Saint of the Day – 4 December – Saint Osmund (Died 1099) Bishop of Salisbury, Confessor, Count of Sées, was a Norman noble, Lord Chancellor (c 1070-1078). Osmund is Also known as Edimund, Edmund, Osimund. Additional Memorial – 16 July (translation of his relics). St Osmund was born at Seez, Normandy, France and died during the night of 3 or early hours of 4 December in 1099 at Salisbury, England of natural causes. Patronages – against insanity or mental illness, against paralysis, against ruptures, against toothache, of paralysed people.
Osmund, a native of Normandy, was the son of Count Henry of Seez and Isabella, half-sister of King William the Conqueror of England. He took part in the Norman Conquest and served William as his Chancellor and accompanied him to England and was made Chancellor of the realm about 1070. He was employed in many civil transactions and was engaged as one of the Chief Commissioners for drawing up the Do0mesday Book. He was created Earl of Dorset at the same time but he did not refer to himself with that title.
Osmund became Bishop of Salisbury by authority of Pope Gregory VII and was consecrated by Blessed Archbishop Lanfranc (see link to Blessed Lanfranc’s life below) around 3 June 1078. His Diocese comprised the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire and Berkshire, having absorbed the former bishoprics of Sherborne and Ramsbury under its incumbent at the 1075 Council of London. In his Acts of the English Bishops, William of Malmesbury describes medieval Salisbury as a fortress rather than a city, placed on a high hill, surrounded by a massive wall. Peter of Blois later referred to the castle and Church as “the ark of God shut up in the temple of Baal.”
He set about organising the new Diocese and providing it with its first Cathedral at Sarum. In establishing its constitution, he made it a model for many other such foundations. He is also regarded as the origin of the Sarum tradition of worship, even if it may have developed and been formalised later. Osmund also collected manuscripts for the Cathedral library, was a copier and binder of books, authored a life of St Aldhelm and was responsible for drawing up the books governing the liturgical matters for the Diocese such as the Mass and Divine Office, the so-called Sarum Use. Osmund also founded a Cathedral chapter of canons regular and a seminary for clerics.
Henry I’s biographer C Warren Hollister suggests the possibility that Osmund was in part responsible for Henry’s education; Henry was consistently in the Bishop’s company during his formative years, around 1080 to 1086.
Osmund assisted the king in assembling the massive census which became the Domesday Book and in 1086, he was present at the Great Gemot (political meeting) held at Old Sarum when the Domesday Book was accepted and the great landowners swore fealty to the sovereign.
In the dispute over investiture between King William II and St Anselm of Canterbury, Osmund initially sided with the king but later he admitted he had made a mistake and he begged Anselm’s forgiveness.
Osmund died in the night of 3 December 1099 and was succeeded, after the see had been vacant for eight years, by Roger of Salisbury, a statesman and counsellor of Henry I. His remains were buried at Old Sarum, translated to New Salisbury on 23 July 1457, and deposited in the Lady Chapel, where his sumptuous shrine was destroyed under Henry VIII. A flat slab with the simple inscription “MXCIX” has lain in various parts of the Cathedral. In 1644 it was in the middle of the Lady Chapel. It is now under the easternmost arch on the south side.
William of Malmesbury, in summing up Osmund’s character, says he was “so eminent for chastity that common fame would itself blush to speak otherwise than truthfully concerning his virtue. Stern he might appear to penitents but not more severe to them than to himself. Free from ambition, he neither imprudently wasted his own substance, nor sought the wealth of others.”
The cause for Osmund’s Canonisation began and was pursued from 1228. Pope Callistus III Canonised him in 1457. He was the last English person to be declared a Saint until the Canonisation of Sts Thomas More and John Fisher in 1935.
Almighty God, the light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, who set Your servant Osmund to be a Bishop in the Church, to feed Your sheep by the word of Christ and to guide them by good example, give us grace to keep the faith of the Church and so to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, that we may, with Osmund, come to that everlasting joy which is His promise to us. Amen.
The Life of Blessed Lanfrance: https://anastpaul.com/2020/05/28/saint-of-the-day-28-may-2020-blessed-lanfranc-of-canterbury-osb-c-1005-1089/