ALPHEGE [AELFHEAH], SAINT (954-1023), archbishop of Canterbury, came of a noble family, but in early life gave up everything for religion. Having assumed the monastic habit in the monastery of Deerhurst, he passed thence to Bath, where he became an anchorite and ultimately abbot, distinguishing himself by his piety and the austerity of his life. In 984 he was appointed through Dunstan’s influence to the bishopric of Winchester, and in 1006 he succeeded AElfric as archbishop of Canterbury. At the sack of Canterbury by the Danes in 1011 AElfheah was captured and kept in prison for seven months. Refusing to pay a ransom he was barbarously murdered at Greenwich on the 19th of April 1012. He was buried in St Paul’s, whence his body was removed by Canute to Canterbury with all the ceremony of a great act of state in 1023.
Lives of St. Alphege in prose (which survives) and in verse were written by command of Lanfranc by the Canterbury monk Osborn (d. c. 1090), who says that his account of the solemn translation to Canterbury in 1023 was received from the dean, Godric, one of Alphege’s own scholars.
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