Posted by: anna | January 12, 2010

St Egwin, bishop of Worcester

Today (30 December) we commemorate St. Egwin or Ecgwine, bishop of Worcester (717), the first British saint in the civil calendar and the last in the liturgical one!

‘Egwin (Ecgwine) (d. 717), bishop of Worcester 693–711, founder of Evesham abbey. The translation of his relics in 1039 by Ælfward, bishop of London (formerly abbot of Evesham), was the occasion of the first Life of Egwin, which claimed to incorporate older elements. According to this he was of royal blood, related to Ethelred, king of Mercia. During his episcopate he incurred the enmity of a faction who denounced him to the king and the archbishop of Canterbury and obliged him to withdraw from his diocese. Wishing to vindicate himself at Rome (here the writer modelled himself on Germanic and Hellenic folklore), he locked his feet in fetters and threw the key into the Avon. Later, on pilgrimage to Rome, he bought a fish in the market and found the key inside. The pope vindicated him of the unspecified charges and he returned to his diocese. These fabulous elements may be compared to those in the Life of Aldhelm; Egwin’s connection with Malmesbury was further emphasized by his conducting the funeral of Aldhelm in 709. Some connection with Wilfrid over the foundation of Evesham is possible, but unsupported by contemporary evidence, but Evesham could have been one of Wilfrid’s seven unnamed Mercian monasteries.
‘In the late 11th century, when some of the Anglo-Saxon saints’ cults were questioned by Lanfranc and the Normans, Egwin’s sanctity was vindicated by an ordeal through fire, by miracles, and by a successful fund-raising tour of southern England, undertaken by monks of Evesham, carrying Egwin’s relics with them. This was in order to buy wood and stone for the new church needed by a rapidly growing community. Miracles were recorded on this journey (1077) as far afield as Dover, Oxford, and Winchester; at least once the party crossed the Trent. Feast: 30 December ; translation feasts 10 September and 11 January . Two ancient churches were dedicated to him.’

“Egwin” The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Oxford. 12 January 2010


I can’t find a troparion for Egwin [see below for update], so instead, because Evesham Abbey was founded following a vision of the Mother of God there, here is a kontakion for the Felixstowe Mother of God, and a link to the very interesting story of the medieval shrine of Our Lady of Grace at Ipswich. This is admittedly a tenuous connection, but it’s another little corner of English Orthodoxy to push back into the light.

Kontakion, Tone 2
In times of old thy sacred image was honoured
In Suffolk’s holy land,
O most pure Maiden Mary and Mother of our God.
Then in times of darkness and impiety,
Thy holy shrine was taken across the sea.
But now as thou art honoured anew
In the town of thy servant Felix,
Do thou intercede for us with Thy Son, Christ our Saviour.

2012 update: troparion from Acathistes et offices orthodoxes:
Ton 4Tropaire à saint Egwin, évêque de Worcester,(Natalice en 717 A.D.)
Membre de la famille des rois de Mercie,*
Tu consacras toute ta jeunesse au Seigneur,*
Et, devenu évêque, tu n’hésitas pas*
A reprocher leurs vices aux grands de ce monde.*
Fondateur du monastère sacré d’Evesham,*
Saint Egwin, supplie le Seigneur de nous sauver!

Ton 4 Troparion to St Egwin, bishop of Worcester (+717)
Of the house of the kings of Mercia,
You consecrated all of your youth to the Lord,
And, having become a bishop, you did not hesitate
To reproach the great ones of this world for their defects.
Founder of the holy monastery of Evesham,
St Egwin, beseech the Lord to save us!

Holy St Egwin, pray to God for us.


  1. blessed feast day!

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