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August 2012

Anglo-Saxon Saints of Salisbury

by Harry Schnitker THERE IS a particular problem in identifying an Anglo-Saxon saint for Salisbury: the city dates back

only to the thirteenth century! Even its predecessor, at Sarum, gained in importance only aſter the Norman conquest of1066. Tis is a pity, as few places exercised such great influence on the pre-Reformation Church in England as Sarum.

The Use of Sarum It was here that the liturgical variant on the Roman

Rite was born, known as the Use of Sarum. Tis would gradually become the dominant liturgical usage in England, and indeed in Scotland, the hallmark of the Catholic Faith in these Islands. With the Reformation, it was removed, although there are several elements in the Anglican ritual that recall the Sarum Use.

Iwig or Ywi of Lindisfarne However interesting, all of this is distinctly post

Anglo-Saxon, and since this series concentrates on that period, we have to dig a little deeper. Our first candidate is a very obscure saint. He was originally from Northumbria, and even his name, Iwig or Ywi of Lindisfarne, does not suggest a Wiltshire connection. His feast day is on the 8 October, and he is of particular interest to students of the history of the diaconate.

‘Exile for Christ’ He was a follower of the ascetic St Cuthbert, who

was ordained a Deacon, but who never became a priest. Like so many in the seventh century, he was inspired by the notion of being an ‘exile for Christ’, and his life took on the character of a permanent pilgrimage. He boarded a ship with an unknown destination, surely one of the more interesting ways to go and evangelise. Tis took him to Brittany, where he became a hermit, renowned for his healing powers.

Relics We simply do not know what happened to his

relics, but they were somehow preserved. However, it would appear that the saint was not happy outside England, for when, somewhere in the ninth century, a group of French clerics visited Wiltshire, they brought Saint Ywi’s relics with them. Tese were placed on the altar of Wilton Abbey, some three miles from where Salisbury now stands.

Quite what the clerics were doing in this house of Benedictine nuns is unclear, but Saint Ywi refused to

be moved on: when the Frenchmen tried to take his relics with them the next day, they could not liſt them.

Glamorous regal association Te relics were in good company, for Wilton was

a veritable house of saints. Its first abbess had been Saint Æthelburh, daughter of King Eahlmund of Kent and half-sister of King Egbert of Wessex, who entered the house upon her husband’s death in 802. Tis had provided the house with the kind of aristocratic pedigree required for its success. Tis glamorous regal association was enhanced by the relics of Saint Edith, illegitimate daughter of King Edgar I ‘Te Peaceful’ of England. According to her hagiographer, Goscelin, she once refused the crown of England itself during a power struggle aſter her father’s death, but refused out of humility. Renowned for her beauty and learning, she had many churches dedicated to her name, and became one of England’s patron saints. In Wiltshire, before the coming of the Normans, her abbey was the most important place of pilgrimage. Little wonder Saint Ywi wished to remain there!

On Pilgrimage - 1

Thursday 9th - 12th August 2012 Blessed John Paul II Walking Pilgrimage

Members of the Ordinariate are taking part in the Blessed John Paul II walking pilgrimage to Walsingham for the New Evangelisation in England & Wales. Te 50 mile pilgrimage starts with Mass in the ruins of the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds and concludes at the Sunday Mass in the National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Accommodation and food are provided as is transportation each day for luggage. Morning & Evening Prayer is sung each day and Mass is celebrated en route with prayers, hymns, rosary and talks as the pilgrims walk along. Te cost is £55 per person. Further information and booking from

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