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Saint Edmund of Abington

Saint Edmund was born on November 20th (Saint Edmund the Martyr's feast day) in the year 1174 in Berkshire, England as the eldest of four children. His father was a wealthy merchant father but retired early and abandoned the family to pursue a religious life at Eynsham Abbey. Fortunately for Saint Edmund, his mother Mabel was a very devout Catholic who enstilled a deep respect and love for Christianity in her children.

While attending school in Abingdon, he began to experience religious visions that led him to take a vow of perpetual chastity at the church in Oxford. After basic studies were completed, he attended the University of Paris and for six years taught mathematics. He is credited with bringing Aristotle's works to the cirriculum at Paris and the University of Oxford where he split his time teaching. He had the Lady Chapel of Saint Peter's in the East built from fees he charged for his lectures. His living quarters at the school in Oxford became an academic hall during the medieval times. His mother's love of Christianity rubbed off on Saint Edmund, and between 1205-1210 he began to seriously study theology.

These years of theological study culminated in a year of retirement with the Augustinian canons of Merton Priory that ultimately resulted in his ordination. After becoming ordained he began to teach Theology and gave numerous sermons, always donating any fees paid to him back to the poor. In 1219, he was appointed vicar of Calne in Wiltshire and soon after the treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral for the next eleven years.

By the year 1233, Pope Gregory IX had already turned down three nominations for the Archbishopric of Canterbury. In 1233, he approved Saint Edumund's nomination and consecrated him on April 2nd, 1234. During his time as Archbishop, he strongly defended the Magna Carta against Henry III of England's excesses, often drawing the king's anger. His strict and uncompromising stand on church discipline and observance of monastic life often brought him into conflict with fellow clergy as well. In his defense of the Church, Canterbury, and the laity, he travelled to Rome in person to plead his case before the Papacy. Despite differences on issues, he always willingly and fully submitted to the Pope.

In 1240, Saint Edmund was again summoned to Rome when the Papacy ordered 300 English benefices be assigned to Romans. He fell ill at the Cistercian Pontigny Abbey in France and while trying to return home passed away on November 16th, 1240.

He was formally canonized six years after his death by Pope Gregory IX in 1246 against strong opposition from Henry III. Several miracles were reported at his gravesite that led the Pope in his quick canonization decision.

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