Saint of the Day – 12 October – St Edwin of Northumbria (586-616) King and Martyr. Name Meaning: • valuable friend (teutonic) • wealthy friend (old english). (Born 586 at Deira, South Northumbria, England – 633 in battle with pagan Welsh and Mercians at Hatfield Chase, England, he is considered a Martyr.) His relics are at Whitby in North Yorkshire and his head is in Saint Peter’s Church, York, North Yorkshire. Patronages – • converts, • hoboes, tramps, homeless peopl, • kings, • large families.
Edwin, born in 586, was a prince of the Royal family of Deira in England. His father, King Aelle, was deposed and Edwin was forced to flee and was raised in exile.
Once, Edwin, a pagan, met a stranger who predicted the restoration of his kingdom if he would promise to do whatever would be taught him regarding his own salvation. Edwin promised and the stranger, laying his hand upon his head, bade him remember that sign. Shortly after that incident, due to diverse political and military circumstances Edwin recovered the Kingdom of Deira and afterward became King of all Northumbria, one of the seven parts into which England was divided at that time.
When his first wife died, he married the Catholic Princess Ethelburga, daughter of the King of Kent. He agreed that she should be allowed to practice her religion and promised to study the truths of the Catholic Faith. He also welcomed to his court St Paulinus, Archbishop of York and chaplain of the Queen, who began to exercise influence over him. An attempt on Edwin’s life was made but he was saved by a minister who took the dagger blow directed against him. The same night his wife gave birth to a daughter, Enflaed. That child became the first Catholic baptised in his kingdom.
Touched by these two things, Edwin promised to convert if he would win the war against the King of the West Saxons. He conquered this King on the battlefield and stopped worshiping idols and began to take instruction from St Paulinus. To encourage him, Pope Boniface V sent a letter and gifts but Edwin remained pagan. St Paulinus continued to teach him, but the King did not convert.
One day, the Archbishop approached the King, laid his hand on his head and asked him if he remembered that sign. Edwin recalled the stranger from time past; quite moved he repented of his former life, converted and was baptised on Easter 627. He became an exemplary Catholic and an apostle of his people. He also helped the Catholic Faith to be spread in other Kingdoms of the English Heptarchy.
Penda, a powerful pagan King of Mercia, in alliance with the Welsh Prince Cadwallon invaded Northumbria. At the battle of Hatfield Chase, on October 12, 633, they defeated and killed St Edwin, which was their intention. Edwin is considered a Martyr for the Faith.