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St. Edward the Confessor

St. Edward the Confessor

 Saint Edward the Confessor was born in Oxfordshire in 1005, the son of King Ethelred the Unready and his second wife, Emma.  Driven into exile by his older half-brothers, Edward spent his formative years in Normandy.  He returned to England upon the death of Hardicanute and was crowned Edward III at Winchester in 1042.


Edward is best remembered for a building project:  the Norman abbey church at Westminster.  It was consecrated on Holy Innocents' Day, December 28, 1065, just ten days before Edward’s death.  He was buried before the high altar in his new church, and his burial procession is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.


One of the legends surrounding St. Edward says that he was riding by a church when an old man asked for alms.  The king had no money, so he gave the beggar a large ring from his finger.  A few 

years later two pilgrims who became stranded in the Holy Land were helped by an old man.  When he learned they were from England, the old man identified himself as St. John the Evangelist and asked them to return the ring to King Edward.


Edward the Confessor’s personal character and piety, in addition to a peaceful reign, endeared him to his people.  He was regarded as a saint long before he was canonized in 1161, particularly due to stories of miraculous healing.  As a confessor, Edward is a saint who suffered for his faith and demonstrated his sanctity in the face of worldly temptations, but who was not martyred for his belief.  St. Edward's feast day is celebrated on October 13, commemorating the day his body was transferred to its shrine in 1163. 


The illustration above depicting St. Edward holding his ring and scepter is from a 14th century manuscript in the Westminster Abbey Library.  The image to the right was adapted by our own Mikki Dillon as part of a stewardship campaign in the early 2000's.


Source: Westminster Abbey website.


For a brief political history of Edward III, visit the official website of the British Monarchy.