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Edmund of Abingdon, St.


Archbishop of Canterbury (123440) and theologian; b. Abingdon (Berks.), c. 1170 of obscure parents; d. Soisy (Seineet-Marne), France, Nov. 16, 1240. He attended the schools of Oxford and Paris, incepted at Paris and taught arts at Oxford c. 1194 to 1200, and returned to Paris for theology, which he taught at Oxford c. 1214 to 1222. He was appointed treasurer of Salisbury cathedral in 1222, was elected archbishop in 1233, and consecrated April 2, 1234. Elected at a time of national crisis, he averted civil war by his firm leadership, reconciling the party of Richard the Marshal to King henry iii and forcing the king to reconstruct his council. His episcopate was stormy and litigious. The hagiographical tradition that indicates his withdrawal into voluntary exile, though primitive, lacks historical basis. He was on his way to the papal Curia when he died. He was buried at pontigny abbey, which became the center of his cultus. The only works of his that have been identified are two sermons, his Moralitates in Psalmos and the famous Speculum ecclesiae; the last is an ascetical treatise designed, in its original form, for religious and inflated with didactic matter of a more elementary kind. It shows a heavy debt to the school of Saint-Victor (see victorine spirituality), has exerted in turn much influence on later English spiritual writers, and is a real landmark in the history of medieval religious sentiment. He was canonized Dec. 16, 1246.

Feast: Nov. 16 (England, Cistercians).

Bibliography: edmund of abingdon, Libellus qui dicitur Speculum ecclesiae in m. de la bigne, Bibliotheca veterum patrum et auctorum ecclesiasticorum, 8 v. (3d ed. Paris 160910) v. 5. Saint Edmund's "Merure de seinte église," ed. h. w. robbins (Lewisburg, Pa. 1924). Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae ct mediae aetatis (Brussels 18981901), 1:240417. e. martÈne and u. durand, Thesaurus novus anecdotorum (Paris 1717) 3:17751927. m. paris, The life of St. Edmund, tr. and ed. c. h. lawrence (Oxford 1996). r. rolle, Yorkshire Writers, ed. c. horstman, 2 v. (London 189596) 1:219261. c. h. lawrence, St. Edmund of Abingdon: A Study in Hagiography and History (Oxford 1960), complete bibliog. and discussion; Month NS 29 (1963) 213229.

[c. h. lawrence]

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