St. Richard the King, Confessor
Died 722. More than any other race, the Anglo Saxons are distinguished
for the royal patronage bestowed upon the Christian Church, and for the
way in which kings and their families have worked in the spreading of
the gospel in their own lands and overseas. St.Richard and his family
are outstanding examples. He was one of the kings or princes of Wessex,
related to the royal house of Kent, and married to Winna, herself a
descendant of Cerdic and aunt to Boniface of Crediton.
Richard was brought up as a Christian and his faith was real and firm.
When his eldest son Willibald was three years old, the child fell
grievously ill, and there seemed to be no hope for his recovery. His
father wrapped him in a blanket and, mounting his horse, rode out into
the night to a wayside crucifix at a crossroads near to the village
where they lived. Butler tells us that
"Saint Richard, when living, obtained by his prayers the recovery of
his younger son Willibald, whom he laid at the foot of a great crucifix
erected in a public place in England, when the child's life was
despaired of in a grievous sickness."
Richard placed the child at the foot of the cross and knelt in prayer,
pleading for his son's life. Willibald did recover, and two years later
he was entrusted to Egbald, the abbot of Warham, near Winchester, to be
When Willibald reached manhood, he returned to his family with a desire
to spread the faith abroad, and persuaded his father and brother to
accompany him on a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land. Richard had a
daughter, Walburga, by a second marriage, and she now entered the
convent at Wimborne, under the Abbess Tetta. When Richard had renounced
his royal estate, he set sail with his two sons from Hamblehaven near
Southampton. They made a leisurely progress through France, spending
time at various Christian centres including Rouen, and it seems that at
some time during their journey Richard took monastic vows.
They reached Italy and came to Lucca, where the Cathedral had been built
by an Irish monk called Frigidian, but known by the local inhabitants as
Frediano. Richard, who was growing old and had become infirm during his
travels, now succumbed to the heat and died. His sons saw to his burial
in St. Frediano's church and then continued their journey. Later they
joined their uncle St.Boniface and their sister St.Walburga in the work
of converting the Germans. Their father, St.Richard, is still venerated
in Lucca. A famous account of the pilgrimage on which he died was
written by his son's cousin, the nun Hugeburc, entitled "Hodoeporicon"
An Alphabetical Index of the Saints of the Westhttp://www.orthodoxengland.btinternet.co.uk/saintsa.htm
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