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St. Edmund of Abingdon

Archbishop of Canterbury
Born: 1175 at Abingdon, Berkshire
Died: 16th November 1240 at Soissy, France

Edmund Rich was born in Abingdon and educated at Oxford and in Paris. For some years, he remained at Oxford, first as a teacher of philosophy and mathematics and then of theology. In 1222, he was appointed Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, which office he retained till he was promoted to the See of Canterbury in 1234. During the contest between King Henry III and his Barons, Edmund attached himself to the party which aimed at securing national independence and freedom from the domination of Henry's foreign favourites. He also endeavoured to suppress many corrupt practices in the Church and, to this end, his Constitutions were issued in 1236. The resentment he incurred led him to visit Rome in order to lay his difficulties before the Pope, but he failed to secure any support from Gregory IX. Feeling his position to be intolerable, he retired to Pontigny, where he died in 1240. The memory of his pure and holy life attracted many worshippers to the shrine which still marks the last resting-place of St. Edmund in that French town. He was canonized in 1247.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).      Copyright ©1999, LLC