1 Corinthians 2:1-10; Psalm 15(16):1-2,5,7-10; 2 Corinthians 3:1-6; John 20:19-23
St Edmund Rich was born at St Edmund’s Lane, Abingdon, on 20 November, probably in the year 1175. His father was a rich merchant, hence the surname (which he never in fact used himself). Under the influence of his mother he led an ascetic life. He studied at Oxford and Paris, and became a teacher in about 1200 or a little earlier. For six years he lectured on mathematics and dialectics, apparently dividing his time between Oxford and Paris, and winning distinction for his part in introducing the study of Aristotle. He is the first known Oxford Master of Arts, and the place where he taught was eventually renamed St Edmund Hall.
Between 1205 and 1210 he changed direction, studying theology and being ordained a priest. He took a doctorate in divinity, and soon won fame as a lecturer on theology and as an extemporaneous preacher. Some time between 1219 and 1222 he was appointed vicar of the parish of Calne in Wiltshire and Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral, and finally became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1233. He was a notable and effective reforming Bishop. His love for discipline and justice aroused opposition, and he found himself ranged against Rome as champion of the national Church. Eventually, like his predecessors St Thomas Becket and Stephen Langton, he retired to Pontigny, where he is buried. He died at Soisy-Bouy on 16 November 1240.
Devotion to him was especially marked at Abingdon, and at Catesby where his sisters were both nuns. Edmund was canonised in 1246, and is the Joint-Principal Patron of the Diocese of Portsmouth.
He is venerated as a vigorous and reforming bishop and as a peacemaker, as well as being a distinguished commentator on the Scriptures and an effective spiritual writer.