Home  »  Volume III: March  »  St. Felix, Bishop and Confessor

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

March 8

St. Felix, Bishop and Confessor

HE was a holy Burgundian priest, who converted and baptized Sigebert, prince of the East-Angles, during his exile in France, whither he was forced to retire, to secure himself from the insidious practices of his relations. Sigebert being called home to the crown of his ancestors, invited out of France his spiritual father St. Felix, to assist him in bringing over his idolatrous subjects to the Christian faith; these were the inhabitants of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire. Our saint being ordained bishop of Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury, and deputed by him to preach to the East-Angles, was surprisingly successful in his undertaking, and made almost a thorough conversion of that country. The most learned and most Christian king, Sigebert, as he is styled by Bede, concurred with him in all things, and founded churches, monasteries, and schools. From those words of Bede, that “he set up a school for youth, in which Felix furnished him with masters,” some have called him the founder of the university of Cambridge. St. Felix established schools at Felixtow; Cressy adds at Flixton or Felixton. King Sigebert, after two years, resigned his crown to Egric, his cousin, and became a monk at Cnobersburgh, now Burgh-Castle, in Suffolk, which monastery he had founded for St. Fursey. Four years after this, the people dragged him out of his retirement by main force, and conveyed him into the army, to defend them against the cruel King Penda, who had made war upon the East-Angles. He refused to bear arms, as inconsistent with the monastic profession; and would have nothing but a wand in his hand. Being slain with Egric in 642, he was honoured as a martyr in the English calendars, on the 27th of September, and in the Gallican on the 7th of August. Egric was succeeded by the good King Annas, the father of many saints; as, SS. Erconwald, bishop; Ethelrede, Sexburge, Ethelburge and Edilburge, abbesses; and Withburge. He was slain fighting against the pagans, after a reign of nineteen years, and buried at Blitheburg: his remains were afterwards removed to St. Edmond’s-bury. St. Felix established his see at Dummoc, now Dunwich, in Suffolk, and governed it seventeen years, dying in 646. He was buried at Dunwich; but his relics were translated to the abbey of Ramsey, under King Canutus. See Bede, l. 2. Malmesbury; Wharton, t. 1. p. 403. 1  1
Note 1. Dunwich was formerly a large city, with fifty-two religious houses in it, but was gradually swallowed up by the sea. The remains of the steeples are still discoverable, under water, about five miles from the shore. See Mr. Gardiner’s History and Antiquities of Dunwich, 4to. in 1754. [back]