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Love on the Saviour's dying head
Her spikenard drops unblamed may pour,
Christian Year, p. 64.
S. Edmund, King and Martyr.
S. EDMUND was born in the year 841. His father Alkmund was descended from the kings of East Anglia, which was then a tributary province of the West Saxons. He is said by some historians to have fled with his wife Siwara, the mother of S. Edmund, from the cruelty of Quendreda, queen of the Mercians, and to have taken refuge in Saxony. During his exile, Edmund was born. In the fourteenth year of his age, the young prince took possession of the throne of East Anglia, with the permission of Ethelwolf, king of Wessex. He was crowned by Humbert, bishop of Helmham, and chose him for his spiritual director. His first and principal care was to restore the churches and monasteries which had suffered in the late wars with the Mercians. The historians of that age have given a beauteous picture of the saintly virtues of the young king, of his tender regard for the poor and the friendless, and of his ardent devotion to the service of God. "Already the saint showed forth in his countenance what was after
wards manifested by the divine will," such is the testimony of Asserius; "for the boy with his whole ability trod the path of virtue, which the divine goodness foreknew would end in martyrdom." And again, "He tempered with the simplicity of the dove the wisdom of the serpent." He employed his hours of leisure during a whole year in learning the psalter by heart.
When he had reigned about fourteen years, an invasion of the Danish sea-kings, Inguar and Hubba, brought ruin on many parts of England. They came to avenge the death of Lodbrog their father, which had happened some years before. Yorkshire and Northumbria first felt their fury, and when they had laid them waste, they passed into Lincolnshire, burning and destroying everything that came in their way. The sanctity of churches and monasteries was no protection from their violence. As they approached the abbey of Croyland, the younger monks escaped, but the elders of the house and the boys awaited their coming in the church, and perished in its ruins. The abbeys of Thorney, Peterborough, Huntingdon, and Ely, with many others were totally destroyed.
The force of the East Angles was unable to resist the savage Northmen. But S. Edmund refused to comply with the terms which they offered, which demanded half of his treasure, and that he should become subject to the Danes. Matthew of Westminster relates that he gave them battle near Thetford, and that though neither side was victorious, the holy king would not consent to renew the fight; for he was unwilling in a hopeless resistance to shed the blood of his people, and the fate of the pagans who
Love of the Saviour's dying hea.
It steres from the goder shor
Vital a painters art, and ali a min-
S. Edmund, King and
S. EDMUND was born in the
had fallen filled his soul with horror. He withdrew towards the castle of Framlingham, and retiring with some of his followers into a church at Heglesduna or Hoxne, on the Wavenley, "he threw aside his temporal arms, and put on heavenly; humbly imploring the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to grant him constancy in his passion."
The Danes surrounded the church, and dragged him forth, and after renewing their offers in vain, they tied him to a tree, and beat him cruelly with whips. They then pierced him with darts and arrows, and at last cut off his head, on the 20th of November, 870. He never ceased to call on God, and to confess the name of Christ. Humbert was admitted to share the glory of his death. The body of the king was secretly carried away by his Christian subjects. The pagans after heaping indignities on his head, cast it into an impenetrable thicket in the forest, where it was miraculously discovered about a year afterwards. The Christians laid it in the humble oratory of wood which they had built over his body.
In the year 903, the holy body was found uncorrupted, and was translated to Bederics worthe, where Sigebert, King of the East Angles, had laid aside his crown, and had founded a monastery in 633. Its name was changed to Edmundstowe in honour of the saint-Stow signifying a station. It was called in later years Saint Edmundsbury or Bury Saint Edmunds. The church of wood which at first covered his remains was served by seculars; and in 925 K. Athelstan is said to have endowed a college there for twenty prebendaries. The place soon became famous for miracles; and early in the eleventh century, the