Sunday, July 27, 2014

SAINT CUTHMAN OF STEYNING

St. Cuthman of Steyning
Feast day: February 8

Death: 8th/9th Century


A saint of southern England, a holy Shepard near Steyning in Sussex. He cared for his aging mother and, aided by his neighbors, built a church in Steyning. Cuthman, who was known for his miracles, was honored in the church that he built. His relics were later transferred to FeCamp, in France.


 9th century. Among the ancient Anglo-Saxon saints was Cuthman, a native of Devon or Cornwall judging by his name; some ancient documents seem to indicate that he was possibly born at Chidham near Bosham 681, who spent his youth as a shepherd on the moors. A grey and weather-beaten stone high among the heather is said to mark the spot where he used to sit, and around which he drew a wide circle in the gorse, outside which his sheep were not allowed to wander. When his father died and his mother was left poor, Cuthman proved himself a good son and worked hard for their joint livelihood, but when she fell sick he was unable to leave her and they became destitute.

 Cuthman, at his wit's end, made a wooden two-wheeled barrow in which he laid his mother, and with its two handles supported by a rope round his neck, begged from door to door. But the dream of his life was to build a church, and though he had no idea how this could be done, he resolved to leave Cornwall with its bleak and windswept moors and travel eastward.

 Putting his mother in the barrow along with their few belongings, he pushed it day after day across the breadth of England until he came to Steyning in West Sussex. There the rope which held the barrow broke, and this he took for a sign that it was here where he must settle. He prayed by the roadside: "O Almighty Father, who has brought my journey to an end, You know how poor I am, and a laborer from my youth, and of myself I can do nothing unless You succor me."

 Here by the River Adur, in a lonely and quiet spot among the Downs, he built a hut to shelter his mother, and then measured out the ground on which to build his church. The local people were kind to him; they watched him dig the foundations single-handedly, cut the timber and build the walls, and they provided two oxen to help him. One day, however the oxen strayed and were carried off by two youths who refused to return them, whereupon Cuthman was angry. "I need them not," he said, "to do my own work but to labor for God." and he yoked the two youths themselves to his cart to draw it. "It must be moved," he said, "and you must move it."

 So Cuthman built a church and preached and stirred up the people. And there where he worked, he died, and was buried beside the river, and they called the place Saint Cuthman's Port, for the river in those days was navigable.

 Cuthman's name occurs in several early medieval calendars and in the old Missal that was used by the English Saxons before the Norman conquest kept in the monastery of Jumieges, in which a proper mass is assigned for his feast, a German martyrology clearly indicates a pre-Conquest cultus, and the church at Steyning seems to have been dedicated to him in the past. Saint Edward the Confessor gave the Steyning church to F├ęcamp, which monastery built a cell of monks on the site of his old wooden church and built a new one dedicated to his memory, although Cuthman's relics were translated to Fecamp. The information on Cuthman preserved there may contain some genuine material.

 In art, Saint Cuthman is always shown among sheep because he was a shepherd of Steyning . He feast is kept at most Benedictine monasteries in Normandy

No comments:

Post a Comment