St Botolph

St Botolph was a Saxon monk who lived in the seventh century. He is thought to have died in 680 – the date of his birth is unknown.

According to a short biography written by Folcar, the Abbot of Thorney in the eleventh century, the future saint was sent to Germany by his parents to study with his brother Adulf. Adulf stayed abroad, becoming Bishop of Utrecht, but Botolph returned and was granted land by Ethelmund or Ethelwold, King of the southern angles, whose sisters he had met in Germany. The king offered Botolph land to build a monastery at Icanhoe (Ox-island).

Icanhoe has often been identified as modern day Boston, mainly because Boston was thought to be a corruption of ‘Botolph’s town’.  In fact there is more evidence to suggest that the location may have been near the village of Iken in Suffolk which also has an ancient church dedicated to Botolph.

Wherever the exact location, the monastery at Iken was mentioned in the Anglo Saxon chronicle in 654.  Botolph was known in the Saxon world for his wisdom, holiness and pastoral care. His brother Adulf was also venerated and made a saint, but his cult has not survived.

Some 64 parish churches are dedicated to Botolph – most of them in East Anglia and largely near the sea although there are three designed by Sir Christopher Wren in London.

His coat of arms is blue with white waves (marking his association with the sea and coast) and has the gold pectoral cross of an abbot (chief monk).

His feast day is 17 June and the feast of his translation is 1 December.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment