Posted by: anna | August 13, 2010

St Elin of Skövde

Today (31 July) yorkthodox and the Russian calendar list only St Neot and Germanus of Auxerre, about both of whom I posted last year, so instead I shall branch out a bit and introduce another Swedish saint, Elin (Helena) of Skövde (12th century). From Miss Dunbar:
Patron of Westrogothia [Västergötland]. She was a young widow of an illustrious family in Westrogothia, in Sweden, and instead of contemplating a second marriage, devoted herself to works of charity and piety, keeping her gates open to the poor, and clothing them with the wool of her sheep. She built the greater part of the church of Skedevig (pronounced Shadywig, now Sköfde) at her own expense, and it was called by her name in the Middle Ages. While she was building a portico between the church and the tower, people asked her why she left that space there, and she said, ‘God will give us some saint whose body and relics can be suitably placed there.’ In that spot her own body was by-and-by laid.
One day, being in the villa of Gotene, she dreamt that the church of Gotene, and she in it, flew away to Sköfde. She understood this to foretell that she should die at Gotene and be buried at Sköfde, which eventually happened.
Her beautiful daughter was married to a man who ill treated her. He was murdered by his servants; and when his relations seized them and were going to avenge his death by killing them, they admitted the crime, but said Helen had incited them. The relations then became enemies and persecutors of Helen. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. After her return, she was going one day for indulgences to the consecration of the church of Gotene. One of her enemies stabbed her, inflicting dreadful wounds.
She immediately began to work miracles. On that very day, after sunset, a blind man passing by came near the place of the murder. A boy who was directing his steps saw a light like a burning candle in the bushes. He told the blind man of this strange appearance. The man ran to search, and he found Helen’s finger wearing a ring which she had brought from the Holy Land. The blind man touched the finger, and with the blood touched his eyes, and immediately his blindness vanished.
When her body was being carried to Sköfde, the bearers rested at a place where there immediately sprang up a fountain, called to this day Lene Kild, ‘St. Helen’s Fountain.’ When her sacred body was brought to Sköfde, it was washed on a great stone in the cemetery. The stone was afterwards cut in two parts ; that part on which the blood had run out of her wounds was set up, and the other half laid on the ground, in order that human feet should not tread on her blood. The same stone stood there for many years, and many miracles were wrought there that the place might be had in veneration.
This story is given at greater length, as the Legenda S Helenae Schedviensis in Annerstedt’s Scriptores Rerum Suecicarum. The notes to the legend explain that whereas all modern writers identify her with Helen, daughter of Guttorm, jarl, who married, first, Esbern Snare, and secondly, Waldemar II, the annotator says that Vastovius, Villa Aquilonia, is the first to call her Guttorm’s daughter, and that St. Helen must have been older than Guttorm, who only became jarl in the year that Helen was canonized, and he believes her to be the wife of Ingo the Elder, the Good (1090-1112).
Stephen, archbishop of Upsala, reported her miracles and prophecies to Pope Alexander III, who ordered that she should receive the honours due to a saint, which was done in 1160 or 1164.
Love Shadywig – not a bad approximation, though it should be shade(r)-vig.
wikipedia – English, Swedish
wikimedia – someone has taken time to put up lots of pictures of the church at Skövde
O heliga Elin, bed till Gud för oss!

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