On 16 November, we will commemorate the life of St Edmund of Abingdon with Evensong in St Nicolas, a church which he probably knew well. We hope that members of our three churches will be joined by friends from St Edmund’s and from the wider town, coming together to celebrate the life of an Abingdon boy. But who was he?
The year of Edmund’s birth is uncertain (probably c1175 - 1180), but he was born on 20 November, the feast day of St Edmund the Martyr (St Edmund the King), after whom he was named. He was born near the current St Edmunds Lane, and it is thought that his mother, Mabel, worshipped at St Nicolas’. So it is not unreasonable to think that St Edmund also worshipped here as a boy.
He was educated at Oxford and Paris, returning to Oxford to teach. While in Oxford he built a chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin which tradition places in the parish church of St Peter in the East - now the Library of St Edmund Hall.
Encouraged by his mother, Edmund lived a frugal life and after her death he joined the Austin Friars, studied theology, and became a priest and a renowned preacher. In 1222 he left Oxford to become treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, and parish priest of St Mary’s Church Calne, where today there is a chapel dedicated to him.
While in Calne, he was given the news that he was to be Archbishop of Canterbury. He accepted reluctantly, as the will of God, was elected on 20 September 1233, and consecrated on 2 April 1234.
Edmund's personal life was one of self-sacrifice and devotion to others, a life of teaching, preaching, study, and prayer; as Archbishop he was known for his uncompromising stand in favour of good discipline in both civil and ecclesial government, of strict observance in monastic life, and of justice in high quarters.
He died in Soissy on November 16 1240, and was canonised in December 1246.
St Edmund’s Chapel in Dover, dedicated by his friend Richard of Chichester, is the only chapel dedicated by one English saint to another.
We are delighted to be working with the Friends of Abingdon, and the Trustees of the St. Edmund of Abingdon Memorial Trust in working to raise Edmund’s profile in his home town; celebrating his life and work, and forging links with the many places in the UK, Europe and even America with connections to our local saint.
- The Chapel of St Edmund of Abingdon, Dover
- The Society of the Fathers and Brothers of St. Edmund, Mystic
A catholic monastic order founded in Pontigny, the final resting place of St Edmund, in the 1840s the priests moved to America at the end of the 19th century, at a time of religious upheaval in France.
The Edmundites took as their patron saint, Saint Edmund of Canterbury, the 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury, whose life was filled with self-sacrifice for others. His final resting place in Pontigny, is where the Society of Saint Edmund first began its ministry in 1843.
- The Church of Our Lady and St Edmund, Abingdon
- St Edmund Hall, Oxford named after, and with links to St Edmund
- Pontigne Abbey
St Edmund's College, Ware holds a relic of St Edmund
- The writings of St Edmund:Speculum Religiosorum and Speculum Ecclesie
- Biographies of St Edmund on:
Royal Berkshire History
Abingdon Town Council/Abingdon Area Archaelogical and Historical Society