St. Edward the Confessor
and Westminster Abbey
St. Edward the Confessor reigned in England from 1042
to 1066. He is most noted for the founding of Westminster
Abbey which was originally called the Abbey of St. Peter
on Thorney Island. The island got its name from the
thorns and brambles which grew there profusely. Saint
Edward took great pride in Westminster Abbey and when
he died; his body was enshrined in the Abbey. Unfortunately,
St. Edward was too ill to attend the consecration of
Westminster Abbey but his wife, Queen Edith was in attendance.
The Death of Saint Edward
St. Edward became ill in November of 1065. His illness
was described as "a malady of the brain".
It is believed that St. Edward suffered a stroke or
a brain hemorrhage. St. Edward seemed to be recovering
from his illness when he had a seizure on Christmas
Eve. St. Edward lapsed into a coma and delirium. He
died on January 5.
St. Edward Remembered at the Abbey
Those who worship at Westminster Abbey remember St.
Edward, its founder. During Edwardtide, worshipers celebrate
his life. They pray during the Octave of St. Edward
the Confessor during a week of prayer. The Choir of
Westminster Abbey sings the Eucharist and Evensong.
The public are invited to participate and often wear
a St. Edward medal in his memory.
Many Christians also give the gift of a St. Edward pendant
during this week to friends and relatives, commemorating
this great king and saint. Millions of Catholics make
a pilgrimage to Wesminster Abbey just to attend the
Octave of St. Edward in October. They visit the Shrine
of St. Edward in the Abbey and have a St. Edward medal
blessed during the ceremony.
From the Sermon on the Feast of St.
Edward the Confessor
This excerpt is from a sermon given at Westminster Abbey
during the Feast of St. Edward the Confessor in 2008.
As we make our pilgrimage to his Shrine, the "holy
blissful confessor for to seek", may we be inspired
by Edward the Confessor's example and aided by his prayers
to "let the same mind be in [us] that was in Christ
Jesus." I pray that for each of us our pilgrimage
to the Shrine of St Edward might be a type of our earthly
pilgrimage: that as we come to this holy place and receive
here a foretaste of heaven, so our life's pilgrimage
here on earth may end as we believe it ended for Edward
the Confessor in all the joy and glory, the bliss, of
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Picture of St Edward