St Owen

St. Owen was a Benedictine monk who dies in 680 A.D. His feast day is on March 4th.

Bede mentions St. Owen as a monk of great faith. He gave up opportunities for a distinguished career to serve God instead.

When he came with Queen Etheldreda from East Anglia, he was the governor of her household as well as her chief minister. While he had a strong sense of responsibility to his queen, he had a growing sense of Christian obligation. Under the influence of Celtic missionaries, including St. Chad, his faith grew stronger.

There came a day when he felt called to sacrifice his high position in the court so that he could instead spend his energies serving God instead. He gave up fame and fortune to become a humble and anonymous monk serving in a religious community.

He arrived at the monastery of Lastingham with an axe in one hand and a hatchet in the other, though otherwise there was nothing remarkable about him as he was simply dressed.

When asked to state his business, st. Owen replied that he came with all he possessed, and he came to work, for he could not live idly. Hence the axe and hatchet, which he planned to use in the service of the monastery. This active labor would more suit him, he explained, than quiet contemplation.

His humility and sincerity were obvious and so he was taken to the presiding bishop, St. Chad who gladly welcomed him into the community.

Thus St. Owen became the fellowship’s handy man. When the bells called the other monks to study, he would labor with his tools. As he cut wood, mended walls and fences and did other projects around the monastery, he toiled to the glory of God.

Therefore, of St. Owen it was written: In the handiwork of their craft is their prayer.