October 12, 2017

St. Edward the Confessor, King of the Anglo-Saxons

Saint Edward the Confessor

According to the 1962 Missal of Saint John XXIII, October 13th, is the feast day of Saint Edward the Confessor (1003-1066). As king he was renowned for his gentleness, humility, detachment and angelic holiness. He preserved perfect chastity in his wedded life. So little was his heart set on worldly riches that he readily dispensed his goods at the palace gate to those who were sick or poor.

Edward, the last king of the Anglo-Saxons, a grandson of the martyr-king of the same name, passed his youth in exile with his uncle, a Norman leader. In an environment of sin, he preserved innocence of life. Called to the throne in 1042, he put into practice the Christian ideals for a ruler, with the help of God's grace. His reign saw near continuous peace. All spoke highly of the "good King Edward."

His first efforts were directed toward a renewal of religion in the hearts of his people. Priests were invited into his kingdom, churches were built or restored. His subjects prospered greatly, both spiritually and materially. Yielding to pressure, he married a faithful, Godly woman, his equal in every virtue, but is said to have retained his virginity during the entirety of his married life, in imitation of Christ.

His favorite saint was Saint John the Evangelist; he would not deny any request asked in his name. One day the Beloved Disciple appeared to him as a beggar and asked alms in the name of the fourth evangelist. Since Edward had no ready money, he gave up the ring on his finger. Shortly thereafter St. John returned the ring with the message that his death was near. The king ordered public prayers to be said for himself and died in the Lord on the day foretold, January 5th, 1066.

Prayer to St. Edward the Confessor

Lord, you raised Saint Edward, king and confessor, to excel in good government and faithful service. May these ideals survive and flourish among us through his prayers and intercession. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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