About Saint Edmund St. Edmund (1174-1240) Peacemaker, Father of the Poor,

About Saint Edmund
St. Edmund (1174-1240)
Peacemaker, Father of the Poor,
Patron of Afflicted Children
St. Edmund of Canterbury is remembered in France,
England and America for his faithful life of love of
God. In France, where he is buried, St. Edmund is
known as the patron saint of afflicted and stillborn
children. Edmund himself was considered a stillborn
baby, showing signs of life only after the waters of
baptism were poured over him.
In England, where he was born, St. Edmund is known
as a peacemaker. In 1233, England was on the verge
of civil war. When King Henry III brought in a foreign
army to crush the rebellious barons, Edmund left his
country parish to confront the King and plead for
peace. Where experienced statesmen had failed,
Edmund succeeded by sheer moral force, directed by
Edmund’s life began in Abingdon, a small village close to Oxford. As a young man,
he became a noted professor of math and geometry at Oxford University. In midcareer, he was inspired by a dream to leave teaching and enter the priesthood.
After becoming a priest, Edmund left Oxford for a country parish near Salisbury.
There he gave away his possessions to feed the poor and care for the sick. The
Pope, learning of Edmund’s self-sacrificing spirit, named him Archbishop of
While journeying to Rome, Edmund fell sick and died in Pontigny, France. He was
buried there at the abbey and many miracles took place at his tomb. Within six
years, the pope declared him a saint.
Six centuries later, the Society of St. Edmund was founded at Pontigny. Now the
Fathers of St. Edmund are involved in apostolates in England, the United States
and Venezuela.
The Edmundites keep their patron’s memory alive by following his example of
service to others. The Fathers of St. Edmund try to be, as Edmund was, “eyes to
the blind, feet to the lame, father of the poor and friend to strangers in trouble.”
Stories from the life of St. Edmund
The First Breath of Life
Reginald, the rope maker of Abingdon, and his wife, Mabel, both
devoutly religious, were expecting their first child. They went on a
pilgrimage to the shrine of King Edmund the Martyr. It was there that
Mabel first felt the baby kick. “It will be a boy,” she told her husband.
“We’ll name him Edmund.”
The child was born on November 20, the feast day of King Edmund, and
it was a boy, as they had hoped. But the child lay cold and still and
nothing the midwife did could make him respond in any way. Mabel
cried to her husband “Call the priest and have the baby baptized.”
The priest came. He expressed sympathy for the parents, and asked
them what name they had planned for the child. “Edmund,” they said
sadly. The priest poured water over little Edmund, baptizing him in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. At once,
the child began to stir. While his parents stared in amazement and joy,
little Edmund began to cry.
To Mabel, her first son—later to be named Archbishop of Canterbury,
was a special gift from the Lord. She raised him, and his brother and
sisters born later, so that they might be her gifts to God.
Stories from the life of St. Edmund
A Mother’s Advice
The best advice St. Edmund’s mother gave him came one night in a
dream after her death.
At the time, Edmund was a math teacher at Oxford in England, where
he had been teaching for six years. His geometry course was very
popular, and he had received his first doctor’s degree ever given by
One night Edmund dreamt that he was about to give a lecture and had
filled the blackboard with geometrical figures. Suddenly his mother
appeared. “Son, what are these things on the blackboard?” she asked.
“I’m lecturing on geometry, Mother,” he replied and started telling her
what each figure meant.
Shaking her head, his mother picked up the chalk and drew three
circles on the board. She pointed to each one in turn, saying, “Father,
Son and Holy Spirit. Son, please study these figures from now on, and
no others!”
When he woke up, Edmund spent a long time in prayer. He then
decided that God’s will was for him to teach, not the triangles, but the
Trinity. He went back to school, studied theology and became a priest.
Prayer in Honour of St. Edmund of
God, who raised up St. Edmund to be father of
the poor and patron of afflicted children, please grant that I may
learn from Edmund’s example how to love all God’s children, however
poor or afflicted; that I may become, like him, eyes for the blind, feet
for the lame, and a friend to strangers in trouble; and that by this
intercession I may be protected from all evil and distress. I ask this in
the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Information comes from the Society of Saint Edmund