This weekend we celebrate the solemnity of St. Edward the Confessor, our patron saint. A parish’s patronal feast is one of the most important and solemn days in the life of a parish. Normally celebrated on October 13th, Bishop Vann has granted us permission to transfer the feast to this Sunday of Ordinary Time in order to foster greater awareness and veneration of St. Edward who intercedes for us.
St. Edward is the perfect intercessor for our parish. He was a grateful and generous steward of the gifts and responsibilities which God entrusted to him. Edward devoted his life to prayer and serving his people, particularly the poor. As such, he exemplifies and embodies all that is a House of Prayer and a House of the Poor.
Edward the Confessor was born in Islip, near Oxford, probably in 1005. He was the son of King Ethelred the Unready and his Norman queen, Emma. The family spent several years in exile in Normandy after the Danish invasion of 1013. While in exile, Edward vowed that he would make a pilgrimage to St Peter’s in Rome if he managed to return safely to his kingdom. In 1042, the Viking dynasty died out and Edward was able to return to England and was elected King.
Edward found it impossible to leave his subjects and make the pilgrimage to Rome as he had vowed. Therefore, the Pope released him from his vow on the condition he founded a monastery and dedicated it to St Peter. In accordance with the Pope’s wishes, Edward built a new cathedral in Norman style to replace the Saxon church at Westminster. The cathedral became known as Westminster Abbey. Edward also made a promise of chastity and remained celibate even after his marriage to Edith, the daughter of one of his closest advisors.
Edward the Confessor was a deeply religious man. Some called him the monk-king since he prayed frequently and attended Mass every day. Unlike many kings, Edward was hailed throughout his life as a gentle, loyal and devoted king who resisted war and promoted peace.
Edward the Confessor died on January 5, 1066, was canonized in 1161, and his body was transferred to a shrine at Westminster Abbey in 1163.