Lastingham, North Yorkshire, England, November 16, 2023
Orthodox clergy and parishioners from the Moscow Patriarchate’s Diocese of Sourozh in England made their annual pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Cedd of Lastingham on Saturday, November 11.
St. Cedd, a saint of the pre-schism West, was a missionary bishop who spread the faith throughout England in the 7th century. His tomb is located in the crypt of the Anglican Church of the Virgin Mary in Lastingham, which allowed the Orthodox pilgrims to come and celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
The group was led by Fr. Anatoly Vikhrov, who is the rector of four different parishes in the diocesan district of Northern England, and Archpriest Gregory Butler, the diocese reports.
Frs. Anatoly and Gregory celebrated the Divine Liturgy together in the church, after which a moleben was served in the crypt, where St. Cedd was buried to the right of the chapel altar in 664. The hymns were sung by the diocesan community of St. Cedd of Lastingham in Southgate.
A number of parishioners from various parishes prayed and received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
After the service, the pilgrims shared a common meal.
The eldest of four brothers, all of whom became priests, he was born in 620 into a noble Northumbrian family. At an early age, he began studies at the Lindisfarne Priory, where he became familiar with Irish monasticism. After pursuing further studies in Ireland, he was sent by Bishop Finan of Lindisfarne to evangelize the people of Essex. He baptized many of the locals, built several churches, and founded monasteries in Bradwell-on-Sea and East Tilbury.
After his consecration to the episcopacy as Bishop of Essex, he reinstated St. Paul’s in London as the main seat of his diocese. He remained fond of his northern homeland and made regular visits there. On one such occasion in 658, he was approached by King Aethelwald of Deira who, finding St. Cedd to be a good and wise man, pressed him to accept a parcel of land at Lastingham in Yorkshire on which to build a monastery. St. Cedd eventually agreed, laying the foundation stones after the parcel had been cleansed through prayer and fasting. He became the first abbot of Lastingham and remained so while still ministering to his flock in Essex.
St. Cedd died in Lastingham during a great plague that also claimed the life of his brother Cynebil. Eventually, he was buried under the altar of a little stone church built at Lastingham in honor of the Mother of God. His relics were later transferred to the Litchfield Cathedral, which had been built by his brother Chad.