Wigstan

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"Wistan" redirects here. For the villages in Iran, see Vistan.
Wigstan
House House of Mercia
Father Wigmund
Mother Ælfflæd
Died 1 June 849 AD
Burial Repton, Derbyshire
Wigstan (Wystan, Wistan)
Died 849
Feast 1 June

Wigstan (died c.840 AD), also known as Saint Wystan, was the son of Wigmund of Mercia and Ælfflæd, daughter of King Ceolwulf I of Mercia.

History[edit]

The crypt where Wigstan was originally buried

like many other people who lived at this time very little is known about them which is the case for Wigstan, Some of what we do know is that he was the son of Wigmund and Ælfflæd, who were both the offspring of Mercian kings, Wiglaf and Ceolwulf I, Wigstan's grand-fathers. Wigmund according the Croyland Chronicle died of dysentry before his father king Wiglaf, making Wigstan the heir to the kingdom of Mercia, however when Wiglaf died in 839, he apparently declined the kingship preffering religious life instead, Beorhtwulf possibly Wigstan's great-uncle became king instead, according to William of Malmesbury Beorhtwulf's son Beorhtric wanted to marry Wigstan's widowed mother Ælfflæd but Wigstan would not allow it because they were too closely related, so Beorhtfrith went to visit the young King in peace but, when the two greeted each other, he struck Wigstan on the head with the shaft of his dagger and his servant ran him through with his sword.

Beorhtfrith, son of Beorhtwulf, king of Mercia, unjustly put to death his cousin, St Wigstan on the Kalends of June [1st June], being the eve of Pentecost. He was grandson of two of the kings of Mercia; his father, Wigmund, being the son of King Wiglaf, and his mother, Ælfflæd, the daughter of King Ceolwulf. His corpse was carried to a monastery which was famous in that age, called Repton, and buried in the tomb of his grandfather, King Wiglaf. Miracles from heaven were not wanting in testimony of his martyrdom; for a column of light shot up to heaven from the spot where the innocent saint was murdered, and remained visible to the inhabitants of that place for 30 days.

The site of Wigstan's martyrdom has been variously claimed to be Wistanstow (Shropshire), Wistow (Leics) or Wistow (Cambs), which all happen to be derived from his name. Wigstan became a famous saint and Repton became a centre of pilgrimage as a result, which led Cnut the Great to have his relics moved to Evesham, where the Vita Sancti Wistani was written by Dominic of Evesham, a medieval prior there.[1] [2]

Hagiography[edit]

The saints relics were relocated to the Abbey at Evesham.[3] His vita (meaning "life" a history recording reputed acts of sanctity) has been attributed to the Benedictine chronicler Dominic of Evesham, an early 12th-century Prior at Evesham. The edifice of the abbey (including the tomb of the four saints and many monastic buildings) were demolished during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Noted Edwardian artist Margaret E.A. Rope was commissioned for the windows in the parish church in Shropshire dedicated to the miraculous pillar of light leading to discovery of the earthly remains of the slain martyr.

  • Saint Wistan early twentieth-century stained-glass window
  • Saint Wistan statuary (unattributed)
  • Saint Wystan statuary above porch at Repton (gifted 1911, absent sword replaced in 2003).

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Timeline", Vale of Evesham Historical Society
  2. ^ Jennings "Writings" English Historical Review p. 298
  3. ^ On St. Wigstan see ‘The Medieval Hagiography of Saint Ecgwine’, p.79 & p.83. This notes that Abbot Ælfweard occupied himself with increasing Evesham’s prestige, and instigated the translation of Saint Wigstan to Evesham, and Evesham Abbey and the Parish Churches: A Guide, p.8. E.J. Rudge, p.13 notes that Ælfweard entreated King Canute to present the abbey church with the relics of Wystan. George May (1834), p.47 refers to St Wulstan. Also see The Victoria History of the County of Worcester, p.387 and ‘The Mitred Abbey of St. Mary, Evesham’, p.12.
  4. ^ http://liberalengland.blogspot.com/2007/03/martyrdom-of-st-wystan.html Liberal England blog

Sources[edit]