Saint Edmund of Abingdon

SECONDARY PATRON OF THE DIOCESE OF PORTSMOUTH

Edmund Rich was born in Abingdon, Berkshire around the year 1175.  He studied at Oxford and Paris and later taught art and mathematics at Oxford, where he received his doctorate in theology and was ordained priest.  He taught theology for eight years and then in 1222 became a canon of Salisbury Cathedral.

Father Edmund was an eloquent and popular preacher and was elected Archbishop of Canterbury in 1233.  He became an adviser to King Henry III for whom he undertook several diplomatic missions and in 1237 he presided at the king’s ratification of the Great Charter.

To assist him the archbishop chose as his chancellor Richard Wych, known better to us as Saint Richard of Chichester.

Archbishop Edmund’s uncompromising stand in favour of good discipline, monastic observance, and justice for those who abused their authority and power soon brought him into conflict with the king over discrepancies between church law and common law.

Fearing for his life he left England and retired to the Cistercian abbey at Pontigny in France.  He died in exile there on this day in 1240 and was canonized seven years later by Pope Innocent IV.

Saint Edmund was a good if not great bishop.  He taught the truth and defended the rights of the Church from abuse by civil authority.  His last words were addressed to God, ‘I have sought nothing else but you.’

Very little of his writing has survived, but his book Mirror of Holy Church makes it clear that he is entitled to an honourable place among the English medieval mystics.

The Church in England honours Saint Edmund as a pastor worthy of imitation and the Diocese of Portsmouth adopted him as the Joint Principal Patron of the Diocese.

Saint Edmund of Abingdon, pray for us.

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