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Áedán [St Áedán, Aidan] (d. 651), missionary and bishop, was an Irish monk of Iona. All that is known about him comes from Bede's Historia ecclesiastica, completed in 731. King Oswald of the Northumbrians (r. 634–42) converted to Christianity while in exile from ...

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Æthelburh [St Æthelburh, Ethelburga] (fl. 664), abbess of Barking, was the sister of Earconwald (d. 693), abbot of Chertsey and bishop of London. Nothing certain is known of her family background, though she may have originated among the Kentish aristocracy: Æthelburh shares her name with the Kentish princess who became ...

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Asaf [St Asaf, Asaph, Asa] (supp. fl. 6th cent.), bishop, is the patron of St Asaph and the nearby Llanasa in north-east Wales. According to late medieval and early modern Welsh saints' genealogies, he was the son of Sawyl Benuchel ap Pabo Post Prydain...

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Augustine [St Augustine] (d. 604), missionary and archbishop of Canterbury, was the leader of the first official Christian mission to the Anglo-Saxons. He was sent by Pope Gregory the Great, arrived in Kent in 597, and became the first archbishop of Canterbury. Nothing is known of his parentage or antecedents, beyond that he was a monk, presumably of ...

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Bega [St Bega] (supp. fl. late 7th cent.), abbess of Hartlepool, was a legendary Irish saint, supposedly active in northern England in the seventh century. Her life and miracles are described in an anonymous account, probably written at the priory of St Bees...

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Patrick Sims-Williams

Beuno [St Beuno] (d. 653/9), holy man, was the most important saint of north Wales, comparable to David in the south. His feast on 21 April is first attested in the twelfth-century Irish martyrologies of Tallaght and of Gorman, which draw on an exemplar of ...

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Botwulf [St Botwulf, Botolph] (fl. 654–c. 670), abbot of Iken, began to build his minster of ‘Icanho’ (now conclusively identified as Iken, Suffolk) in 654 according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Ceolfrith, the future abbot of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, is said by his anonymous biographer to have visited ...

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Brynach [St Brynach, Bernachius, Bernacius] (fl. 6th cent.), founder of the church of Nevern, Pembrokeshire, was not of Welsh descent. His pedigree is in neither of the two main collections of saints' genealogies, Bonedd y saint and Achau'r saint, and his life, twelfth-century in its present form, fails to give the names of his parents, though it does say, probably as a mere hagiographical formula, that he was of noble descent. Much of the substance of the life is a collection of traditional narrative motifs, some purely hagiographical (such as voyaging upon a rock), others more general; it is, however, a well-constructed text written in good and vigorous Latin. There are two main sections: first, the saint's wanderings, and, second, his dealings with ...

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Bugga (fl. late 7th–early 8th cent.), abbess, was the daughter of King Centwine of Wessex (r. 676–85). She is known chiefly from a poem written by Aldhelm to celebrate a church she had built dedicated to the Virgin Mary; her nunnery is the earliest recorded in the kingdom of the West Saxons. The poem gives some interesting information on the operation of the mixed community of monks and nuns over which ...

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Cadfan [St Cadfan] (supp. fl. 6th cent.), founder of a religious settlement, was the patron saint of Tywyn (Merioneth), Llangadfan (Montgomeryshire), and perhaps a monastery on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island); his feast day was celebrated on 1 November. There is no surviving life of ...

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Cedd [St Cedd] (d. 664), bishop of the East Saxons, was the eldest of four brothers who were Northumbrian and educated at Lindisfarne by Áedán and Finan. Cedd and the others, Ceadda, Cynebill, and Caelin, all became priests and Ceadda also a bishop. Nearly all that is known of them comes from ...