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St. Chad Remembered

Election Controversy Ignites Interest in British Saint

by David Johnson

St. Chad's parish does not object to an additional job for St. Chad. "St. Chad as the patron saint of disputed elections is entirely appropriate," says the church website.


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"Chads," the tiny pieces of paper created when a ballot is punched, are prominent in the dispute over Florida election ballots. While the origin of the word "chad" in that context is obscure, the publicity has turned the spotlight on the 7th-century British bishop, St. Chad. St. Chad's Church in Lichfield, England reports a surge in visits to its website.

Patron Saint of Disputed Elections?

Ironically, St. Chad graciously stepped aside during a dispute over his accession to higher office, prompting the Washington Times to wonder if he should be named the patron saint of disputed election.

St. Chad's parish does not object to an additional job for St. Chad. "St. Chad as the patron saint of disputed elections is entirely appropriate," says the church website.

Bishop of York

Born in the 620s in Northumbria in northern England, Chad, or Ceadda as he is also known, joined religious orders. In 664 he became the abbot of Lastingham, Yorkshire. The following year he was consecrated bishop of York in the absence of the first choice, St. Wilfrid, who was in France.

A Humble Soul

In 669, however, while Chad was visiting his diocese on foot, Wilfrid returned from France. The new archbishop of Canterbury, St. Theodore, ordered Chad to vacate the position so Wilfrid could fill it. Theodore claimed that Chad's consecration had been improperly performed.

Chad readily stepped down and retired. Soon thereafter, however, Theodore named him bishop of Lichfield. After a premonition of his death, Chad died in 672 and was buried in the church of St. Mary. Venerated as a saint, his remains were moved to the cathedral church of St. Peter, and then to the Lady Chapel in 1296. Around 1380, the bishop of Lichfield built a marble shrine for St. Chad, adorned with gold and precious stones.

At least 33 churches and several wells have been dedicated to St. Chad.




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