King and Martyr (ca. 944-975)
+ Edgar was born in Wessex, England, and was the son of King Edmund I and Saint Elgiva of Shaftesbury.
+ In 957, he was named king of the Mercians and Northumbrians, and was named king of the West Saxons in 959.
+ Effectively serving as the king of England, he spent much time promoting peace among the various tribes and clans.
+ King Edgar supported the efforts of reform of Saint Dunstan of Canterbury, Saint Oswald of York, and the bishop Ethelwold of Winchester, and encouraged the introduction of the Rule of St. Benedict into the monasteries of the kingdom. He also supported the “Peter’s Pence,” the annual collection which helped to support the works of the Pope.
+ Despite his reputation as a peacemaker, like many royal saints of this era, Edgar is a complicated historical figure, especially when we consider extramarital affairs and illegitimate children, possibly including Saint Wulfthryth of Wilton (the mother of Saint Edith of Wilton). Nevertheless, he was honored as a saint immediately after his death and his son, Edward “the Martyr” is also honored as a saint.
The coronation ceremony for Edgar the Peaceful, which was organized and arranged by Saint Dunstan in 973, has given shape to the current coronation used by the English monarchs.
“One who rules over humankind with justice,
who rules in the fear of God,
is like the light at sunrise
on a cloudless morning,
making the land’s vegetation glisten after rain.”—2 Samuel 23:3-4
O God, who alone are holy and without whom no one is good, command, we pray, through the intercession of blessed Edgar, that we be numbered among those who do not deserve to be deprived of your glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For One Saint)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.