The Story of St. Edmund of Canterbury

St. Edmund of Canterbury was born Edmund Rich on November 20, 1180, in Abdington, England. It was the feast of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, so thus he was given the name Edmund. He was the oldest of four children. His early studies were in England, but he completed his higher learning in France at the University of Paris. He returned to England, and at Oxford became one of their first lecturers with a Master of Arts, and Oxford's first Doctor of Divinity.

While he taught at Oxford he received his calling to the priesthood. His focus had been the study of mathematics until he had a vision in which his mother, who had died when he was studying in Paris, appeared and drew three circles in which she wrote:"Father, Son, and Holy Ghost".

So he then studied theology, again in Paris, where he was eventually ordained a priest. Those three circles became the symbol of St. Edmund and those who work under his patronage.

St. Edmund was an eloquent preacher. He was appointed to Salisbury Cathedral, which was consecrated during his term of office there. Then Pope Gregory IX appointed him as preacher for the counties of Somerset, Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester, and Oxford.

In 1234 St. Edmund was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury. He was known for his humility, charity, and gentleness, but he also had a deep love of freedom and justice. When King Henry III started to interfere in Church matters, he fought valiantly for the rights of the Church, and was eventually forced to choose voluntary exile from England. He was offered a home at the Abbey of Pontigny in Burgundy, France. He continued his priestly work there, writing and preaching until his death on November 16, 1240.

So many miracles happened through his intercession that Pope Innocent IV canonized him only six years after his death. His body reposed in the care of the Abbey. Many thousands of pilgrims go to the Abbey of Pontigny on his feast day November 16, as well as June 6th, the feast of the Translation of St. Edmund.