BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us

St Edmund

You are in: Suffolk > People > St Edmund > A new Patron Saint of England?

St Edmund Statue

St Edmund Statue. Photo by Ian Hulland.

A new Patron Saint of England?

With St George struggling to catch the imagination of the English in the way that St Patrick has with the Irish, is it time to consider a different Patron Saint of England?

Should we have a new Patron Saint of England?

St George is the patron saint of England but he hasn't always had that title. Originally the position was held by St Edmund who gave his name to the Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds. With St George struggling to catch the imagination of the English in the way that St Patrick has with the Irish, is it time to consider putting St Edmund back where he once was? 

Mark Murphy's backing St Edmund!

Mark Murphy's backing St Edmund!

Are you backing St Edmund?

BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast presenter Mark Murphy certainly is and has launched a campaign to raise the profile of St Edmund.
Mark says "I don't have anything against St George, in fact I still have some cross of St George bunting left over from the World Cup hanging up in my back garden but let's be honest he hasn't really caught on has he?  The Irish have taken St Patrick to their hearts and have a massive party on his special day and no matter how hard we try St George seems to leave many people cold". Mark adds "I've been interested in the Story of St Edmund for some time and thought it was about time his profile was raised again and anyway I quite fancy a bank holiday on November 20th, I could get my Christmas shopping done early." The campaign has received the backing of the MP for Bury St Edmunds David Ruffley and the East Anglian Daily Times newspaper. If you'd like to join the campaign or to disagree with it then why not add your vote and comments below. But before you do, you can read a little more about St Edmund.

So who was St Edmund?

Unlike many medieval saints, St Edmund was a real person but not too much is known factually about him. What we do know is that he was a king who ruled the Anglo Saxon realm of East Anglia between 855AD and 869 AD. He even had Silver pennies struck in his honour. 

Carving of wolf and St Edmund's head

Carving of wolf and St Edmund's head

What happened to him?

Several places claim to be the location of Saint Edmund's death. Hoxne near Diss is the one favoured by most scholars. The story goes that he was captured by Danish or Viking raiders after hiding underneath Goldbrook bridge. The reflection of his golden spurs glinting in the water revealed his hiding place to a newly wed couple. He was then captured and tied to an oak tree. Legend has it that on refusing to renounce his faith he was put to death by a volley of arrows. He was said to have so many arrows in him that he "bristled like a hedgehog". His head was then cut off and thrown into the woods. It was then allegedly whisked away by a wolf. Later as his followers were searching for his remains they heard a cry of "here, here, here" and traced the voice to the wolf who was protecting the severed head. On reuniting the head with its body the two are said to have miraculously joined together leaving only a faint red mark...the sign of a true saint. Many miracles were subsequently attributed to the power of St Edmund and he was patron saint of England until the dragon slaying George was awarded the title some time later.     

Historians now think he was killed much closer to Bury St Edmunds, probably near the village of Bradfield St Clare but even today brides on their way to church shy away from the Goldbrook bridge in case it brings them bad luck. The truth is no-one really knows for sure.

St Edmund window. Photo by Ian Hulland

Where are the remains of St Edmund buried?

It's been reported that some time after his death his body was interred at a monastery in the small royal town of Bedericesworth. The shrine attracted pilgrims and the monastery grew ever more important. People soon started to call the town "Saint Edmund's bury" now known as Bury St Edmunds. His name though lives on today. St Edmundsbury cathedral and council are named after him. Several schools and churches also bear his name. The shrine was dismantled in 1539 during the Reformation. Some say his remains had already been stolen in the 13th century and sent to France. In the 19th century a packet of bones marked with his name was found in the cathedral of St Sernin in Toulouse. A papal commission decided they were the bones of St Edmund and the pope ordered they should be sent to Westminster Cathedral. They only got as far as Arundel when a dispute broke out and to this day they are believed to be still there in a private chapel.


Several local authorities are backing the campaign and some of them are flying the St Edmund flag above their offices: Bury St Edmunds Town Council, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Hoxne Parish Council.

Rougham Airfield near Bury has decided to rename one of its events in St Edmund's honour.  Their summer medieval show will be re-branded as a St Edmund pageant. 

The East Anglian Daily Times newspaper.

The Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds David Ruffley is backing the campaign. He's helping to deliver the petition to the Houses of Commons and to 10, Downing Street in November 2006.

Ipswich Town football club is backing the campaign and flying the flag at Portman Road stadium.

Greene King brewery has backed the appeal and produced a special St Edmund ale.

One Railway is backing the campaign and is naming a train St Edmund.

Local schools have been using the campaign to look at local history.

The Suffolk Tourism Partnership says this is a fabulous idea and is going to help boost visitor numbers to Suffolk.

Crown Nursery in Ufford has found an old St Edmund pippin tree and planted it into its heritage garden. They are hoping to encourage people to buy and plant them again.

The Real Sausage Company in Trimley St Martin has produced a St Edmund sausage (and, yes, it was his head that was cut off!).

Edelweiss florist in Stowmarket has produced a St Edmund bouquet.

The Mayor of Southwold backs the campaign and on St Edmunds day will be following the ancient tradition of handing out St Edmund sticky buns.

Bury St Edmunds tourist information centre has agreed to run a series of BBC Radio Suffolk St Edmund walks.

A St Edmund service is taking place at St Edmundsbury cathedral on Sunday 19th November 2006.

A St Edmund rose is available from Cants in Colchester.

Ladbrokes and William Hill opened a book on St Edmund getting his old job back.

For more information on the "I'm backing St Edmund" campaign and to get regular updates listen to Mark Murphy's breakfast show, Monday to Friday from 6.30-9.00am.

last updated: 26/06/2008 at 11:50
created: 02/11/2006

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

P Paige
St George is honoured in both the Catholic and the Orthodox martyrologies ie a Saint of both East and West traditions of Christianity.A soldier, he refused to fight in a war when he became a Christian so as not to kill another human being. Instead he fought the devil (the dragon), to free a young woman who was being pestered. As St Paul says "overcome sin, the flesh and the devil". St George is a good patron for England - to stop wars and to rescue the nation from the moral degradation so prevalent!

Mike Simmons
As an East Anglian,(Essex), I fully support this move. A real English king, someone who did exist, sounds much better than a fictional Greek,slaying a fictional beast, as far as I'm concerned!Cry God for England and St Edmund!

Keith Turner
St Edmund is too weak. A contemporary king (northumbria) is a more deserving saint - Saint Cuthbert. His care for his people is what set him apart rather than the mad militarists of st Gerorge and St Edmund ... who let's face it was hiding under a bridge ! St Cuthbert at least died in battle !

St Edmund should be the patron saint of England, it means we would have our own saint instead of St George who we share with several other countries.. I see no harm in keeping St George's flag because it is almost a tradition, but after reading St Edmunds' story I feel he is a lot more deserving of the title of patron saint of England than St George has ever been...

mark harvey
now the carving above would be the best reprsentation for st edmunds flag

nick hobbs
being essex born and bred i consider myself an heir to the anglo saxon heritage of this region indeed i seek autonomy for east anglia and in doing so venerate my noble ancestor ST EADMUND regardless of factual minutae.To me he represents part of the birthing of the English nation as do all the other saints ,kings and chroniclers.Waes hael

Stephen Cleland
St Edmund in my opinion has vastly superior credentials to be patron saint of England over St George. Heroic, fair to his people, true to his god and above all gained his reputation and martyrdom on English soil. I would fully support the campaign for re-instating St Edmond as Englands true and rightful patron saint.

Jeff Adams
An English Saint as our Patron? What an original idea! Go for it!By the way Mary, yu can't jus pick a name out of a hat to be a saint,There are rigorous rules to be followed. Two of the most important of these rules is that at least one proven miracle must be attributed to them and they must have been devoted their lives to Christ during their lifetime.

Liz Bennett
We are celebrating St Edmunds Day at Sproughton Primary School on Thursday 20th . An exhibition of the St Edmunds Guild will be on dislpay.

Shane Carter
Who ever had the right to remove our patron saint in the first instance? Certainly it was no true Englishman, and as such it is likely that the change holds no weight. I am of Saxon stock and insist on my right as such to revere the factual St Edmund above the mythical St George.

I think that it would be great to have a new Patron Saint. St. George isn't really that special in that respect and not a good rolemodel, however, St.Edmund stood up fro his beliefs. Isn't that what we all tell kids nowerdys? Stand up for your beliefs. i thik it would be good to have a new Patron Saint.

GO GO GO ST EDMUND! he should be the patron saint! WOO GO BURY ST EDMUNDS!

Gary Lowe
St Edmond is would NOT be the new patron saint of England, but would be returning a historical hero to his proper place, which was Usurped by a Mythical Turk who killed a Mythical creature in Libiya.King Edmund Undoubtedly Died upholding his beliefs, it's been recorded both by the Angles and The Danes the he was effectively killed by firing squad (flight of arrows) for upholding his beliefs... I am NOT a Christian AKA NOT religious , but I feel St Edmond is a far better role model for us than a foreigner who claimed to kill a non existent beast.He's kind of the Robert the Bruce of the Angles.. If that doesn't mean anything to you, you really need to read some history.Laird Gary Lowe

John Bishop
I totally support the ideaof St Edmund being restoredas the one and only PatronSaint of England and I willfrom now on be celebratingthe 20th of November.

Richard (aka CrazeeTownFan)
I am backing St Edmund all the way and ignoring St George's Day!Hopefully a few of my friends from NSS forum will join the cause now!

St Edward the Martyr
St Edmund reigned only in East Anglia so I suggest you have him as your regional patron. England was not a single kingdom until King Athelstan united it more than half a century after St Edmund's martyrdom.I live in Oxfordshire. How many East Anglians would like my regional saints (Birinus and Frideswide) imposed on them?George is an icon of modern England: he had a Mediterranean complexion, spoke no English, probably never visited Britain, and was imposed on the English by a foreign ruling élite.We've had no English monarch for almost 1,000 years: they've all been Danes, Normans, French, Scots and now Germans. We import football managers from Europe and players from across the World - because they are the best, and together we are one human race. There is no future in being Little Englanders, regardless of whom we choose as our patron saint(s)!

Sean Parker
Its about time we English were allowed to identify ourselves as such, have a proper celebration and not be labelled as rascist, bigots or any other label you may want to apply for wanting to wave a flag and be proud.

Joy Matthews
I live in Wales where few have heard of Suffolk, never mind St. Edmund. However, I have purchased his flag and it will fly on my flag pole from 15th November, my Birthday, to 20th November,St Edmunds day. Hows that for flying the flag? I await the neighbours comments.

What a brillant forum debate, perhaps one day we can debate this issue in our own parliament?. St George was actually an Arab officer in the service of the Romans who died under pagan torture and is still revered in todays Palestine among both Christians and Moslems.

robert craig
st george is the patron saint of england but st edmund was the patron saint of the english before england existed, before the Norman conquest, when east anglia was a kingdom. st george replaced our native patron is the time to bring him back

Isn't St Edmund only famous for being a loser?Sounds like just the man for England the way things are at the moment

Kiran Byfield
About the remains of St Edmund,I read somewhere that his remains which are in a casket are in a Orthodox church in England,he has a feast day in the English Orthodox church just as he does with the Catholic & Anglican chuches. St Erconwald for London!!

stb edmund is a true saint and should be englands patron saint, brave and a true christian is what our patron saint should be

Ed Richards
His feast day is the 20th November.

E Justice
"He hasn't realy caught on has he"you jest of course?where were all the St. Edmunds supporters before the English started to get back there identity,? You are a small band of people who would support England only if we changed every thing about it .because the flag would have to go .and perhaps by the sound of your name you would include it in St; Patricks day?NO! April the 23rd is also Shakspeares birthday,have two Sts day for England we whould get two holidays lovely.But cry"God for Harry England and St. George!"

Good thought :- Now what about his flag ?

Marcus - from Bury St Edmunds!
I'm backing St Edmund!

David omonudo
what is his feast day

Christopher Rice
I feel strongly it is high time we returned St Edmund to his rightful position. 'St' George never even visited England and was born in Turkey!

Steve Pinder-Banthorpe
I'm all for St Edmund's Day and whilst we're at it perhaps we can offically adopt an English national anthem instead of the British "God Save The Queen", (the tune to which is shared by nations other than just the UK).

David HALL
How can I tell whether I'm Norman or Saxon?

st georges day
no we stick to our guns at

ctually have as a national day because you will be able to wear red roses on the actual day.

Peter H.Barr
I would love to have Edmund as our patron saint,celebrated in true style on the 20thNovember with the white dragon of the English a our flag.

Lee Mills
I agree that St Edmund should be the new patron saint. The english people may question his birth placein Nuremberg, Germany. This is because many english people know very little about their heritage. The english descend from the germans and danes as in 'Anglo-Saxons' (germanic tribes).So really our patron saint should one of our descendants. Maybe this way english people may gather a greater interest in celebrating what truely is a rich cultural heritage.

Kimberly Godwin
Whoever claims that St George was a "Turk" is extremely ignorant. Turkey didn't exist as a nation in the time of St George and it didn't have its current demographic composition. St George's father hailed from Cappadocia, a Greek-settled region of modern day Turkey, a very long time before the arrival of the Turks.Our ancestors have fought and died for England under the Cross of St George for hundreds of years. While I greatly admire St Edmund the Martyr, to change our patron saint now is pointless and disrespectful.The real problem is not a lack of enthusiasm for St George. The problem is loss of English identity and failure to instill knowledge and pride in English children about their glorious history & heritage.

Yes I back St Edmund for our Patron Saint of England. St George was made Patron Saint by our Conquerors the Normans after all.

Phil Sanders
I agree with everything Mike Walker says including the date for a new bank holiday. East Anglians should be proud of Edmund and celebrate on this day. We should also fly the East Anglian flag more and teach our children more about our great history.

Mike Walker
St Edmund is the true Saint of the English people and he should be recognised as such. A man prepared to die for his Christian beliefs certainly seems a wholly apposite icon. I would welcome a public holiday to celebrate St Edmund as our patron Saint on 20th November. I also feel that, with the rising importance of local determination in Scotland and Wales, it would be appropriate to recognise the continued importance of England; what better way to do this than to launch a new English flag and the adoption of a new flag for a new United Kingdom. England is still a great country and I would endorse this as a way of reinvigorating interest in England’s own identity by the population of England.

I would love to see St Edmund as the patron saint of England.

Cllr. Paul Hopfensperger
As Suffolk County Councillor for Tower Division in Bury St Edmunds, which has a population of over 17,000 people, many people have spoken to me who back the campaign. Bury St Edmunds was one of the largest and most important monastery towns in Medieval England, this was all down to one man - St. Edmund. I fully support the campaign to re-instate St. Edmund to his rightful place - Patron Saint of England.

Dave Baker
I'm from Bury St Edmunds and I think the change would be great. As long as it brings about a pride in being English that has dissapeared over the years. And what will happen to the English Flag. No more St. Gerorges Cross.

Michael Parker
We should certainly rid ourselved of the mythical Turk imported by the Normans, but there is a stronger case for St Cuthbert.

Andy R
Hang on though: saints are a Catholic thing and England is officially a protestant country. If we're going to follow through on this whole reformation thing, we'd better ditch patron saints entirely. Bit of a spoilsport move (protestantism often does that) but at least consistent.

Andy R
Hang on though: saints are a Catholic thing and England is officially a protestant country. If we're going to follow through on this whole reformation thing, we'd better ditch patron saints entirely. Bit of a spoilsport move (protestantism often does that) but at least consistent.

Ben Baker
Why not? The fact that he was born in Nuremberg shouldn't make a difference. The English (Anglo-Saxons) are descendants of Germans, Frisians and Danes after all, as is the English language itself.
I am very much in favour of St. Edmund for patron saint of England, but I do wish people would get there facts straight when making comments. There is nothing in either Aelfric or Abbo of Fleury to suggest Edmund was killed because he refused to abandon his faith. In fact the inference waidea that if he wanted s to be drawn is the complete reverse - that the Viking leader, Ivarr was outraged at Edmund's demand that if he wanted to rule the East Angles, he must first accept Christianity. Alfred P. Smythe, in his book SCANDINAVIAN KINGS IN THE BRITISH ISLES 850 - 880 suggests edmund was killed in the same manner as Aelle of Northumbria - in a ritual sacrifice to Odin (the infamous blood eagle). I suspect he is probably right.

Vic Bagnelle
Saint George is the patron Saint of England, there is no point in changing it, just to please a few people. Indeed St Alban has a greater claim to be our Saint. Leave Saint George where he belongs, as patron Saint of England. He is inextricably linked to some of our oldest traditions, not to mention our flag. If Suffolk want St Edmund as their patron saint, why not let them have him.

George Giller
Absolutely ridiculous! The Cross of St George is the flag of England, and is incorporated into the Union Flag. To change that would be bowing too much to local stupidity. Even the suggested flag of St Edmunds shield is on....the Cross of St George. Still it's like Nessy - good for local publicity, and local businesses!

Mervyn Lemon
Please give a balanced view. Remember, Edmund LOST to the Danes. East Anglia became part of the Danelaw as a direct result of Edmund LOSING! Only King Alfred THE GREAT of Wessex was left to defeat the Danes and KEEP us ENGLISH. If Alfred had LOST, like Edmund, then we would not need a patron saint of England, because we would now bw DANELAND! There is one version of Edmund's death that suggests he was so arrogant that he thought he was St Stephen and, when captured, he challenged the Danes to try to kill him with arrows, like St Stephan. No-one knows how he died, which should be a cause for concern. Just read Bernard Cornwall's new book, "The Last Kingdom".

Dave Barker
Saint Edmund was and still is the patron saint of the English people; nothing can change that. What we can do now is to once again acknowledge this fact and celebrate the day, the 20th November, and English thanksgiving day. St. George is the royal patron saint and thereby still associated with England. So in fact, we can have two English national celebrations a year, one in the spring for St. George and all the spring time festivities, and one in the autumn, the major one, when thoughts should be given to ourselves as the English people and deeper, heartfelt celebration of our ancient culture. We should make more saints days because they enshrine early English history. Edward the Martyr, for example.

Mark Murphy and Radio Suffolk keep claiming that St Edmund was once patron saint of England and was displaced by St George. That is not correct. The only evidence for St Edmund is the Wilton Diptych, a painting of Richard II painted ariound 1395. It shows Richard being presented to The Virgin and Child by three saints - St John the Baptist, St Edward the Confessor and St Edmund. His personal patron was St John. The other two are there as earlier royal saints. The picture applies to both of them and there is nothing to show that they are patron saints of the country. In fact the angels surrounding the Virgin hold up the cross of St George showing that he was already patron of England. It is a myth that St Edmund was ever patron saint. The only patron saint of England is St George.He is part of our national heritage and has been for over 700 years. It is time people stopped knocking our heritage and celebrated St George our patron saint. You wouldn't catch the Scots or Irish knocking their national traditions so why can't we take a pride in our country as they do?

terry wilkinson
Yes as a Suffolk born English man i look forward to having St Edmunds as my patron saint Perhaps then we can have a proper holiday for all. Maybe then this government will celebrate the fact instead of trying to unenglish us all Rule St Edmunds

janette ellis
I do not mind who is the patron saint of England, as long as the majority of English people agree on it. Also it will not mean a change of the English flag, because that would mean more costs to our country, but most of all to all the voluntary organisation who use the currant English Flag, cannot expect to buy another one. I also believe we would do better at this time in trying to support and save our Ipswich Hospital, reading between the lines these last few weeks we might not have one as we know it by the year 2008!!!!!!

Bet & Brian Peacock
add our names to the St Edmunds petition as it would be nice to have a bank holiday at the end of the year and just before Christmas would make sense for lots of people

Tony Mildinhall
Further to your Sausage item of this week, Barwells the Butchers here in Bse, sell St Edmunds Gold sausages

terry wilkinson
Bury Saint George arise Saint Edmund long may you reign as patron saint

Why St Edmund? Why not St Edward the Confessor or St Edward the Martyr? Both were kings of all England not just of East Anglia. Then there is St Alban, the first English martyr, St Augustine who brought Christianity to England and St Thomas of Canterbury, venerated all over Europe for resisting the king who had him killed. And there are many others. Why should the whole country change its patron saint after 700 years to increase tourism to Bury St Edmunds? St Edmund was a German who came to England and became king of East Anglia. When the Danes invaded he disbanded his army and ran away. The caught him hiding under a bridge and killed him. After such a disaster the Saxons had to restore morale so they said that he did not fight because he followed the teachings of Christ and the Danes had killed him because he would not give up his faith. So he became a martyr. And there were miracles to confirm it - the talking wolf that guarded his head and the fact that his head and his body were rejoined without a mark. As king he should have defended his kingdom and he cannot be patron saint and defend England now. There is nothing wonderful about the Saxons. They invaded and pillaged England just as the Danes did about four hundred years earlier. They killed, drove out or enslaved the original inhabitants. The idea that they were our noble ancestors is absurd. The Normans did not bring in St George to replace St Edmund as patron saint. St Edmund and St Edward the Confessor were both venerated but they were not patron saints as such. The Normans continued to venerate the Saxon saints. At Winchester, the capital of England, the rebuilt the cathedral with the shrine of St Swithun, a Saxon saint. And St George did not really come in until 1348 when Edward III instituted the Order of St George (Order of the Garter) and the chapel of St George at Windsor Castle. If they wanted to do that they would not have waited 300 years to do it. In any case the Normans are as much part of our heritage as the Saxons. Lets venerate St Edmund in Suffolk and keep St George as our patron saint as he has been for the last 700 years.

Clive Minnican
Several years ago I was with some Spanish friends in Catalonia when we came across a huge painting of Saint George slaying a dragon. I said, 'Oh look - our Patron Saint.' Our friends from Catalonia said, 'No he's not yours, he is OUR Patron Saint!' Then someone else joined in the conversation - 'No he's not he is OUR Patron Saint.' It seems that George is a bit promiscuous with his patronage and I would rather have a real English Saint as our very own Patron. Lets send George back to Spain and give Edmund his rightful place as the ENGLISH Patron Saint.

philip fielder
Will Greene King bring back St. Edmund ale?

Saint George is the patron saint of england, there is no point in changing it, its fine as it is. The people who are trying must be very sad, and need to take up a new hobbie and get a life!! I'm gettin tired of having to hear this stupid "campaign" if you can call this feeble atempt one. Leave saint George where he rightly belongs, as patron saint of england.

Joe Easdown
Go St Edmund!! I live in Bury St Edmunds and think that Edmund deserves the title. Why should some imposter that is patront saint on loads of countries (57 things) have one more? ST EDMUND!!! I think Graham Hindle is mad, I'm 12 and St George must go!

joe potts
I'm backing the St Edmund campaign

I am from Ipswich and now live in Numurkah Australia Sorry George youare out. in with ST EDMUND

Raymond Allfrey.
Great idea.But many questions arise..Why has it taken so long ?.What would the new flag look like ,and would the St George cross be implemented into it somehow ?? keep up the good work. Long live St. Edmund !

An interesting topic BUT could I please ask the BBC - when checking & if necessary editing submissions (as per your disclaimer) could the 'editor' PLEASE correct all spelling mistakes and turn entries submitted entirely in CAPITALS (that's the equivalent of SHOUTING!!!) into lower-case with initial capitals where required. Writers take more care with your typing PLEASE.

Yes, I think it MIGHT be a good idea for St EdmUnd to become the English patron saint - if, for no other reason, the wider publicity given to his name MIGHT at least get everyone in the country spelling the name of the town correctly!!! I absolutely HATE seeing Bury St EdmOnds - Why do people not KNOW that it's spelt with U not O ??? I always tell people it's 'with a U as in bUry not O as in nOel [edmonds] :-)) Even some of the major shop chains in the town have the incorrect spelling on their till tickets & advertising material - disgraceful. Good spelling, even in SMS, e-mails & web-chats etc should be given higher priority. Bad spelling is careless, lazy & bad manners... to say nothing of INSULTING when it is a NAME that is mis-spelt. If you care enough about something to share your thoughts with others via the internet then you should take care with your spelling (& grammar) [read it through properly before posting it] to ensure readers understand your message properly. {I have just read some of the comments already posted & note several errors - even the Mayor of BSE has one spelling error in her submission - 'solider' instead of 'soldier' - tut tut!} Having read all the comments I have to agree with the need for ENGLISH rule for England & believe that all MPs born outisde of ENGLAND should be banned from taking office at Westminster {even if they moved to England before the age of 5}. Seriously though, I think it is high time we had a TRUE & worthy person as our patron saint - someone about whom history is far clearer & more accurate... he may not have been morally perfect (very few people are, unfortunately) but he fought to defend our country - I therefore nominate Lord Horatio Nelson to become the new Patron Saint of England. Surely he TRULY was ENGLISH - he served and protected our country. Three cheers for Saint Nelson! Anyone who wants someone even more modern, then I nominate Sir Winston Churchill. Does a patron saint have to be male and/or dead? HM The Queen would be worthy too. Look no further than T Blair for the OPPOSITE of all these nominees - he has done nothing worthwhile for this country & should be exiled immediatly - preferably to Iraq or Afghanistan!

Regarding Edmund's German origin: to me, the legend reads like a fairy tale. A pious child selected by an old king from a Royal house in the Saxon homelands? Really? Either his true origins were forgotten, or someone was posthumously trying to establish his legitimacy. Other Saxon genealogies link their kings both to the Nordic gods and Caesar. It's early mediaeval 'spin'! What really mattered was the way he died, and that story does have the ring of truth, though the mediaeval church added its own spin. If we need to have a patron saint, Edmund has a better claim than some. Oh, and to those who regard St Patrick as English: some versions say his father was Roman. Cumbria, Wales and south-west Scotland have all laid claim to him. In Patrick's time, these regions were part of the Celtic west, not the English Heptarchy. He was most probably a (Romano-)Celt.

Being a local girl I have been bought up with his stories. Look at the Knights of St Edmunds website to read about them. Apparently he curses people who try to 'hurt' BsE town.

Alex Seeley
I am head of St George's HOuse at Brighton College and would like to change the house name to St Edmund's. I wonder if there is much support for St. Edmund outside East Anglia.

Andrew Pearson
Lets have our true Saint (Edmund) back and be proud of our country our Saint the way the rest of the United Kingdom are proud of theirs

Why not have 7 Saints? Edmund Nigel George Leonard Arthur Norman Derek Spells out ENGLAND and we get a few more Bank Holidays. If it's just BH's we are after - what is wrong with:- Trafalgar Day (October, Waterloo Day (June), Agincourt Day, Crecy Day or any other suitable day.

Geoff Webb
I think 'Saint Geoffrey' would be okay

Paul Cooper
As well as promoting St Edmund, how about promoting East Anglia. There is an East Anglian flag which has St Edmunds connections. The Cornwall flag (Kernow)is seen on cars nationwide. Lets have a car sticker with our flag

denise mayes
I think it is a very good idea to have ST Edmund as the patron saint of england and we should get rid of St George

Kathy Feakes
It would seem sensible to have an English character as our patron saint, although it would rather mess up the design of the union flag!

Graham Hindle
It wil be hard convincing the young in this country of the original patron saint however lets not give up. For England and St Edmund..

NIgel Gage
Yes I beleive St Edmund is our true patron saint, why should we the English nation support a Maltese Knight, who was only put up to be patron saint by a bunch of religious fanatics invading a foreign land. It's like a Scotsman worshiping an ancient English King who invaded his country and killed many of his fellow countrymen. Mind you the section of Henry V by Shakespeare .. For England, Harry and St Edmund ... does not seem right!!! What happens about the flag of St. Edmund? Great Idea! Thank you..

Everyone keeps saying St Edmund was English but he was not. He was the son of King Alcmund of Saxony and was born in Nuremberg. He was German. It is also untrue that the Normans wanted him replaced as patron saint. They built churches for St Edmund. In 1079 they also built a new cathedral at Winchester, the capital of England. The remains of the saxon kings are still there as was the shrine of St Swithin, chaplain and adviser to Egbert, King of the West Saxons.

Linda Clapham
Edmund has it for me but Shakespere's Henvy V will need a supplementary margin note, and where does that leave King Arthur?

Anna Mayes
Excellent! An English Saint for the English, plus a possible Bank Holiday that would mean something! There has been a campaign for an additional bank holiday to be introduced and the only day suggested that doesn't come too close to other holidays is Trafalgar Day in October - a bit vague perhaps?! So having a proper saints day holiday is a great idea! Well done Mark!

I understand that Edmund was in fact German, born in Nurumberg. I am not anti German at all but, I can imagine it now, at the next World Cup. The Germans would love to see the English waving the flag of St Edmund the German. Not for me, I'm afraid.

Barry (The Elder)
Stephen Durr - St.George was not forced upon the Anglo-Saxons (AS) by the Normans, St.George was well known amongst the AS well before the Norman settlers, the Venerable Bede (673-735ad) entered his feast day as the 23rd April, we have the 'Anglo-Saxon Passion of St.George' dated somewhere in the 8th centuary.

philip fielder (
Any chance of persuading Green King to bring back their St.Edmund Ale to support the campaign? Regards Philip Fielder

Do we really want an ecological vandal as a patron Saint? After all, dragons are extinct, and St George didn't do anything to help that did he? Other than by helping them on their way! I'm backing St. Edmund all the way!

Peter Taylor

I hate to ruin the mood, but does anyone REALLY care? i mean really? will anyone sleep better at night knowing that St. Edmund is now the patron saint of England? will you brag about it to others? or talk about it for more than five seconds? No. Exactly. Will it bring anything more having a new saint? No. He's dead, we will get the same tourism as always. Will it change the town or yob culture of parts of Bury? No. So talk about something worthwhile that can actually make a DIFFERENCE to our town. I don't hate Bury, but theres so much more worthwhile stuff to talk about about that helps.

Everyone keeps saying that St Edmund should be the patron saint because he was English and St George wasn't. But the nationality of a patron saint is irrelevant. St Andrew was one of the apostles, born in Palestine and he is patron of Scotland, Russia and Greece. A patron saint is chosen for what he stands for and you have not given the full story of Edmund. He was king of East Anglia and when the Danes invaded he disbanded his army without a fight. The Danes then captured and killed him as you describe. He was not king of England and he was not English, His father was King Alcmund of Saxony and he was born in Nuremberg in Germany. He is rightly venerated as a martyr but as a soldier and king he was a failure. I wouldn't want some one born in Germany who disbanded his army without a fight as our patron saint.

Cllr Terry Buckle
Hi again Mark, I see plenty of comments regarding "The Flag" but there are not many people who even know how to raise the union Jack most times it is upside down, so perhaps a new flag as well as a true saint should be installed.

Bryne Creekmore
Im a Yank that lived in Bury in the late 70`s early 80`s...Bury holds a very dear place in my heart to this day! Let the Saint go forth and be named for England!

I, along with a good number of the others in the congregation of the Parish Church of St. Edmund the King, Northwood Hills, in Middlesex, am all in favour of re-instating our patron as that of the English nation. His ultimate demonstration of Christian values is an inspiration to us all. And where can we get a supply of the car stickers, please?

Well, from what I've read regarding this subject it appears that there is no reason why we can't have two patron saints, if that's what people want. Besides, it's simply a matter of the largest number of people preferring one over the other anyway. I love the figure of St George because of what he stands for (the conquest of good over evil), the long history we have with that figure, and because of his similarity to our ancestors famous 'Beowulf the Dragon-Slayer'. I love the figure of St Edmund because of his connection to our ancestors. But you can't help getting the feeling that a lot of this desire for St Edmund is coming from the 'commercial' sector, and so reminiscent of the mediaeval shrines touting for business.

The beeb can try all it likes to stop it but England's Cross of St George will fly over an English Parliament at Westminster.

Ian Watson
Isn't St George originally a Turkish saint? At least St Edmund was home grown.

Sounds like a push by Bury st Edmunds to grab some financial advancement

Cry God for Harry, England and St Edmunds? Oh No! I get only a picture of Baldric standing on the bridge [whilst BlackAdder huddles below it in his golden spurs (very pc)] saying " Oh No Mr Viking the King definiteley isn't hiding under this bridge...". Arguments for Edmunds include the fact that he was English. He wasn't. He was a local East Anglian King and has no local relevance to Manchester, Liverpool, London, Bath etc. St. George was foriegn ( perhaps Turkish or Iranian ) well Jesus was from Nazereth and thats OK by me. As for the fact that more airtime has been given to St Edmunds over the last few days than St George over the last few years, perhaps if Radio Suffolk and other local radios pushed St Georges Day more instead of trying to ignore it incase they get accused of being Arrogant English then there wouldn't be the alleged coolness towards him. I'll support St Edmunds as Patron St of East Anglia and if we get a public holiday out of it OK but its still St George for England for me !

The original "English" flag used at the Battle of Hastings was a white dragon (see, so perhaps we should have St. Edmund as the patron saint and the white dragon rather than a fictional St. George and his flag.

Roderick & Carol Sprake
We back the campaign to change to St Edmund.Living so close to the Norman Tower we wonder why it has not been done before !

T Holder
St Edmund would be great, what flag does he have and can he have a T shirt? And a song with lyres. Anglo Saxon boy aged 9 (Tota the dragon slayer from West Stow village)

Stephen Durr.
I have always wanted a true Englishman for our patron saint and that meant bringing back our Anglo Saxon Saint, St Edmund. The Normans forced the English to take this foreign saint who still means absolutely nothing to me and I suspect the rest of the English. It may have been important to the conquers but they died out along with their language within a few hundred years after 1066 and very few of them ever lived permanently in England. Bring back our Saint and put an end to those nasty Viking invaders from Normandy once and for all.

Alfred the OK
Maybe it would be better for an English Parliament to decide whether we change our patron saint or not? Hmmm, but there's a problem - England doesn't actually have a national parliament do we? Shamefully, we are the ONLY country in Europe that doesn't have a national parliament - so instead of voting to change the saint, maybe we should be allowed to vote for our own parliament? (And S Davies, St Patrick was not born in Scotland, but in Cumbria - which is in England)

David B. Wildgoose
St Edmund is already a Patron Saint of England just like St George - the position isn't exclusive! But seeing as St George was black (his mother was African) and he is also venerated by Muslims (especially Palestinians) as al-Khidr then surely in the modern England there can be no better Patron Saint?

I'm proud of the Anglo Saxon history, but you are really taking the p***, the only reason you want Edmund as St is to make money, I'm sure he did not die so you could turn him into a reason to vist Bury St Edmunds. Just listen to the people phoning in, bus compenies, buisneses and the like all just wishing to cash in on it. In my honerably opinion you are sick, and you call it 'FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Says it all really.

Why do we need a 'patron' saint at all, I wonder? If it is to emphasise a narrow sectional interest (eg 'our Anglo-Saxon heritage')then it merely plays into the hands of bigots. If it is to demonstrate our Christian values, then it ignores the multi-faith (and no faith) nature of our society and also starkly highlights the very unChristian actions of our society (illegal wars, income inequalities etc.)Can we face up to that? Perhaps every 5 years we should democratically vote for a different figurehead, not necessarily a saint, who most clearly exemplifies the best of the Englishg 'character'at the time? I'd go for Sid James.

Maureen Boreham
I think we should all recognise him, after all he was a king

Norman Baker
I believe that St. Edmund should be the patron Saint of England St. George has never been to England and is certainly not English by birth.

Katie smith
I give a thumbs up for St. Edmund. I have nothing against St.George as well, but why not have a change of who we shall note once in a while.

I'd be happier if the BBC promoted the idea of England having an English First Minister (Scotland has a Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell). We are presently faced with having Scot Gordon Brown running England!

Richard Turner, Southwold School
Just a point of information to say that St.Edmund's Day has been celebrated in Southwold for at least a century and probably longer. It is documented that the local clergy visited the school to recount the story of Edmund, King and Martyr. It is also connected with Arbor Day when a tree is planted: 'to keep green the memory of our Patron Saint'. Another tradition is for the Mayor and members of the Council to give out 'sticky buns' which may originally have been adorned with crossed arrows. This tradition was reinstated in 1989 and continues each year on a school day closest to the 20th November.

S Davies
Nicola Doig notes that "You wouldn't catch Scotland, Ireland or Wales with a foreigner as their patron saint", however, St Andrew was a Galileean fisherman and St Patrick was born in Scotland.

david palmer
well done ,Mark,on helping to retain the good old Anglo Saxon awareness

Paul Tuddenham
I'm all for St. Edmund, and I think there is a clear analogy. Like a government some years ago, St. Edmund defended British territory when it was invaded by a foreign power. Like a more recent government, St. George illegally invaded foreign lands.

Cllr Terry Buckle
Mark, its a must, St Edmund is the perfect saint for England, he has done enough for England let alone Bury St Edmunds. I am backing St Edmund

Barry (The Elder)
Nicola Doig - Please let me inform you that neither St.Patrick nor St.Andrew are indiginous saints to thier country, the only saint with this honour lies with St.David (Dafydd) of Wales

A great idea and a great way of running a campaign that isn't wasting taxpayers money. The nation needs a patron saint that really belongs to us and we can be proud of.

I have thought for many years that St Edmund should be reinstated as the patron saint of England - a position he shared with St Edward. Perhaps, on St Edmunds days, we should fly his standard, which I believe is three crowns on a green background, have a day off work and drink the ale brewed in his burial town. Nicola, I think you will find that St Andrew was neither a Scot nor a Pict, though a few of his bones were thought to have been re-buried in Scotland.

Eadmund Dunstall
I am the ærealdor (founder) of þa Engliscan Gesiþas (The English Companions), a fellowship dedicated to supporting all things English. We adopted St Eadmund as our patron saint back in 1966, and we would support any campaign for his reinstatement as patron of England.

The BBC supporting a campaign to swap St George as the patron saint of England, now there's a surprise. The BBC has largely sneered at the idea of the English celebrating St George's day for years whilst naturally encouraging anyone elses celebrations. This is typical of the BBC attitude.

Gerry (again!)
In response to Rob Gwilliam's comment, St Edmund was the patron saint prior to Dt George!

Nicola Doig
I'm all for a 'homegrown'patron saint for England - one with a connection to the country rather than from foreign soil. You wouldn't catch Scotland, Ireland or Wales with a foreigner as their patron saint, so why should we?

Tony Green
What a pointless campaign. This is the 21st century, not the 15th. We don't NEED such an out-dated concept as a "patron saint". Why waste time (and money) on such pointlessness?

Caro Heyworth
I think we should definitely have an English saint as our patron saint; it would be best to have one who was really inspirational eg St Hilda of Whitby - however I think it's most likely that we could reestablish the former patron saint so for that reason I would support St Edmund. I do think more research should be done into his life and works and their implications.

Ben Haselwood
At last, lets have someone not famous for slaying dragons!

It's about time that we had an indigenous Patron Saint instead of some other foreigner!

Margaret Stoll
Yes, I support this. Edmund, King and Martyr, a true Englishman rather than a Turkish/Syrian import, imposed on us by our Norman conquerors. In response to Barry Powell, I've read that the story of St George and the dragon is actually a misrepresentation of the old English poem 'Beowulf'. They thought a lot of that idea in those days - Beowulf killing the monster Grendel - it was part of their whole ethos, the heroic virtues, standing up for what you believed in, facing and slaying your dragon. Edmund's refusal to give up his beliefs was echoed centuries later by the like of Archbishop Cranmer at the time of Queen Mary 1 (nicknamed 'Bloody Mary'). There does seem to be a rising groundswell of English nationalism and all power to it! I don't remember all the St George's flags at the time of the 1966 World Cup, and even since the football, they haven't gone away. And then there's the Anglo-Saxon diaspora around the world - there are others who'd celebrate just as St Patrick is celebrated e.g. in New York

Colin Springett
It's a great idea, St. Edmund should be our Patron Saint. But what happends to the 'English' flag....does it need to be changed? Lead on- I like also like the idea of another bank hoilday!!!!

Rob Gwilliam
If St Edmund had once been the patron saint then i would back him, but he wasn't. It's been St George, so we should stick with him. I think it's disgusting that you people are trying to change this.

Oh no. I can see it now. If we get St. Edmund, all I can see is Edmund Blackadder.

Christopher Parfitt
I am very much in favour of restoring Edmund to his rightful position as patron saint of England. I have long thought that the English do not identify with St George. According to some sources Edmund is actually still patron saint of the country while St George, whose story may have come with the Crusaders, is patron saint of the monarch and defender of the realm. This campaign really needs pushing hard. Regarding the bones, an EADT article in 2000 reported that Arundel Castle has had their bones examined and they come from eleven different people! My theory is that the monks secretly buried his remains in the Abbey grounds when the shrine was dismantled and they may still lie there today.

Ian Campbell
According to your historical analysis, Edmund predates the creation of England. He may be patron saint of the English but not of England. St George was introduced as the patron saint for the whole people of England, not just those who claimed Anglo-Saxon descent, and so he is a far better choice for modern times.

A Robinson,
Why would we want a German who's only claim to fame is losing a battle to the Vikings as our patron saint?

Keep it up Mark, I Hope we get our proper saint back. Remember, British by Birth, English by the grace of God. St George can't say that, but St Edmund can! I'll listen with interest to you in the morning

Ian Thompson
Keep the patron saint of England English, I say!!! not Roman. St Edmund forever!!

Barry (The Elder)
Although I agrre with a campagin to highlight St.Edmund as an English Patron St and I can see your point of promoting one that was born within England, but in no way can St.Edmund be compared with St.George in the minds of the people of England, to say that 'St.George leaves many people cold' is just one opinion borne out of both the promotion of St.Edmund and the lack of education in English schools about St.George, it has to be told that the legend of St.George was brought to the Anglo-Saxons in the 8th Centuary with an Anglo-Saxon church which bears St.George's name built in Dorchester in 1061, Edward III lead his men into battle against the French with the words 'for St.George and England' and even caused his men to wear the Cross of St.George both 'forth and aft' to disinguish his men from the French, who can forget the words of William Shakespear in Henry V, 'cry god for Harry, England and St.George, then we look at the English Navy who flew the pennant of St.George for protection across the globe even to the extent of naming hazardous waters after St.George (St George's Channel between England and Ireland). The fact that St.George is not indiginous to England is no reason to lose him, he and his banner have served England and her people for over a 1000 years and will continue to do so.

Mark Murphy
Thanks for all your comments and offers of support keep them coming and spread the word!

Michael Stedman
I am strongly in favour of St. Edmund replacing George as the patron saint of England. His place in English history is better established, and less embelished by dubious legends. However, I'm doubtful that No. 10 will support any change - St. George has become too 'Establishment'.

Gareth Barham
Well i live next to his Cathedral! We need a English Saint for to be the English Patron.

pat watts
A man who died for his beliefs - who would make a better patron saint for England? Of course I am supporting St Edmund.

Gylyan Boielle
There is also St. Alban, the first English Martyr. St. Alban, a Roman soldier, gave shelter in Verulamium during the 3rd century to a Christian priest fleeing from persecution, became a Christian, & when the authorities came for the priest, exchanged clothes with him, was sentenced to death after declaring: “I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things." He was taken up the hill where his head was chopped off. It is the site of the Cathedral, St. Albans Abbey, where there has probably been continuous worship since then.

Danny Baker
I believe, St George was born in Iran. Hardly a candidate for England is he?

Nathan Ollett
Being a Bury St Edmunds born male, I am backing this campaign. I believe a patron saint should be someone who has a place in history and England's patron saint should not be a mythical knight. It would also give Bury St Edmunds much deserved recognition.

Roy Norman
As a resident of Sutton St Edmund in South Lincolnshire I fully support the idea of St Edmund King and Martyr replacing a Turk as patron saint of England. We are the only operational church in the 500plus parishes in Lincolnshire with him as patron saint and use his symbol of crown and crossed arrows regularly. He was both a good East Anglian king and a devout Christian- Both sound great qualifications to me- Good luck with the campaign! Try

I should like to support this very English saint and martyr.

Alan & Ethne Chater
We both agree that St Edmund should be our national saint. A real Christian for a Christian country

Pat Davis
It's about time that we once again had a home-grown patron saint. At least we know that St Edmund actually existed. How about St Edmund's Day being that other Bank Holiday?

audrey m pamplin
3 cheers 4 st.edmund! well done mark, i've often wondered why edmund was'nt our patron saint.this will definitely put bury on the map at last! lets make 20th nov a national bank holiday in england.

philip hollingsworth
i am fully for st edmund to be patron saint of england as he is a local lad, If the rest of england do not accept him as patron saint of england could we have st edmund to be patron saint of east anglia


Rebecca Hopfensperger - Mayor of Bury St Edmunds
I support St Edmund becoming the patron saint of England. He is a true saint who deserves to be re-instated as the saint of England. St George was a Roman solider and as such it was very unlikely that he ever set foot in England, he stood up for Christians against the Roman's but he is actually turkish. Whereas Edmund was king of East Anglia he resided in England and fought in England. St George has become better known for his fighting of a dragon which in itself is a fairytale. St Edmund's story is based more on facts than fiction. He was the original patron saint of England and should be re-instated as such. I am pround to be Mayor of Bury St Edmunds, and proud of Bury St Edmunds, the Town Council celebrate St Edmund's day every year with a special awards ceremony for special citizens of Bury and gifts to local organisations and charities. We should be more patriotic and celebrate our saint with bank holidays and celebrations. Roll on the re-instating of the true saint of England St Edmund.

Barry Powell
I'm backing the campaign - a great idea. How can we be proud of someone best remebered for dragons?

Bob Mountfort
St. George is the patron Saint of many other countries and cities, including Georgia Moscow and Barcelona. Among other things we have seen his statue in forecourt of Prague Cathedral. He was born in Lydda, Palestine, and his tomb is in Israel's city of Lod, not far away from Ben Gurion airport; hardly a qualification to be the patron Saint of England.

There has been more air time given to St Edmund today than St George has had on his day in many a year. Keep it up.

Lizzie in Felixstowe
I like the idea of a patron saint people will back, but I think Mr Murphy's flippancy about the early shopping day may put some people off.

Kathryn Giffin
I have hought for many years that St Edmunds should be the patron saint of England again, and I am so pleased to find that there is now a campaign to bring this about. As you say, St Edmund was real, English (as much as many people were at that time of new populations moving into the country), and died defending his homeland. A Saint of the people, so to speak. St George was a Crusader import - suitable for the ruling lords and knights who went out to the Holy Land killing the infidel, but not for the majority of the population. I think that the time of have a patron saint that represents the international aggressor is perhaps past and the time for the patron saint who died a defender of England has returned. Here is to St Edmund, patron saint of England!

Liz Tolland
I think it would be much better to have a patron saint for England who actually lived and cared for his people here and was prepared to die for his faith

You are in: Suffolk > People > St Edmund > A new Patron Saint of England?

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy