> Commemoration: Saint Chad of Lichfield and Mercia
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Annually on March 2
Saint Chad of Lichfield and Mercia
Bishop of Lichfield and Missionary
d. 672 A.D.
Portrait retrieved from All Saints & Martyrs.
PRAYER (traditional language):
Almighty God, whose servant Chad, for the peace of the Church, Relinquished the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray thee, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to give place to others, in honor preferring one another, that the cause of Christ may be advanced; in the name of him who washed his disciples' feet, even the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
One of four brothers dedicated to service in the Church, Chad was trained by Aidan of Lindisfarne as a follower of the Celtic tradition in ritual. His elder brother Cedd, a godly and upright man, had built a monastery at Lastingham, where he governed as abbot. At his death, Cedd left the abbacy to Chad. According to the Venerable Bede, Chad was “a holy man, modest in his ways, learned in the Scriptures, and zealous in carrying out their teaching.”
Impressed by Chad’s qualities, the King appointed him Bishop of York. Chad was ordained by “bishops of the British race who had not been canonically ordained,” Bede tells us. Chad was, Bede also notes, “a man who kept the Church in truth and purity, humility, and temperance.” Following apostolic example, he traveled about his diocese on foot.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore, arrived in England four years after Chad’s ordination as bishop. Theodore made it clear that Chad’s ordination had been irregular, that is, not according to Roman custom; and Chad most humbly offered to resign from office. “Indeed, I never believed myself worthy of it,” he said.
Theodore, impressed by such humility, reordained him, and appointed him Bishop of Mercia and Northumbria. Chad continued his custom of traveling on foot, until Theodore ordered him to ride, at least on longer journeys. When Chad hesitated, the Archbishop is said to have lifted him bodily onto the horse, “determined to compel him to ride when the need arose.”
Chad administered his new diocese with devout concern. He built a monastery, and established monastic rule at Barrow. In his see city of Lichfield, where he had an official dwelling, he preferred to read and meditate in a small house he had built nearby.
Two and one-half years after his reordination, plague broke out, killing many residents of the diocese including Chad himself, whose death Bede describes thus: “He joyfully beheld ... the day of the Lord, whose coming he had always anxiously awaited. He was mindful to his end of all that the Lord did.” He was buried at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter in Lichfield.
To learn about Saint Chad of Lichfield and Mercia, click the link below.