St. Edward the Confessor

St. Edward the Confessor was born in Islip in Oxfordshire between 1002 and 1005. He was the son of Ethelred II. At age ten, he was sent with his brother Alfred to Normandy to be brought up at the court of the Duke, his uncle, when the Danes gained influence and control of England. He spent the best years of his life in exile. Early misfortune taught Edward the imprudence of ambition -- he grew up in innocence, delighting in assisting at Mass and the church office rather than partake in the typical pleasures and rights reserved for royalty.

Edward was called to the throne at about age forty and was welcomed by all due to his gentle saintly character. His reign was one of almost unbroken peace. He undertook no wars except to repel a Welsh uprising. Although, Edward was not a particularly successful King, his personal character and piety endeared him to his people. He was devoid of personal ambition -- his main concern being the welfare of his people. He demonstrated this by giving alms to the poor and not imposing taxes typical of royalty at that time.

King Edward wanted to make a pilgrimage to St. Peter's tomb; however, since he could not leave his kingdom without injury to his people, the Pope therefore commuted him into the rebuilding of St. Peter's Abbey at Westminster. The dedication and consecration of the Abbey took on Holy Innocent's Day, December 28, 1065. King Edward was ill that day and unable to be present at the service -- he died one week later on January 5, 1066.

Pope Alexander III canonized King Edward in 1161. His body was placed in a Shrine at Westminster Abbey on October 13, 1163. His feast is celebrated on October 13th; his incorrupt body having been solemnly translated on that day by St. Thomas of Canterbury in the presence of King Henry II. St. Edward the Confessor's coffin still lies in a cavity in the top of the marble structure of the Shrine that is regarded as the center of the Abbey. On the western side of the Chapel is a stone screen with fourteen scenes of events, real and legendary, depicting the life of the Confessor. The title "Confessor" was given to Edward for his just deeds. This title refers to a particular type of saint -- one whose status is between that of a common man and saint who suffered for their faith in a manner short of martyrdom and demonstrated their faith in the face of worldly temptations.