Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fremund of Dunstable

Martyred c.866. Saint Fremund is sometimes depicted as a king, but it is more likely that he was a noble man's son, although he may have been related to St.Edmund, King of East Anglia. He was born in Warwickshire near Offchurch but at quite an early age he left home to lead a solitary life as a hermit on an island called Ylefagel, which may be Steep Holm or Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel. At that time the English were constantly under threat from invasions by the Danes, and it seems that Fremund felt obliged to leave his hermitage to take up arms in defence of the Christian religion and the freedom of his people.

He died in battle at Harbury not far from his home, and it was believed that an apostate kinsman by the name of Oswi was responsible for his death, having allied himself to the heathen Danes in order to further his ambitions. Fremund's body was taken to Offchurch for burial, and the fact that the church was founded by King Offa may have been the reason that Fremund has been described as his son.

The Life by William of Ramsey and a later one by the monk John Lydgate of Burry say that his tomb was visited by many pilgrims in search of healing and that in 931 his relics were translated to Cropredy in Oxfordshire. Certainly there was a shrine containing his relics there in the Middle Ages, and there is a meadow by the River Cherwell called Freeman's Holm. Richard, Prior of the new foundation at Dunstable, was visitor of the Lincoln Diocese in 1206 and found many pilgrims coming to the little church.

Dunstable was a Priory of Austin Canons founded by Henry I late in the twelfth century at the spot where Watling Street crosses the prehistoric Icknield Way. Presumably relics were needed for this church, and in 1210 at least some of St.Fremund's remains were taken to Dunstable and an altar was dedicated to him.

The shrine was destroyed at the dissolution, but the magnificent nave and Norman doorway remain in what is now the parish church of St. Peter.

Fremund of Dunstable - 11 May - Hermit and Martyr

The Collect.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst strengthen thy blessed martyr Fremund of Dunstable with the virtue of constancy in faith and truth: Grant us in like manner for love of thee to despise the prosperity of this world, and to fear none of its adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - 2 Esdras 2:42-48.

I ESDRAS saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly. So I asked the angel, and said, Sir, what are these? He answered and said unto me, These be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and have confessed the name of God: now are they crowned, and receive palms. Then said I unto the angel. What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their hands? So he answered and said unto me, It is the Son of God, whom they have confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them that stood so stiffly for the name of the Lord. Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God, thou hast seen.

The Gospel - St. Matthew 10:16-22.

BEHOLD, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall he brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

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