St. Egwin of Worcester, Bishop

30 December

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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 entirely reliable.

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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