St Chad

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Bishop. St Chad was the first bishop of Mercia and Lindsay at Lichfield. Born in Northumbria in the 7th century, he was a pupil of St Aidan at Lindisfarne, who sent him to Ireland for part of his education. He later became abbot of Lastingham in Yorkshire, but was then called to be bishop of York. In 669 St Theodore of Canterbury judged him to have been irregularly consecrated. Chad accepted the decision and humbly went back to his monastery. Theodore was so impressed by his character he made him bishop of Mercia with his see at Lichfield.

St Chad lived only three years longer, but during that time, according to Bede: "he administered his diocese in great holiness of life, following the example of the ancient fathers."

St Chad always travelled on foot, until Archbishop Theodore insisted that he rode a horse. He founded a monastery in Lincolnshire, probably at Barrow upon Humber and another near Lichfield Cathedral. He died on this day in 672 and was very soon venerated as a saint. There were many reports of healings at his tomb which became a popular centre for pilgrimage.

Several shrines were built to him at the cathedral church of St Peter each more elaborate until the last one, built by the bishop of Lichfield Robert Stretton in the late 1300s. which was decorated in gold and precious jewels.

Rowland Lee, the last Catholic bishop of Lichfield from 1534 - 53, begged Henry VIII to spare the shrine but it was destroyed by reformers. Some bones were later discovered, apparently preserved by recusants. These are now in St Chad's Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham. They were recently carbon-tested and date to the seventh century

An illuminated Gospel of St Chad, that probably belonged to the shrine, is now in Lichfield cathedral library. Thirty-nine ancient churches and several wells mainly in the Midlands were dedicated to St Chad. There are also several modern dedications.

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