St. Cedd, Founder of Lastingham, Bishop and Apostle of the East Saxons

26 October

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Born in Northumbria, England; died October 26, 664; feast day formerly celebrated on January 7. Cedd was raised together with his brother Saint Chad (f.d. March 2). He became a monk at Lindisfarne and in 653 was sent with three other priests to evangelize the Middle Angles when their King Peada was baptized by Saint Finan of Lindisfarne (f.d. February 17) in 653 at the court of his father-in-law, Oswy of Northumbria.

After working in that field for a time he was called to harvest a new one in East Anglia (Essex), when King Sigebert was converted and baptized by Finan. He and another priest travelled throughout the midlands to evaluate the situation. Then Cedd returned to Lindisfarne to confer with Finan, who consecrated him bishop of the East Saxons in 654. Cedd returned to Essex and spent the rest of his life with the Saxons--building churches, founding monasteries (at Bradwell-on-the-Sea (Ythancaestir, Othona), Tilbury, and Lastingham), and ordaining priests and deacons to continue the work of evangelization.

Lastingham, originally called Laestingaeu, was built in 658 on a tract of inaccessible land in Yorkshire donated by King Ethelwald of Deira. Here Cedd spent 40 days in prayer and fasting to consecrate the place to God according to the custom of Lindisfarne, derived from Saint Columba (f.d. June 9). All three of the monasteries he built were destroyed by the Danes and never restored.

He attended the Synod of Whitby in 664, where he accepted the Roman observances, and died of the plague at Lastingham, Yorkshire. At the news of his death, 30 of his brethren among the East Saxons came to Lastingham to consecrate their lives where their holy father in faith had ended his. But they, too, were all killed by the same plague, except one unbaptized boy, who lived to become a priest and zealous missionary (Delaney, Walsh).

Saint Cedd is depicted in art as a bishop with a chalice and an abbatial staff. Sometimes he is shown with his brother Saint Chad of Lichfield, other times with Saint Diuma, bishop of the Middle English. He is venerated at Charlbury, Oxon, England (Roeder).

Icon of Saint Cedd:
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