Richard, also known as Richard of Chichester, was born in 1197 in Worcestershire, England. When he was just a young boy, he and his siblings were orphaned. When he was older, he handed his inheritance over to his brother and went to study at Oxford.
He studied under Grosseteste and met and befriended Edmund Rich. Richard went on to study in Paris, received his Master’s degree from Oxford and continued his studies at Bologna where he received his doctorate in Canon Law. He spent seven years at Bologna before returning to Oxford. He was appointed Chancellor at Oxford University in 1235. Later he became Chancellor to his friend Edmund Rich, who by now was the Archbishop of Canterbury. When Archbishop Rich retired to the Cistercian Mastery at Pontigny, Richard accompanied him there. Later, Edmund died and Richard took a position teaching at the Dominican House of Studies at Orleans. He was ordained in 1243 and served as parish priest at Deal. He then became the Chancellor to Boniface of Savoy, who was the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
When King Henry III named Ralph Neville the Bishop of Chichester in 1244, Archbishop Boniface declared his selection invalid and named Richard instead. After much controversy, the matter was finally brought to the attention of Rome and in 1245 Pope Innocent IV decided on Richard. However, when Richard returned to England, Henry would not accept his ordination and refused to allow Richard to move into the bishop’s palace. After the pope threatened Henry with excommunication, Henry relented.
Richard spent the remainder of his life committed to his people. He cared very much for the poor and downtrodden and was generous to all. Also he was insistent on rigid clerical discipline, denouncing nepotism. He died in 1253 in Dover, England, in a residence for poor priests.
Many problems in modern society stem from the lack of parental authority and the breakdown of the family. This is a sad fact. However, Richard was an exception. On his own, after being orphaned, he went on to study and learn and to use his education to serve God and others. With God all things are possible. He is always with us. We only need to turn to Him and ask His help and guidance.
Father, we thank you for always being there and never abandoning us. May we learn from the example of Saint Richard of Wyche that with Your help, we can accomplish anything. And may we always use our knowledge and gifts to Your service. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Irene of Thessalonica (304), Virgin, Martyr