SAINT HEDDA of WINCHESTER

Feast Day July 7th

Hedda, or Haeddi first appears in the records when he was consecrated by Theodore, at Canterbury in 676, after being educated at Whitby. He was sent to be the bishop of the West Saxons. As the power base of these people had shifted from the settlers in the Thames Valley to the more powerful tribes around Southampton, Hedda moved from Dorchester-on-Thames to Winchester, thus making it both the political and religious centre of Wessex and latterly, for a time the capital of England.

Hedda's episcopate spanned the reigns of Centwine and Caedwalla; the latter expelled him and Hedda did not return to Winchester until after the king's death, in Rome, in 689. The last king to serve with Hedda was Ina who acknowledged the bishop's help in framing his laws.

The Venerable Bede remarked in his writings on Hedda's prudence and innate wisdom. Despite these accolades little is known of his episcopate except that he translated the relics of Birinus, the founder of the bishopric at Dorchester-on-Thames to the new Cathedral in Winchester and he enjoyed high esteem from his contemporaries. Hedda died in 705 and was buried in his Cathedral where he remains undisturbed unto this day. He was culted in the Wessex monasteries and also in Crowland where he was believed to have ordained Guthlac. Cures were said to have happened at his tomb by taking dust from his grave and mixing it with water.

John Hayward

 

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