My Name Day
Many of you are named after well known Saints. Others might be bear the name of a lesser known Saint. But does anyone know anything about St. Edwin? His feast day this year, and, thus, my Name Day, is this Wednesday, October 12. Reading about him made me extremely thankful that my name is “Edwin” instead of any of these other men named in the following clip from the old Catholic Encyclopedia: Aella, Ethebric, Ethelfrid, Redwald, Eadbald, Eorpwald, Penda, Cadwallon! I hope you enjoy reading about the Saint whose name I share. Do you know your Saint or your Name Day?
The first Christian King of Northumbria, born about 585, son of Ælla, King of Deira, the southern division of Northumbria; died 12 October, 633. Upon Ælla's death in 588, the sovereignty over both divisions of Northumbria was usurped by Ethebric of Bernicia, and retained at his death by his son Ethelfrid; Edwin, Ælla's infant son, being compelled until his thirtieth year to wander from one friendly prince to another, in continual danger from Ethelfrid's attempts upon his life. Thus when he was residing with King Redwald of East Anglia, Ethelfrid repeatedly endeavoured to bribe the latter to destroy him. Finally, however, Redwald's refusal to betray his guest led in 616 to a battle, fought upon the river Idle, in which Ethelfrid himself was slain, and Edwin was invited to the throne of Northumbria. On the death of his first wife, Edwin, in 625, asked for the hand of Ethelburga, sister to Eadbald, the Christian King of Kent, expressing his own readiness to embrace Christianity, if upon examination he should find it superior to his own religion. Ethelburga was accompanied to Northumbria by St. Paulinus, one of St. Augustine's fellow missionaries, who thus became its first apostle. By him Edwin was baptized at York in 627, and thenceforth showed himself most zealous for the conversion of his people. In instance of this, Venerable Bede tells how, at their royal villa of Yeverin in Northumberland, the king and queen entertained Paulinus for five weeks, whilst he was occupied from morning to night in instructing and baptizing the crowds that flocked to him. By Edwin's persuasion, moreover, Eorpwald, King of East Anglia, son of his old friend Redwald, was led to become a Christian. In token of his authority over the other kings of Bretwalda, Edwin used to have the tufa (a tuft of feathers on a spear, a military ensign of Roman origin) borne publicly before him, and he received tribute from the Welsh princes. Under him the law was so respected, that it became, as the Venerable Bede attests, a proverb that "a woman might travel through the island with a babe at her breast without fear of insult". St. Edwin was slain on 12 October, 633, in repelling an attack made on him by Penda, the pagan King of Mercia, who, together with the Welsh prince Cadwallon (a Christian only in name), had invaded his dominion. Perishing thus in conflict with the enemies of the Faith, he was regarded as a martyr and as such was allowed by Gregory XIII to be depicted in the English College church at Rome. His head was taken to St. Peter's church at York, which he had begun. His body was conveyed to Whitby. Churches are said to have been dedicated to him at London and at Breve in Somerset.
The Venerable Bede, mentioned above, in his book Ecclesiastical History, tells more of the tale including a discussion between St. Edwin and several men whose advice he trusted, including the pagan chief priest. Several of them (chief priest included), when asked what they thought about this “new” religion (Catholicism), admitted that they had, for various reasons, long since ceased believing in their own pagan Gods! I believe that that phenomenon still occurs on a regular basis, where people, even before they are convinced that the Catholic Church is the source of all Salvation, already know that their own religion does not have the fullness of the truth. Protestants cannot help but question how each protestant congregation and individual minister can claim to get different understandings of Truth out of the same Scripture readings. They know something is wrong long before they admit it. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and Scientologists who know any history at all cannot help but question the absolutely unbelievable origins of their false religions. They know something is wrong long before they escape their sects.
With that being stated, perhaps this Wednesday would be a good day to pray, through St. Edwin’s intercession, as Patron Saint of Converts (as well as Patron of hoboes; homeless people; kings; parents of large families), that these people would finally sit down with someone they trust, put into words what is already in their minds and souls, renounce their false religions once and for all and embrace the only true Faith, becoming members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the only Church founded by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka