Father Nektarios Serfes - St.Edward The Martyr  Last Modified February 8, 2003

The Life Of Among The Saints Edward The Martyr, King Of England
Compiled By Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Boise, Idaho
St Edward The Martyr
St Edward The Martyr
(Holy Transfiguration Monastery)

Many saints and martyrs existed before the "Great Schism", that took place in 1054 between the East and the West, who attested to the holy Orthodox faith. St. Edward the Martyr is an excellent example of such a saint. Edward is simply known as "Martyr", who was born in 960 and his holy martyrdom took place in the year of 978. Edward was the King of England, and he reigned from 975 to 978. His father was known as Edgar the Peaceful. I had learned from my Mother who had traced her family history, that we are related to St. Edward the Martyr, both myself and my family had been spiritually pleased to learn that we could trace our family history on my Mother's side, and to learn that we are related to not only to a King, but also a martyr of Christianity. My Father being Greek Orthodox had told us in our early young years, that the Church was "One" at the time of King Edward of England. So my Mother continued to seek more information...in regards to her side of the family, being she was Scotish and English. We later discovered that Edward the Martyr holy relics where transferred to a cemetery church, and called Brookwood Cemetery, located outside of London, England, in the town of Surrey. I also learned that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russian (also known as the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad), in 1979, degreed by the Synod of Bishops that recognized the desire to obtain the holy relics of the "The Holy Right-believing Edward, King of England, the Passion-Bearer." Eventually the holy relics of St. Edward the Martyr where placed in the Church of Brookwood Cemetery, in which a brotherhood of monks exist today, under the spiritual guidance of Archimandrite Alexis. My Mother had since been converted to the holy Orthodox faith, and has taken the name: Rebecca. Since the time of her conversion to the holy Orthodox faith, her life has changed, she has found a great deal of spiritual peace, and has now beheld the great spiritual beauty of the faith she truly loves today.

About ten years ago, I had the great spiritual joy to make a pilgrimage to England, and to venerate the holy relics of St. Edward the Martyr, it was for me one of the most moving experiences of my life, to stand and kneel before not only a holy martyr, but also a holy right-believing King, who loved God, and who gave his soul unto Christ our True God. Sadly enough I was only able to stay two days at the monastery, but it was two days, I never forgot, as I left spiritually uplifted and pleased to venerate such a holy martyr and saint of holy the Orthodox Church.



ST. EDWARD was the son of King Edgar the Peaceable, and succeeded to the throne of his father as King of England in 975 A.D. Of his character and piety we have his testimonial from Theodoric Paulus: "St. Edward was a young man of great devotion and excellent conduct; he was wholly Catholic, good and and of holy life; moreover, above all things he loved God and the Church; he was generous to the poor, a haven to the good, a champion of the Faith of Christ, a vessel full of every virtuous grace." He was an earnest supporter of the monastics in the life of the Church, as his father had been before him. But this aroused the displeasure of the powerful secular party within the Church, and, as so often happens in Church life, that displeasure found allies with ambition and jealousy, and the young king was brutally murdered at Corfe in Dorset in 979 A.D. After his death, the miracles worked through his intercessions have confirmed the testimony of his pious life and his martyrdom.


The day following his death, the king's body was taken to Wareham and laid to rest there. No sooner was he buried than miracles began to occur, and we read that "a spring of clear water broke out from beside the grave, and many persons bathed their eyes in it to receive the benefit of restored sight." On the account of the multitude of the miracles it was decided to translate the sacred relics to Shaftesbury; and when they were taken up from the grave, they were found to be whole and incorrupt. This translation and the reburial of the saint with full royal honors took place in 981 A.D. In the year 1001 A.D., the sacred relics were again taken up from the grave and placed in an elaborate shrine in the Shaftesbury Abbey church, because, through the miraculous "levitation" of his tomb, the saint had made known that he wished to be exhumed. This "levitation" was inf act the slight raising of the tomb from the ground each day, and was witnessed by many. The relics at this time were found to be fragrant, and the bishops there bore witness that they felt that they were standing amid the delights of paradise. So great was the fame of St. Edward that the town of Shaftesbury became known as St. Edward's Borough.


In the sixteenth century, during the reign of Henery VIII, when, at his command, the dissolution of the English monasteries began, when so many holy places were demolished, the sacred relics of St. Edward escaped destruction, being hidden, perhaps by the nuns of the abbey, perhaps by Henry's Royal Commissioners themselves, for it must be remembered that only two years previous to the dissolution King Henery had desired a long-awaited heir to his throne, whose name was Prince Edward. The destruction of the undoubted remains of a saint, martyr and former King of England bearing the same name as the heir, the king's only son, would without doubt have provoked the wrath of the monarch.


In 1931, the sacred and holy relics were recovered during an archaeological excavation conducted at the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey by the present donor, Mr. Wilson-Claridge. The bones were later examined by Dr. T.E.A. Stowell, an eminent osteologist, who, at the end of a lengthy report on the bones, concludes: "I cannot escape the conviction on historical, anatomical and surgical grounds that, beyond all reasonable doubt, we have here the bones of St. Edward, King and Martyr."


Since 1979, the appointed Administrator in England of the British Diocese, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Archimandrite Alexis heard of the holy relics of King Edward and wrote to the present donor, who, after some correspondence, agreed to give them to the Church to be reverently enshrined. A decree from the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, dated 15/28 March 1979, recognized the desire to obtain the holy relics and asked for some evidence of the authenticity of the bones. It seems that the bishops were impressed by the similarity between the Life of St. Edward and the circumstances of his murder and that of the holy Russian passion-bearers Boris and Gleb. On 6/19 September the Synod of Bishops decided to accept without reservations the authenticity of the holy relics wheich were being offered to the Church (encylical no.255). Later onwards Fr. Theodore Jurewicz was commisioned by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to paint an icon of St. Edward the Martyr, and a service was prepared to St. Edward.

The progress continued after many kind faithful Orthodox helped to donate land, and prepare a Shrine Church in honor of St. Edward the Martyr. A Church which already existed in the Brookwood Cemetery, in Woking, Surrey England, became the final place to for the holy relics of St. Edward, and a Brotherhood was organized. The cemetery has also become a place for many ethnic Orthodox Christians, as a resting place.


A Russian Orthodox Brotherhood exist within the Brookwood Cemetery, located in Woking, Surrey England, and the directions to the Church are:


Archimandrite Alexis and several monks and novices are cartakers of the Holy Church of St. Edward the Martyr.

The address is:

St. Edward Brotherhood
St. Cyprianos Ave.
Brookwood, Woking
England U. K.
Tel. 44(0)1483-48-7763

Thanks To The Kind Assistance Of The Servant Of The Lord, John

Holy Saint Edward,
Pray To God For Us!

Glory Be To God For All Things!

Content written/compiled by Father Nektarios Serfes.
(c)Father Nektarios Serfes