King Athelstan - 924 ~ 2024

Was Athelstan related to Aldhelm?

Malmesbury is famous as the burial place of both a saint of the Catholic Church- Aldhelm- and the first king of all England- Athelstan. The two men were related to each other. Saint Aldhelm established Malmesbury Abbey as a centre for spirituality and advanced study around the year 700. He was an important writer and after his death he was seen as a powerful miracle-working saint. The shrine of Aldhelm became a focus for pilgrims. Aldhelm was a prince of the royal family of Wessex and was therefore a distant relative of Athelstan who was also a prince of the house of Wessex.

Athelstan was very proud of his connection with Aldhelm and was devoted to the veneration of Aldhelm as a saint. The fact that Aldhelm was buried in Malmesbury was one reason why Athelstan took an interest in the church at Malmesbury and was a generous patron to the community. According to William of Malmesbury Athelstan owed his victory at the great Battle of Brunanburh in 937 to the miraculous intervention of Saint Aldhelm. During the battle Athelstan dropped his sword and it was miraculously retrieved through the action of Aldhelm.