St. Cedd, Missionary and Bishop of East Saxons

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

St. Cedd, Missionary and Bishop of East Saxons  (✝664)
Feast Day –  December 25 (January 7)

Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who
calls you to account for the hope that is in you,
yet do it with gentleness and reverence.
- I Peter, 3:15

Saint CeddSt. Cedd was born in the early 620’s to a poor family in Northumbria.  His parents, Angles by origin, were devout Christians who raised their sons in accordance with the holy teaching.  St. Cedd was the oldest of the children, and, after the passing of his father, he assumed the responsibilities of head of the family.  His brothers – St. Chad, St. Cynibil and righteous Caelin – also became monks and priests of the holy Church.  They all were trained at Lindisfarne under the supervision of St. Aidan.

In 653, Paeda, the young, newly-converted king of Mercia, requested a missionary to be sent to his kingdom.  St. Cedd, along with three other monks, was chosen to preach the Gospel to the Mercians.  The holy men laboured with great success:  multitudes came daily to hear the teachings and receive baptism.

The saint was soon recalled from Mercia and sent to the East Saxon kingdom.  His new mission was more difficult:  he was asked to preach to the people who had previously been baptised, but had rejected the faith and drove out their bishop.  The religious path of the kingdom was uncertain:  some people still remained Christians, some went back to paganism.  Even the royal family was divided.  St. Cedd’s diligent evangelizing helped to restore the true faith:  people denounced their idols; churches opened again.  The town of Tilbury became the centre of religious activity.  So great was the accomplishment of St. Cedd that he was appointed bishop of the East Saxons.

Bishop Cedd was not afraid to confront the powerful people if their actions were unlawful in the eyes of the Lord.  Once, the holy man openly reprimanded the king.

St. Cedd liked to visit his native Northumbria and preach there.  He founded many churches and monasteries in his homeland.  One of his most notable monasteries was built in 658 in the village of Lastingham.  The saint chose the land himself:  it was a remote area among high hills.  There, he prayed and fasted for forty days in order to purify the site before construction began.  St. Cedd became the first abbot of Lastingham and carried the duty to the end of his life.

The saint continued his missionary work and travelled often, also serving as an interpreter and diplomat.  His ability to speak languages – Gaelic, Old English, Old Welsh and Latin – was valuable during negotiations.  On one of the trips St. Cedd  contracted the plague.  He died upon his return to Lastingham.  At the news of his death, thirty monks came from London to pay respects to their beloved teacher.  They too were taken ill on the way.  All but one child, who travelled with them, died.  The little boy was saved by the prayers of the abbot.

St. Cedd was initially buried in an open-air grave, but later his body was moved to the church at the monastery.  St. Cedd’s second brother, St. Chad, became the new abbot of Lastingham Abbey.

Celtic Cross