Circumstances have given this one man 3 different names: St. Edmund of Abingdon, England / St. Edmund of Canterbury, England / St. Edmund Rich
St. Edmund was born on November 20,1180, into a very religious family at Abingdon, England. Abingdon is near Oxford. He was born on the the feast of Saint Edmund the Martyr, so he was given the name Edmund. He was the oldest of four children.
'Rich' was an epithet sometimes given to his wealthy merchant father. It was never applied to Edmund or his siblings in their lifetimes. Edmund may have been educated at the monastic school in Abingdon. From boyhood he practiced asceticism, such as fasting on Saturdays on bread and water, and wearing a hair shirt. After snatching a few hours' sleep, most of the night he spent in prayer and meditation.
His early studies were in England, but he completed his higher learning in France at the University of Paris. About 1195, in company with his brother Richard, he was sent to the schools of Paris and became a teacher about 1200. For six years he lectured on mathematics, dialectics and introduced the study of Aristotle.
He became one of Oxford's first lecturers with a Master of Arts. His asceticism often forced him to 'nod’ off' during his lectures. There is a long-established tradition that he used his lecture-fees to build the Lady Chapel of St Peter's in the East at Oxford.
Though for some time he resisted the change in career, Edmund received ordination, took a doctorate in divinity and soon became known as a lecturer on theology and as an extemporaneous preacher. In 1227 he preached the sixth crusade through a large part of England. He was named by Pope Gregory IX to the position of Archbishop of Canterbury.
In the name of his fellow bishops he admonished King Henry III of England by defending Church rights and criticizing the king’s continental policies. The archbishop was valued by the local people for his teaching and preaching, his study and his prayer and strict observance in monastic life. It was his uncompromising stand in favor of good discipline in both civil and Church government and of justice in high quarters that brought him into conflict with King Henry III, with several monasteries and with the priests of Canterbury cathedral. Notwithstanding the gentleness of his disposition, he firmly defended the rights of Church and State against the exactions and usurpations of Henry III.
In December 1237 Edmund set out for Rome to plead his cause in person. From this futile mission he returned to England in August 1238 where his efforts to foster reform were frustrated. Again in 1240 Edmund set out for Rome. At the Cistercian Pontigny Abbey in France, Edmund became sick and died only 50 miles further north, on November 16, 1240.
In less than a year after his death miracles were alleged to be wrought at his grave. He was canonized only six years later. His body was never translated to Canterbury, but rest in Pontigny Abbey. St. Edmund’s feast Day is November 20th.
The spelling of the name of our parish’s patron saint reflects the Christian name of Bishop Edmond FitzMaurice for whom the parish was named. Bishop FitzMaurice was the Bishop of Wilmington from 1925 -1960. During his time as bisohp our parish was founded and our present church was erected.
The blue and white coat of arms displayed above each of our Stations of the Cross plaques is representative of the elaborate coat of arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The blue shield represents loyalty and splendor, and the white cross represents serenity and loyalty. This coat of arms is also similar to those used by Christian warriors in the Crusades. A statue of St. Edmund is located above the door on the tabernacle side of the Church.