November 20

St. Edmund Rich

St. Edmund Rich

St. Edmund Rich was an eloquent preacher of the gospel, a one-timearchbishop of Canterbury, and the first to hold a Master of Arts inOxford.

Find below a brief detail of the life of this wonderful saint.

Early Life of St. Edmund Rich

Born to parents Reginald and Mabel Rich around November 20th, 1175,Edmund was the eldest of four children. His father would later retire tomonastic life with permission from his wife and Edmund’s mother, a piousand devote woman.

His mother, Mabel took up the responsibility of training the childrenand Edmund probably had his early studies at a school owned by the monksin Abingdon. His mother’s influence helped the young Edmund to develop alove for purity.

He loved to learn about religious things and at 12, made a vow ofeverlasting chastity before the statue of the Blessed Virgin.

Career and Priestly Life of St. Edmund Rich

After his earlier studies, St. Edmund proceeded to study further at theUniversity of Paris, France, and sometime around 1200 started teaching.He lectured actively on Mathematics and Dialectics, in both Oxford andParis. He also pioneered the study of Aristotle in his time.

Records have it that he was the first to hold a Master of Arts inOxford, though not the first Doctor of Divinity there. He was fond ofpraying for long at night, this resulted in him often nodding off whilelecturing.

Most of his lecturing fees were normally spent on charity includingtaking care of the needs of his students.

Due to his mother’s influence, St. Edmund studied theology and began hiscareer as a priest sometime between 1205 and 1210, with some resistanceon his part.

Retiring to spend a year in the Augustinian Canons, he was ordained andembarked on a doctorate degree in divinity course. He became famous as alecturer in theology and an eloquent preacher.

But for his gifts as a preacher and an expositor, this great saint wouldlikely have opted to become a monk. He was appointed as the Vicar of theparish of Calne in Wiltshire and Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedralsometime between 1219 and 1222.

Archbishop of Canterbury Cathedral

In 1233, St. Edmund reluctantly accepted to become the Archbishop ofCanterbury Cathedral under Pope Gregory IX’s appointment. Hisconsecration as archbishop was done on 2nd April 1234.

As the archbishop, he was found to admonish the King (Henry III) to heedand follow his father’s examples. He threatened the king withex-communication if he failed to dismiss his foreign councilors who werehis favorites and the King yielded.

He also went on peace talks with Llewelyn the Great which turned outsuccessful. This eventually turned King Henry III against him.

Due to his truthful nature regardless of situations, most persons weredispleased with him including the King and some monks in hisarchdiocese. This led to great political discord with the King usurpinghis authority by requesting a legate from the Pope.

Despite the political discord and tensions, St. Edmund was faithful inhis defense of the church as well as the state. The heightened politicaldiscord eventually led him to retire in 1240, when he retired to Franceand became a monk.

Works of St. Edmund Rich

Beyond defending the rights of the church and state, St. Edmund has twoworks accredited to him, which are still relevant to the church today.

His works are Speculum Ecclesiae, an ancestral treatise, and theProvincial Constitutions.

Death and Canonization of St. Edmund Rich

On 16th November 1240, St. Edmund met his death in Soisy, on his way toRome to plead his case with the Curia. He was buried at Pontigny Abbey,and miracles were reported to have occurred at his gravesite.

Shortly after his death, his faithful began to clamor for hiscanonization. King Henry III strongly opposed this. However, barely sixyears after his death in 1247, he was canonized by Pope Innocent IV. Hisfeast day is 16th November.

He is patronized by many in England including Abingdon, Roman CatholicDiocese of Portsmouth, and St. Edmund’s college to name a few.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Edmund Rich

  1. Can you believe that St. Edmund’s father, Reginald chose to become a
    monk even while his mother was still living.
  2. The name “Rich” was an epithet given to his father, a wealthy
    merchant and not used for St. Edmund and his siblings.
  3. St. Edmund began to see visions when he was still a very young boy
    in school.
  4. He is believed to have received his first vision of Christ as a boy.
    This led to him constantly signing himself with the name” Jesus of
  5. Did you know St. Edmund’s decision to study theology was because his
    mother appeared to him in a vision advising him to do so

Prayer to St. Edmund Rich

Into Thy hands, O Lord, and into the hands of Thy holy angels, I commitand entrust this day my soul, my relations, my benefactors, my friendsand my enemies, and all Thy people. Keep us, O Lord, through the day, bythe merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all thesaints, from all vicious and unruly desires, from all sins andtemptations of the devil, and from sudden and unprovided death and thepains of hell. Illuminate my heart with the grace of Thy Holy Spirit;grant that I may ever be obedient to Thy commandments; suffer me not tobe separated from Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns withGod the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.Amen.