Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict – Saint Egwin, Bishop

illustration of Saint Egwin, Bishop, from the book 'Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict', designed by Father Amandus LiebhaberSaint Egwin, having sprung from a royal race, could hardly fail to have imbibed with his mother’s milk a love of pomp and luxury, for all the early years of his life were spent in the various amusements of Court life. But while Saint Egwin allowed himself to fall into the vicious ways of his companions, in his heart he was longing for better things, and at last he appealed to Mary, who is the true anchor for wavering souls. No sooner had he done so than she instilled into his breast a fervent love for her, from which sprang desires after God, and a good hope; and thus was piety implanted in his soul. Henceforth, the pleasures of the Court disgusted him, and his one longing was to forsake the world and to devote himself to the Virgin “Star of the Sea.” To this end, he began a better life by exchanging the purple robes of royalty for the habits of a monk of the Benedictine Order, in the Monastery of Worcester; and when once he was free, as a religious, to devote himself to ” Maria Stella Maris,” he endeavoured to cleanse his soul from the defilements which it had contracted in the world. He spent his nights in silent vigils and fasted three days in the week; he shed floods of tears and continually macerated his body with scourging. Not content with these austerities, Saint Egwin also loaded his feet with heavy shackles, in order to deprecate the anger of the Lord; and lest he should be tempted to remove them, he locked the chains and threw the keys into the sea. Not long after he was ordered to go to Rome, and, as he was on his voyage, a great fish came from under the vessel and swam close to it until it was captured by the sailors. They killed it, and cut it open, when lo! in its inside they found the keys of the shackles which the Saint wore on his feet.

Later on, Saint Egwin was promoted, on account of the holiness of his life, to the See of Worcester, and as a Bishop he exhibited the same great virtue which had characterized him as a recluse. He never lost his ardent affection for our ” Lady of the Sea,” who deigned to come from Heaven to visit him from time to time, and in her honour he founded the noted Monastery of Evesham.

Saint Egwin was a father to the poor of his diocese, and they had no troubles which he did not endeavour to console. At last, being come to a good old age, the Saint expired in the year 712, his heart being full of love for Jesus and Mary. Many miracles were performed at his tomb.

– text and illustration taken from Saints of the Order of Saint Benedict by Father Aegedius Ranbeck, O.S.B.