Shrine of St. Frideswide, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford.

Monday, March 5, 2012

St. Chad of Lichfield, March 2


March 2nd was the feast day of the early English bishop Chad. Chad or Cedda lived in the seventh century before the middle angles of the Mercian kingdom had been converted. He was a student of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, who has appeared in this blog so many times, and traveled to Ireland as a monk before returning, with Egbert, Finan, and Colman, to convert the Mercians. Practicing the Celtic version of monasticism, he lived a life with the people while strictly keeping to the rules of prayer and discipline. Bede is very careful to note his devotion repeatedly. While in Ireland his brother, Cedd founded the monastery of Lastingham in Northumbria under King Oswiu. The abbey was a success and Chad took over as abbot at his brother's death.
The Synod of Whitby in 663-664 had caused Northumbria's Celtic bishops to return into Scotland, leaving the North without episcopal oversight. After Tuda, Wilfrid, one of the supporters for the Roman Customs in the Synod, was appointed as bishop, but went to France to seek consecration because of a shortage of bishops in Britain and did not return for 2 years. Chad in the mean time was appointed bishop because it seemed that Wilfrid was going to stay in Gaul. But he returned and at this time Theodoric of Tarsus had been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the Patriarch of Rome. Theodoric traveled to Northumbria quickly to settle the dispute between Wilfrid and his new Roman rites and observances and the Celtic, more orthodox ways of Chad and Oswiu. Chad was ordered to step down, which he did, but soon after, the king of a still pagan Mercia, Wulfhere asked for a bishop and Chad was appointed. He established his episcopal seat in Lichfield where he built a monastery dedicated to St. Mary. He spent the rest of his life establishing monasteries and churches all over Mercia until his death on 2 March 672. Chad was venerated as a saint immediately following his death, and a cult centered in Lichfield flourished through the Middle Ages.  The Cathedral at Lichfield marks his shrine with an Icon and continues to remember his feast.

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