St. Edmund annual lecture

Historian sheds light on St. Edmund in annual lecture

November 15, 2019
Lynn Monty '07

Professor Joseph Creamer speaks during Thursday evening’s annual St. Edmund Lecture in the Roy Room of the Dion Family Student Center, above. Below, Edmundites socialize with the speaker during a reception directly following the talk. (photos by Lynn Monty ’07)

The Society of Saint Edmund founded Saint Michael’s College, so it is only natural to wonder who Saint Edmund is, where he came from, and when he lived. Edmundite Father David Theroux invited Professor Joseph Creamer, Ph.D., from the University of Albany, NY. to speak at the Annual Saint Edmund Lecture, sponsored by The Edmundite Center for Faith and Culture. The lecture late Thursday afternoon, November 14, was titled: “Saint Edmund of Canterbury: Just Leadership and Limited Monarchy.”

Mass to celebrate the Feast of Saint Edmund was to be at 4 p.m. in the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel on Friday, Nov. 15, with an earlier Jazz Lunch for all employees and students in the Alliot Dining Room with live music, courtesy of the Edmundites. Tickets for the meal can be picked up from Laurie Sabens in Edmundite Campus Ministry.

Saint Edmund was a 13th-century Archbishop of Canterbury in England. Creamer addressed Saint Edmund’s involvement in the political and religious issues that faced England in the mid-1200s. The speaker holds a degree in medieval history and has written several article on the period of time in which Saint Edmund lived.

In England at that time, bishops lived lives of luxury and were powerful. It was actually mandatory for the king to consult with bishops in everyday affairs, Creamer said. They listened to the plights of clergy, collected taxes, settled issues like marriage annulments, led their own armies to assist the king during war, and took care of the everyday business that affected the church and the bishop’s diocese.

edmund receptionIf all of that wasn’t enough, Saint Edmund had his own specific mission, Creamer said. He sought to protect the poor and middle class from the hardships of unreasonable rule. He believed bishops could be just and he lived out that belief by returning farm animals, fees and fines legally owed to him back to the people under his authority. He also believed English law should limit the power of the king and he fully supported the Magna Carta, a document designed to protect the rights of the church, and limit the fees and fines levied on struggling families. The document even laid out rules for jury trial and limited the times and days lay people were expected to leave their jobs to serve jury duty, Creamer explained.

Creamer spoke eloquently about Saint Edmund’s life, generosity and dedication to The Catholic Church. Most significantly, he spoke about his philosophy on the right use of money. The love of money is the root of all evil, not money itself, as stated in The Gospel of Luke, Saint Edmund often clarified. The key is to possess great wealth, but to not be possessed by it, because in order to help the poor, it is necessary to give freely from our own overflow, he taught.

Edmundite Father Ray Doherty said he learned new things about Saint Edmund from Creamer’s lecture: Specifically, why England doesn’t recognize and praise the great work he accomplished during a difficult period in the country’s history. Creamer believes it is most likely due to the Reformation and the fact that Saint Edmund is buried in Pontigny, France and not in England. Also, Saint Edmund might have met with pockets of resistance throughout time because his politics were often contrary to the popular opinion of his peers.

Follow us on social.