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Born in England c. 925; died at Worcester, England, February 29, 992. St. Oswald was born of a Danish family that settled in England. He was the nephew of St. Odo (f.d. July 4), bishop of Canterbury, and Oskitell, first bishop of Dorchester and later York. He was educated by Odo, was appointed dean of Winchester, and soon after sent by Odo to the abbey of Fleury in France to learn monastic discipline.

In 962, Oswald succeeded St. Dunstan (Duncan; f.d. May 19) as bishop of Worcester, and he was closely associated with Dunstan and St. Ethelwold (f.d. August 1) in the restoration of monasticism in England. His first foundation was at Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol, but his greatest establishment was at Ramsey in Huntingdonshire (972), from which were founded Pershore, Evesham, and other houses.

St. Oswald shone as a bright star as bishop. He was energetic in improving the standard of the parochial clergy, fostering education, and enforcing clerical celibacy, and in 972 he was promoted to archbishop of York, where as a young man he had worked under his uncle Archbishop Oskitell (Oskytel). But he was obliged to retain the see of Worcester as well, presiding over both dioceses; it is with Worcester that he was always concerned.

St. Oswald was almost always occupied in visiting his diocese, preaching without intermission, and reforming abuses. He encouraged learning and learned men. When not engaged in pastoral duties, Oswald could be found joining the monks of St. Mary's monastery in their exercises.

To nourish his own humility and charity, Oswald always invited 12 of the poor to dine with him each day during Lent (some say every day). These he served himself, and also washed and kissed their feet. He died at St. Mary's just after fulfilling this Lenten observance and after receiving the viaticum, while repeatedly praying the Glory Be.

A "Life" of Oswald was written very soon after his death; it speaks of his gentleness and kindness, the love that the people had for him, and his gaiety when he came to die. His body was translated by his successor Adulph ten years later and enshrined. Still later his relics were transferred to York (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopaedia, Gill, Husenbeth).

In art, St. Oswald is a bishop driving off the devil with a stone. At times he may be portrayed washing the feet of the poor (Roeder).

Troparion of the saint
Tone IV
O glorious Oswald, thou rule of faith and model of meekness, splendour of Worcester and luminary of York, like a tree in the midst of paradise didst thou bear the fruit of the virtues for thy Lord, and therewith thou enlightenest all who cherish thine honoured memory and ever cry out to thee in prayer: Intercede, O holy bishop, that our souls may be saved.

Service to our Holy Father Oswald of Worcester, Archbishop of York

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