Ælfnoth of Stowe, Hermit

February 27 is the Commemoration of Ælfnoth or Alnoth of Stowe, Hermit.
“Ælfnoth or Alnoth (died 700) was an English hermit and martyr. Little is known of his life, though he is mentioned in Jocelyn’s life of Saint Werburgh as a pious neatherd at Weedon, who bore with great patience the ill-treatment of the bailiff placed over him, and who afterwards became a hermit in a very lonely spot, where he was eventually murdered by two robbers. On this ground he was honoured as a martyr; and there was some concourse of pilgrims to his tomb at Stowe near Bugbrooke in Northamptonshire.”

“WEDON, in Northamptonshire, was honoured with a palace of Wulphere, king of Mercia, in the middle of England, and was bestowed by that prince upon his daughter St. Wereburge, who converted it into a monastery. Alnoth was the bailiff of St. Wereburge in that country, and the perfect imitator of her heroic virtues. After her retreat he led an anchoretical life in that neighbourhood, and was murdered by robbers in his solitude. His relics were kept with veneration in the church of the village of Stow, near Wedon. Wilson places his festival on the 27th of February, in the first edition of his English Martyrology, and in the second on the 25th of November. See the life of St. Wereburge, which Camden sent to F. Rosweide, written as it seems by Jocelin. See also Harpsfield, Sæc. 7. c. 23. and Bollandus, p. 684.”

“700 AD. Mercia was the central Kingdom of the Anglo Saxon heptarchy and Weedon is usually considered to be the place nearest to the centre of England. King Wulfere had reluctantly given his only daughter Werburgh permission to enter the convent at Ely to be trained for the religious life, and King Ethelred, who succeeded his brother, thought she would be just the person to oversee the nuns of all the monasteries in the Kingdom of Mercia. He gave his niece lands at Weedon, Trentham and Hanbury on which to build convents.

At Weedon, among the servants of the monastery, there was a herdsman named Alnoth. According to Goscelin in his 11th Century Life of St. Werburgh, he was a man of great piety and, although he was an unlettered serf, he practised his religion with simple devotion. Such men tend to attract to themselves bullying persecution by the more worldly and one day St. Werburgh saw her steward in a violent rage beating Alnoth for some supposed fault or neglect. She was convinced by God that the herdsman was innocent, but instead of using the authority of her birth and position she fell at the feet of the steward pleading with him to be merciful and so shamed him into more Christian and just behaviour.

Alnoth led the life of a hermit in the woods of Stowe near Bugbrooke and there in his solitude he was murdered by some robbers, who infested the wooded country. They could not have killed Alnoth for his wealth because he had none, and the local people were sure that it was hatred of his faith and holiness of life that had motivated his murderers. He was regarded as a martyr and his tomb was a place of pilgrimage for centuries, those visiting it attesting to miracles and answered petitions.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: