Celtic and Old English Saints          10 April

* St. Beocca of Chertsey
* St. Paternus of Abdinghof

St. Beocca, Ethor (Hethor) and Companions, Martyrs
Died 870. The year 870 was a terrible year for the Church in East
Anglia. The Viking army that had arrived in 865 became a permanent army
of occupation, and when they had amassed horses and supplies from the
English, they marched on York, where they settled until the end of the
century. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle for 870 records that the army rode
from York across Mercia into East Anglia, captured Thetford, and under
their chiefs Ingwar and Hubba, defeated and killed King Edmund. "At the
same time they came to Medehampstede (Peterborough) and burned and beat
it down, slew abbot and monks and all that they found there. They made
that which was very great such that it became nothing".

When they murdered St. Hedda and all the brethren at Peterborough, they
had already demolished the monastery at Bardney in Lincolnshire, killing
all the monks, and destroyed Ely, putting both communities of men and
women to the sword. The same thing happened at Benet Hulme in Norfolk,
where the holy Suniman was abbot, and at the abbey at Thorney where they
killed St. Torthred's community.

We have a vivid account of the extermination of the community at
Croyland in the history of Ingulf, a later abbot, who says that the
solemn mass was just ended as the Danes broke into the church, and the
clergy had not yet left the sanctuary. The Abbot Theodore, who was
celebrant, together with the Deacon and Sub-deacon were murdered in
their vestments and the acolytes were cut down in front of the altar. A
few escaped into the forest, but all who tried to hide in the monastery
were butchered, among them Askegar, the Prior, and two venerable monks
of a hundred years old, Grimkeld and Agamund.

The army, moving south, sacked the twin monasteries of Chertsey and
Barking founded by St. Erkonwald for himself and his sister St.
Ethelburga. All the nuns at Barking were slaughtered, and William of
Malmesbury tells us that 90 monks were killed at Chertsey, among them
Beocca, the Abbot, and Hethor, a priest.

All of these are venerated as martyrs. Their memories were kept alive
by chronicles and the writings of William of Malmesbury

Once the Viking horde was on the move, the Danes murdered and plundered
indiscriminately. They seemed to have a particular hatred for those
professing the Christian faith, and monastic establishments were prime
targets for their raids. By the time they reached Reading, at the end of
the year, their blood lust must have been sated, and they wintered there
(Bowen, Stanton, Farmer).

St. Paternus of Abdinghof, Hermit
Born in Ireland; died in Germany, 1058. Paternus was probably born
in Ireland, but he travelled to Westphalia, and became one of the
first monks at the monastery of Abdinghof in Paderborn founded by
Saint Meinwerk (f.d. June 5). Wishing for solitude, he moved to a
cell adjoining the abbey.

He predicted that the city would be razed by fire within 30 days if
the inhabitants did not turn from their sins, but he was mocked as
a visionary. On the Friday before Palm Sunday in 1058, fires broke
out simultaneously in seven parts of the city. The city and the
monastery were destroyed. The monks escaped, with the exception of
Paternus, who, refusing to break the vows of enclosure, remained in
his cell and was killed.

His death made a great impression on his contemporaries. The mat on
which he died became an important relic because it miraculously escaped
the flames (Benedictines, Montague, White).


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

Bowen, Paul. When We Were One: A Yearbook of the
Saints of the British Isles Complied from Ancient Calendars.

Farmer, D.H. (1978). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints
Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Montague, H. P. (1981). The Saints and Martyrs of Ireland.
Guildford: Billing & Sons.

Stanton, R.A. (1887). Menology of England and Wales
Burns & Oates.

White, K. E. (1992). Guide to the Saints. NY: Ivy Books.
For All the Saints:

An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the West

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