St Edmund martyr, king | Saint of the Day | November 20

Prayer to St Edmund martyr, king

Into your hands, O Lord, we entrust this day our souls, and those of all believers. Keep us safe through Saint Edmund’s special intercession, by the merits and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all heavenly hosts, from all vicious and unruly desires, sins and temptations of the devil, and sudden and unprovided death and the pains of hell. Illuminate our heart with the grace of your Holy Spirit; grant that we may, like Saint Edmund, be ever obedient to your commandments and may we not be separated from you, O God, in the Name of Jesus our Lord. Amen

Christian king of East Anglia

Edmund was born of Saxon stock and was brought up a Christian. Though only about fifteen years old when crowned on Christmas Day 855, Edmund showed himself a model ruler from the first, treating all his people with equal justice, and known as refusing to listen to flatterers and informers. In his eagerness for prayer he retired for a year to his royal tower at Hunstanton in Norfolk where he learned the whole Psalter by heart, so he could afterwards recite it regularly.

Resisting the Vikings

In 870 two Danish chiefs Hinguar and Hubba invaded his kingdom and at first he drove them back. They withdrew to Northumbria but soon returned with greater numbers, and pressed terms upon him which as a Christian he felt bound to refuse. In his desire to avert a fruitless massacre, he disbanded his troops and retired towards Framlingham in Suffolk. The conditions of surrender the Vikings offered involved the betrayal of his people and the rejection of his Christian faith, so he refused.

edmund Martyrdom at Hoxne in Suffolk

Edmund was tied to a tree and whipped at Hoxne in Suffolk. He bore this torture patiently, calling on the name of Jesus. At last worn out by his constancy, the Vikings began to shoot arrows at him until his body looked like that of a hedgehog. At this stage, Hinguar commanded his head to be cut off. Edmund was 29 years old. From his first burial-place at Hoxne his relics were taken in the tenth century to Beodricsworth, since called Bury St. Edmunds, where a shrine and abbey were erected in his honour.