Thursday, March 2, 2017

Saints of the martyrology: St Chad of Mercia (March 2)

St Chad, Lichfield Cathedral

From the martyrology:
At Lichfield in England, St. Chad, bishop of Mercia and Lindisfarne, whose excellent virtues are mentioned by St. Venerable Bede.
According to St Bede, St Chad was one of four brothers who became students of St Aidan (a disciple of St Columba) at the monastery of Lindisfarne.  When St Aidan died in 651, all four travelled to Ireland to complete their education.

St Chad returned to Northumbria by 664, taking over as Abbot of Lastingham Monastery after his brother Cedd died from the plague.

He was appointed archbishop of York by King Oswy, replacing the exiled Wilfrid.  His appointment was highly irregular though, and so when the newly appointed Archbishop Theodore arrived in England, he instructed Chad to step down, and restored Wilfrid to his position.

St Chad accepted Theodore’s charges of impropriety with such humility and grace that Theodore subsequently ap­pointed him as the bishop of Mercia. He established a see at Lichfield.  As bishop he established monasteries and undertook a great deal of missionary work before he too died of the plague.

The wikipedia entry on the saint relates the story of his holy death:
Bede tells us that Owin was working outside the oratory at Lichfield. Inside, Chad studied alone because the other monks were at worship in the church. Suddenly Owin heard the sound of joyful singing, coming from heaven, at first to the south-east, but gradually coming closer until it filled the roof of the oratory itself. Then there was silence for half an hour, followed by the same singing going back the way it had come. Owin at first did nothing, but about an hour later Chad called him in and told him to fetch the seven brothers from the church. Chad gave his final address to the brothers, urging them to keep the monastic discipline they had learnt. Only after this did he tell them that he knew his own death was near, speaking of death as "that friendly guest who is used to visiting the brethren". He asked them to pray, then blessed and dismissed them. The brothers left, sad and downcast.
Owin returned a little later and saw Chad privately. He asked about the singing. Chad told him that he must keep it to himself for the time being: angels had come to call him to his heavenly reward, and in seven days they would return to fetch him. So it was that Chad weakened and died after seven days – on 2 March, which remains his feast day. Bede writes that: "he had always looked forward to this day – or rather his mind had always been on the Day of the Lord". 
Many years later, his old friend Egbert told a visitor that someone in Ireland had seen the heavenly company coming for Chad's soul and returning with it to heaven. Significantly, with the heavenly host was Cedd. Bede was not sure whether or not the vision was actually Egbert's own.

No comments: