Celtic and Old English Saints          2 March

* St. Chad of Lichfield
* St. Slebhene of Iona
* St. Cynibild
* St. Fergna the White
* St. Joavan of Leon
* St. Willeic

St. Chad (Ceadda) of Lichfield, Bishop
Born in Northumbria, England; died at Lichfield in 673.

The Venerable Bede writes that: "King Oswy sent to Kent a holy man of
modest character, well versed in the Scriptures, and practising with
diligence what he had learned from them, to be ordained bishop of the
church of York. . . . But when they reached Kent, they found that
Archbishop Deusdedit (f.d. July 14) had departed this life and that as
yet no other had been appointed in his place.

"Thereupon they turned aside to the province of the West Saxons,
whereWine was bishop, and by him the above mentioned Chad was
consecrated bishop, two bishops of the British nation, who kept Easter
in contravention of the canonical custom from the 14th to the 20th of
the moon, being associated with him, for at that time there was no other
bishop in all Britain canonically ordained besides Wine.

"As soon as Chad had been consecrated bishop, he began most strenuously
to devote himself to ecclesiastical truth and purity of doctrine and to
give attention to the practice of humility, self-denial and study: to
travel about, not on horseback, but on foot, after the manner of the
apostles, preaching the Gospel in the towns and the open country, in
cottages, villages and castles, for he was one of Aidan's disciples and
tried to instruct his hearers by acting and behaving after the example
of his master and of his brother Cedd."

During the tenure of St. Aidan as abbot, when the abbey of Lindisfarne
in northern Britain was a hive of Christian activity and the centre of a
brave and eager company of evangelists, among them was St. Chad, an
Angle by birth, one of four brothers all of whom became priests,
including St. Cedd (f.d. October 26) and St. Cynibild (below).

Chad was one of the four brothers in the School founded by St. Aidan at
Lindisfarne. His brothers Cynebil and Caelin were to become priests
while he and Cedd were to be bishops. To complete their training St.
Aidan sent his students to study in the various Irish monasteries and we
know that in 653 Chad was made priest and returned to England to start
his ministry as a missionary. As a young monk Chad had spent some years
as a missionary monk in Ireland with St. Egbert (f.d. April 24) at
Rathmelsigi, but was recalled to England to replace his brother Cedd as
abbot of Lastingham Monastery, when Cedd was appointed bishop of London.
Lastingham was a small community under the Rule of St. Columba in a
remote, beautiful village on the very edge of the north York Moors near

As described by Bede, within a year of his abbatial appointment Chad was
named bishop of York by King Oswy. Meanwhile, King Oswy's son King
Alcfrid had appointed Wilfrid (f.d. October 12), bishop of the same see.
But Wilfrid, considering the northern bishops who had refused to accept
the decrees of Whitby as schismatic, went to France to be ordained.
Delayed until 666 in his return, Wilfrid found that St. Chad had been
appointed. Rather than contest the election of Chad, Wilfrid returned to
his monastery at Ripon.

When St. Theodore (f.d. September 19) became archbishop of Canterbury in
669, he removed Chad from the see of York on the grounds that he was
improperly consecrated by Wine, and restored St. Wilfrid. Chad's
humility in accepting this change was evidenced in his reply to
Theodore: "If you consider that I have not been properly consecrated, I
willingly resign this charge of which I never thought myself worthy. I
undertook it, though unworthy, under obedience."

With that, the astonished Theodore supplied what he thought was wanting
in Chad's consecration, and soon after made him bishop of the Mercians
with his see at Lichfield. This was Chad's greatest achievement: The
creation of the see of Lichfield, which covered 17 counties and
stretched from the Severn to the North Sea. At Lichfield, or the Field
of the Dead, where once a thousand Christians had been martyred, Chad
founded his cathedral. Here, too, he built himself a simple oratory not
far from the church, where he lived and prayed when not travelling on
foot throughout his wide diocese, and here also he gathered around him a
missionary band of eight of his brethren from Lastingham.

A typical story is of how on one occasion when two of the king's sons
were out hunting, they were led by their quarry to the oratory of St.
Chad, where they found him praying, and were so impressed by the sight
of the frail old man upon his knees, his face glowing with rapture, that
they knelt and asked his blessing, and were later baptized. All who
encountered him were similarly impressed, and many made pilgrimage to
Lichfield and to his holy well outside the city, which still remains.

He had great qualities of mind and spirit, but greatest of all was his
sense of the presence of God and the influence it had upon others, for
it is said that all who met him were aware of God's glory. It was this
experience, no doubt, which underlies the story that Wulfhere was so
angry when his sons were converted that he slew them and, breathing
fury, sought out St. Chad, but as he approached the bishop's cell a
great light shone through its single window, and the king was almost
blinded by its brightness.

In his early days in Northumbria, St. Chad had trudged on foot on his
long missionary journeys until Archbishop Theodore with his own hands
lifted him on horseback, insisting that he conserve his strength. This
was typical of St. Chad, and he brought to his work at Lichfield the
same grace and simplicity.

In Lichfield Chad founded monasteries including possibly Barrow (Barton)
upon Humber, improved the discipline of the cloisters, preached
everywhere, and reformed the churches of the diocese.

Many traditions gathered round his name, and the familiar one which
relates to his death reflects the inner beauty of his life. After two
and one half years of steady, unremitting labour, when Chad came to die,
his oratory was filled with the sound of
music. First a labourer, Owin, heard it, outside in the fields, and drew
near in wonder, and witnessed the vision of the Angels sent to summon
his beloved master seven days before his death which, as Bede puts it,
"bore away the living stones of the Church to the Temple in Heaven." St.
Chad's followers gathered outside, and when they asked what it was, he
told them that it meant that his hour had come and it was the angels
calling him home. Then he gave each of them a blessing, begged them to
keep together, to live in peace, and faithfully fulfil their calling.
St. Chad's body simply wore out.

Egbert, another of his fellow students, had a similar vision in Ireland
in which he saw the soul of St. Cedd descending from the heaven with
angels to escort his brother to the eternal Kingdom. The short period of
St. Chad's ministry at Lichfield, which approximates in time to Our
Lord's, made such an impact upon that part of England that his tomb
became one of the great centres of pilgrimage.

Some of his relics are preserved in the cathedral of Birmingham, which
is named for him (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopaedia, Gill).

In art, St. Chad is a bishop holding Lichfield Cathedral and a branch
(usually a vine). He may also be found (1) holding the cathedral in the
midst of a battlefield with the dead surrounding him, (2) with a hart
leading hunters to him by a pool, or (3) at the time of the conversion
of the hunters (SS. Wulfhald and Ruffinus) (Roeder).

St. Chad's Church, Lichfield

St. Slebhene (Slebhine), Abbot
Died 767. An Irish monk who was abbot of Iona from 752 to 767

St. Cynibild
7th century. A brother of SS. Chad (above) and Cedd (f.d.October 26),
Cynibild also laboured in the evangelization of the Anglo-Saxons

St. Fergna (Ferona) the White, Abbot
Died 637. Fergna was a kinsman and disciple of St. Columba (f.d.June 9),
whom he succeeded as abbot of Iona (Benedictines,Encyclopaedia).

Troparion of St Ferona tone 4
Blessed ascetic of Iona's isle,/ thou didst strengthen the foundation of
thy kinsman Colum Cille, O righteous Ferona,/ bringing stability to
Christ's holy Church and salvation to men's souls.

Kontakion of St Ferona tone 2
In the Western Isles the flame of faith shone brightly by thy tireless
and ascetic labours,/ O bastion of Orthodoxy, great Father Ferona./
Wherefore we bless thy name,/ praying for strength to show forth the
same steadfastness in our lives.

St. Joavan of Leon, Bishop
Died c. 576. St. Joavan was a Romano-Briton who passed over to Brittany
to live under his uncle St. Paul of Leon, from whom he received
episcopal consecration as coadjutor (Benedictines).

St. Willeic
Died 726. A disciple of St. Swithbert (f.d. March 1), who made him prior
of the abbey at Kaiserwerth (near Duesseldorf, Germany). Willeic held
this position until his death (Benedictines, Encyclopaedia).


Ansterbery, Jennie. Chad, Bishop and Saint

Attwater, D. (1983). The penguin dictionary of saints, NY:
Penguin Books.

Benedictine Monks of Saint Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate.
(1947). The Book of Saints. NY: Macmillan.

Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket Dictionary of Saints, NY:
Doubleday Image.

Encyclopaedia of Catholic Saints, March. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

Gill, F. C. (1958). The Glorious Company: Lives of Great
Christians for Daily Devotion, vol. I. London: Epworth Press.

For All the Saints:

Orthodox Ireland Saints

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

These Lives are archived at:

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