On this day in 1012, Elfeah (Alfege or Alphege), the Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by Vikings, who had held him hostage for some time and not received the ransom that they had demanded for his release. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, “they overwhelmed him with bones of horns of oxen; and one of them smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow; and his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his sacred soul was sent to the realm of God”. His last words were “the gold I give you is the Word of God”. Elfeah’s body was laid to rest in St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and later, in 1023, moved by the then-Viking King, Canute, to Canterbury Cathedral. He was canonised in 1078.
A church dedicated to him stands on the spot where he was killed in Greenwich.
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