Today is the feast of St. Oswald of York (d. February 29, 992). Of Danish parentage, Oswald was raised by his uncle Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury, and received his education under the tutelage of the Frankish scholar, Fridegode of Canterbury. For a time, he was the dean of the house of secular canons at Winchester, but seeking a stricter rule of life, he entered the Benedictine Monastery of Fleury, where Odo himself received the monastic habit. At the request of his uncle, he returned to England. By the time Oswald arrived, Archbishop Odo had died, and he turned to his kinsman, Oskytel, then Archbishop of York, for patronage. His service to the Archbishop of York caught the attention of St. Dunstan, who procured his appointment to the See of Worcester and consecrated him bishop in 962. Oswald was an ardent supporter of St. Dunstan in his campaign to purify the Church from abuses; he was one of the leading proponents of reform along with St. Dunstan and St. Æthelwold of Winchester. Aided by King Edgar, he carried out his policy of replacing by communities the canons who held monastic possessions. Edgar gave the monasteries of St. Albans, Ely, and Benfleet to Oswald, who established monks at Westbury (983), Pershore (984), at Winchelcumbe (985), and at Worcester, and re-established Ripon. But his most famous foundation was that of Ramsey Abbey in Huntingdonshire, the church of which was dedicated in 974, and again after an accident in 991. In 972 by the joint action of St. Dunstan and Edgar, Oswald was made Archbishop of York, and journeyed to Rome to receive the pallium from John XIII. Interestingly, with the sanction of the pope, Oswald retained jurisdiction over the diocese of Worcester where he frequently resided in order to foster his monastic reforms. Though contrary to canons, the simultaneous possession of the sees Worcester and York became traditional for nearly fifty years. On Edgar's death, Elfhere, King of Mercia, broke up many monastic houses, and some of Oswald's foundations, but Ramsey was not disturbed due to the patronage of Ethelwin, Earl of East Anglia. Whilst Archbishop of York, Oswald collected from the ruins of Ripon the relics of the saints, some of which were conveyed to Worcester. He died in the act of washing the feet of the poor, as was his daily custom during Lent, and was buried in the Church of St. Mary at Worcester.
Be sure to follow our Moderator at Eccentric Bliss, his personal blog!