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Friday, June 02, 2006

Saint Bertelin

Saint Bertelin, pray for us!

Almighty God, Who of thy mercy didst cause thy servant Bertelin to shine forth as a beacon of humility in the kingdom of Mercia; grant us so to venerate him that, assisted by his intercession for us in heaven, we may follow his example here upon earth, and thereby attain unto everlasting felicity. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, God, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Before England was united, it existed as a group of seven often warring kingdoms. The largest and, arguably, the most powerful, was Mercia, which covered all of what is now the North-West of England, and parts of the Midlands, and its centre was in modern-day Staffordshire. Despite previous thought, it is now widely believed that Mercia did have some form of hereditary monarchy.

Bertelin (whose name is often corrupted to Bertolin or Bertram), was an 8th-century King of Mercia who, in time, took a wife. On one occasion, while Bertelin and his now pregnant wife were on a journey through the woods, she went into labour. He rushed to seek the assistance of midwife, and returned only to find that his wife and child had been savaged by wolves and killed. Having lost what was so meaningful to his life, he gave up all of his wealth and status, and turned instead to God. He retreated to a cave and lived as a hermit, and people began to come from miles around, perhaps initially to see the spectacle of a king who had apparently taken leave of his senses but, in time, to seek his spiritual guidance.

After he died, his tomb became a place of pilgrimage, and many healing miracles were reported as having taken place after people had venerated the place. Because his shrine is located in a country church in a secluded village, by God's grace it survived the iconoclastic desecrations of the reformation era and later, those of Oliver Cromwell and his accomplices, and it is still a place of pilgrimage to this day.

His Feast is celebrated on the 10th of August, being the 23rd of August in the secular calendar.


Ian said...

A very interesting icon: may I ask where is it from? A very haggard (and reading his life it is easy to see why) depiction.

And I look forward to more: I do love reading the lives of the Saints.

Anonymous said...

What a great site »