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There are a great number of early English saints whose cults flourished to some degree or other during the later half of the first millennium particularly during the sixth to eighth centuries, almost all of whom have been forgotten now and have disappeared from the popular consciousness.

These first English saints, what could be called Anglo-Saxon saints, were mainly the individuals responsible for the business of converting these previously pagan assortment of Germanic tribes to the Christian faith.

They include the first Archbishop of Canterbury, Augustine gentlemen such as Aidan, Birinus and Wilfred, sundry kings such as Aethelbert of Kent and Edwin and Oswald of Northumbria who were responsible for the introduction of the faith into their respective kingdoms, as well as more obviously ascetic holy men such as the likes of Saint Guthlac and Saint Cuthbert.

Their disappearance is partly this was due to the Norman Conquest of England, as the new Norman Archbishop of Canterbury Lanfranc, instituted a number of reforms of the English church shortly after he took control in 1070. These included a revision of the church calendar and the removal of many of the old English (and occasionally Celtic saints) and a rededication of a number of churches to more familiar (to the Normans at least) French saints.

However the Norman influence did not completely eradicate the old saints, many survived the change of government and in fact benefited from Norman patronage and prospered under the new regime. A number of shrines such as those of Saint Cuthbert at Durham, Saint Swithun at Winchester or Saint Werburga at Chester received handsome new endowments from Norman landholders and developed into major centres of pilgrimage.

It was the Protestant Reformation that was responsible for the final demise of these early saints. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries many of the shrines were broken up with anything of value comprehensively looted and the relics scattered. The veneration of saints was officially discouraged and indeed viewed as a clear sign of adherence to the old Catholic faith and therefore a sign of both heresy and treason.

The Early English Saints

In alphabetical order





















Sourced from various Orthodox websites such as http://www.nireland.com/orthodox/saints.htm and http://www.sisqtel.net/~sgpm/ctos/Catalogue/Features/saintsofeng.html who for some reason take the business of English saints quite seriously.

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