April 19

St. Alphege

Saint Alphege

Early Life

Saint Alphege was born in Weston, Summerset in England. He was bornaround the year 953 A.D.

No detailed account mentions the names of his parents or what he did ata young age.

Saint Alphege joined a monastery in his early life and became a monk. Hewas first said to gave joined the monastery at Deerhurst and spent sometime there.

He moved to Bath, still in England, where he was said to become ananchorite.

Dedication and Devotion

Saint Alphege was a devoted young man who took great pleasure instudying the word of God. He was said to have spent time alone prayingor be seen preaching in groups.

Although he was humble, he was also very austere. He took care not toget too comfortable with things he considered vanities.

Some parts of history claim that Alphege joined the Glastonbury Abbeywhere he became a monk. Not all historians agree with this claim,however.

Tradition has it that Saint Alphege became an abbot in Bath between theyears 977 and 982.

Some historians account for the gap in the years by claiming thatAlphege had Gloucester where he was a monk. After asking to be allowed,it was said that he had left the Deerhurst monastery and gone intoseclusion.

Several accounts claim he shared power as an abbot with his predecessor.

Saint Alphege was very respected. He was revered for his holiness andlove for the Church. This caused him to be elected as Bishop ofWinchester around 984.

Some people account his appointment to be as a result of ArchbishopDunstan of Canterbury who respected Alphege.

Saint Alphege received his vow of consecration on the 19th of October,984.

As bishop, he commanders authority in favor of establishing religiousinstitutions. He was also said to have been in charge of the building ofthe organ instrument in the Cathedral.

This huge instrument was said to have produced music that could be heardfrom more than a mile away.

Saint Alphege was also said to have promoted the cult of Swithun andthat of his predecessor Æthelwold. He did this by transferring therelics that belonged to Æthelwold to a more befitting cathedral atWinchester.

Saint Alphege was also noted to have reached a treaty with a Vikingcalled Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf was so impressed with Saint Alphege’sbelief that it is said that he converted to Christianity.


Around 1006, Saint Alphege was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. In1007, he traveled to Rome to accept the pallium that represented hisstatus as the Archbishop. The pallium was given to him by Pope JohnXVIII.

Saint Alphege was however robbed on his way home.

Back at Canterbury, he ordered the writing of the second Life ofDunstan to stimulate Dunstan’s court. Saint Alphege also helped withthe implementation of new practices in the liturgy for Witenagemot’ssake.

Around 1011, the Danes attacked England. It is estimated that betweenthe 8th and 29th of September, they raided Canterbury. They were said tohave been helped by Ælfmaer, a man who was once saved thanks to SaintAlphege.

Alphege was kidnapped and held for seven months. After he was removedfrom Canterbury, the Canterbury Cathedral was robbed and burnt down.

Death and Canonization

Saint Alphege was imprisoned and tortured. He was told that he was goingto be released if his people paid a ransom of about four thousandpounds.

Alphege refused to pay up the ransom. He was killed in Greenwich on the19th of April, 1012.

Saint Alphege was said to have been beaten to death with an ax. He dieda Martyr.

Saint Alphege was canonized by Pope Gregory VII in 1078. He iscelebrated on the 19th of April.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Alphege

  1. Did you know that Saint Alphege is the patron saint of Greenwich and
    kidnap victims?
  2. Did you know that the Church organ required to strength and skill of
    24 men to be built?
  3. Did you know that the Viking, Olaf Tryggvason, was said to have
    never fought another battle against the English thanks to Saint
  4. Did you know that Saint Alphege took Swithun’s head as a relic with
    him to Canterbury in 1006?
  5. Did you know that Saint Alphege’s Church is recognized as the site
    of the Saint’s death?

Prayer to St. Alphege

Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly walked the way of the cross: Strengthenyour Church through the example and prayers of your servant Alphege tohold fast the path of discipleship; for with the Father and Holy Spirityou live and reign, one God, forever and ever. Amen.