St. Edward, King of the West Saxons and Martyr

English Language Study for Russian Orthodox Learners

St. Edward, King of the West Saxons and Martyr (✝978)
Feast day – March 5 (18)

And do not fear those who kill the body but
cannot kill the soul. - Matthew, 10:28

Saint EdwardEdward succeeded his father, King Edgar the Peaceful, at the age of twelve or thirteen.  The young king reigned for only three years before his death at Corfe Castle.

The exact date of St. Edward’s birth is not known.  When Edward was a small child, he lost his mother, and his father remarried.  Elfrida, the new queen, gave birth to a boy who was named Ethelred.  Edward loved his half-brother dearly and was greatly attached to him.

In 975 Edgar died, and Edward, the king’s first-born son, received the crown.  Despite his age, Edward was a good ruler, guided by his wise advisor, St. Dunstan.  Archbishop Dunstan, who had baptised Edward as an infant, was a spiritual father to the orphaned boy.  The pious king showed great generosity to monasteries, churches and the needy. Not everybody, however, was pleased with the young king.  Queen Elfrida, wishing to set her own son on the throne, persuaded a group of nobles to murder her stepson.  Together they devised a plan.  Elfrida and her son at that time were staying at Corfe Castle.  The traitors, knowing the day when the king would come to the castle, waited for him.  Edward, anxious to see his young half-brother, arrived at Corfe before his attendants, and Elfrida went out to welcome him.  She ordered a drink be brought to the thirsty king.  As Edward was drinking, he was stabbed in the back by Elfrida’s co-conspirators.  The king tried to escape but his wound was serious.  His foot caught
in the stirrup as he fell from the saddle.  Edward was dragged to death.

The murderers found the body and threw it into a marsh, confident that no one would find it.  But God revealed its resting place:  a pillar of light rose above the body of the slain king.  Miracles started to happen immediately after St. Edward’s death.  A blind woman, to whose hut the holy body was transferred, suddenly gained her sight.  A clear spring with healing powers sprung from the ground near St. Edward’s grave.

When he learned of Edward’s death, Ethelred was heart-broken and wept for his half-brother.  A small child at the time of the murder, he knew nothing about his mother’s involvement.  Soon Ethelred became king; he always remembered Edward and venerated him as a saint.  The reign of the new king was not a good one for England.  For his inability to make right decisions, people gave the king the nick-name Ethelred the Unready.

Elfrida repented sincerely and begged God for forgiveness for the rest of her life.  She died as a poor nun in 999.

Celtic Cross