March 2, 672: Death of Saint Chad

St Chad was a Northumbrian, one of four brothers (along with Cedd, Cynebill, and Caelin), all famous priests.

Chad was a student of Aidan at Lindisfarne, and was both a bishop of Northumbria and the first bishop of the Mercians and the people of Lindsey. The Northumbrian king Oswiu appointed Wilfrid bishop of Northumbria in about 664, but Wilfrid went abroad to be consecrated (it takes several existing bishops to consecrate a new bishop, and newly-converted Saxon lands didn't have enough bishops), and spent some time getting back home. In the meantime, Chad was appointed bishop of Northumbria, and remained until the reforming Theodore of Tarsus became archbishop of Canterbury in 668 and deposed Chad and reinstated Wilfrid (Chad's consecration at home was deemed less "official" than Wilfrid's). Chad then retired to the abbey of Lastingham, but when the Mercian king Wulfhere requested a bishop for his people, Theodore persuaded Chad to come out of retirement and establish the first Mercian bishopric at Lichfield. Chad died of plague in 672 and was buried at his church, but his bones were later moved to the new church of St Peter, on the site of the present cathedral.

Stories about Chad emphasize his humility -- like his teacher Aidan he preferred to do his duties on foot, to such an extent that Theodore once had to manhandle him onto a horse to get him to ride it. Even Wilfrid's biographer, a violently partisan man who tends to be nasty about Wilfrid's enemies or indeed anyone who gets in Wilfrid's way, speaks unexpectedly of Chad's sanctity and humility