St. Chad

Saint Chad (d.672) A Real Servant

Saint Chad was the youngest of four brothers who were among the first students to enter Saint Aidan's school on Lindisfarne. He was an able student with an alert mind and so, as soon as he felt he was old enough, Aidan set him to study in the community of Rathmelsigi in Ireland. Rathmelsigi was noted for its library and Chad made full use of the opportunity presented to him.

After several years in Ireland, Chad returned to Lindisfarne where he became a tutor, or "Anamchara" responsible for the spiritual well being of his charge. One of the monks placed under Chad's care was a man named Trumberht, who would later be responsible for teaching a young Bede.

In 664 King Oswy convened the synod of Whitby in order to discover why the Celtic Christians were celebrating Easter one week earlier than their Roman counterparts. It was a difficult debate, especially as Wilfrid seemed set on both winning the argument and humiliating his Celtic opponents. This meant that, when King Oswy decided in favour of Rome, many of the Celtic monks returned to Iona.

One of the results of the Synod of Whitby was that Northumberland needed a bishop. Oswy's son suggested Wilfrid but, when he decided to go to France for a proper consecration and was gone for over a year, King Oswy asked Chad to step into the vacancy. Shortly after taking up office, Chad learned that his elder brother Cedd was critically ill; a plague had hit his community at Lastingham. Chad rushed to his brother's side where he agreed to his dying request to become the community's Abbot. Chad spent the next five years balancing his two responsibilities.

In 669, Wilfrid complained to the Archbishop that Chad was in office illegally: the Bishop who had consecrated him had a question mark over his ability to officiate. The Archbishop spoke privately to Chad who agreed to stand down and devote his time to Lastingham. There, he welcomed Owine. Owine had been an official in the court of King Edgrith, Oswy's son, but now he sought a quiet life. He entered Lastingham wanting nothing more than to work for the community: despite his former high standing, he now wanted only to be a servant. Chad granted his request.

Chad wasn't at Lastingham for long before the Bishop of Mercia died and, remembering his humility, The Archbishop asked Chad to take up the post. Chad agreed. He chose a small team of monks, including Owine, and set out for Litchfield where he founded the community which would eventually become Litchfield Cathedral.

Chad served the people of Mercia well, spending many hours in prayer. He died after a short illness in March 672 with Owine and several of the brothers at his side.

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