Feast 26th October
St Chad, a 7th century priest, monk and bishop, served in Lichfield for just two-and-a-half years. But his heroic virtues have left an impact on that part of the West Midlands that has lasted for centuries, with more than 30 churches dedicated to the saint’s honour and as well as several wells and the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
He was one of four brothers who all became priests, and two of them – Chad and St Cedd – became bishops. They were Angles by race and were born in the kingdom of Northumbria, training at Lindisfarne under St Aidan.
St Chad went to Ireland after the death of St Aidan and spent several years working with St Egbert but was called back to England by his elder brother, Cedd, to be Abbot of Lastingham, near Whitby, Yorkshire.
Within a year he was summoned by King Oswy to become Bishop of York and was ordained in the province of the West Saxons, then immediately and strenuously devoted himself to the teaching of ecclesiastical truth and purity of doctrine. He gave great attention to the practices of self-denial, humility and study and would emulate the Apostles by travelling through the towns and villages of his diocese on foot, rather than on horseback, preaching the Gospel as he went.
When Theodore, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived in England in 669 he decided that St Chad’s episcopal ordination was irregular and gave his See to Wilfrid. The response of St Chad was one of humble acceptance which so impressed St Theodore that he made St Chad the Bishop of Mercia on the death of Jaruman.
After his consecration, St Chad moved the seat of the diocese from Repton to Lichfield and King Wulfhere gave him land on which to found a monastery. By the church in Lichfield St Chad also built a house of retreat, in which he would spend his leisure time with the seven or eight monks who settled there. St Chad died in Lichfield on 2nd March 672 after an illness which lasted seven days and after receiving the final sacraments of the Church.
The Diocese of Shrewsbury covers land formerly belonging to the old Diocese of Lichfield, established by St Chad, and the Diocese of Hereford. St Chad’s red cross is incorporated into the Shrewsbury diocesan heraldic crest.
Some of St Chad’s relics are in the cathedral of his name in Birmingham and a 7th century manuscript, known as St Chad’s Gospel, is preserved in Lichfield cathedral library.
Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints