Today (25 March) is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church, the feast of the Annunciation to the Mother of God. In the west, this feast was called Lady Day, and was one of the year’s quarter-days, when rents and tithes were paid. The icon image above is by the hand of Aidan Hart.
St. Alfwold was a monk of Winchester, and was made Bishop of Sherborne on the death of his own brother, Bertuin, who held the See before him. St. Alfwold was a man of most holy life, and remarkable for his strict abstinence, at a time when lavish profusion at table was the custom of the country. He brought with him an image or picture of St. Swithin, which he set up in his church, and so awakened a great devotion to that Saint in his diocese. But most singular was his veneration and love for the great St. Cuthbert. He was continually reciting an antiphon from his office, and in his later years took the long journey to Durham, to visit his sacred relics.
On arriving there, he caused the shrine to be opened, and conversed with his patron as with a friend, leaving an offering as a token of his undying love. On one occasion the holy Bishop had a serious disagreement with the powerful Godwin, who for his disrespect was seized with a sudden malady, which did not leave him till he had obtained the pardon of the Saint. To the last moment of his life St. Alfwold was constant in his devotion to St. Cuthbert, and with his last breath began his favourite antiphon, which he was unable to finish, but made signs to his attendants to conclude on his behalf.
St. Alfwold was the second Bishop of Sherborne who bore that name, the former having immediately succeeded St Wulsin. William of Malmesbury tells us that he had learned various particulars of the Saint’s life, from a priest who had personally known him.
Another connection – St Juthwara’s relics were taken to Sherborne under Alfwold’s pontificate.
Most Holy Mother of God and St Alfwold, pray to God for us.