Sunday, 13 September 2009

Character from Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series: Egwine

Egwin (died 30 December 717) (also Ecgwin, Ecgwine and Eegwine) was the third Bishop of Worcester in England

Evesham Abbey Bell Tower

He was the founder of the Evesham Abbey. His biographers say that king, clergy, and commonalty all united in demanding his elevation as bishop; but the popularity which led him to the episcopal office dissipated in response to his performance as bishop. He was consecrated bishop in 693.
Egwin was born in Worcester of a noble family, and was a descendant of Mercian kings. He may possibly have been a nephew of King Æthelred of Mercia. He struggled with the local population over the acceptance of Christian morality; especially Christian marriage and clerical celibacy
Egwin's stern discipline created a resentment which, as King Æthelred of Mercia was his friend, eventually found its way to his ecclesiastical superiors. Egwin undertook a pilgrimage to seek vindication from the Roman Pontiff himself.

Statue of a shepherd boy and the Virgin Mary saying she wanted a church built on that spot, so the legend goes and Egwine shackles his legs and throws the key in the river Avon. On arriving in Rome his servant fishes for supper and finds the key in the fish, unshackles him and takes this as a sign he is forgiven and on arrival back in England builds the church.

You can see the key floating in the river Avon on the base of the statue

According to a legend, he prepared for his journey by locking shackles on his feet, and throwing the key into the River Avon. While he prayed before the tomb of the Apostles, at Rome, one of his servants brought him this very key — found in the maw of a fish that had just been caught in the Tiber. Egwin then released himself from his self-imposed bonds and straightway obtained from the pope an authoritative release from the load of obloquy which his enemies had striven to fasten upon him.
One of the last important acts of his episcopate was his participation in the first great Council of Clovesho. According to Jean Mabillon, he died on 30 December 720, though his death is generally accepted as having occurred three years earlier on 30 December 717.
He was regarded as a saint following his death.

A Vita Sancti Egwini was written by Dominic of Evesham, a medieval prior of Evesham Abbey around 1130

John Foxe's Book of Martyrs 1570 edition, book preface, page 4
And thus the Church of Rome albeit it began then to decline a pace from God, yet during all this while it remained hetherto in some reasonable order, till at length after that the said Bishops began to shout vp in the world, through the liberalitie of good Princes, and especially by Mathilda a noble Duches of Italy. Who at her death made the Pope heyre of all her landes, and endued his sea with great reuenewes. Aeneas Siluius saayth that Mathilda made the Pope heyre of those landes, which is called the patrimonie of S. Peter. Ex Auen. lib. 6.Then riches begot ambition. Ambition destroyed Religion, so that all came to ruine. Monkery when it beganne to reigne in England.Out of this corruption sprang forth here in England (as did in other places more) an other Romish kinde of Monkery, worsse then the other before, beyng much more drowned in superstition and ceremonies, which was about the yeare of our Lord. 980. Of this swarme was Egbertus, Aigelbert, Egwine, Boniface, Wilfrede, Agathon, Iames, Romaine, Cedda, Dunstane, Oswolde, Aethelwold, Aethelwine Duke of Eastangles, Lancfrancke, Anselme and such other.

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