November 3

The feast of St Rumald

Few saints have lived as brief, or unlikely, lives as the English St Rumald (aka Rumwold, Grumbald, or Rumbald). The son of an Anglo-Saxon princess and the king of Northumbria in the 7th century, he emerged from the womb proclaiming “I am a Christian! I am a Christian! I am a Christian!” He then made a full and explicit confession of his faith; desired to be forthwith baptized; appointed his own godfathers; and chose his own name. He next directed a certain large hollow stone to be fetched for his font; and when some of his father’s servants attempted to obey his orders, but found the stone far too heavy to be removed, the two priests, whom he had appointed his godfathers, went for it, and bore it to him with the greatest ease. He was baptized by Bishop Widerin, assisted by a priest named Eadwold, and immediately after the ceremony he walked to a certain well near Brackley, which still bears his name, and there preached for three successive days; after which he made his will, bequeathing his body after death to remain at Sutton for one year, at Brackley for two years, and at Buckingham ever after. This done, he instantly expired.

This remarkable infant was venerated by the pious believers of Buckinghamshire until the 16th century when the English Reformation put an end to such customs. At least four churches dedicated to tiny Rumald still exist. He is not to be confused with his contemporary St Rumbold of Mechelen, the English missionary martyred in Belgium.

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