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 Saint Aelfheah

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Saint Aelfheah   Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:55 pm

Saint Aelfheah
(954 - 1012)
Also known as: Saint Alphege and Aelfheah the Bald.

Abbot of Bath; Bishop of Winchester (984); Archbishop of Canterbury (1005).

Aelfheah was a noble Anglo-Saxon from Somerset. He entered monastic life fairly early, first at Deerhurst and then at Bath. Aelfheah succeeded in becoming Abbot of Bath, and was renown for his piety and austere way of life. He was both relative and mentor of St, Dunstan, who succeeded in having Aelfheah appointed as Bishop of Winchester (984) and then to the Archbishopric of Canterbury (1006).

Following the sack of Canterbury by the marauding Danes (1101), Aelfheah was captured.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the event as thus:
In this year, between the Nativity of St. Mary and Michaelmas, they beset Canterbury, and entered therein through treachery; for Elfmar delivered the city to them, whose life Archbishop Elfeah formerly saved. ..... ..... And, when they had surveyed all the city, they then returned to their ships, and led the archbishop with them.

Aelfheah was imprisoned for a period of seven months. He refused to allow any sort of ransom to be paid for his release and was thus murdered (19/4/1012) in London.

His death was recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as thus:
Then on the Saturday was the army much stirred against the bishop; because he would not promise them any fee, and forbade that any man should give anything for him. They were also much drunken; for there was wine brought them from the south. Then took they the bishop, and led him to their hustings, on the eve of the Sunday after Easter, which was the thirteenth before the calends of May; and there they then shamefully killed him. They overwhelmed him with bones and horns of oxen; and one of them smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow; and his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his sacred soul was sent to the realm of God.

Aelfheah was buried in St. Paul's Minster.

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