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4th September

 Another saint with a link to i-church. The present Bishop of Dorchester is an i-church trustee. This is one of the things about the Church I think is very valuable; these links with those who have gone before. This sense of continuity.

Birinus was sent to Britain by Pope Honorius to evangelise inland Britain around 634. When he landed in Wessex he found the people there so heathen he decided to stay and start his work there, rather than travel to more distant places. On arrival he met with the King who allowed him to preach but did not convert himself. These early missions in Britain are very bound up in the lives and politics of the kings and kingdoms of the time. We saw this at work in the life of Aidan of Lindisfarne. Birinus’ life also demonstrates this. “The King was, at the time, desperately trying to finalise an alliance with the powerful King Oswald of Northumbria. Together he hoped they could defeat the hated Mercians. Cynegils arranged negotiations at his palace in Easthampstead (Berkshire), and the King of Northumbria travelled down to meet him. On reaching Finchampstead (Berkshire), the King became thirsty and prayed for water. The Holy Dozell's (or St.Oswald's) Well instantaneously sprang up and flowed fresh water. Image courtesy of lockstockb on sxc.huAt the Royal talks the only sticking point was that Oswald was a Christian and would not ally himself to any pagan. So the King of Wessex decided it was time to be baptised into this new church. Oswald agreed the alliance could then be cemented by his marriage to the daughter of the southern King. Birinus was sent for and, at the nearby Fountain Garth (Bracknell, Berkshire), Cynegils was baptised immediately.” from a good account with lots of colourful history. Not long afterwards many of his courtiers wished to convert and Birinus arranged for a mass baptismal ceremony. I think the King Oswald referred to above is Aidan's King Oswald.

We don’t know much more about Birinus. His burial place in Dorchester became a popular pilgrimage site. I like to think that he was a person whose manner of life reflected the values of his Christian faith and so he was a living example not just a preacher of words. And that it was this example that made him venerated and remembered as a saint.


Exciting Holiness a short account


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