St Aelfheah of Canterbury Healing Oil (Patron for Kidnap Victims)
St Aelfheah was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester later Archbishop of Canterbury. He became an anchorite before being elected abbot of Bath Abbey. His reputation for piety and sanctity led to his promotion to the episcopate and eventually to his becoming archbishop. Ælfheah furthered the cult of Dunstan and also encouraged learning.
Purportedly born in Weston on the outskirts of Bath, Ælfheah. Became a monk early in life. His birth took place around 953. He first entered the monastery of Deerhurst. But then moved to Bath where he became an anchorite. He noted for his piety and austerity and rose to become abbot of Bath Abbey. The 12th century chronicler William of Malmesbury recorded that Ælfheah a monk and prior at Glastonbury Abbey.
But this is not accepted by all historians. Indications are that Ælfheah became abbot at Bath by 982 perhaps as early as around 977. He perhaps shared authority with his predecessor Æscwig after 968.
Probably due to the influence of Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury (959–988). Ælfheah elected Bishop of Winchester in 984. And consecrated on 19 October that year. While bishop he largely responsible for the construction of a large organ in the cathedral. Audible from over a mile (1600 m) away and said to require more than 24 men to operate. He also built and enlarged the city’s churches. And promoted the cult of Swithun and his own predecessor, Æthelwold of Winchester. One act promoting Æthelwold’s cult the translation of Æthelwold’s body to a new tomb in the cathedral at Winchester. Which Ælfheah presided over on 10 September 996.
Following a Viking raid in 994, a peace treaty agreed with one of the raiders Olaf Tryggvason. Besides receiving danegeld, Olaf converted to Christianity and undertook never to raid or fight the English again. Ælfheah may have played a part in the treaty negotiations. And it is certain that he confirmed Olaf in his new faith.
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