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Friday, 20 November 2015

Happy Birthday, St Edmunds

A slightly odd thing I've just discovered. St Edmund Hall, Oxford, is not named after 'Bury' St Edmund, but after St Edmund of Abingdon. Who was named after St Edmund, King of the Angles, whose feast is today as the anniversary of his martyrdom.

And St Edmund of Abingdon didn't even have the surname 'Hall'. A trick missed there I reckon.

I wondered for a minute whether this was an awkward day in Heaven, as St Edmund of Abingdon blew out his candles and King Edmund says thanks for the reminder. But that is to forget.

The martyrdom of a Christian is, in fact, a birthday. The Lamb of God, slain from the beginning of the world, welcomes them into his kingdom and recognises that they are as he is.

We rightly fear death - it is the ancient enemy, the one that declares all our hopes and dreams do not last. It separates us from our loved ones here and ruins the weekend. It's often painful. What is happening to the Christians of the Middle East is shameful and yet it seems nobody wants to protect them.

But it also sets us free from the circles of the world as it is. Free from fear and pain, the heaviness of this fallen place. Through the pain of martyrdom St Edmund saw his Saviour, and was welcomed as a faithful servant.

Happy Birthday, Saint Edmunds.


  1. St Edmund's College, Cambridge is also named after Edmund of Abingdon. Which - unless I've missed someone - makes him the only person apart from Wolfson and Our Lord to have a college named after himself at both universities.

    1. St Mary Magdalen(e), St John (unless the two are different Saints John, there are plenty around).

    2. Different Johns, certainly. Oxford's is the Baptist, Cambridge's the Evangelist.

      I'd forgotten about St MM.

  2. Replies
    1. Not a respectful post on a respectable blog, Chris. Moderate your language, please. Rather, say, Mice!

    2. Well, of course, in saying Rats, it was not my intention to exclude mice and other rodents, or for that matter any other orders of mammals, etc., etc..

  3. And St Edmund's wife was the Lady Margaret. No, wait a minute, that was Edmund Hadham, Edmund Tudor first Earl of Richmond. It's still a little too good to be true. And Wycliffe and Campion were in their own peculiar ways (think Heathcliff and Dorian Gray) their wayward sons.

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