St. Tatwin, Bishop of Canterbury
Died July 30, 734. Saint Tatwin, a monk of Bredon (Brenton) in Worcestershire, was described by Saint Bede (f.d. May 26) as a man of remarkable prudence, devotion, and learning. At the recommendation of the Mercian King Ethelbald, Tatwin was chosen to succeed Saint Brithwald (f.d. January 9) as archbishop of Canterbury in 731. This was the same year in which Bede finished his Ecclesiastical History. Thereafter he consecrated bishops for Lindsey (Lincolnshire) and Selsey (West Sussex). After his death miracles were wrought through his intercession, an account of which was written by Goscelin.
Tatwin left several works including “Riddles” (“Enigmata’), consisting of 40 acrostics similar to those of Saint Aldhelm (f.d. May 25). The Riddles are written in Latin hexameters and Tatwin’s ingenuity is prominent: he makes the initials and finals of the first line of each riddle into an acrostic of hexameters. These were published by Giles in “Anecdota Bed?”, 1851. They treat of such diverse subjects as philosophy, charity, the alphabet, the pen, scissors, and swords. His “Grammar” (“Ars Tatwini”) expands upon that of Consentius and borrows from Donatus, Priscian, and other sources (Benedictines, Farmer).
Tatwin was buried in the abbey church of Saint Augustine at Canterbury. His relics, as well as the others buried there, were translated in 1091 when the church was enlarged. The epitaph on his tomb praised him for the same qualities described by Bede”
Vir religione et Prudentia insignis,
sacris quoque literis nobiliter instructus
(a man notable for his prudence, devotion and learning).
(Died AD 734)
Archbishop of Canterbury
Died: 30th July AD 734
Tatwin, by birth a Mercian, entered the Monastery of Breedon-on-the-Hill in Leicestershire.
In AD 731, Tatwin was promoted to the See of Canterbury, through the influence of King Aethelbald of Mercia, and was consecrated on 10th June. Bede concluded his Ecclesiastical History in the same year. Of Tatwin, he says that he was vir religione et Prudentia insignis, sacris quoque literis nobiliter instructus (a man notable for his prudence, devotion and learning). This is clearing shown in the two surviving manuscripts of his Riddles and four of his Grammar. The former deal with such diverse topics as philosophy & charity, the five senses & the alphabet and a book & a pen.
His short archiepiscopate of three years seems to have been uneventful. Though he is known to have consecrated Bishops of Lindsey and of Selsey in AD 733. He died the following year.
Edited from G.M. Bevan’s “Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury” (1908).
- Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The Book of Saints: A Dictionary of Servants of God Canonized by the Catholic Church Extracted from the Roman and Other Martyrologies.
- Farmer, D. H. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Source: 1.Celtic and Old English Saints – 30 July . 2016. Celtic and Old English Saints – 30 July . [ONLINE] Available at: http://celticsaints.org/2016/0730a.html. [Accessed 30 July 2016].
- 2. Britannia Biographies: St. Tatwin, Archbishop of Canterbury. 2016. Britannia Biographies: St. Tatwin, Archbishop of Canterbury. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.britannia.com/bios/abofc/tatwin.html. [Accessed 30 July 2016].