Here Be Dragons, Part Two...
Some notes on East Anglian Saints for Ars Magica
No disrespect is intended towards the real Christian
Saints and Martyrs whose
hagiographies I have briefly outlined herein.
to be dealt with on my website, as at this time he is a
strong contender for Patron Saint of England. He was venerated by canute
and Edward the Confessor, and was martyred by the Danes in 870 AD. HtM
contains one good story about this Saint, who is interred at Bury St
Edmunds which is a MAJOR pilgrimage centre, but there are many more. In
1211 at Damietta in the Outremer two captured mosques were rededicated: one
to St Edmund. A blasphemous infidel mocked the Saint, and a stone fell out
of the roof and killed him instantly, and the Crusaders built him an ornate
Church in that city in 1220. He was also held responsible for the death of
Canute's father. Probably the greatest of the English Saints and a national
hero, I have a profound respect for Edmund and hope discussing him in this
context is not to be considered irreligous. His day is November 20th, and
his symbol a silver crown with two crossed arrows, sometimes surmounted by
a wolf's head.
King of East Anglia, retired to the monastic life at Bury st
Edmunds in 635. When the pagan King of the Mercians, penda, invaded, he
was forced against his will to lead the armour. He chose to ride unarmed
but for an ash wand, and was slain on the field of battle, a true and holy
pacificistic martyr. His feast day is January 25th, and he was popular in
the city of Dunwich (which no longer appears on modern maps as it has
fallen into the sea!)
The Bishop of Dunwich appointed by Sigebert, he met Sigebert in
France. The Pope Honorius authorised Felix as Bishop of East Anglia. Hw
was obscure, but popular in Soham cambridgeshire from where his remains
were taaken out of East Anglia during a relic raid by a rival monastery. A
Native Burgundian his own copy of the gospel, written in Lombard
characters, was held at Eye for centuries and oaths sworn upon it - it was
known as the Red Book of Eye. It is likely a Covenant may be interested it
and may also possess faith points. His feast day is March 8th.
An Irish contemporary of SS Sigebert and Felix who assisted in
the evangelisation of the pagan Anglians. He founded a monastery at Burgh
castle, a ruined Roman fort, and hd a remarkable vision of Heaven and Hell
which is described by Bede, andrecounted I think in HtM. He then moved to
Lagny, France to found another monastery, and is buried there.
(male) King of East Anglia after Sigebert, father of five saints!
They were St Jurmin, his son, and his daughters -
St Etheldreda of Ely, St Ethelburga (of France), St Sexburga ( Queen of
Kent), and St Withburga of East Dereham, Norfolk.
SS Anna and Jurmin fell like their father fighting in battle the pagan
Penda of Mercia in 654, and were originally buried at Blythburgh, but the
relics were stolen by the monks of Bury in the 11th Century and sucessfully
transported to Bury St Edmunds Abbey. St Anna is celebrated on February
23rd, and (sometimes given as Germanus or Firminus) Jurmin on May 31st
(aka ST AUDREY) Buried at Ely, she was a Virgin who was
married twice but miracolously managed to escape the sexual attentions of
her unwanted husbands by grace of God. Her fair, st Audry's Fair was
renowned for the inferior gaudy knickknacks offerred, and corrupted formed
the basis for the word 'tawdry', something of little value. An unfair
association for a Saint!
A 7th Century East Anglian Bishop and Abbot, buried at Bury st
Edmunds, died 680, celebrated on 17th June.
has a shrine at East Dereham in Norfolk, where the
churchyard features St Witheburga's well, with a repuation as a healing
well. Her legend states that a white doe used to furnish her with milk,
and she is always depicted with the white deer.
Her body was taken under unusual circumstances, in 974, when Abbot
Brithnoth of Ely led a party of armed men to Dereham, and threw a great
feast. having got the folk of Dereham drunk they then stole the Saint's
body and fl3ed, and reached brandon by the time the outraged citizens of
Dereham caught up. they escaped with their lives and the Saint by leaping
in a boat and sailing away, while the men of Dereham gave chase along the
banks and harried them with spears, darts and arrows. They made their
escape however, and St Witheburga now lies in Ely Cathedral. Such was the
nature of some Dark Age piety!
and ST MINDRED Possibly the same person, nothing whatsoever is
known about her but as St Wendreda she is patron of a Church at March, and
as St Mindred she is associated with a well at Exning in W Suffolk which
was were St Etheldreda was baptised and which cures diseases of the eyes.
8th Century King of East Anglia, beheaded by King Offa of
Mercia (he of Offa's Dyke fame). He had come to the Mercian palace to court
Offa's daughter, but the Queen, perhaps jealous, told her husband he was a
spy and Offa in a hasty moment had him beheaded. Offa later repented, went
on pilgrimage to Rome and founded St. Alban's Abbey in his remorse. he is
patron saint of Herefordshire but has some Norfolk and Suffolk Churches.
Bishop of East Anglia, martyred by the Danes on the same day as
Edmund in 870, an obscure figure.
ST EDWOLD: Edmund's brother, retired to a hermitage at Cerne in dorset.
Edmund's Cousin, who led the East Anglain counter attack and
massacred 40,000 Danes at Retford but was assasinated even in the moment of
victory. He was the patron saint of Dunstable Abbey (not in East Anglia).
OF NORWICH: Possibly one of the most notorious saints of all,
the body of this boy was discovered, and the rumour spread that he had been
murdered by the Jews in Norwich om March 24, 1144. It was said he had been
scourged, crowned with thorns and crucified, and the slander began a
vicious cycle of anti-semitic propaganda and pogroms, culminating in
EastAnglia with the masscare at Bury St Edmunds in 1190 and Abbott Samson's
expulsion of all Jews from the Liberty of St Edmund (West Suffolk) in that
year. The Life of St william was written in the 12th Century by Thomas of
Monmouth, a Norwich Monk, who appears in my saga as a racist villain...
Day is March 24th, has a Chapel in Norwich Cathedra where he is interred.
Possibly victim of diabolists linked with St. Benet's Abbey and the
Bishopric of Norwich...
OF BURY: in 1181 Robert was found murdered, possibly by an old
woman who tried to stuff his body down a well, but it was discovered
(possibly by a huntsman). Anyway the Jews were blamed, and St Robert was
buried in due reverence in the Abbey, and the chain of events which led to
the tragedy of 1190 sparked off. More details can be found on the
Chronicle of Bury Abbey by Jocelin of Brakelond, which can be reached
online via a link on my webpage. I do not have Robert's day, but his
symbol is the Robin.
A (prob. mythical) Queen of East Anglia, with a Chapel at Martham,
Norfolk. mother of St. Walstan.
OF BAWBURGH. Bawburgh is a village close to Norwich, where St
Walstan lived out his holy life. Son of a King and Queen (see BLIDA above),
he ran away from home to become a farm labourer, as wealthy and powerful
princes are wont to do! The farmer' wife beat him and he was poorly
treated, partly because he insisted on giving his food and shoes to the
poor,, but his patience, skill and kindness won thme over and they offered
to make him their heir. While he worked barefoot the thorns turned away
from him and he suffered no hurt. He refused but asked for the offspring of
a pregnant cow he was looking after, which bore twins and led to the basis
of his excellent herd. One day while ploughing in a field with a labourer
he heard bells ringing and Angels telling him that he would die on Monday.
his companion heard nothing tillhe placed his foot on Walstan's when he
shared the vision.
has meanwhile learnt where his osn was and came to fetch him,
but Walstan died, praying for all sick people and cattle, as predicted and
at the moment of death a white dove flew out of his mouth. Tw oxen were
yoked to a cart and allowed to wander to take his body to where it should
be interred, and his coffin was hauled by the oxen to Bawburgh Church where
the wall miracously parted to recieve his coffin - but more miracoulous was
he fact that the Oxen and Cart walked across the River Wensum as if it were
dry land leaving imprints to be seen to the current (1220) day. What a
source of animal vis if this is not a sacreligious thought! At a place
where they halted near the Church three sprngs appeared. Once a year
labourers and their cattle made pilgrimage to Bawburg from all over Anglia,
and I think this is one of the most beautiful tales of any Saint. Long live
the blessed memory of St Walstan!
OF CROWLAND: A pious hermit who chose to live out his life on a
demon haunted islet in the Fens. After sufferring the demons torments for
years he one day took up a whip and chased them in to the sea. Celebrated
at Thorney Abbey, his cult attracted many hermits and the demon troubled.
aka St WILGEFORTIS aka ST UNCUMBER: Celebrated in the Church of
Worstead, in Norfolk as St Uncumber she is depicted as a women crowned,
bearded and crucified. Her picturesque legend cries out for mention, so
here it is - Born the daughter of the King of Portugal, she vowed
virginity, but her father arranged a marriage for her. She prayed
fervently, and was granted a beard! Her indignant father crucuified her.
Her image was venerated by women who wished to be shot of unloved husbands,
and I see the possibility of a story here!
like to remind readers taht these are all real Saints, popular in
East Anglai in the time of AM, and deserve respect. They are extremely
useful for an Anglian campaign giving I hope an insight into the nature of
folk belief in the period, and their stories being well known not just to
Churchmen who often have higher concerns but to the peasants, who may tell
magi their stories and express a simple faith in these their guardians. I
hope this will allow you to make the honest working folk of your saga a
little more colourful, and make you feel a little closer to the beautiful
culture of the counties of my childhood in your sagas. With a little
research similar lists of Saints can be compiled for any region of any
tribunal, and I hope they do add something!