St. Ceolwulf, King, Monk
(Ceowulf, Ceolwulph)

15 January

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Died 764 (or perhaps a few years earlier). King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, England, abdicated his throne after reigning for eight years to become a monk at Lindisfarne. Or so some sources would have you believe. Apparently the story is deeper, Ceolwulf ascended the throne of Northumbria in 729 and just two years later he was captured and forcibly tonsured. Later that year he was released and continued his rule.

Somehow God was working even in the evil of civil unrest. In 737 or 738, Ceolwulf did indeed willingly give up civil power in exchange for the grace of the evangelical counsels at Lindisfarne. He was so highly venerated that the Venerable Bede (f.d. May 25) dedicated his "Ecclesiastical History" to "the Most Glorious King Ceolwulf." Bede praised Ceolwulf's piety but was reserved regarding the king's ability to govern.

At Lindisfarne, which he endowed so generously that the monks could then afford to drink beer or wine on feast days (formerly, like many ascetics, they drank only water or milk), Ceolwulf encouraged learning and the monastic lifestyle. Ceolwulf was buried near Saint Cuthbert (f.d. March 20) at the monastery, where miracles proved his sanctity. The relics of both saints were translated in 830 to Egred's new church at Norham-on-Tweed. Later Ceolwulf's head was transferred to Durham (Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Gill).

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