Friday, October 13, 2006

Well, I never knew that!

Growing up only a few miles away from the site of the Battle of Hastings, 1066 and all that, I guess I'd always been aware of Edward the Confessor, the King whose death was the prelude to the Norman Conquest of England. I can remember, too, my first visit as a small child to Westminster Abbey, his foundation, and the huge impact of all those tombs of the great, the good and the downright unlikely.

What I didn't grasp then was that Edward was considered a saint...If anything, as a child his "Confessor" title probably convinced me that he'd been rather worse-behaved than many! Now, I'm sure he was an all round good guy (or at any rate, that his motives were no more mixed than the rest of us), but I suspect that his canonisation had slightly more to do with his "sponsorship" of the great abbey church, the West Minster,- the relative peace and prosperity of England under his rule, and the political needs of his successors on the throne than we'd like to imagine.

Since he married Edith, but then refused to consummate the union in order to uphold his own vow of chastity, I'm rather more inclined to award plaudits to her. It can't have been a bundle of laughs to marry a man so intent on being (as Sellar and Yeatman would have it) a Good Thing that he regarded your life together as simply a matter of political convenience. I'm kind of relieved that the Roman Catholic Church registers this, in considering Edward to be not only the patron of kings but also of difficult marriages and separated spouses. Great to know that there is a patron for those at all!

I've looked in vain for any of Edward's words of wisdom recorded in our time, so instead here's the day's Collect

Sovereign God
Who set your servant Edward upon the throne of an earthly kingdom
and inspired him with zeal for the work of the kingdom of heaven:
grant that we may so confess the faith of Christ by word and deed
that we may, with all your saints, inherit your eternal glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
who is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

3 comments:

Songbird said...

Do you think this includes the temporarily separated? Because I could use a patron saint at the moment!

Kathryn said...

Well, I did think of you....Not long till Tuesday, though!

fiona said...

How do we know that she wasn't delighted to be separated from him? He doesn't look a whole bundle of laughs in the picture.