Posted by: anna | March 17, 2010

St Owen, hermit of Lichfield

icon by the hand of Paul Drozdowski, icon image from Come and See Icons
Today (4 March) we commemorate St. Owen of Lichfield, hermit (ca. 670). From Dr Baring-Gould:
[Anglican and Benedictine Martyrologies. Authority :— Bede, Hist. Eccl., lib. iv. c. 3. (as Owini)]

The venerable Bede says, “Owen was a monk of great merit, having forsaken the world with the pure intention of obtaining the heavenly reward ; worthy in all respects to have the secrets of our Lord revealed to him, and worthy to have credit given by his hearers to what he said ; for he came with Queen Etheldreda from the province of the East Angles, and was her prime minister, and governor of her household. As the fervour of his faith increased, resolving to renounce the world, he did not go about it slothfully, but quitting all he had, clad in a plain garment, and carrying an axe and hatchet in his hand, came to the monastery of S. Chad, at Lastingham : denoting that he did not go to the monastery to live idly, as some do, but to labour, and this he confirmed by his practice ; for as he was less capable of meditating on the Holy Scriptures, he the more earnestly applied himself to the labour of his hands. In short, he was received by the bishop into the house aforesaid, and there entertained with the brethren, and whilst they were engaged within in reading, he was without doing such things as were necessary.

“One day, when he was thus employed abroad, and his companions were gone to the church, the bishop was alone, reading or praying in the oratory of that place, when, on a sudden, as he afterwards said, he heard voices singing most sweetly, and rejoicing, and appearing to descend from heaven. And this sound seemed to come from the south-east, and it afterwards drew nigh him to the oratory, where the bishop then was, and entering therein, filled the same and all around. He listened attentively to what he heard, and after about half an hour noticed the same strain of joy ascend from the roof of the oratory, and return to heaven the same way it came, with inexpressible sweetness. When he had stood some time wondering, the bishop opened the window of the oratory, and, making a noise with his hand, ordered him to come in to him.

” Then the holy Chad told him that the day of his death was at hand, and that the angelic spirits had told him that in seven days they would return and take him with them. And so it was : seven days after, S. Chad entered into his rest.” Nothing more is known of Owen. A stone cross put up by Owen remains at Ely, and is preserved in that cathedral.

Holy St Owen, pray to God for us.

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