|Archbishop of Canterbury|
Image of Edmund from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)
|Diocese||Diocese of Canterbury|
|See||Archbishop of Canterbury|
|Successor||Boniface of Savoy|
|Consecration||2 April 1234|
|Birth name||Edmund Rich|
|Born||20 November c. 1175
St Edmund's Lane, Abingdon, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), England
|Died||16 November 1240
Soisy-Bouy, Seine-et-Marne, France
|Buried||Pontigny Abbey, Burgundy, France|
|Feast day||16 November|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
|Title as Saint||Archbishop|
|Canonized||Pope Innocent IV
by Pope Innocent IV
|Attributes||archbishop making a vow before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary; embracing the Child Jesus; placing a ring on the finger of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary; receiving a lamb from the Blessed Virgin Mary; with Saint Richard of Chichester; with Saint Thomas of Canterbury|
|Patronage||Abingdon, Oxfordshire; Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth; St Edmund's College, Cambridge; St Edmund Hall, Oxford|
|Shrines||Pontigny Abbey, Pontigny, Yonne, France|
Edmund Rich (also known as Saint Edmund or Eadmund of Canterbury, and as Saint Edmund of Abingdon) (1175–1240) was a 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury in England. Today he is primarily remembered for his connection to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, St Edmund's College, Cambridge and St. Edmund's College, Ware.
Early life and career
'Rich' was an epithet sometimes given to his wealthy merchant father. It was never applied to Edmund or his siblings in their lifetimes. Edmund may have been educated at the monastic school in Abingdon. He studied at the universities of Oxford and Paris and became a teacher about 1200, or a little earlier. For six years he lectured on mathematics and dialectics, apparently dividing his time between Oxford and Paris, and helped introduce the study of Aristotle. He is the first known Oxford Master of Arts and the site where he lived and taught was formed into a mediaeval academic hall in his name and eventually incorporated as the current college St Edmund Hall. His mother influenced him towards self-denial and austerity; and this led to his taking up the study of theology.
Though for some time he resisted the change, he finally entered upon his new career between 1205 and 1210. He received ordination, took a doctorate in divinity and soon became known as a lecturer on theology and as an extemporaneous preacher. Some time between 1219 and 1222 he was appointed vicar of the parish of Calne in Wiltshire and treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral. He held this position for eleven years, during which time he also engaged in preaching. In 1227 he preached the sixth crusade through a large part of England.
Archbishop of Canterbury
In 1233 came the news of his appointment, by Pope Gregory IX, to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. The chapter had already made three selections which the pope had declined to confirm. Edmund's name had been proposed as a compromise by Gregory, perhaps on account of his work for the crusade. He was consecrated on 2 April 1234.
Before his consecration he became known for supporting ecclesiastical independence from Rome, maintenance of the Great Charter and the exclusion of foreigners from civil and ecclesiastical office. In the name of his fellow bishops he admonished King Henry III of England at Westminster, on 2 February 1234, to heed the example of his father, King John. A week after his consecration he again appeared before the king with the barons and bishops, this time threatening Henry with excommunication if he refused to dismiss his councillors, particularly Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester. Henry yielded, and the favourites were dismissed, Hubert de Burgh (whom they had imprisoned) was released and reconciled to the king and soon the archbishop was sent to Wales to negotiate peace with Prince Llywelyn the Great.
Conflict with Rome
In December 1237 Edmund set out for Rome, hoping to enlist the pope on the side of ecclesiastical reform. From this futile mission he returned to England in August 1238 where his efforts to foster reform were frustrated. Edmund submitted to the papal demands and, early in 1240 paid to the pope's agents one fifth of his revenue, which had been levied for the pope's war against Emperor Frederick II. Other English prelates followed his example.
The papacy then ordered that 300 English benefices should be assigned to Romans. Frustrated by this fresh demand, Edmund in the summer of 1240 retired to the Cistercian Pontigny Abbey in France which had been the refuge of his predecessors, Thomas Becket and Stephen Langton.
Death and canonisation
A few months later he died, on 16 November 1240, at the house of Augustinian Canons at Soisy-Bouy (60 miles south-east of Paris), France. In less than a year after his death miracles were alleged to be wrought at his grave. However, he was not canonised until Henry III lifted his objections in 1247. His feast day is 16 November. A few years later the first chapel dedicated to him, St Edmund's Chapel, was consecrated in Dover by his friend Richard of Chichester (making it the only chapel dedicated to one English saint by another).
Character, life, and works
Edmund is one of the most attractive figures of medieval history. His life was one of self-sacrifice and devotion to others. From boyhood he practised asceticism; and throughout his life he wore sackcloth next his skin, pressed against his body by metal plates. After snatching a few hours' sleep without removing his clothing, he usually spent the rest of the night in prayer and meditation.
Besides his "Constitutions," issued in 1236 (printed in W. Lynwood's Constitutiones Angliae, Oxford, 1679), he wrote Speculum ecclesiae (London, 1521; Eng. transl., 1527; reprinted in M. de la Bigne's Bibliotheca veterum patrum, v., Paris, 1609).
Congregation of St Edmund
Edmund's life inspired the formation of the Society of St Edmund at Pontigny, France, in 1843 by Rev. Jean Baptiste Muard, who intended to keep Saint Edmund's memory and life alive through faithful service, for the work of popular missions. The members also devote themselves to parochial work, to the education of youth in seminaries and colleges, to the direction of pious associations, and to foreign missions.
Members of the Society, based in Pontigny, fled to the United States in 1889 after widespread anticlericalism seized France. The Society of St Edmund settled in Winooski Park, Vermont, and established Saint Michael's College  in 1904 where the deeds and values of Saint Edmund's life continue through fulfilment of the College's mission. The original motherhouse is at Pontigny, but since the expulsion of the religious orders the superior general resided at Hitchin, England. In the early 20th century, the congregation has two houses in the United States: a missionary house and apostolic school at Swanton, Vermont[disambiguation needed], for the training of young men who wish to study for the priesthood and the religious life; and a college at Colchester, Vermont, with 12 fathers, 8 scholastics, and 100 pupils.
- Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 233
- Walsh A New Dictionary of Saints p. 169
- Royal Berkshire History: St. Edmund of Abingdon
- St. Edmund Hall, Oxford: Birth of St Edmund of Abingdon
- Saint Edmund's Parish in Calne
- Society of St. Edmund, Roman Catholic Community of Priests and Brothers
- Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
- Walsh, Michael A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West London: Burns & Oats 2007 ISBN 0-86012-438-X
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Edmund Rich". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
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|Catholic Church titles|
|Archbishop of Canterbury
Boniface of Savoy