St. Dunston

Looking to the right the window in what was the Baptistry depicts St. Dunston (c. 909 – 19) May 988) was an English bishop. He was successively Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and Canterbury Archbishop of Canterbury , later canonised as a saint. St Dunstan was born of a noble family a near Glastonbury. There he was educated by Irish monks and while still a youth was sent to the court of King Athelstan. He became a Benedictine monk and was ordained by his uncle, St Alpehege (Bishop of Winchester) in around 939.

He spent some time as a hermit at Glastonbury before being recalled to court by King Edmund who appointed him Abbot of Glastonbury which he then developed into a great centre of learning as well as revitalising other monasteries in the area. He became advisor to King Edred when he became King after the murder of Edmund. He began a very influential reform of all the monasteries in Edred’s realm.

St Dunstan opposed the politics of King Edwy and was subsequently banished he returned when a rebellion replaced  Edwy with his brother Edgar. Edgar appointed him Bishop of Worcester and then Bishop of London. After the death of Edwy, the civil strife came to an end and Edgar reunited the country and made St Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury together, the King and St Dunstan planned a thorough reform of church and state.

St Dunstan was subsequently appointed legate by Pope John XII and along with St Ethelwold and St Oswald restored ecclesiastical discipline, rebuilt many of the monasteries destroyed by the Danish invaders, replaced inept secular priests with monks, and enforced the widespread reforms they put into effect. 

He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the devil. Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s foot when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s cloven hoof. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.

He was also known for a number of miracles involving cures including for blindness.

St Dunstan has been called the reviver of monasticism in England. He was a noted musician, played the harp, composed several hymns (notably “Kyrie Rex splendens”), was a skilled metal worker and illuminated manuscripts. He is the Patron Saint of armourers, goldsmiths, locksmiths and jewellers.

and St. Boniface ( c. 675 5 June 754 AD), (born Wynfrith) in the Devon town of Crediton in Anglo-Saxon England, was a leading figure in the Anglo-Saxon mission to the Germanic parts of the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He organised significant foundations of the church in Germany and was made archbishop of Mainz by Pope Gregory III. He was martyred in Frisia in 754, along with 52 others when instead of converts attending for baptism he and his party was set on by a group of thieves. He is venerated as a saint in the Christian church and became the patron saint of Germania, known as the “Apostle of the Germans”. 

According to one reference On 15 May, 719, Wynfrith (his name at birth) was sent to Germany by Pope Gregory II and given the name Boniface. His mission was to convert the unbelievers in that part of Europe to Christianity. He worked tirelessly in the country destroying idols and pagan temples across Germany and building churches in their place. In 732 he was made an Archbishop and founded or restored the diocese of Bavaria.

It was on this trip, around the time of Winter Solstice, that he was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an old oak tree. Horrified by what he saw as blasphemy, the all-action Boniface grabbed the nearest axe and hacked down the tree. As he did this he called the pagans to see the power of his God over theirs. The feelings of the locals were understandably mixed, but Boniface’s actions seem mainly to have been taken in good spirit, with some of the tales saying he converted the pagans on the spot. This is where the story divides. Some say that Boniface planted a fir tree there, but the most common idea is that a fir tree grew spontaneously in the oak’s place. The fir was seen as an image of God and many believed its evergreen character symbolised the everlasting love of the Creator. According to the story, the next year all the pagans in the area had been converted to Christianity and hung decorations from the tree to celebrate what they now called Christmas rather than Winter Solstice. The story spread and soon Christmas trees became the norm in the newly converted Bavaria, and then spread out to become the tinsel strewn, electric lit, bauble hung festival we know today.

This window is dedicated to the memory of WILLIAM EDGAR FLETCHER and his wife and was designed and made by Mr W H Harvey of York.