Vikings, Murder & Martyrdom

Kent’s St Alphege and the Making of a Saint

 

In 2012, we celebrated Alphest 100 to remember the unique story of St Alphege and the Vikings. St Alphege’s story is inspirational to

modern people even though it is a thousand years old. Today, brave men and women across the world are also facing oppression, occupation and violence. Anyone that stands up to aggression deserves to be remembered and  Alphege is very much one of Kent’s local.

 

Vikings, Murder & Martyrdom - Kent’s St Alphege and the Making of a Saint

 

If you are from Kent then you will know about Invicta – the “unconquered” people of Kent that stood up to William the Conqueror’s army as it marched towards London in 1066. But it is not the first time that one of our own has said “no” and stood up against an invader. Alphege,

Archbishop of Canterbury refused the will of the mighty Vikings and gave up his life in the process. Here’s how the story goes.

 

Over a thousand years ago the Vikings invaded England. One of the raiders, Olaf, was converted to Christianity and agreed never to raid or fight the English again. Alphege helped him in his conversion and was involved in negotiating peace. Alphege became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1006.

The problem was that once a Viking, always a Viking and they invaded again in 1011, laying siege to Canterbury. The city was looted, the Cathedral set on fire, and Alphege was taken transported to Greenwich as prisoner.

 

Prisoner of conscience - Seeing a chance to make money, the Vikings tried to raise ransom from the people to get him released  – but Alphege said no. Not a penny was to be extracted from the people of Canterbury. On the evening of April 19th 1012, at a drunken feast, a gang of Vikings pelted Alphege with ox bones and killed him with axe because he refused to give in. His body was transported down the Thames brought ashore at Whitstable on the way to Canterbury Cathedral where he was buried. He was made a saint in 1078 by Pope Gregory and his day of remembrance or “feast day” is 19th April. This year, 2012 will be a thousand years since his death.

 

What is a saint?  A saint is a person that the Christian church gives special mention or credit to because of the way they have lived their life. This might be because of a particular thing they have done or an example they have set throughout the whole of their life to make them special.

Please enjoy some videos from our Alphest Celebration in 2012 where we were lucky enough to witness a dramatic

re-enactment of the Vikings arriving in Whitstable and events which unfolded that lead to the martydom of St.Alphege.