|Blessed Cardinal, J. H. Newman|
|Every story needs an Irish princess|
The son of a Mercian nobleman, Bettelin had traveled to Ireland and seduced a fair young princess. Perhaps seduced is not the right word; it might have been mutual. Perhaps it is more accurate to say "knocked up." In any event, they were afraid that her dad would give vent to his Celtic temper, so they headed for the coast. Sadly, as they were making their way home through the wilds of Britain, the young bride went into labor. Bettelin ran for help, but when he finally returned, he found that his wife and child have been devoured by wolves. It is small wonder he became a hermit.
|Monks and razors -- it's universal|
One early writer says that Bettelin died in Croyland (long after Guthlac's death) and was buried in a marble tomb. Another writer says he moved on to an island called Bethney in the River Sow, within his father's lands. He lived there as a hermit until his father's death, at which time the new king sought to dislodge him. Bettelin was told that he could fight for the land, or have a champion represent him; otherwise, he would have to vacate. The hermit prayed, not for himself, but for the glory of God, that a champion would come to thwart the new king's disrespect of hermitage and lawful inheritance.
|Now THAT'S a champion!|
Bettelin, however, did not stay. He turned the island over to other hermits and went deeper into the Mercian wilderness. Bethney eventually became Stafford, since one could ford the river at a shallow, stony point with only the aid of a staff. Centuries later, in 1386, a blind cook attended Mass at St. Bertelin's (sic) Church in Stafford. With the intercession of Saint Bettelin, his vision was restored just as Father John Chrostias held up the Eucharist. He had a rough start as a young man, but Bettelin was keeping the holy works going long after his death.