St. Oswald of Northumbria (+August 5, 641/642)
Commemorated August 5
St. Oswald was king of Northumbria (Northern England) from 633 or 634 until his death. He married Cyneburh, the daughter of Cynegils, and they had one son, Ethelwald.
St. Oswald was born the son of Ethelfrith of Bernicia, King of Northumbria. After his father was defeated in battle, Oswald fled to Dalriada, where he was converted to Christianity by the monks of Iona. Returning from exile with an army, St. Oswald purposed to reunite Northumbria. The day before the two opposing sides met in battle at Heavenfield, Oswald made his soldiers construct a wooden cross. He knelt down, holding the cross in position until enough earth had been thrown in the hole to make it stand firm. He then prayedand asked his army to join in. Following his victory, Oswald reunited Northumbria.
St. Oswald spread Christianity in Northumbria. He gave the island of Lindisfarne to the bishop St. Aidan, who established a monastery there.
One Easter, St. Oswald was about to dine with St. Aidan. A crowd of poor came begging. St.Oswald gave them all the food and the wealth he carried on him, then had his silver table settings broken up and distributed. St. Aidan was so moved by the king's generosity that he grasped his right hand and exclaimed, "May this hand never perish!" For years after, the king was considered invincible. The hand has, indeed, survived, as it is enshrined as a relic in the Bamburgh church.
St. Oswald was killed by the Mercians at the Battle of Maserfield in 641 or 642, and his body was dismembered by the pagan Penda. The people quickly came to regard Oswald as a martyrand saint.