Today (9 April) we commemorate the Holy Martyr Theodore, abbot of Crowland (Croyland), and those monks with him (869). From Stanton’s Menology (which, before we start with the litany of dread deeds done by the vicious Vikings, I should mention was published in 1887, and uses period-specific language which should be taken in its historical context, etc etc):
‘The year 870 is especially memorable for the cruel outrages of the pagan Danes, who in different parts of the country slaughtered innumerable victims, in their thirst for conquest and hatred of our holy religion, choosing in preference ecclesiastic and religious of both sexes. Lincolnshire and East Anglia were among the provinces which suffered most, and there, shortly before the glorious martyrdom of St Edmund, the chief monasteries were utterly destroyed. Bardney in Lincolnshire, where the relics of St Oswald had long reposed, was entirely demolished, and all the monks murdered, without leaving so much as a record of their names. The same took place at Ely, where the two communities of men and women founded by St Etheldreda were put to the sword. At Peterborough, then called Medehampstead, the Abbot Hedda and all his monks, in number eighty-four, were also exterminated, the shrines of the Saints profaned, and the library burned. It was on the 26th or 30th of August that the barbarians reached Croyland, the celebrated retreat of St Guthlac. The solemn Mass was just ended but the clergy had not left the sanctuary, when the pagans broke into the church. The celebrant, who was the Abbot Theodore, the Deacon Elfgetus, and the Sub-deacon Savinus, were murdered in the sacred vestments before the altar, and shortly afterwards the Acolyths Egdred and Ulrick. Some of the community escaped, and hid themselves in a neighbouring forest; but those who sought to conceal themselves within their own walls seem all to have been discovered and cruelly butchered. Amongst these were Askegar, the Prior, and Sethwin, the Sub-prior, as well as two venerable monks, Grimkeld and Agamund, who had attained their hundredth year. The shrine of St Guthlac was profaned, and the holy place left in a state of complete desolation. It was about the same time that the Monastery of Bennet Hulme in Norfolk was destroyed in the like manner, and the holy man Suniman, for whom it had been built about half a century before, put to death with all his community.
‘Among the Saints whose relics were venerated in the Abbey Church of Thorney in Cambridgeshire, we find the names of Torthred, Thancred and Tova, who are said to have been anchorets living at Thorney, or as it was then called, Ancarig, the former having suffered martyrdom under the Danes in the same year, 870. Yet, according to the traditions of Brittany, Torthred escaped, and settled in that country, where a parish in the diocese of Quimper bears his name, as St Touredec.’
As the bountiful harvest of your sowing of salvation,
the shire of Lincoln offers to you, Lord,
all the saints who have shone in these lands.
By their prayers, keep the church and our land in abiding peace,
through the Theotokos, O most merciful One.
St Cuthbert’s Orthodox Community pilgrimage to Crowland Abbey
Holy Saints Theodore, Elfgetus, Savinus, Egdred, Ulrick, Askegar, Sethwin, Grimkeld and Agamund, and all the holy men of Crowland, pray to God for us.