January 19 – Saintly King

January 16, 2014

St. Canute IV

Martyr and King of Denmark, date of birth uncertain; died 10 July 1086, the third of the thirteen natural sons of Sweyn II surnamed Estridsen.

Martyr and King of Denmark, date of birth uncertain; died 10 July 1086, the third of the thirteen natural sons of Sweyn II surnamed Estridsen.

Elected king on the death of his brother Harold about 1080, he waged war on his barbarous enemies and brought Courland and Livonia to the faith. Having married Eltha, daughter of Robert, Count of Flanders, he had a son Charles, surnamed the good. He was a strong ruler, as is proved by his stern dealing with the pirate Eigill of Bornholm. The happiness of his people and the interests of the Church were the objects he had most at heart. To the cathedral of Roskilde, still the royal burying-place, he gave his own diadem.  His austerity was equalled by his assiduity in prayer.

The death of Canute the Holy. Painting by Christian Albrecht von Benzon

The death of Canute the Holy. Painting by Christian Albrecht von Benzon

An expedition to England, in favour of the Saxons against William the Conqueror, planned by him in 1085, failed through the treachery of his brother Olaf. His people having revolted on account of the cruelties of certain tax-collectors, Canute retired to the island of Funen. There, in the church of St. Alban, after due preparation for death, the king, his brother Benedict, and seventeen others were surrounded and slain, 10 July, 1086.
His feast is 19 January, translation, 10 July; his emblems, a lance or arrows, in memory of the manner of his death.

Grave of King St. Canute IV the Holy of Denmark at Odense Cathedral a.k.a. St. Canute’s Church

Grave of King St. Canute IV the Holy of Denmark at Odense Cathedral a.k.a. St. Canute’s Church

“Acta SS., July, III, 118-149, containing the life (written in 1105) by Aelnoth, a monk of Canterbury, and also that by SAXO GRAMMATICUS; BOLLANDISTS, “Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina”, (Brussels, 1898), 232; CHEVALIER. “Repertoire des sources historiques du moyen age” (Paris, 1905); I, col. 771; BUTLER, “Lives of the Saints”, 19 January.PATRICK RYAN (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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