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SAINT EGBERT OF RATHEMIGISI

Feast Day: April 24

 

One of the many Englishmen, who in Anglo-Saxon days crossed the sea to acquire sanctity and learning in Ireland was a monk from Lindisfarne called Egbert. While living at the monastery of Rathnelsigi, during a terrible epidemic of plague, he vowed that if God would grant him time for repentance he would never return to his native land.

After his ordination to the priesthood, he conceived an ardent desire to evangelize Friesland and the north of Germany. But it was revealed to him that Providence had another design for him and he abandoned the enterprise to St Wigbert, St. Willibrord and others. His own task was to be less glorious, but no less difficult.

The great Paschal controversy (when Easter should be celebrated?) had ended in the general acceptance of the Roman use throughout the British Isles. The celebrated monastery of Iona alone held out, even the efforts of their own Abbot Adamnan having been unable to shake the adherence of the monks to the Columbian tradition.

Then, comes St. Egbert, who spent the last thirteen years of his life upon the Island. By his patient reasoning, enhanced by his reputation for holiness and learning, he succeeded where all others had failed. The very day on which he died, an old man of ninety, the brothers of Iona were keeping Easter Day for the first time with the rest of the Western Church. It was April 24, 729. His feast is observed in the Dioceses of Hexham and Argyll in England.