Feast of St. Alphege (April 19)   1 comment

Above:  St. Alphege

Image in the Public Domain


SAINT ALPHEGE (953-1012)

Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012

The Feast of St. Alphege comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints and Holy Days via Roman Catholic and Anglican calendars.

St. Alphege, or Aelfheah, was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to wear the crown of martyrdom.  He, from a noble family, entered Deerfield Abbey, Gloucestershire.  During ensuing years our saint was a monk, an anchorite, and the abbot at Bath Abbey.  In 984 St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury from 960 t0 988, secured St. Alphege’s appointment as Bishop of Winchester.  Our saint, an effective bishop, supervised an effective system of caring for the poor.  He also negotiated a peace treaty with the recently baptized Norse King Olaf Tryggvason in 994.  Eleven years later St. Alphege succeeded to the See of Canterbury.  In 1011 Danish forces captured him.  Our saint refused to permit the collection of a large ransom from the over-burdened population.  So it came to pass that, after several months, his captors executed him in 1012.

Archbishop of Canterbury St. Anselm, whom St. Alphege had mentored, argued for the definition of our saint’s death as a form of martyrdom.  To die for the sake of justice, St. Anselm contended, is to die as a martyr.

Pope Gregory VII canonized St. Alphege in 1078.





O loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death

when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people:

Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd,

who laid down this life for the sheep; and who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Samuel 24:7b-19

Psalm 49:1-9

Philemon 1-9a

Luke 23:1-9

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 333


One response to “Feast of St. Alphege (April 19)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of St. Swithun (July 15) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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