From Edburga to Elvis: unusual saints and their churches
with Richard Churchley
Thursday 31 October 2019
Did you know that that there was a 5th Century Saint by the name of Elvis? This was probably a surprise to all who attended the talk given by Dr. Richard Churchley on 31 October, titled “From Edburgha to Elvis”. The story of the Saints, and the Churches associated with these little-known historical figures, was one which contained both myth and uncertainty as well as documented historical provenance. St Elvis, Welsh Eiflw, for example, was a Celtic Saint who had been baptised around 454 AD in South Wales, in an old Abbey building near in St David’s, which still remains. He is credited with baptising St David. His name is retained by St Elvis Island at St Elvis parish.
Many examples of other Saints were given, for example St. Milburga, after whom a Church in Wixford is dedicated, was born in 664 in Shropshire at Stoke St. Milborough. The daughter of a Mercian King, she was destined to marry a neighbouring prince but fled; when she came to a stream the waters miraculously parted, allowing her to cross; the water then reformed and drowned her pursuer; she later entered a monastery in Shropshire. Also mentioned was St. Eadburgha, to whom the church in Broadway is dedicated. St. Wite – who had been killed by the Danes – is the patron of her church at Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset; but inside the church there is still a relic and two shrines dedicated to her, an extremely rare survival of a shrine with relics intact in a Protestant Parish Church.
As Dr. Churchley explained many of the Saints mentioned had been canonised largely because of their position in Christian society as sons or daughters of Kings, or because of their life as Bishops. But others came from lowly backgrounds, such as St. Calixtus, who had been a Roman slave and had worked his way up to become Pope.
Through St. Helen, St. Alban, St. Leonard and St. Kenelm, and many others, Dr. Churchley gave a great deal for people to consider when passing their local church!