Edward the Confessor (from CATHOLIC ON LINE http://www.catholic.org/)
Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred III and his Norman wife, Emma, daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy. He was born at Islip, England, and sent to Normandy with his mother in the year 1013 when the Danes under Sweyn and his son Canute invaded England. Canute remained in England and the year after Ethelred's death in 1016, married Emma, who had returned to England, and became King of England. Edward remained in Normandy, was brought up a Norman, and in 1042, on the death of his half-brother, Hardicanute, son of Canute and Emma, and largely through the support of the powerful Earl Godwin, he was acclaimed king of England. In 1044, he married Godwin's daughter Edith. His reign was a peaceful one characterized by his good rule and remission of odious taxes, but also by the struggle, partly caused by his natural inclination to favor the Normans, between Godwin and his Saxon supporters and the Norman barons, including Robert of Jumieges, whom Edward had brought with him when he returned to England and whom he named Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051. In the same year, Edward banished Godwin, who took refuge in Flanders but returned the following year with a fleet ready to lead a rebellion. Armed revolt was avoided when the two men met and settled their differences; among them was the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was resolved when Edward replaced Robert with Stigand, and Robert returned to Normandy. Edward's difficulties continued after Godwin's death in 1053 with Godwin's two sons: Harold who had his eye on the throne since Edward was childless, and Tostig, Earl of Northumbria. Tostig was driven from Northumbria by a revolt in 1065 and banished to Europe by Edward, who named Harold his successor. After this Edward became more interested in religious affairs and built St. Peter's Abbey at Westminster, the site of the present Abbey, where he is buried. His piety gained him the surname "the Confessor". He died in London on January 5, and he was canonized in 1161 by Pope Alexander III. His feast day is October 13th.
Richard Cavendish Describes Edward the Confessor's Canonisation on January 5th, 1161
Published in History Today Volume 61 Issue 1 January 2011
There were reports of miraculous cures at Edward’s tomb soon after his burial. In 1102 the tomb was opened and it was found that his corpse had not decayed. The English were reasserting themselves by this time and the Westminster monks may have started to claim Edward as a saint. In the 1120s William of Malmesbury wrote of miracles Edward had performed during his lifetime, including the case of a blind man who regained his sight after his eyes were touched with water in which the king’s hands had been washed. Osbert of Clare, prior of Westminster in the 1130s, wrote the lives of several Anglo-Saxon saints and a biography of Edward which presented him as a holy man who could heal people suffering from scrofula by touching them: hence the subsequent tradition of ‘touching for the king’s evil’, which lasted until the accession of George I in 1715.
Osbert believed that he had been cured of fever by the dead king and in 1138 or 1139 he led a deputation from Westminster to Rome to ask Pope Innocent II to canonise Edward. The suggestion was declined. When Henry II became king in 1154, however, he lent his weight to the cause and after Alexander III was elected pope in 1159 with the aid of English votes Henry congratulated him and asked for Edward’s canonisation. A petition was organised by Abbot Laurence of Westminster which testified to Edward’s miracles, his merciful disposition and his devotion to the Church, and stressed that he had remained a virgin all his life. A delegation travelled to Rome in the winter of 1160 and discussed the matter with the new pope, who accepted the English arguments.
When the decision was made is uncertain, but the tradition was to canonise a new saint with effect from the anniversary of his death. In Edward’s case this was January 5th, which became his feast day. Pope Alexander informed the authorities in England in a letter dated February 7th, 1161. Edward became known as ‘the Confessor’, a saint who had died a natural death, to distinguish him from St Edward the Martyr.
In 1163 Laurence and his monks made a new inspection of the king’s remains. They found Edward’s body wrapped in cloth of gold with a gold-embroidered mitre on his head and purple shoes at his feet, his white beard curling on his chest. They gently lifted the corpse out, wrapped it in a silk cloth and put it in a wooden coffin. After King Henry and other notables had been shown the body it was transferred to a new tomb in a ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The sermon was preached by Abbot Ailred of Rievaulx, who wrote a revised life of the king based on the biography by Osbert of Clare. The date, October 13th, became the Confessor’s new feast day.
The body was moved again, to its present position in Westminster Abbey behind the high altar, when Henry III built a new tomb in 1269 in the course of rebuilding the church. Henry, himself deeply pious, held the Confessor in special reverence and had named his first son Edward after him. Appropriately or not, the Church made the Confessor the patron saint of difficult marriages.