Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Hedda, Bishop and Confessor
HE was an English Saxon, a monk of the monastery of St. Hilda, and was made bishop of the West-Saxons in 676. He resided first at Dorchester, near Oxford, but afterwards removed his see to Winchester. King Ceadwal going to Rome to be baptized died there, and was buried in the church of St. Peter in 688. His kinsman Ina succeeded him in the throne.1 In his wise and wholesome laws, the most ancient extant among those of our English Saxon kings, enacted by him in a great council of bishops and aldermen in 693, he declares that in drawing them up he had been assisted by the counsels of St. Hedda and St. Erconwald.2 In these laws theft is ordained to be punished with cutting off a hand or a foot; robbery on the highway, committed by a band not under seven in number, with death, unless the criminal redeem his life according to the estimation of his head. Church dues are ordered to be paid under a penalty of forty shillings; and if any master order a servant to do any work on a Sunday, the servant is made free, and the master amerced thirty shillings. St. Hedda governed his church with great sanctity about thirty years, and departed to the Lord on the 7th of July, 705. Bede3 and William of Malmesbury assure us, that his tomb was illustrated by many miracles. His name is placed in the Roman Martyrology. See Solier the Bollandist, t. 2. Julij, p. 482.
Note 1. King Ina ruled the West-Saxons thirty-seven years with great glory, from the abdication of Ceadwalla, who died at Rome. Ina vanquished the Welch, several domestic rebels, and foreign enemies: made many pious foundations, and rebuilt in a sumptuous manner the abbey of Glastenbury. Ralph or Ranulph Higden in his Polychronicon, and others say this king first established the Rome-scot or Peterpence, which was a collection of a penny from every house in his kingdom paid yearly to the see of Rome. By considering the vanities of the world, and moved by the frequent exhortations of the queen his wife, he renounced the world in 728, in the highest pitch of human felicity, and leaving his kingdom to Ethelheard his kinsman, travelled to Rome, was there shorn a monk, and grew old in that mean habit. His wife accompanied him thither, confirmed him in that course, and imitated his example: so that living not far from each other in mutual love, and in the constant exercises of penance and devotion, they departed this life at Rome, not without doing divers miracles, as William of Malmesbury, and H. Huntingdon write. In 696, Sebbi, the pious king of the East-Saxons, preferred also a private life to a crown, took the monastic habit with the blessing of Bishop Whaldere, successor to St. Erkenwald in the see of London, after bestowing a great sum of money in charity, and soon after departed this life in the odour of sanctity. See Bede, b. 4, c. 11. [back]