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College Receives Icon of Patron Saint

20 Apr 2018

This spring, the college was delighted to accept an icon of Saint Edmund of Abingdon, our patron saint, generously donated by Major F.W. Rawding (Rtd). Major Rawding was a mature undergraduate in Cambridge in the 1970s, during which time he stayed at St Edmund’s and became close to the then Master, Garrett Sweeney.

The icon was created by Annie Shaw, a member of The British Orthodox Church and an iconographer, who used traditional methods and materials. This included the use of squirrel and sable brushes to paint with pigments ground from precious minerals mixed with egg yolk. The image is based on a contemporary description of St Edmund, and the depiction of his clothing references his original garments, which are housed in the museum at Sens Cathedral. Eddies people might recognise the martlets, the small heraldic birds which fly around the saint, as they are taken from the College’s crest and have become a symbol for our alumni and benefactors.

St Edmund was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1233 to 1240, during the reign of Henry III. Earlier in his life he had become one of the University of Oxford’s first Master of Arts (MAs), where, as well as at the University of Paris, he became a noted lecturer in mathematics, dialectics and theology. As a scholar he was especially noted for his promotion of the work of Aristotle. As archbishop, he was a staunch defender of Magna Carta and the rights of the Church, which made him a controversial figure in the England of the day. He died in France during a journey to Rome in 1140, and he was canonised shortly afterwards in 1246.

The icon of St Edmund will soon be put in a place of prominence in the college chapel. We are immensely grateful for Major Rawling’s generous legacy donation. He will join other legators of the college as a member of the Edmund Nolan Society, which is made up of people who have chosen to leave the College a legacy in their Will. You can find out more about legacy giving and what your support can achieve via the website. Alternatively get in touch with us on development@st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk