|Archbishop of Canterbury|
|Other post(s)||Bishop of Ramsbury|
|Consecration||between 909 and 927|
|Died||2 June 958|
|Feast day||4 July|
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholic Church |
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Attributes||Archbishop holding a chalice|
Oda (or Odo;died 958), called the Good or the Severe, was a 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury in England. The son of a Danish invader, Oda became Bishop of Ramsbury before 928. A number of stories were told about his actions both prior to becoming and while a bishop, but few of these incidents are recorded in contemporary accounts. After being named to Canterbury in 941, Oda was instrumental in crafting royal legislation as well as involved in providing rules for his clergy. Oda was also involved in the efforts to reform religious life in England. He died in 958 and legendary tales afterwards were ascribed to him. Later he came to be regarded as a saint, and a hagiography was written in the late 11th or early 12th century.
Oda's parents were Danish, and he may have been born in East Anglia.His father was said to have been a Dane who came to England in 865, together with the Viking army of Ubba and Ivar, and presumably settled in East Anglia. Oda's nephew Oswald of Worcester later became Archbishop of York. It is possible that Oswald's relatives Oscytel, afterwards Archbishop of York, and Thurcytel, an abbot, were also relatives of Oda, but this is not known for sure.
In Byrhtferth of Ramsey's Life of Saint Oswald, Oda is said to have joined the household of a pious nobleman called Æthelhelm, whom he accompanied to Rome on pilgrimage. While on pilgrimage, Oda healed the nobleman's illness.Other stories, such as those by the 12th-century writer William of Malmesbury, describe Oda as fighting under Edward the Elder and then becoming a priest, but these statements are unlikely. Other statements in the Life have Oda being named "Bishop of Wilton" by the king, who is stated to have been Æthelhelm's brother. The chronicler may be referring, slightly inaccurately, to Aethelhelm cousin of the king. This benefactor has also been associated with bishop Athelm, who reportedly sponsored Oda in his ecclesiastical career. Some sources state that Oda became a monk at Fleury-sur-Loire in France.
Oda was consecrated Bishop of Ramsbury sometime between 909 and 927,not to Wilton as stated by both William of Malmesbury and the Life. The appointment was most likely made by King Æthelstan, and the first securely attested mention in documents of the new bishop occurs in 928, when he is a witness to royal charters as bishop. According to the late tenth-century chronicler, Richer of Rheims, in 936 Æthelstan sent Oda to France to arrange the return to the throne of France of King Louis IV. Louis was Æthelstan's nephew and had been in exile in England for a number of years. However, this story is not related in any contemporary records. Oda was said to have accompanied King Æthelstan at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. It was at this battle that Oda is said to have miraculously provided a sword to the king when the king's own sword slipped out of its scabbard. A Ramsey chronicle records that in the 1170s, the sword was still preserved in the royal treasury, although the chronicler carefully states the story "as is said" rather than as fact. There are no contemporary records of Oda's appearance at the battle. In 940, Oda arranged a truce between Olaf III Guthfrithson, king of Dublin and York, and Edmund I, king of England.
Oda was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury following Wulfhelm's death on 12 February 941.It is not known whether he went to Rome to receive his pallium or when he received it, but it was before he issued his Constitutions. During his time as archbishop, he helped King Edmund with the new royal law-code, which had a number of laws concerned with ecclesiastical affairs. The archbishop was present, along with Archbishop Wulfstan of York, at council that proclaimed the first of these law codes and which was held by Edmund at London, over Easter around 945 or 946. Oda also settled a dispute over the Five Boroughs with Wulfstan.
Oda also issued Constitutions, or rules, for his clergy. His Constitutions of Oda are the first surviving constitutions of a 10th-century English ecclesiastical reformer.Oda reworked some statutes from 786 to form his updated code, and one item that was dropped were any clauses dealing with paganism. Other items covered were relations between laymen and the clergy, the duties of bishops, the need for the laity to make canonical marriages, how to observe fasts, and the need for tithes to be given by the laity. The work is extant in just one surviving manuscript, British Library Cotton MS Vespasian A XIV, folios 175v to 177v. This is an 11th-century copy done for Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York.
At the death of King Eadred of England in 955, Oda was one of the recipients of a bequest from the king, in his case a large amount of gold.He was probably behind the reestablishment of a bishopric at Elmham, as the line of bishops in that see starts with Eadwulf of Elmham in 956. Oda crowned King Eadwig in 956, but in late 957 the archbishop joined Eadwig's rival and brother Edgar who had been proclaimed king of the Mercians in 957, while Eadwig continued to rule Wessex. The exact cause of the rupture between the two brothers that led to the division of the previously united kingdom is unknown, but may have resulted from Eadwig's efforts to promote close kinsmen and his wife. The division was peaceful, and Eadwig continued to call himself "King of the English" in contrast to Edgar's title of "King of the Mercians". In early 958 Oda annulled the marriage of Eadwig and his wife Ælfgifu, who were too closely related. This act was likely a political move connected to the division between Eadwig and Edgar, as it is unlikely that the close kinship between Eadwig and Ælfgifu had not been known before their marriage.
Oda was a supporter of Dunstan's monastic reforms,and was a reforming agent in the church along with Cenwald the Bishop of Worcester and Ælfheah the Bishop of Winchester. He also built extensively, and re-roofed Canterbury Cathedral after raising the walls higher. In 948, Oda took Saint Wilfrid's relics from Ripon. Frithegod's verse Life of Wilfrid has a preface that was written by Oda, in which the archbishop claimed that he rescued the relics from Ripon, which he described as "decayed" and "thorn-covered". He also acquired the relics of St Ouen, and Frithegod also wrote, at Oda's behest, a verse life of that saint, which has been lost. He was also an active in reorganizing the diocesan structure of his province, as the sees of Elmham and Lindsey were reformed during his archbishopric.
The archbishop died on 2 June 958and is regarded as a saint, with a feast day of 4 July. Other dates were also commemorated, including 2 June or 29 May. After his death, legendary tales ascribed miracles to him, including one where the Eucharist dripped with blood. Another was the miraculous repair of a sword. There is no contemporary evidence for veneration being made to Oda, with the first indication of cult coming in the hagiography written by Byrhtferth about Oswald, but no hagiography specifically about Oda was written until Eadmer wrote the Vita sancti Odonis sometime between 1093 and 1125. Oda was known by contemporaries as "The Good" and also became known as Severus "The Severe".
Saint Dunstan was an English bishop. He was successively Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury, later canonised as a saint. His work restored monastic life in England and reformed the English Church. His 11th-century biographer Osbern, himself an artist and scribe, states that Dunstan was skilled in "making a picture and forming letters", as were other clergy of his age who reached senior rank. Dunstan served as an important minister of state to several English kings. He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil.
Edmund I or Eadmund I was King of the English from 27 October 939 until his death in 946. He was the elder son of King Edward the Elder and his third wife, Queen Eadgifu, and a grandson of King Alfred the Great. After Edward died in 924, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Edmund's half-brother Æthelstan. Edmund was crowned after Æthelstan died childless in 939. He had two sons, Eadwig and Edgar, by his first wife Ælfgifu, and none by his second wife Æthelflæd. His sons were young children when he was killed in a brawl with an outlaw at Pucklechurch in Gloucestershire, and he was succeeded by his younger brother Eadred, who died in 955 and was followed by Edmund's sons in succession.
Justus was the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury. He was sent from Italy to England by Pope Gregory the Great, on a mission to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism, probably arriving with the second group of missionaries despatched in 601. Justus became the first Bishop of Rochester in 604, and attended a church council in Paris in 614.
Laurence was the second Archbishop of Canterbury, serving from about 604 to 619. He was a member of the Gregorian mission sent from Italy to England to Christianise the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism, although the date of his arrival is disputed. He was consecrated archbishop by his predecessor, Augustine of Canterbury, during Augustine's lifetime, to ensure continuity in the office. While archbishop, he attempted unsuccessfully to resolve differences with the native British bishops by corresponding with them about points of dispute. Laurence faced a crisis following the death of King Æthelberht of Kent, when the king's successor abandoned Christianity; he eventually reconverted. Laurence was revered as a saint after his death in 619.
Eadwig was King of England from 23 November 955 until his death in 959. He was the elder son of Edmund I and his first wife Ælfgifu, who died in 944. Eadwig and his brother Edgar were young children when their father was killed trying to rescue his seneschal from attack by an outlawed thief on 26 May 946. As Edmund's sons were too young to rule he was succeeded by his brother Eadred, who suffered from ill health and died unmarried in his early 30s.
Eadred was King of the English from 26 May 946 until his death. He was the younger son of Edward the Elder and his third wife Eadgifu, and a grandson of Alfred the Great. His elder brother, Edmund, was killed trying to protect his seneschal from an attack by a violent thief. Edmund's two sons, Eadwig and Edgar, were then young children, so Eadred became king. He suffered from ill health in the last years of his life and he died at the age of a little over thirty, having never married. He was succeeded successively by his nephews, Eadwig and Edgar.
Æthelstan or Athelstan was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to his death in 939. He was the son of King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. Modern historians regard him as the first King of England and one of the "greatest Anglo-Saxon kings". He never married and had no children; he was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund I.
Athelm was an English churchman, who was the first Bishop of Wells, and later Archbishop of Canterbury. His translation, or moving from one bishopric to another, was a precedent for later translations of ecclesiastics, because prior to this time period such movements were considered illegal. While archbishop, Athelm crowned King Æthelstan, and perhaps wrote the coronation service for the event. An older relative of Dunstan, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, Athelm helped promote Dunstan's early career. After Athelm's death, he was considered a saint.
Paulinus was a Roman missionary and the first Bishop of York. A member of the Gregorian mission sent in 601 by Pope Gregory I to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native Anglo-Saxon paganism, Paulinus arrived in England by 604 with the second missionary group. Little is known of Paulinus's activities in the following two decades.
Wulfstan was Archbishop of York between 931 and 952. He is often known as Wulfstan I, to separate him from Wulfstan II, Archbishop of York.
Berhtwald was the ninth Archbishop of Canterbury in England. Documentary evidence names Berhtwald as abbot at Reculver before his election as archbishop. Berhtwald begins the first continuous series of native-born Archbishops of Canterbury, although there had been previous Anglo-Saxon archbishops, they had not succeeded each other until Berhtwald's reign.
Oswald of Worcester was Archbishop of York from 972 to his death in 992. He was of Danish ancestry, but brought up by his uncle, Oda, who sent him to France to the abbey of Fleury to become a monk. After a number of years at Fleury, Oswald returned to England at the request of his uncle, who died before Oswald returned. With his uncle's death, Oswald needed a patron and turned to another kinsman, Oskytel, who had recently become Archbishop of York. His activity for Oskytel attracted the notice of Archbishop Dunstan who had Oswald consecrated as Bishop of Worcester in 961. In 972, Oswald was promoted to the see of York, although he continued to hold Worcester also.
Plegmund was a medieval English Archbishop of Canterbury. He may have been a hermit before he became archbishop in 890. As archbishop, he reorganised the Diocese of Winchester, creating four new sees, and worked with other scholars in translating religious works. He was canonised after his death.
Byrhthelm was the Bishop of Wells and briefly the archbishop of Canterbury. A monk from Glastonbury Abbey, he served as Bishop of Wells beginning in 956, then was translated to Canterbury in 959, only to be translated back to Wells in the same year.
Ælfhere was Ealdorman of Mercia. His family, along with those of Æthelstan Half-King and Æthelstan Rota, rose to greatness in the middle third of the 10th century. In the reign of Edward the Martyr, Ælfhere was a leader of the anti-monastic reaction and an ally of Edward's stepmother Queen Dowager Ælfthryth. After the killing of Edward by Ælfthryth's servants in 978, Ælfhere supported the new king, Ælfthryth's son Æthelred the Unready, and was the leading nobleman in the Kingdom of England until his death in 983.
The Bishop of Cornwall was the bishop of a diocese which existed between about 930 and 1050. Nothing is known about bishops in the post-Roman British Kingdom of Cornwall, but by the mid-ninth century Wessex was gaining control over the area, and between 833 and 870 a bishop at Dinuurrin, probably Bodmin, acknowledged the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. There may have been another bishop at St Germans. By the end of the century Cornwall was part of the diocese of Sherborne, and Asser may have been appointed the suffragan bishop of Devon and Cornwall around 890 before he became bishop of the whole diocese. When he died in 909, Sherborne was divided into three dioceses, of which Devon and Cornwall were one. In Æthelstan's reign (924-939) there was a further division with the establishment of a separate Cornish diocese based at St Germans. Later bishops of Cornwall were sometimes referred to as the bishops of St Germans. In 1050, the bishoprics of Crediton and of Cornwall were merged and the Episcopal see was transferred to Exeter.
Events from the 10th century in the Kingdom of England.
The English Benedictine Reform or Monastic Reform of the English church in the late tenth century was a religious and intellectual movement in the later Anglo-Saxon period. In the mid-tenth century almost all monasteries were staffed by secular clergy, who were often married. The reformers sought to replace them with celibate contemplative monks following the Rule of Saint Benedict. The movement was inspired by Continental monastic reforms, and the leading figures were Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, and Oswald, Archbishop of York.
The hermeneutic style is a style of Latin in the later Roman and early Medieval periods characterised by the extensive use of unusual and arcane words, especially derived from Greek. The style is first found in the work of Apuleius in the second century, and then in several late Roman writers. In the early medieval period, some leading Continental scholars were exponents, including Johannes Scotus Eriugena and Odo of Cluny.
Ælfwynn or Ælfwyn was a member of a wealthy Anglo-Saxon family in Huntingdonshire who married Æthelstan Half-King, the powerful ealdorman of East Anglia, in about 932. She is chiefly known for having been foster-mother to the future King Edgar the Peaceful following his mother's death in 944, when he was an infant. She had four sons, and the youngest, Æthelwine, became the chief secular magnate and leading supporter of the monastic reform movement. Ælfwynn donated her estates for his foundation of Ramsey Abbey in 966 and was probably buried there.