Sunday, August 20, 2017

Saint Oswin, King and Martyr of Deira, Northumbria

When his father, King Osric of Deira (roughly the county of Yorkshire), was killed by the pagan Welsh King Cadwallon in 633, he was taken to Wessex for safety, baptized, and educated there by Saint Aidan (f.d. August 31). When his cousin Saint Oswald (f.d. August 9) was killed in battle against King Penda of Mercia in 642, Oswin became king of Deira, which Oswald had united to Bernicia, and his cousin Oswy (Oswiu) became king of Bernicia.
Saint Bede (f.d. May 25) tells us that Oswin was "handsome in appearance and of great stature, pleasant in speech and courteous in manner. He was generous to high and low alike and soon won the affection of all by his kingly qualities of mind and body so that even men of very high birth came from nearly every province to his service. . . . and among his other qualities of virtue and moderation the greatest was humility."

Oswin had reigned successfully for about nine years, when Oswy declared war on him. Rather than precipitate a bloody battle when he realised that his army was vastly outnumbered, Oswin went into hiding with one trusted soldier at the estate of his best friend, Earl Hunwald, at Gilling near Richmond, York. Hunwald betrayed him and he was murdered at Gilling, Yorkshire, by Ethelwin on orders from Oswy.
Oswin, buried at Tynemouth, has been venerated as a martyr since his death, because he died, "if not for the faith of Christ, at least for the justice of Christ," as a 12th-century preacher explained.
In expiation for his crime, Oswy built a monastery at Gilling, but Oswin's relics remained at Tynemouth. Later the church was subject to the Viking raids and Oswin's tomb was forgotten until it was found in 1065. At that time the relics were translated. St Oswin’s feast day is on August 20th. The feast of his translation on March 11 is kept at Durham, Saint Albans, and Tynemouth.

Troparion of St Oswin tone 1

Courtesy and humility shone from thee,/ O radiant Martyr Oswin./ Trained
by Saint Aidan as a Christian ruler,/ thou didst illumine northern
Britain./ Glory to Him Who has strengthened thee; glory to Him Who has
crowned thee;/ glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.[1]

Friday, August 11, 2017

Saint Attracta, Abbess of Ireland

5th century. Saint Attracta seems to have been a contemporary of Saint Patrick (f.d. March 17), although she may have lived a century later. Tradition tells us that she was born into a noble Irish family. When she was refused permission to enter the convent, she fled to Saint Patrick and received the veil from him at Coolavin. She was definitely a hermit at Killaraght on Lough Gara in Sligo, and later at Drum near Boyle. 

Convents developed at both locations under her direction. The hospice she founded for travellers at Killaraght endured for a thousand years and was well reputed for its hospitality and charity to the poor. Saint Attracta is venerated throughout Ireland, but especially in the west, both for the lasting foundations she made and for the spectacular miracles attributed to her intercession, especially those of healing. She is the patroness of the Diocese of Achonry and her name is popular among Irish girls.[1]

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Saint Oswald, King and Martyr of Northumbria

Oswald was born at the beginning of the 7th century. He was the youngest son of the pagan Ethelfrid, first king of a united Northumbria. After his father's death in battle, the young Oswald fled to Iona for safety and there he was baptised and became a Christian. In 633 Oswald returned to Northumbria to regain his father's kingdom.
It was said that he set up a wooden cross as his standard and dedicated himself and his people to God's protection before engaging in battle with the occupying Welsh king, Cadwallon, not far from Hexham.
Heavenfield is in the Northumbrian countryside just north of Hexham and on the Roman Wall. Today at the spot where the two forces met there is a wooden cross commemorating the ancient battle.
A church dedicated to St Oswald has been built on the site where King Oswald erected his cross.
Before the battle Oswald ordered his men to make up a wooden cross. He held the cross upright in a hole while his soldiers heaped soil around it. Then they all knelt down and prayed for God to help them defeat Cadwalllon. It is said that St Columba appeared to Oswald and told him to be strong and to be of good courage.

Oswald defeated and killed Cadwallon and at once invited monks from Iona to begin the work of evangelisation of his kingdom which extended from the Forth to the Humber.
There is a tradition that Oswald was crowned king on what is now known as the Lawe Top at South Shields and in the olden days it was known as Oswald's Hill.
The battle re-established a Christian as King of Northumbria and one of Oswald's first tasks was to invite the monks of Iona to set up a monastery in the region. This they did at Holy Island under the guidance of St Aidan and from here Christianity spread to be the main religion of the nation.
Oswald found Aidan to be both a valued adviser and a good friend.
Oswald often accompanied Aidan on his missionary journeys, acting as interpreter for at first Aidan could not speak the local dialect. Aidan was noted for his prayerfulness and his charity to the poor.
Sadly the reign of Oswald lasted only eight years. On August 5th 642 he was killed in battle by Penda, king of the Mercians at Maserfield, now Oswestry, in Shropshire.
St Oswald's feast is celebrated on 3rd August. St. Oswald is commemorated on August 3 and October 8.[1]