Today marks the feast of Saint Edmund, King of the East Angles, martyred brutally by the Danes (Vikings, Northmen, Norse) in 869 AD.
Whatever we make of saints, they are said at times to intercede in human affairs. Before King Edward the Confessor became the ‘official’ patron saint of England sometime after the Norman Conquest, Saint Edmund the Martyr was usually evoked as England’s most important saint.
Later, probably as a result of the crusades, and also maybe for practical commercial and military reasons too, the warrior saint George was adopted as patron saint of England and he has remained so since the 14th century. St. George is also patron saint of other countries and cities, such as Georgia and Genoa and Italy.
Nevertheless, there have been moves in latter years to try to make Saint Edmund the official patron of England again, possibly because he has definite historical and cultural associations with England, and was an English king.
However, in an increasingly secular world, such moves may be going against the grain of popular opinion.
copyright Francis Barker 2019