October 13

St. Edward the Confessor

St. Edward the Confessor

St Edward the confessor was one of the last Anglo-Saxon Kings ofEngland. He was born sometime between 1003 and 1005 to Æthelred theUnready and Emma of Normandy. St Edward’s father was a king in Englandwhen he was born. He was their seventh son, he died on the 5th ofJanuary in 1066 and he was buried in England; the same place where hewas born.

His Appearance

St Edward is described as being a man of proper figure and outstandingheight. He had milky white hair and beard. He had thin white hands andlong translucent fingers. He also had an unblemished body and he wasalways pleasant and dignified, walking with his eyes cast down. Ifsomeone aroused his anger, he seemed as terrible as a lion but neverrailed and this is an element of an ideal king

His Childhood

When St Edward was younger, England was targeted by Viking raids andinvasions under Sweyn Forkbeard and his son Cnut. This resulted in StEdward’s family fleeing to Normandy. After the death of Sweyn in 1014,Æthelred was invited back by the Englishmen on the condition that hepromises to rule more justly than before and he agreed.

St Edward’s father died in April 1016 and his half-brother EdmundIronside succeeded him. According to the Scandinavian tradition StEdward fought alongside Edmund against Cnut. However, this is disputedsince St Edward was thirteen years at that time

Edmund died in November 1016 and Cnut became king and this forced StEdward and his sister and brother to go into exile again. In 1017 hismother married Cnut and in the same year Cnut had Edward’s lastsurviving elder half-brother Eadwig executed.

St Edward spent 25 years in exile mainly in Normandy but there is noevidence of his location until the early 1030s. It is assumed that hereceived support from his sister Godgifu who was married to Drogo ofMantes. In the early 1030s St Edward witnessed four charters in Normandysigning two of them as the King of England.

According to one Norman chronicler, Robert I, Duke of Normandy attemptedan invasion of England in about 1034 to place Edward on the throne butit was unsuccessful. St Edward also had support of other continentalabbots.

Back to the Throne

Cnut died in 1035 and Harthacnut took over and in 1041. He invited StEdward back to England probably as heir because he knew he had not longto live. St Edward was sworn in as the King in 1042 after the death ofCnut on the condition that he continues Cnut’s laws.

In his early years as the King, he restored the strong monarchy showinghimself as a vigorous and ambitious man. The wealth of St Edward landexceeded that of the greatest earls.

St Edward was the King from June 1042 and until January 1066. Herestored the rule of the House of Wessex after a period of Danish rulethat had been there since 1016. After St Edward’s death, he wassucceeded by Harold Godwinson who was however defeated and killed in thesame year by the Normans under William the Conqueror at the Battle ofHastings.

St Edward’s great nephew was proclaimed as the King after the battle ofHastings but he was never crowned. Some historians portray St Edward’sthe Confessor’s reign as leading to the disintegration of royal power inEngland and advance in the power of the House of Godwin, this is becauseof the infighting that began after his death since he had no heir.

However others portray St Edward as a successful king who was full ofenergy, resourceful and occasionally ruthless. They attribute the NormanConquest that happened shortly after his death for being responsible fortarnishing his image.

St Edward’s nickname ‘the confessor’ suggests that he was unworldly andpious. The name confessor reflects that he was a saint who did notsuffer martyrdom but who rather died peacefully. Edward usuallypreferred clerks to monks for the most important and richest bishoprics.However, his appointments were generally respectable.

In October 1065, there was an uprising by the rebels as they claimedthat he was oppressive and they killed 200 of his followers. St Edwardwas forced to submit to his banishment and the humiliation is assumed tohave been the cause of a series of strokes which led to his death in1066.


He was canonized by Pope Alexander III in 1161, about a century afterhis death. Now he is recognized as the patron saint of kings, difficultmarriages and separated spouses. His feast day is on the 13th ofOctober.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Edward the Confessor

  1. He is usually considered the last King of the house of Wessex
  2. St Edward the confessor is the nephew to St Edward the martyr.
  3. In charters St Edward was always listed behind his older
    half-brothers, showing that he ranked beneath them
  4. St Edward was known for accepting a bribes
  5. St Edward did not have any children, some reports state that it’s
    because he vowed to celibacy and some reports say that because he
    refused to be intimate with his wife due to his hatred of his father
    in law.

Prayer to St. Edward the Confessor

Lord,you raised Saint Edward, king and confessor,to excel in good government and faithful service.May these ideals survive and flourish among usthrough his prayers.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with youin the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, forever and ever.Amen.