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Rumwold


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Supposedly a boy of the royal family of Mercia, buried at Buckingham, where there was a shrine before the Norman Conquest. His quite incredible Legend of the eleventh century, possibly from Buckingham, makes him a grandson of Penda, king of Mercia (d. 654), through his daughter, who had married a pagan prince of Northumbria. According to this, Rumwold was born at Sutton (thenceforth King's Sutton, Northants.) and died there only three days later, but not before repeating several times ‘I am a Christian’, making a profession of faith in the Holy Trinity, and asking for Baptism and Holy Communion from the priests Widerin and Edwold. He then preached a sermon on the Holy Trinity and the need for virtuous living, freely citing Scripture and the Athanasian Creed. After this he announced his imminent death and directed that he should be buried first at King's Sutton, then at Brackley, and finally at Buckingham. The prodigious infant then expired.

His cult was observed in these three places, and in several pre-Conquest monasteries of Mercia and Wessex, as well as in Sweden; but his name is not found in monastic calendars of after 1100. Churches were, however, dedicated to him in Kent, Essex, Northants., Lincolnshire, Dorset, and North Yorkshire, that in the last county being at Romaldkirk. Some of these dedications may be to St Rumold of Mecklin. A well also survives at Alstrop, Northants. At Boxley (Kent) a statue of him, formerly venerated, was burnt at the Reformation, but in Camden's time he was still invoked by the fishermen of Folkestone as their patron. The source of his Legend is not known; the saint's popularity, reflected also by street-names in various parts of the country, was unexpectedly persistent. Feast: 3 (or 2) November.

R. C. Love, Three Eleventh-Century Anglo-Saxon Saints' Lives (1996); N.L.A., ii. 345–50; R.P.S.; G. N. Clark, ‘The Legend of St Rumbold’, in Northants. Past and Present, 3 (1962), 131–5; R. H. Hagerty in Records of Buckinghamshire, xxx (1988), 103–10. For a somewhat similar prodigy see St Theresa of Avila, Book of the Foundations, c. 20.

Subjects: Christianity.


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