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St Chad

St. Chad was the youngest of four brothers, Cedd, Cynebil, Celin and Chad, all eminent priests born of noble parents in Northumbria around AD 623.


















Bede tells us that St. Chad, along with his elder brothers, was a pupil of St. Aidan at his Lindisfarne school. The bishop required the young men who studied with him to spend much time reading Holy Writ and learning, by heart, large portions of the Psalter.

The Lindisfarne Gospel

 

 

 




















Upon the death of Aidan, in AD 651, the four young men went to Ireland to complete their training. Whilst there, Chad met Egbert, later Abbot of Iona. Meanwhile, Chad's brother, Cedd, had returned to England and evangelised the East Saxons. In AD 658, at the request of King Aethelwald of Deira, he built a monastery at Lastingham on the North York Moors. Though often absent, he frequently returned there from his London diocese and, at a time of the AD 664 plague, he died there.
 

Upon his death-bed, Cedd bequeathed the care of the monastery to his brother, Chad.

On his return, St. Chad ruled the Lastingham Abbey with great care and prudence, and received all who sought his hospitality with kindness and humility. However, he arrived in Northumbria during a period of religious change and political upheaval. When the Synod of Whitby rejected the ways of the Irish Church in favour of those of Rome, the Northern diocese quickly found itself short of a Bishop. Eventually, the pro-Roman St. Wilfred was given the Northumbrian Bishopric which he transferred to York. Arrogant to the last, he insisted on being consecrated by true followers of the Roman rule, at that time only to be found in France and so was absent some months.


The following year (AD 665), while St. Wilfred was still abroad, King Oswiu of Northumbria became impatient for some religious guidance in his kingdom and St. Chad was duly consecrated Bishop of York in Dorchester Cathedral. (Now known as Dorchester Abbey) 





















He travelled about his new diocese on foot, preaching the gospel, according to the example of both St. Aidan and his late brother, Cedd. Wilfred returned to England in AD 666 and quietly retired to his Abbey at Ripon. Three years later, Theodore of Tarsus, a new Archbishop arrived in Canterbury. He charged Chad with holding an uncanonical office and the northern prelate humbly replied that if this were true, he would willingly resign for he never thought himself worthy of the position and had consented out duty. Theodore was so moved that he completed Chad's ordination himself. Chad still preferred to resign in favour of Wilfred and retired to Lastingham. Though Chad was Bishop of York for so short a time, he left his mark on the affections of the people and at least one chantry was dedicated in his name at York Minster.

The King of Mercia gave him land for a monastery at Lichfield. Chad travelled great distances and carried out much pastoral work. He was devout, humble and laid much emphasis on prayer and study of the scriptures. He died in 672 on the 2nd of March. Chad was buried at the Church of St Mary, which later became part of Lichfield Cathedral. His feast day is March 2nd

Lichfield Cathedral today