Commemorated December 30/January 12 (repose) and September 10/23 (translation of relics)
The hierarch fully devoted himself to the service to people. He preached the Word of God with zeal. The people at once came to love him for his prudence, fairness and honesty. Egwin was by nature affable and meek, but he also could be strict and unshakeable—in cases when the Truth of God was to be defended. According to one legend, once some people who had fallen away from Christian teaching slandered the future saint. The latter took this with great humility but at the same time, caring for his flock, he decided to prove his innocence. So he decided to make his way to Rome, having first put himself into irons and thrown the key into the River Avon.
King Ethelred became more and more attached to the saintly bishop and soon entrusted the education of his sons to him. The holy bishop, to whom the people referred as their "father", confirmed his preaching with the example of his life and worked many miracles. With time, he more and more often began to retreat for quiet prayer. He was particularly attracted to a wild, wooded place on the bank of the River Avon, called Hethom (later known as Evesham). The saint asked King Ethelred to grant him this land and the latter gladly agreed to it. The holy hierarch felt that this place was special and chosen by God - this was soon to be confirmed: the Monastery of Evesham was to be founded there, which afterwards was considered among the largest and most important in England and even Western Europe. This happened in about the year 702 or 709.
Once a certain herdsman named Ioves was searching for a pig that had gone astray. He walked deep into the forest and saw the Mother of God with two angels on the site of present-day Evesham. The Holy Virgin was holding an open book and a cross in her hands, and wonderful singing could be heard around her. Amazed by this vision, the herdsman told Bishop Egwin about the miracle. The saint prayed very hard for several days and then decided to go to that place himself. The holy hierarch had exactly the same vision, which had already appeared to Ioves. The Mother of God ordered Bishop Egwin to found a monastery on the site and blessed him with a cross. This event is considered to be the first recorded miraculous appearance of the Mother of God in England. Egwin hastened with great joy to fulfil the order of the Most Pure Virgin and, with the support of King Ethelred, founded Evesham Monastery soon after that (the town's name "Evesham", according to a popular version, means the home of Iove, or Ioves’ home, after the herdsman). The town in the county of Worcestershire, where this monastery was founded, bears this name to this day.
Soon after the foundation of the monastery, the pious King Ethelred abdicated the throne in favour of his nephew Coenred and became a monk at the monastery of Bardney in Lincolnshire, where he lived until his repose. Coenred too was a devout Christian and did his best to support Egwin. In the year 709 Bishop Aldhelm of Sherborne, with whom Bishop Egwin had for many years been bound by spiritual friendship, reposed. On the same day in a miraculous dream it was revealed to Egwin that his close friend had died. He hurried to Doulting in Somerset, where Bishop Aldhelm had reposed. Then he accompanied the procession with the bishop's body on the journey from Daulting to Malmesbury (Wiltshire), and at his command crosses were erected at each stop in memory of the deceased. In the autumn of the same year in the town of Alcester in Warwickshire, not far from Evesham, a Church Council met. This specifically recognised all the privileges granted to the monastery of Evesham by the Pope and the kings. After the Council, Bishop Wilfrid of York went to Evesham together with Bishop Egwin and consecrated the church to the Mother of God, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul and All Saints (later on, Evesham Monastery was dedicated to the Mother of God and St. Egwin).
Before his death the venerable abbot was stricken by a long and serious illness, which he endured with great patience, and his prayer did not weaken until the last minute of his life. Bishop Egwin reposed on 30 December 717. The day of his repose later became his feast-day. Since then St. Egwin has become the patron saint of Evesham and its monastery. Soon after Bishop Egwin's repose his incorrupt relics were discovered and laid in a richly decorated shrine. St. Egwin was much loved and venerated in Evesham by its monks, citizens and pilgrims until the Reformation; he was also venerated in many other large monasteries in England.
Unfortunately, the monastery at Evesham was dissolved and completely destroyed in the 1530s during the Reformation. Almost nothing survived of a once huge and very famous monastery, and the relics of all its saints disappeared. But, in spite of all this, the memory of St. Egwin lives in Evesham to this day; Orthodox and Roman Catholic pilgrims come here. This small, pretty town to this day preserves the specific and rare atmosphere of holiness, peace and tranquillity. This spirit can be felt the best on the site of the former monastery.
Today pilgrims here can visit two ancient churches of the 13th century (dedicated to St. Laurence and All Saints), which were built by the monastery for the citizens. Near them, there are the remains of the ruins of Evesham Abbey and the former Abbey bell-tower, which is a real gem. Built early in the 16th century, it is a tower with a clock and a gate and contains a set of eight fine bells. There are also the town museum, the Abbey Park and the Roman Catholic church of the Holy Virgin and St. Egwin. We hope and pray that one day an Orthodox church will appear here, on a site chosen by the Mother of God.
12 / 01 / 2014