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Orthodox Christian Missions

St. Felix, Apostle of East Anglia

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Commemorated March 8

Felix was born at the end of the sixth century in Burgundy in what is now eastern France. As a young man he became a monk and priest, perhaps under the influence of the Irish monastery of St Columban at Luxeuil in Burgundy. It was here that he met a royal exile from East Anglia, Sigebert, to whom Felix introduced Christianity and baptised.

When in 630 Sigebert returned to East Anglia, he asked Felix to come and evangelise his kingdom and Felix was duly consecrated, apparently by Honorius, the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury. Sailing up from Kent, local tradition has it that Bishop Felix made landfall at the ruined Roman fortress at what is now Felixstowe. Although some believe that Bishop Felix made his base at Felixstowe, most believe that his See was fixed further up the Suffolk coast at the then thriving port of Dunwich.

Bishop Felix set about missionary work all over East Anglia. Suffolk lore says that it was he who taught local people how to build churches with the flint that lies so abundantly on Suffolk fields. Apart from his Cathedral and a School which we believe were in Dunwich, and his activities in and near the Felixstowe peninsula, for example at Hallowtree and near Sutton Hoo, he was also active in the north of the county. Here at Beccles and in the village of Flixton (believed like Felixstowe to have been named after St Felix), he preached the Faith. Also he seems to have sailed up the Stour and been active in the south of the county, at Sudbury as well as in central Suffolk, founding with the future St Sigebert, a monastery at what is now Bury St Edmunds.

Outside Suffolk St Felix is also said to have founded the oldest church in Norfolk at Babingley, near Sandringham. The nearby villages of Shernborne and Flitcham, which is said to have been named after St Felix, retain links with St Felix. The holy bishop also preached near Swaffham at Saham Toney and perhaps at Cockley Cley where a very ancient church still stands. The saint was also present near Yarmouth at Loddon and Reedham and in this area he worked closely with an Irish missionary, St Fursey. Finally tradition tells that Bishop Felix founded a monastery at Soham in Cambridgeshire.

Bishop Felix worked with the full approval of the pious King of East Anglia, Sigebert. After he died in 635, Sigebert was succeeded by his cousin, Anna. This man was the father of several holy children, the most famous of whom is St Audrey, who was baptised and instructed in the faith by Bishop Felix, thus ensuring the continuation of his apostolic work after his repose. Bishop Felix passed away on 8 March 647 and was at once honoured as the Apostle of East Anglia and a Saint.

Source: Orthodox England


Written by Stephen

March 8, 2010 at 7:01 am

Posted in European Saints, Saints

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