(c. 721—734) scholar and archbishop of Canterbury

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


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Archbishop of Canterbury 731–41. He was described by Bede as a man notable for his prudence, devotion, and learning. He was a priest of the monastery of Bredon in Mercia, to whose king, the powerful Ethelbald, he probably owed his promotion.

After receiving the pallium, he consecrated bishops for Lindsey (Lincs.) and Selsey (West Sussex) in 733, the only recorded act of his short episcopate. His learning, however, is shown by two surviving manuscripts of his Riddles (enigmata) and four of his Grammar. The forty riddles, written with acrostic technique and influenced by Aldhelm's works, treat of such diverse topics as philosophy, charity, the five senses, the alphabet, the book, the pen, scissors, anvils, and swords. The Grammar, called Ars Tatwini, is an expansion of Consentius', and owes something to Donatus, Priscian, and other sources.

Symeon of Durham records his death on 30 July 734. Like his predecessors he was buried in the abbey church of St Augustine, Canterbury, and received an unofficial cult. His relics were translated with those of other Canterbury saints in 1091 when the church was enlarged. The epitaph on his tomb praised him for the same qualities described by Bede.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.

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