justice and mercy, that the gracious and merciful God may forgive us all our sins.
The duty of a Christian king is to judge no one corruptly, to defend widows, orphans and strangers, and to abolish immoral marriages. He must drive out those who practice magic, and who murder their kin, or commit perjury. He must feed the needy, and have old and experienced men for his counsellors, appointing honest servants. He will be answerable on the Day of Judgement for the crimes of his servants done in his name. (St Edward's Coronation Oath).

Do the Orthodox universally recognise St Edward as a saint? I realise that he died after the ''Great Schism'' but is not 1054 a rather meaningless date? Certainly the estrangement between the two Churches did not suddenly come to boiling point in the middle of the 11th century.

St Edward the Confessor, pray for us.


  1. I am not sure if he is formally commemorated on the church calendar. But I for one accept his sanctity. And in any case 1066 was merely the date of the latest in a series of local schisms between old and new Rome. It had little effect o the unity of the broader Church for sometime.

    In ICXC

  2. I do not think he is in the Kalendar per se.

    He is certainly referred to as a Saint by many Orthodox for example in this interesting study on the Norman Conquest by Vladimir Moss.

    With the, eventual, growth of WRO in these Islands hopefully St. Edward will find a worthy place in the Kalendar.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. It would (in my opinion) be a sore blow to Orthodoxy if St Edward were omitted from the Kalendar simply because he died after 1054.

    An update: I made a serious blunder in the opening paragraph by confusing Harold Godwinson with his brother Tostig! That has been corrected now.

  4. Romanides maintains that the English church remained formally and functionally Orthodox until the supplanting of the native hierarchy by Franco-Norman bishops.

  5. Edward Confessor isn't an Orthodox saint, and, in my book, he's a traitor. My personal candidate for a contemporary Orthodox saint is the King-Martyr Harold who heroically resisted William's papal crusade.

    Any WRO attempt to glorify Edward would tend to confirm Orthodox suspicions about that crowd's nonexistent conversion. They should pick better battles.

    The Russians have probably shown more interest in the Orthodox-era Church of England than anyone else, and they've used the year 1054 as a slightly flexible threshold.