October 13, 2019: ST. EDWARD, KING OF ENGLAND
October 13, 2019: COMMEMORATION OF ST. EDWARD, KING OF ENGLAND, CONFESSOR
Lord, thou deliveredst to me five talents: behold I have gained other five.
The Lord loved him and hath adored him. He hath clothed him with a robe of glory.
O God, who hast crowned blessed King Edward, thy Confessor, with a diadem of glory; grant we may so honour him on earth, that we may hereafter reign with him in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
This glorious saint was like a beautiful lily, crowning the ancient branch of the kings of Wessex. The times had progressed since that sixth century, when the pagan Cerdic and other pirate chiefs from the North Sea scattered with ruins the island of saints. Having accomplished their mission of wrath, the Anglo-Saxons became instruments of grace to the land they had conquered. Evangelized by Rome, even as the Britons they had just chastised, they remembered, better than the latter, whence their salvation had come; a spring-tide blossoming of sanctity showed the pleasure God took once more in Albion, for the constant fidelity of the princes and people of the heptarchy towards the See of Peter. In the year of our Lord 800, Egbert, a descendant of Cerdic, had gone on pilgrimage to Rome, when a deputation from the West Saxons offered him the crown, beside the tomb of the Prince of the apostles, at whose feet Charlemagne, at that very time, was restoring the empire. As Egbert united under one sceptre the power of the seven kingdoms, so Saint Edward, his last descendant, represents to-day in his own person the glorious holiness of them all.
Nephew to St. Edward the martyr, our holy king is known to God and man by the beautiful title of the Confessor. The Church, in her account of his life, sets forth more particularly the virtues which won him so glorious an appellation; but we must remember moreover that his reign of twenty-four years was one of the happiest England has ever known. Alfred the Great had no more illustrious imitator. The Danes, so long masters, now entirely subjugated within the kingdom, and without, held at bay by the noble attitude of the prince; Macbeth, the usurper of the Scotch throne, vanquished in a campaign that Shakespeare has immortalized; St. Edward’s Laws, which remain to this day the basis of the British constitution; the saint’s munificence towards all noble enterprises, while at the same time he diminished the taxes: all this proves with sufficient clearness, that the sweetness of virtue, which made him the intimate friend of St. John the beloved disciple, is not incompatible with the greatness of a monarch.
Edward, surnamed the Confessor, nephew to St. Edward king and martyr, was the last king of the Anglo-Saxon race. Our Lord had revealed that he would one day be king, to a holy man named Brithwald. When Edward was ten years old, the Danes, who were devastating England, sought his life; he was therefore obliged to go into exile, to the court of his uncle the duke of Normandy. Amid the vices and temptations of the Norman court, he grew up pure and innocent, a subject of admiration to all. His pious devotion towards God and holy things was most remarkable. He was of a very gentle disposition, and so great a stranger to ambition that he was wont to say he would rather forgo the kingdom than take possession of it by violence and bloodshed.
On the death of the tyrants who had murdered his brothers and seized their kingdom, he was recalled to his country, and ascended the throne to the greatest satisfaction and joy of all his subjects. He then applied himself to remove all traces of the havoc wrought by the enemy. To begin at the sanctuary, he built many churches, and restored others, endowing them with rents and privileges; for he was very anxious to see religion, which had been neglected, flourishing again. All writers assert that, though compelled by his nobles to marry, both he and his bride preserved their virginity intact. Such were his love of Christ and his faith, that he was one day permitted to see our Lord in the Mass, shining with heavenly light and smiling upon him. His lavish charity won him the name of the father of orphans and of the poor; and he was never so happy as when he had exhausted the royal treasury on their behalf.
He was honoured with the gift of prophecy, and foresaw much of England's future history. A remarkable instance is, that when Sweyn, king of Denmark, was drowned in the very act of embarking on his fleet to invade England, Edward was supernaturally aware of the event the very moment it happened. He had a special devotion to St. John the evangelist, and was accustomed never to refuse anything asked in his name. One day St. John appeared to him as a poor man begging an alms in this manner; the king, having no money about him, took off his ring and gave it to him. Soon afterwards the saint sent the ringback to Edward, with a message that his death was at hand. The king then ordered prayers to be said for himself; and died most piously on the day foretold by St. John, the Nones of January, in the year of salvation 1066. In the following century Pope Alexander III enrolled him, famous for miracles, among the saints. Innocent XI ordered his memory to be celebrated by the whole Church with a public Office, on the day of his Translation, which took place thirty-six years after his death, his body being found incorrupt and exhaling a sweet fragrance.
Taken from: The Liturgical Year - Time after Pentecost, Vol. V, Edition 1910; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume II, 1806.
St. Edward, pray for us.