Parish Magazine Article - May 2018
On 20 May, we keep the feast of St Ethelbert, king and martyr, patron saint of Hereford Cathedral.
Hereford is fortunate in having a saint who is unique! St Ethelbert was King of the East Angles who, at the age of 14 journeyed to Mercia to seek a dynastic marriage. On arrival he was welcomed at the court of King Offa but very soon the atmosphere soured and he became involved in political intrigue. This resulted in his being beheaded by the king and the beginnings of a cult of healing at Hereford Cathedral. Contemporary accounts say little more than recording his death. It was left to later, medieval writers, to embroider the story. The chief episodes of the story are found on the modern shrine of St Ethelbert in the cathedral but the important thing for us is that all these episodes are not simply quaint imaginings of earlier writers but really do have a message for us today, and provide us with material for prayer in so many areas of life and ministry.
Let’s have a look at some of them:
Ethelbert is shown being crowned king at a very early age. Prayer for all young people who have responsibility thrust upon them too early – all young carers
Ethelbert journeys far from his home – pray for all refugees and displaced persons. For all in our localities far from their native lands.
Ethelbert witnesses earthquakes on his journey from east to west. Prayer for all who suffer from natural disasters – especially those whose stories have disappeared from our screens but whose tragedy continues.
Ethelbert is involved in an ‘arranged marriage’. Pray for all whose cultural background can lead to conflict and unhappiness.
Ethelbert is involved in a whispering campaign – pray for all victims of false accusation and gossip.
Ethelbert is beheaded at Marden on 20 Ma7 794 – pray for all who are persecuted for their faith to ever to the point of death.
Ethelbert’s body is brought to the cathedral and becomes the focus for a cult of healing – pray for all involved in the ministry of healing today.
You see, our ancient traditions are not just a ‘trip down memory lane’ but really can help us to understand aspects of faith today.
And, on the feast of St Ethelbert, 20 May, please do pray for our cathedral and its work and ministry as we will pray for you and all your work and ministry in the parishes.
God bless you all