St. Egwin of Worcester, Bishop
Died at Evesham, England, on December 30, 717; feast of the translation
of his relics on September 10 and January 11.
The translation of Egwin's relics in 1039 by Aelfward, bishop of London
and former abbot of the monastery founded by Egwin, was the impetus for
the first vita of Egwin, which bears some resemblance to that of Saint
Aldhelm. It claimed to incorporate older elements but may not be
Egwin was born into the royal house of Ethelred, king of Mercia. He was
consecrated to God in his youth. About 692, he became the third bishop
of Worcester. Egwin governed the see of Worcester until he incurred the
enmity of some of his flock for his severity against vice, and they
denounced him to the king and archbishop of Canterbury.
Seeking vindication, Egwin appealed to Rome. Before leaving England on a
penitential pilgrimage to answer before the Roman See the complaints
lodged against him, he is said to have locked his feet in fetters and to
have thrown the key into the Avon River. Miraculously, this key appeared
in the belly of a fish he bought at a market in Rome. Because of this
miracle, the pope vindicated Egwin and he was reinstated in his
episcopal chair in 711.
During his episcopacy he founded the abbey of Evesham under the
patronage of the Blessed Virgin because of a vision of Mary seen first
by the herdsman Eof and the by Egwin in a meadow by the River Avon.
Probably about 709, Egwin undertook another pilgrimage to Rome in the
company of Kings Cenred of Mercia and Offa of the East Saxons. It is
recorded that Egwin received considerable privileges for his foundation
from Pope Constantine. Evesham became one of the great Benedictine
monasteries of medieval England after its refounding about 975.
Egwin's connection with Malmesbury was further emphasized by his
conducting the funeral of Aldhelm in 709. Some connection with Wilfrid
is possible, but unsupported by contemporary evidence, but Evesham could
have been one of Wilfrid's seven unidentified Mercian foundations.
Saint Egwin is portrayed as an English bishop with a fish and one key.
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Page last updated: 21 December 2008
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