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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, 1012.

"From the wrath of the Northmen, Good Lord, deliver us." So prayed the English monks, but their prayer seemed of no avail. In 1011 Canterbury itself was besieged and taken by the fierce Danish Vikings. They carried the Archbishop, Alphege, off in their ships and demanded a ransom.

Alphege was an old and kindly monk from Deerhurst and later Abbot of Bath. He had been elected Bishop of Winchester under Dunstan (see May 19). For five years he had served as one of the most beloved and effective archbishops ever to hold the See of Canterbury. He played a part in the conversion of King Olaf of Norway. Now Alphege was harshly bound, half-starved, and shamefully abused.

Englishmen immediately began raising the ransom, but Alphege, knowing how impoverished his people were already, refused to permit it. The enraged Vikings, in a drunken frenzy, fell upon the old Archbishop and savagely beat him to death. Yet, a number of them had been so impressed with the faith and compassion of their prisoner that they soon presented themselves for baptism.

Grant us, in like manner to your servant Alphege, constancy in faith and truth, and to fear none of the world's adversaries. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O Loving God, your martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death when he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people; Grant that all pastors of your flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; and who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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