March 2: Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, 672

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this Commemoration

One of four brothers dedicated to service in the Church, Chad was trained by Aidan of Lindisfarne as a follower of the Celtic tradition in ritual. His elder brother Cedd, a godly and upright man, had built a monastery at Lastingham, where he governed as abbot. At his death, Cedd left the abbacy to Chad. According to the Venerable Bede, Chad was “a holy man, modest in his ways, learned in the Scriptures, and zealous in carrying out their teaching.”

Impressed by Chad’s qualities, the King appointed him Bishop of York. Chad was ordained by “bishops of the British race who had not been canonically ordained,” Bede tells us. Chad was, Bede also notes, “a man who kept the Church in truth and purity, humility, and temperance.” Following apostolic example, he traveled about his diocese on foot.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore, arrived in England four years after Chad’s ordination as bishop. Theodore made it clear that Chad’s ordination had been irregular, that is, not according to Roman custom; and Chad most humbly offered to resign from office. “Indeed, I never believed myself worthy of it,” he said.

Theodore, impressed by such humility, reordained him, and appointed him Bishop of Mercia and Northumbria. Chad continued his custom of traveling on foot, until Theodore ordered him to ride, at least on longer journeys. When Chad hesitated, the Archbishop is said to have lifted him bodily onto the horse, “determined to compel him to ride when the need arose.”

Chad administered his new diocese with devout concern. He built a monastery, and established monastic rule at Barrow. In his see city of Lichfield, where he had an official dwelling, he preferred to read and meditate in a small house he had built nearby.

Two and one-half years after his reordination, plague broke out, killing many residents of the diocese including Chad himself, whose death Bede describes thus: “He joyfully beheld … the day of the Lord, whose coming he had always anxiously awaited. He was mindful to his end of all that the Lord did.” He was buried at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter in Lichfield.


I     Almighty God, whose servant Chad, for the peace of the Church, relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray thee, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to step aside for others, that the cause of Christ may be advanced; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II     Almighty God, for the peace of the Church your servant Chad relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility: Keep us, we pray, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and ready at all times to step aside for others, that the cause of Christ may be advanced; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Proverbs 16:1-3

Philippians 4:10-13

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Psalm 95:1-7

Preface of a Saint (2)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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9 thoughts on “March 2: Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, 672

  1. I thought the bio was well-written, although there are no dates at the beginning. The narrative was smooth and drew one right along. Although there wasn’t “high drama,” there were points in his life where he was tested. I thought he was an excellent example of Christian leadership–perseverance, courage, strong and clear faith, and humility,

  2. I remember around the time of Bush v. Gore, with the ‘hanging chads’ there was a quip that St. Chad be declared the Patron Saint of Disputed Elections, citing the contraversy over his elevation to the Episcopate.

    His insistance on walking and refusing to ride even for long trips reminds me somewhat of the rhetoric of some of the more radical anti-car activists.

  3. One small note about praying this collect: the phrase “only to be rewarded with equal responsibility” is clunky and seems unnecessary for the overall message.

    • Yes—and it almost has a ‘lost a dollar and found a dime’ tone to it, as though the responsibility were a poor substitute for the honors.

  4. Readings. Psalm: What did we gain in choosing verses from the Venite (Psalm 95) over those in LFF 06 (Psalm 84: 7-12 or Psalm 23)?
    Hebrew Scripture Reading: Three short proverbs. Hundreds of proverbs and Chad gets only three.

    Bio. Chad needs some information regarding his birth/place – and, a ‘He died in 672’ statement. Perhaps this could be added to the last sentence: ‘He died in 672 and was buried at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter in Lichfield.’

  5. Chad
    GENERAL: I love this write-up, especially its presentation of Chad’s consistent devotion to living and upholding others, monastic and diocesan, in the life of Christ’s grace and promise. His walking bespeaks his personal dedication as well as humility and humanity, although I’m afraid these qualities are so transparent in the bio they can be missed, or the walking references seen as merely extraneous trivia. If nothing is changed, I will still love the description of his life. The Bede material at the end is perfect. Celinda’s observation about needing opening and closing dates is important.
    COLLECT: “Almighty” seems an odd attribute to choose for a person whose character makes me mindful of the phrase “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). In fact, many of the collects seem to reach for the easiest, most generic ways of invoking God rather than finding a specifically apt attribute or self revelation that resonates with the commemoration as a whole, the petition, and the (explicit or implicit) “so that” clause. There are many ways of invoking God, and reusing the same one excessively is lazy, lacks spiritual discernment, risks turning “almighty” into an overworked cliché word devoid of power(!), ignores God’s rich nature and self-revelation in scripture, and turns a blind eye and dead heart to the commemoration at hand.
    Grace and Philip are right: the words, “only to be rewarded with equal responsibility” seem wrong, even within the collect as presently conceived. Episcopacy is not a reward but a calling, and whether it was “equal responsibility” is a judgment that I can’t say. It might be better to say instead, “and was honored with added responsibility. ”
    The passive voice of “that the cause of Christ may be advanced,” (the “that clause”) weakens its effectiveness, leaving those praying potentially unengaged by the task of someone anonymous (possibly the “may be advanced” committee). There is, by the way, an app for that – in everyone’s Baptismal Covenant:
    “Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?” “I will, with God’s help.”

    With a better invocation, and editorial rewordings in the initial summary about Chad and the “so that” clause, the general content will make for a good collect in a fine commemoration.

    The psalm and gospel selections seem especially apt for Chad: joy in the Lord and humility toward others. The epistle is half excellent (12-13) and half more self-concerned than I imagine Chad to be (10-11). Verses 4-9 as an addition (or optional lengthening) put me in mind of “Bishop Chad” – pastor and spiritual guide.
    The selected Proverbs verses seem like fluff; there’s not much there. An different passage, in the spirit of spiritual instruction, would be Proverbs 6:16-23 (or just 20-23).
    16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
    17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil,
    19 a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family.
    20 My child, keep your father’s commandment, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
    21 Bind them upon your heart always; tie them around your neck.
    22 When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.
    23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

  6. I dislike the subtitle: Chad is not honored because he was a bishop. However, I have no satisfactory alternative that brings out his humility, founding of a monastery, or preference for walking. “Early English Christian Leader” is about as close as I can come.

    Substitute as the start of the first paragraph: “Chad was born in Northern England around 634, one…” for “One”.

    Line 3, sixth paragraph: add “at Lichfield on March 2, 672” after “death”.

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