November 14 – Saint Erconwald

November 11, 2019

Saint Erconwald

St. Erkenwald instructing monks. A historiated initial from the Chertsey Breviary.

St. Erkenwald instructing monks. A historiated initial from the Chertsey Breviary.

Bishop of London, died. about 690. He belonged to the princely family of the East Anglian Offa, and devoted a considerable portion of his patrimony to founding two monasteries, one for monks at Chertsey, and the other for nuns at Barking in Essex. Over the latter he placed his sister, St. Ethelburga, as abbess. He himself discharged the duties of superior at Chertsey. Erconwald continued his monastic life till the death of Bishop Wini in 675, when he was called to the See of London, at the instance of King Sebbi and Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury. As monk and bishop he was renowned for holiness of life, and miracles were wrought in attestation of his sanctity. The sick were cured by contact with the litter on which he had been carried; this we have on the testimony of Venerable Bede. He was present in 686 at the reconciliation between Archbishop Theodore and Wilfrith. King Ini in the preface to his laws calls Erconwald “my bishop”. During his episcopate he enlarged his church, augmented its revenues, and obtained for it special privileges from the king.

According to an ancient epitaph, Erconwald ruled the Diocese of London for eleven years. He is said to have eventually retired to the convent of his sister at Barking, where he died April 30. He was buried in St. Paul’s, and his tomb became renowned for miracles. The citizens of London had a special devotion to him, and they regarded with pride the magnificence of his shrine. During the burning of the cathedral in 1087 it is related that the shrine and its silken coverings remained intact. A solemn translation of St. Erconwald’s body took place November 14, 1148, when it was raised above the high altar. The shrine was robbed of its jewels and ornaments in the sixteenth century; and the bones of the saint are said to have been then buried at the east end of the choir. His feast is observed by English Catholics on November 14. Prior to the Reformation, the anniversaries of St. Erconwald’s death and translation of his relics were observed at St. Paul’s as feasts of the first class, according to an ordinance of Bishop Braybroke in 1386.

COLUMBIA EDMONDS (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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