Elphege, also known as Alphege or Ælfheah, was born in the year 954. When he was just a young man he became a Benedictine monk at Deerhurst monastery in Gloucestershire, England. After a few years, he left to become a hermit at Bath where he later became the abbot. As abbot, he enforced a strict rule. In the year 984, he became Bishop of Winchester. While bishop he did much to help the poor and eliminated most of the poverty in his diocese. In 1006, he was appointed archbishop of Canterbury. During this time England was much harassed by the Danes and in September of 1011, after sacking and burning Canterbury, the Danes captured Elphege. In April his captors, being drunk and angry that their ransom demands had not been met, after pelting Elphege with oxen bones, finished him off with an axe.
Elphege’s body was kept at St. Paul’s Church in London, England, for eleven years. It was transferred to Canterbury by order of King Canute. In art, St. Elphege is often represented with an axe cleaving his skull.
Lord Jesus, help us to remember your martyrs in our times of tribulation, that we may imitate their holy lives, living our lives to serve others and willing to die for our friends and our faith. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Leo IX (1012), Bishop, Martyr
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