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Egwin

(d. 717)


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Aldhelm (c. 639—709) abbot of Malmesbury, bishop of Sherborne, and scholar

St Wilfrid (c. 634—709) bishop of Hexham

 

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(d. 717),

bishop of Worcester 693–711, founder of Evesham abbey. The translation of his relics in 1039 by Ælfward, bishop of London (formerly abbot of Evesham), was the occasion of the first Life of Egwin, which claimed to incorporate older elements. According to this he was of royal blood, related to Ethelred, king of Mercia. During his episcopate he incurred the enmity of a faction who denounced him to the king and the archbishop of Canterbury and obliged him to withdraw from his diocese. Wishing to vindicate himself at Rome (here the writer modelled himself on Germanic and Hellenic folklore), he locked his feet in fetters and threw the key into the Avon. Later, on pilgrimage to Rome, he bought a fish in the market and found the key inside. The pope vindicated him of the unspecified charges and he returned to his diocese. These fabulous elements may be compared to those in the Life of Aldhelm; Egwin's connection with Malmesbury was further emphasized by his conducting the funeral of Aldhelm in 709. Some connection with Wilfrid over the foundation of Evesham is possible, but unsupported by contemporary evidence, but Evesham could have been one of Wilfrid's seven unnamed Mercian monasteries.

In the late 11th century, when some of the Anglo-Saxon saints' cults were questioned by Lanfranc and the Normans, Egwin's sanctity was vindicated by an ordeal through fire, by miracles, and by a successful fund-raising tour of southern England, undertaken by monks of Evesham, carrying Egwin's relics with them. This was in order to buy wood and stone for the new church needed by a rapidly growing community. Miracles were recorded on this journey (1077) as far afield as Dover, Oxford, and Winchester; at least once the party crossed the Trent. Feast: 30 December; translation feasts 10 September and 11 January. Two ancient churches were dedicated to him.

AA.SS.O.S.B., saec. III. 330–8; R.P.S. and C.S.P.; W. D. Macray, Chronicon Abbatiae de Evesham (R.S., 1863); Florence of Worcester, Chronicon de Chronicis, i. 43–9; G.P., pp. 296–7, 383–6; N.L.A., i. 370–8; A Benedictine of Stanbrook, St Egwin and his Abbey (1904); J. C. Jennings, ‘The Writings of Prior Dominic of Evesham’, E.H.R., lxxvii (1962), 298–304 (this establishes Dominic's authorship of the Life printed by Macray). See also P. Grosjean, ‘De codice hagiographico gothano’, Anal. Boll., lviii (1940), 90–103.

Subjects: Christianity.


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