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Author Topic: OTD 17th June: The Feast Day of St Botolph  (Read 274 times)

Phyllis

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OTD 17th June: The Feast Day of St Botolph
« on: June 19, 2021, 09:53:33 AM »
Continuing my series of posts from the Companions' Facebook page, here is the most popular post from the past week commemorating St Botolph.
Here’s the post.

Despite being a significant missionary of the seventh century Botolph is little known to us today; he is not even mentioned by Bede. His feast day is 17th June, and there are over 70 churches dedicated to him around the UK which indicates his popularity in earlier times, despite our current lack of awareness.
Botolph (originally Botwulf) was probably born in East Anglia although this is not certain. The Flemish hagiographer Folcard in the 11th century wrote a “Life” of Botolph, and claimed he was Saxon, although loved by the Scots; meanwhile the Schleswig Breviary claims he was a Scot (Irish), and this suggestion may have originated with St Willibrord who studied in Ireland before his career on the Continent where he ultimately became Archbishop of the Frisians.
Botolph studied in Germany and Chelles in Frankia before returning home.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in 654 AD he founded a monastic community at Ikenhoe based on the Benedictine Rule, although before doing so he had to exorcise the demons which inhabited the place. The fens and marshes held many terrors for people, some of which have continued in legends still told today about the phantom dog, Black Shuck (OE “scucca” meaning fiend) and other terrifying creatures. As such Botolph was also a saint who protected travellers, especially crossing water, and many of the churches dedicated to him are placed beside the road leaving a town (ie on the left) or crossing a river. [The forgotten history of St Botwulf, Dr Sam Newton, 2016]
The location of the monastery is not certain: both Iken in Suffolk and Boston are suggested possibilities. Wherever it was located, it was an important site. In 669 AD Ceolfriþ, who later became abbot at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, studied there to learn about the Rule, while on his way back to the north after a period studying at Canterbury under Archbishop Theodore and following his ordination. The good Botolph is described as “so well founded that no one could be found better versed than he, either in ecclesiastical or monastic tradition.”
Botolph is also referenced in a charter for the foundation of St Mildburh in Shropshire, around 675-690 AD.
Botolph died around 680 AD and was buried at his monastery. However, the house did not survive the Viking incursions in East Anglia and was destroyed around 870 AD. King Edgar (963-967AD) ordered that the remains of the saint be taken from the monastery ruins, and be divided into three parts: the head to be taken to Ely, the middle to be taken to Thorney, and the remainder to be taken to Westminster Abbey, although the planned distribution may not have been completed as the King commanded and they probably only reached Grundisburgh.
The Rev Dr Baring-Gould appeared to share Bede’s lack of interest in the saint when he concluded:
“There [Ikenhoe] he dwelt and founded an abbey, and there he spent a life singularly barren of interesting events. He was beloved by all who came near him, on account of his humility, gentleness, and affability. He died the same year as S. Hilda, in 655 [sic]. It is impossible to give more details concerning a saint of whom so little that is trustworthy or interesting is known.”
Poor St Botolph! He was a man renowned by his contemporaries for his gentleness and humility, as well as his learning, and these talents should be worth celebrating as much as great deeds and miracles.
https://www.facebook.com/yorkshiregesithas
Phyllis

Jayson

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Re: OTD 17th June: The Feast Day of St Botolph
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2021, 04:38:48 PM »
Many thanks, Phyllis!  I've just logged on again after several years (so sorry!) and I am hoping that I shall now be able to read, reply and add to whatever A-S stories that come up.


Unfortunately, I know nothing about St Botolph so this time it's a case of learning and not adding!
Wessex Woman

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Re: OTD 17th June: The Feast Day of St Botolph
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2021, 10:40:35 PM »
Yes, thanks Phyllis.


Nice to see you back, Jayson.




Phyllis

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Re: OTD 17th June: The Feast Day of St Botolph
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2021, 12:15:38 PM »
great to see you both back again - we missed you!
Phyllis