Saints of The English Year – St. Chad

March 2nd

Ceadda or Chad (d.672) was the first bishop of the newly converted kingdom of Mercia, and made his seat at Lichfield. No major customs seem to have been attached to his feast day, although there were a number of churches dedicated to his name, and he achieved lasting fame in the sphere of medicinal wells. A number of wells with a healing reputation bore his name, including one in Lichfield which was claimed in the eighteenth century to be the very one in which the saint himself had bathed. A more famous one in Gray’s Inn Road, near King’s Cross, London, developed into a popular spa and then a pleasure garden; it lasted until 1860, when it was swept away during the building of the Metropolitan Railway.

According to the Venerable Bede, Chad’s reputation for healing emerged immediately after his death, and his first wooden shrine had an aperture into which the devotee could put their hands to gather pinches of dust to drop into water in order to make medicinal drinks for sick men and beasts.

[©Steve Roud: The English Year. penguin. 2006]

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