icon_bede-October 12th is the feast of St Wilfrid (c. 633-c. 709).

Wilfrid was expelled from his bishopric, and having long travelled in many lands, went to Rome, and afterwards returned to Britain.

Though he could not, by reason of the enmity of the aforesaid king, be received into his own country or diocese, yet he could not be restrained from the ministry of the Gospel;

for, taking his way into the province of the South Saxons, which …  was at that time still in bondage to pagan rites, he administered to them the Word of faith, and the Baptism of salvation.

[…]  The bishop, therefore, with the consent of King Ethelwalch, or rather to his great joy, cleansed in the sacred font the foremost ealdormen and thegns of that country; and the priests…baptized the rest of the people.

The queen, whose name was Eabae, had been baptized in her own country, … but all the province of the South Saxons was ignorant of the Name of God and the faith.

[…] Bishop Wilfrid, while preaching the Gospel to the people, not only delivered them from the misery of eternal damnation, but also from a terrible calamity of temporal death.

For no rain had fallen in that district for three years before his arrival in the province, whereupon a grievous famine fell upon the people and pitilessly destroyed them.

[…] . But on the very day on which the nation received the Baptism of the faith, there fell a soft but plentiful rain; the earth revived, the fields grew green again, and the season was pleasant and fruitful.

Thus the old superstition was cast away, and idolatry renounced, the heart and flesh of all rejoiced in the living God, for they perceived that He Who is the true God had enriched them by His heavenly grace with both inward and outward blessings.

For the bishop, when he came into the province, and found so great misery from famine there, taught them to get their food by fishing; for their sea and rivers abounded in fish, but the people had no skill to take any of them, except eels alone.

The bishop’s men having gathered eel-nets everywhere, cast them into the sea, and by the blessing of God took three hundred fishes of divers sorts, which being divided into three parts, they gave a hundred to the poor, a hundred to those of whom they had the nets, and kept a hundred for their own use.

By this benefit the bishop gained the affections of them all, and they began more readily at his preaching to hope for heavenly blessings, seeing that by his help they had received those which are temporal.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Ecclesiastical History of England, 4, 13.

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