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Canute Lavard, St.


Danish noble; b. Roskilde, c. 1096; d. Haraldsted, Jan. 7, 1131. Son of the Danish King Erik Evergood, he was baptized Gregory. The surname "Lavard" is equivalent to the English "Lord." As a youth he was at the court of Saxony with the future Emperor Lothair III. His uncle, King Niels (Nicholas), named him duke of Schleswig c. 1115. Through the protection of Lothair, whom he tried to evangelize, he became, c. 1129, prince (Knés) of the Wends in eastern Holstein. Put forward as eventual successor to King Niels, he constituted a rival to the latter's son, Magnus, whose entourage assassinated Canute at Haraldsted, near Ringsted, Denmark. This crime brought on a civil war that lasted until the accession of Canute's son, Waldemar I the Great. Reports of miracles at Canute's tomb at Ringsted led to the building of a chapel on the site of the murder. Pope Alexander III canonized Canute in 1169; the solemn translation of his remains took place on June 25, 1170. Canute became the patron saint of the Danish guilds, and his cult spread throughout Denmark and Schleswig. His present tomb at Sankt-Bendt church, Ringsted, dates only from the 17th century.

Feast: Jan. 7; June 25.

Bibliography: Vitae sanctorum danorum, ed. m. c. gertz (new ed. Copenhagen 190812) 169247. l. weibull, Nordisk historia 2 (1948) 415432. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 1:49. t. gad, Kulturhistorisk leksikon for nordisk middelalder, ed. j. danstrup (Copenhagen 1956) 8:600603, with bibliog.

[l. musset]

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