Saint of the Day – 17 June – St Botolph of Ikanhoe (Died 680) Abbot, Missionary, Founder of the Monastery of Ikanhoe, Spiritual Director. Born in c 610 in East Anglia, England and died on 17 June 680 of natural causes following a lengthy illness. Also known as – Botolph, Botulf, Botwulf. , Patronages – agricultural workers, farm workers, farmers, sailors, mariners, watermen, travellers. 7 cities. Additional Memorial – 1 December – translation of his relics.
Little is known about Botolphf’s life, other than details in an account written four hundred years after his death by the 11th-century Monk Folcard. Botulph, a seventh century Saxon from an aristocratic Christian family is the brother of Saint Adolph of Utrecht. He was educated with his brother, at the Monastery of Cnobersburg (Burgh Castle), Suffolk under the direction of its Founder, Saint Fursey. When Mercian forces under King Penda invaded the region, the boys were sent to study at the Monastery at Bosanham, Sussex.
He became a Benedictine Monk at Farmoutiere-en-Brie, Gaul (modern northeastern France) and was sent back to the British Isles in 647 to establish the Benedictine Order there.
With the support of Saint Syre, Saint Aubierge and their brother, King Anna of East Anglia, Botulph founded the Monastery of Ikanhoe in East Anglia, declining the offer of a part of the Royal estate and settling for a wild, barren site that was removed from people, reported to be haunted by demons and which would require endless work to sustain the Monks.
For many years it was believed that the area that grew up around it came to be called Botulph’s Town, contracted to Botulphston and later contracted to Boston in Lincolnshire but recent research has shown, that the original site is another location. The Saxon Chronicle indicates, that by 654, Botulph had attracted enough brother Monks and hermits that work began on the Monastery. Through hard work and faith, the Monastery grew in population; the Monks built several structures, turned large areas of marsh and scrub into productive farming and grazing lands and dispelled the people’s fears of demons.
Botulph served as Spiritual Director for Saint Ceolfrith and worked as a travelling missionary through rough, bandit-plagued areas of East Anglia, Kent and Sussex.
His legacy continued for centuries in the strength of the Benedictine movement in the Isles and in the dozens of Churches named for him, many of them built at City gates to serve as safe-haven for travellers in times when robbers roamed the roads and many in port or river towns.
He died while being carried to Chapel for compline services and was buried at Ikanhoe. His relics were moved in 870 to keep them from being destroyed by invading Danes and then transferred to Grundisburgh in 983. They were later distributed to Monasteries at Thornery, Westminster, and Edmundsburg, Suffolk. Tradition says that for safety, the cask of relics destined for Edmundsburg were taken there in the middle of the night but the travellers were guided by a light that hovered above the relics’ new Shrine. In our times too, processions of the relics through Edmundsburgh has ended droughts there by the intercession of St Botolph.