This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20 -- Feast of St. Caedwalla and St. Zaccheus

This seventh century heir to the throne of Wessex only lived thirty years, most of it in apparent sin, though there is little mention of that in accounts of his life. Unlike the lives of saints like Augustine, there's no record of a spiritual awakening that brings remorse for the dissolute life he had led. Instead, he was just a warrior-king who walked away from his throne to seek baptism. I'm not sure how that warrants sainthood, but April 20 is also the feast of St. Zaccheus. If you don't know his story, found at Luke 19:1-10, keep reading. It has bearing on Caedwalla's sainthood.

Zaccheus was a tax-collector and a very short man. As Jesus was walking through town, crowds were gathering around him and Zaccheus could not see him, so he climbed a tree. As Jesus walked under it, Jesus looked up and told him to come down and hurry home, as he needed to get things ready for Jesus to stay there that evening. The other people grumbled that Jesus was staying at the house of a sinner, and of course tax-collecting was a terrible sin for lots of reasons.

1. Tax collectors were collaborating with the Roman occupiers.
2. They over-charged and skimmed off the extra for themselves.
3. They were most exacting with the poor and politically powerless.

Jesus rebuked the crowd, saying that he had come to gather those who had been lost, and surely Zaccheus was one of the lost. Zaccheus repented, paid restitution to those he cheated, and followed the Lord. Eventually, he became the first bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. Although he was not one of the Twelve, he is considered an apostle (at least in the Eastern tradition).

Now back to Cadwalla. He was exiled from Wessex, where he had a claim on the throne, so he invaded Sussex and killed King Aethelwealh, but he was unsuccessful at holding the throne there. Eventually, he went back to Wessex and got control of the throne. Once in control of his homeland, he used it as a base to re-invade Sussex, which he conquered fully. He also conquered the Isle of Wight, annihilating the population so he could re-people it with Christians from his kingdom. He conquered Kent, placing his brother on the throne, and after the Kentish people rebelled and burned his brother, he ruled it directly. Not much saintly behavior yet.

An old wound from the Battle of Wight was bothering him, so he abdicated the throne and went on a pilgrimage to Rome. He received baptism and died a couple days later, still wearing his white baptism robe. No long service to God and his fellow men, as Zaccheus was blessed to give, but he was gathered to the Lord before his death. Saint? I guess so. I might grumble, but the story of the tax-collector makes me wary.


  1. Then again is not St Dismas, who first cursed Jesus and then repented and asked to be part of His Kingdom, all while hanging there dying, a Saint too? And if you die just after baptism before committing sin there is no Purgatory. So that may explain his canonization too. So grumble not, it just shows God's Divine Mercy at work.

    1. Beautiful, but just one thing i believe it was another thief who said if you are the son of man get youself off this cross. then Dismas said you are close to death and you still not fear God, we are sinners but what has this man done, Lord when you enter your kingdom please rem. me

  2. Good call, CatholicBoyRichard. Here's the post on the feast of Saint Dismas, just to reinforce the point.