Celtic and Old English Saints          26 October

* St. Cedd of the East Saxons
* St. Alfred the Great (see #2)
* Ss. Aneurin and Gwinoc of Wales
* St. Eata of Hexham
* St. Bean of Aberdeen
* St. Cuthbert of Canterbury
* St. Eadfrid of Leominster

St. Cedd, Founder of Lastingham,
Bishop and Apostle of the East Saxons
Born in Northumbria, England; died October 26, 664; feast day formerly
celebrated on January 7. Cedd was raised together with his brother
Saint Chad (f.d. March 2). He became a monk at Lindisfarne and in 653
was sent with three other priests to evangelize the Middle Angles when
their King Peada was baptized by Saint Finan of Lindisfarne (f.d.
February 17) in 653 at the court of his father-in-law, Oswy of

After working in that field for a time he was called to harvest a new
one in East Anglia (Essex), when King Sigebert was converted and
baptized by Finan. He and another priest travelled throughout the
midlands to evaluate the situation. Then Cedd returned to Lindisfarne
to confer with Finan, who consecrated him bishop of the East Saxons in
654. Cedd returned to Essex and spent the rest of his life with the
Saxons--building churches, founding monasteries (at Bradwell-on-the-Sea
(Ythancaestir, Othona), Tilbury, and Lastingham), and ordaining priests
and deacons to continue the work of evangelization.

Lastingham, originally called Laestingaeu, was built in 658 on a tract
of inaccessible land in Yorkshire donated by King Ethelwald of Deira.
Here Cedd spent 40 days in prayer and fasting to consecrate the place to
God according to the custom of Lindisfarne, derived from Saint Columba
(f.d. June 9). All three of the monasteries he built were destroyed by
the Danes and never restored.

He attended the Synod of Whitby in 664, where he accepted the Roman
observances, and died of the plague at Lastingham, Yorkshire. At the
news of his death, 30 of his brethren among the East Saxons came to
Lastingham to consecrate their lives where their holy father in faith
had ended his. But they, too, were all killed by the same plague,
except one unbaptized boy, who lived to become a priest and zealous
missionary (Delaney, Walsh).

Saint Cedd is depicted in art as a bishop with a chalice and an abbatial
staff. Sometimes he is shown with his brother Saint Chad of Lichfield,
other times with Saint Diuma, bishop of the Middle English. He is
venerated at Charlbury, Oxon, England (Roeder).

Icon of Saint Cedd:
Tiny URL http://tinyurl.com/d99w2

St. Aneurin (Gildas) and Gwinoc
6th century. Saint Aneurin and his son Gwinoc were Welsh monks. The
latter has left some Celtic poems of a certain literary value

St. Eata of Hexham, Bishop
Died c. 686. It is impossible to write about Eata, the 7th century
English saint, without going back to Saint Aidan (f.d. August 31), and
from Saint Aidan to Saint Paulinus of York (f.d. October 10), and from
Saint Paulinus to Saint Augustine (Austin) of Canterbury (f.d. May 28),
and from Saint Augustine to Saint Gregory the Great (f.d. March 12) who
began this chain reaction. Nor should we forget the Venerable Bede
(f.d. May 25) without whose "Ecclesiastical History" we would never have
heard of Saint Eata, nor Saint Cuthbert (f.d. March 20), who was Eata's
close friend.

In the 7th century, England was divided into the Heptarchy, seven
independent kingdoms in none of which was Christianity firmly
established. At the request of Saint Oswald (f.d. August 9), king of
Northumbria, Saint Aidan had gone from Iona to Lindisfarne--the Holy
Island--and from there had begun to evangelize the northern parts of
England. Aidan himself and many of his monks came originally from
Ireland and therefore followed the Celtic usages which differed in some
ways from those of Rome.

Pope Saint Gregory's plan was to send a properly organised group to
England, rather than rely on the isolated efforts of the northern
missionaries. The man he chose was the prior of a monastery that he had
founded in Rome, Saint Augustine of Canterbury. In 596, he landed in
Kent with a group of 40 monks.

They had to start from nothing, but fortunately they quickly enlisted
the support of Bertha, the wife of King Saint Ethelbert
(f.d. February 24)--just as Saint Paulinus won the support of Saint
Ethelburga (f.d. April 5), sister of Eadbald, and Saint Remigius (f.d.
October 1) won that of Saint Clotilde (f.d. June 3), wife of Clovis.
Augustine received the 'pallium' and became the first archbishop of
England, establishing his see at Canterbury.

At the time of Augustine's death, which took place shortly after that of
Gregory the Great, relations between the Roman and Celtic churches were
still strained. Apart from their differences over usage and
organisation, the situation was complicated by the resentment felt by
some of the Celts towards the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who only a
relatively short while before had driven them out of their own country
and persecuted their religion. So it was left to a number of saints,
among them Eata, to effect a union between the Celtic and Roman
Christians, their personal saintliness persuading the ones to abate
their racial pride and the others to make concessions.

The first saint who went to Northumbria was a Roman one, Saint Paulinus,
who had been sent by Gregory the Great to assist Saint Augustine of
Canterbury. The next one was the Celtic Saint Aidan, who had
established his monastery at Lindisfarne and who also founded a
monastery at Ripon. It was at Ripon that Eata, who had been born an
Anglo-Saxon and was one of the 12 English boys brought to Northumbria by
Saint Aidan, was educated in the Celtic observance. When Saint Wilfrid
(f.d. October 12) arrived at Ripon, Eata left it to become abbot at
Melrose, which was attached to Lindisfarne.

As a result of the Synod of Whitby, which was held in 664, the Roman
usage was extended throughout England and the Celtic practices were,
sadly, gradually suppressed. Eata accepted the Roman liturgical

Saint Colman (f.d. February 18), who had succeeded Saint Aidan as abbot
of Lindisfarne refused to accept the decision and withdrew from his
position. Reportedly he requested that Saint Eata take his place. At
the same time Saint Cuthbert became prior, and they both fully accepted
the Roman usage and liturgy.

In 678 Theodore, who had been consecrated in Rome as the new archbishop
of Canterbury by Pope Saint Vitalian (f.d. January 27), met Eata in York
and at once consecrated him as bishop of Bernicia. It was a wise choice,
for Eata quickly showed himself to be worthy of his office. He and Saint
Cuthbert were often together, travelling from Melrose to Ripon and to
Lindisfarne. Later Eata and Cuthbert exchanged sees, and Eata became
bishop of Hexham, where he remained until his death.

Eata seems to have been a kind and gentle man, more so even than
Cuthbert, and vastly more so than Colman or that other saint, Wilfrid,
who quarrelled so violently with Theodore. He died in 686 and was
buried in the Abbey of Hexham. It is said that when, in 1113, plans
were made to disinter his body and take it to York, he appeared in a
dream to the archbishop of York and told him to leave his mortal remains
in peace (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopaedia).

St. Bean of Aberdeen, Bishop
Died after 1012. Saint Bean was the first bishop of Mortlach in Banff.
In the 11th century the see became that of Aberdeen,
Scotland (Benedictines, Farmer).

St. Cuthbert of Canterbury, Bishop
Born in England; died 758. A monk of Lyminge, Kent, Saint Cuthbert
later became bishop of Hereford (c. 736) and then archbishop of
Canterbury (c. 740). He is best remembered as one of the English
correspondents of Saint Boniface (f.d. June 5) (Benedictines,

St. Eadfrid of Leominster
Died c. 675. Eadfrid preached in Mercia as a Northumbrian monk-priest.
He also founded, and was the first superior of, Leominster Priory

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