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St. Edmund

"For this purpose, they form a society under the patronage

of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, invoking the aid of St. Edmund"

Childhood

Saint Edmund of Abingdon is also known as Edmund Rich, Saint Edmund of Canterbury, and Edmund of Pontigny, was the first child born to deeply devout parents in a small village near Oxford, England. It was on a pilgrimage to the shrine of King Edmund the Martyr when his mother, Mabel, first felt the baby kick. “It will be a boy,” she told her husband. “We’ll name him Edmund.”

He was born dead on November 20, the feast day of King Edmund. In despair, Reginald told his wife that he would go prepare a grave. “No, no,” cried Mabel. “Call the priest first and have the baby baptized.” The priest poured water over newborn Edmund and at once the child began to stir. While his parents stared in amazement and joy, little Edmund began to cry.

Professor to Priest

Edmund grew to become a noted professor of math and geometry at Oxford in England. One night, Edmund’s mother came to him in a dream. In his dream, he was about to give a lecture and had filled the blackboard with geometrical figures. Suddenly his mother appeared and asked, “Son, what are these things on the blackboard?” Shaking her head, his mother picked up the chalk and drew three circles on the board. She pointed to each one, saying, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Son, please study these figures from now on, and no others!” After much prayerful meditation, Edmund decided to study theology and become a priest.

After becoming a priest, Edmund left Oxford and served as Treasurer of the Salisbury Cathedral. During this time he also served in a country parish near Salisbury. Shocked by the poverty of his parishioners, he began spending most of his salary and selling many of his possessions to help them. Also during this time, England was on the verge of civil war. When King Henry III brought in a foreign army to crush the rebellious barons, Edmund bravely left his country parish to confront the King and was able to plead for peace.

Bishop and Saint

The Pope, learning of Edmund’s self-sacrificing spirit, named him Archbishop of Canterbury in 1234. While journeying to Rome, Edmund fell sick and died in Pontigny, France. He was buried there at the abbey and many miracles took place at his tomb. Within six years, the Pope declared him a saint.

Six centuries later, the Society of Saint Edmund was founded at Pontigny. The Fathers of Saint Edmund opened apostolates in France, Canada, England, the United States and Venezuela. The Fathers of Saint Edmund try to be, as Edmund was, “eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, father of the poor and friend to strangers in trouble.” 

Today, Saint Edmund is one of the "Incorruptible" Saints of the Church. Edmundite Father Felix Masse said the following of this discovery, "After God glorified the remains of Saint Edmund by means of miracles and by the voice of his Church, his tomb was opened after having been closed for six years. On hearing this, the crowds hastened there. From the open coffin there arose a celestial odor which perfumed the sacred place and filled the great multitude of people with joy."

The holiness of Saint Edmund is an inspiration to all who hold a devotion to him. Although not our founder, the Holy Spirit brought Saint Edmund to us as a Patron.  As Father Masse wrote, "Out of these memories, laid bare before the eyes of our hearts, there will come forth not only his sweet countenance, but we shall also inhale the aroma of holiness which inebriated his contemporaries and still rejoices their descendants." ​

Saint Edmund, pray for us!

© 2021, Society of St. Edmund

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