Saint Guthlac


Saint Guthlac

Saint Guthlac of Croyland (673-714) was a Christian saint from Lincolnshire in England. He is particularly venerated in the Fens of eastern England.

Life

Guthlac was the son of Penwald, a noble of the English kingdom of Mercia, and his wife Tette. His sister is also venerated as Saint Pega. As a young man, he fought in the army of Æthelred of Mercia and subsequently became a monk at Repton Monastery in Derbyshire at age twenty-four. Two years later he sought to live the life of a hermit, and moved out to the island of Croyland (now Crowland) on St. Bartholomew's Day, AD 699.

Guthlac built a small oratory and cells to live in in the side of a plundered barrow on the island, and he lived there the rest of his life until his death on April 11 in AD 714. Felix, writing within living memory of Guthlac, says that Guthlac dressed in animal skins, and the only nourishment he took was a scrap of barley bread and a small cup of muddy water after sunset. Ague and marsh fever assailed him. He lived in a barrow.

His pious and holy life became the talk of the land, and many people visited Guthlac during his life to seek spiritual guidance from him. He gave sanctuary to Ethelbald, future king of Mercia, who was fleeing from his cousin Ceolred. Guthlac predicted that Ethelbald would become king, and so Ethelbald promised to build Guthlac an abbey if his prophesy became true. Ethelbald did become king and, even though Guthlac had died two years previously, kept his word and started construction of Croyland Abbey on St. Bartholomew's Day, 716 AD. Guthlac's feast day is celebrated on April 11.

The "Vita sancti Guthlaci" is written in Latin by Felix. A short Old English sermon (Vercelli XXIII) and a longer prose translation into Old English are both based on Felix's "Vita". There are also two poems in Old English known as "Guthlac A" and "Guthlac B". The relationship of "Guthlac A" to Felix's "Vita" is debated, but "Guthlac B" is based on Felix's account of the saint's death. The story of Saint Guthlac is told pictorially in the "Guthlac Roll", a set of detailed illustrations of the 12th century; it is kept in the British Library. Copies of it can be seen on display at Croyland Abbey.

The St Guthlac Fellowship

Formed in 1987, the St Guthlac Fellowship is a group of churches which share a dedication to St Guthlac [http://www.deepingsonline.co.uk/stguthlacs] . The group comprises:

* Crowland Abbey, Lincolnshire
* Astwick church, Bedfordshire
* All Saints Parish Church, Brabston, Lincolnshire
* Our Lady and St Guthlac Roman Catholic church, Deeping St James, Lincolnshire
* Little Cowarne Church, Herefordshire
* St Guthlac's Church, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire
* Fishtoft Church, Lincolnshire
* St. Guthlac,Knighton, Leicestershire
* Little Ponton Church, Lincolnshire
* Passenham Church, Northamptonshire
* St Guthlac's Church, Stathern, Nottinghamshire

External links

* [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/guthlac.html Early British Kingdoms: St. Guthlac]
* [http://www.umilta.net/guthlac.html Alexandra H. Olsen's 'Saint Guthlac and Saint Pega in the South English Legendary']

ources

*Bradley, S.A.J. 1982. "Anglo-Saxon Poetry". London: Everyman.
*Colgrave, Bertram. 1956. "Felix's Life of Saint Guthlac". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
*Roberts, Jane. 1979. "The Guthlac Poems of the Exeter Book". Oxford: Clarendon Press
* Laurence K. Shook, The Burial Mound in "Guthlac A". Modern Philology, Vol. 58, No. 1. (Aug., 1960), pp. 1-10.


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