St Oswald

 Our home is named for Saint Oswald who was a King of Northumbria in the 600s. We know about him through the writings of the Venerable Bede who was a monk historian writing at that time. He held to a life of prayer within the busyness of his world.

Early life: Oswald was one of four children; his father was AethelFrith, king of what is now known as Northumbria, so he had a privileged early life but then when he was 12 his father was killed in battle and all the children were exiled. Oswald went to Iona, where he received a Christian education and came to a personal faith in Jesus. He vowed that when he retook his father’s kingdom he would make it a Christian country. It was 19 years later that he had an opportunity to gather a small army and fight against those kings who had usurped his father’s kingdom. His army was small and the odds were not good, but the night before the battle he had a vision of Columba with the words of Joshua ‘be strong and very courageous’, and, remembering the example of Constantine, the Roman Emperor who helped establish Christianity throughout the civilised world at the time, Oswald set up a cross on the battlefield and led all his soldiers in prayer. The following day he was victorious against Cadwallon and Penda at a place called Heavenfield, and began his kingdom in Bambergh, a fortified castle. He was a popular king, noted for his generosity both with people and his possessions. This was an extensive kingdom eventually covering about a third of Britain - mainly pagan and made up of many different peoples British, Picts, Angles and Saxons.

Mission: As soon as he was established, he sent to Iona for a missionary monk and the community there sent him firstly Corman, and then Aidan.  Oswald welcomed Aidan to the palace, joined him and his monks in prayer and provided accommodation and a chapel for their mission. He opened doors for them throughout the kingdom and, as there was a language barrier, Oswald himself translated for the monks, travelling many miles across his Kingdom.  Many of his Anglo-Saxon soldiers first came to faith, seeing his example, and later the native British people who lived in the hills. Aidan was a robust but kind and committed monk and many people came to faith, so Oswald was recognised at the first Christian King in this nation.

Oswald was a great man of prayer. When he prayed he sat with his hands on his knees open to the Holy Spirit, open to God; in the early hours of each day he would pray for the people of his kingdom and for guidance. In generosity he offered Aidan and his monks a place of their choosing for their Monastery, school and Church and Aidan chose a tidal island, Lindisfarne. it was perfect for the monks being both quiet and accessible for part of each day.  Oswald provided everything they needed for their mission.

There is a story of one Easter when there was a feast at the Palace but it had been a hard winter and poor people came to the door to ask for alms. Oswald and his guests including Aidan had a great heap of special food on a silver platter. When his servant came to tell him that there were beggars at the door, he said then give them the dish of food and tell them to keep the silver to buy food for another day. This story typifies the generosity of this young king.