Saint of the Day – 30 December – Saint Egwin of Worcester OSB (Died 717) Bishop, Benedictine Monk, Reformer and Penitent, miracle-worker – born in the 7th century in England and died on 30 December 717 at Evesham Abbey, Mercia of natural causes.
Egwin of Worcester was of a noble family, possibly a descendant of the Mercian kings.
He was devoted to God since his youth and became a Benedictine Monk. His biographers say that king, clergy and the faithful, all united in demanding Egwin’s elevation to Bishop. He succeeded to the See of Worcester in 662.
Though a good Bishop, protector of orphans and widows and a fair judge, he incurred the animosity of people who resisted his insistent teaching on marital morality and clerical celibacy.
The clergy saw him as overly strict, while he felt he was simply trying to correct abuses and impose appropriate disciplines. Bitter resentments arose and complaints were made against him to this ecclesiatical superiors. Egwin made his way to Rome to present his case to Pope Constantine. The case against Egwin was examined and annulled.
He prepared for his journey by locking shackles on his feet and throwing the key into the River Avon. In Rome, as he prayed before the tomb of the Apostle St Peter, one of his servants brought him this very key—found in the mouth of a fish that had just been caught in the Tiber. Egwin then released himself from his self-imposed bonds and straight away obtained from the Pope an authoritative release from his enemies’ obloquy.
His Vita relates that on crossing the Alps with a few companions, there was no water. Parched, those who did not appreciate his sanctity, mockingly suggested that he ask for water, like Moses. But others, who knew him well, reverently beseeched him to, indeed, pray for water. As Egwin prostrated himself in prayer, a stream of crystalline water issued forth from a rock.
On his return to England, Egwin founded the famous Abbey of Evesham, which became one of the great Benedictine houses of medieval England. It was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who had reportedly made it known to a swineherd named Eof, just where a church should be built in her honour.
Around 709, he again journeyed to Rome, this time in the company of Kings, Cenred of Mercia and Offa of the East Saxons and received many privileges for his Monastery from Pope Constantine.
St Egwin died on 30 December 717 and was buried at the Monastery he had founded.
A hagiography, the Vita Sancti Egwini, was written by Dominic of Evesham, a medieval Prior of Evesham Abbey around 1130. Egwin’s tomb was destroyed, along with the Abbey Church, at the time of the dissolution of the Abbey in 1540.