April 19 – Captured by pirates

April 17, 2014

St. Alphege

(or Elphege), Saint, born 954; died 1012; also called Godwine, martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, left his widowed mother and patrimony for the monastery of Deerhurst (Gloucestershire).

St. Alphege being asked for advice.

St. Alphege being asked for advice.

After some years as an anchorite at Bath, he there became abbot, and (19 Oct., 984) was made Bishop of Winchester. In 994 Elphege administered confirmation to Olaf of Norway at Andover, and it is suggested that his patriotic spirit inspired the decrees of the Council of Enham. In 1006, on becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, he went to Rome for the pallium. At this period England was much harassed by the Danes, who, towards the end of September, 1011, having sacked and burned Canterbury, made Elphege a prisoner.

On 19 April, 1012, at Greenwich, his captors, drunk with wine, and enraged at ransom being refused, pelted Elphege with bones of oxen and stones, till one Thurm dispatched him with an axe. Elphege’s body, after resting eleven years in St. Paul’s (London), was translated by King Canute to Canterbury.


His principal feast is kept on the 19th of April; that of his translation on the 8th of June.

He is sometimes represented with an axe cleaving his skull.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. PLUMMER (Oxford, 1892-99); THIETMAR, Chronicle, in P. L., CXXXIX, 1384; OSBERN, Vita S. Elphegi in WHARTON, Anglia Sacra, II, 122 sqq.; Acta SS., April, II, 630; Bibl. Hag. Lat., 377; CHEVALIER, Repertoire, I, 1313; FREEMAN, Norman Conquest, I, v; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 18 April; STANTON, Menology, 19 April; HUNT in Dict. Nat. Biogr., s. v. AElfheah.



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