Monday, October 26, 2015
ST ALFRED THE GREAT - FEASTDAY 26TH OCTOBER
King of Wessex, scholar, and renowned Christian monarch. Alfred was born in 849, the fifth son of the Wessex king. During a journey to Rome in 853, he was accepted as a godson by Pope Leo IV . He was a great scholar, translating classics for his people, and early on seemed destined for a career in the Church. Instead, he became king and was forced to spend most of his reign in conflict with the Danes who were then threatening England.
Alfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is one of only two English monarchs to be given the epithet “the Great”. Alfred undertook no systematic reform of ecclesiastical institutions or religious practices in Wessex. For him the key to the kingdom’s spiritual revival was to appoint pious, learned and trustworthy bishops and abbots. As king he saw himself as responsible for both the temporal and spiritual welfare of his subjects. Secular and spiritual authority were not distinct categories for Alfred.
He was equally comfortable distributing his translation of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care to his bishops so that they might better train and supervise priests and using those same bishops as royal officials and judges. )
His work as a patron of the arts, literature, and especially the Church made him a beloved figure in England.