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St. Chad, Bishop of Lichfield
(AD 623-672): His Death

After a rule of two and a half years, a deadly plague began to ravage the Midlands. Many of the Lichfield brethren were felled by the disease and it was not long before Bishop Chad's time came near. This was heralded by a heavenly audition, witnessed by Owin, a monk of great merit who had joined Chad at Lastingham from the entourage of St. Etheldreda, whilst he worked outside the Bishop's oratory. Chad immediately called upon him to gather the brethren, then praying in the church, around him. He encouraged them to preserve the virtue of peace amongst them and follow his example in all things when he had gone. He explained to Owin that his death would come to pass within seven days, and so it did.

Chad died on the 2nd March AD 672 and was first buried in St. Mary's Church at Lichfield. Like many cathedrals of the time, however, there were many churches in the Episcopal complex and when the Church of St. Peter was completed, his bones were translated thither. Frequent miraculous cures were attested in both places.

Though Chad's episcopate was short, it was abundantly esteemed by the warm-hearted Mercians, for thirty-one churches are dedicated in his honour, all in the midland counties, either in or near the ancient diocese of Lichfield. His relics were translated to the present Cathedral, when it was rebuilt by Bishop Roger, in honour of SS. Mary and Chad. There, they reposed in a beautiful shrine erected by Bishop Walter Langton in his newly-built Lady Chapel from the early 14th century until the Reformation. Some of them were saved from destruction and are now on display in Birmingham Roman Catholic Cathedral.

Chad's emblem is a branch, perhaps this was suggested by the Gospel of St. John which speaks of the fruitful branches of the vine. This was formerly read on the Feast of Chad's Translation, which was celebrated with great pomp at Lichfield every 2nd August. However, he is most easily recognised in art through his cradling a little church with three spires, ie. Lichfield Cathedral.

Partly Edited from S. Baring-Gould's "The Lives of the Saints" (1877).

Part 1: Training & Abbacy of Lastingham


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