Oda of Canterbury

Archbishop of Canterbury
Term ended958
Other postsBishop of Ramsbury
Consecrationbetween 909 and 927
Personal details
Died2 June 958
Feast day4 July
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church[1]
Eastern Orthodox Church[2]
AttributesArchbishop holding a chalice

Oda (or Odo;[1] died 958), called the Good or the Severe, was a 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury in England. The son of a Danish invader, Oda became Bishop of Ramsbury before 928. A number of stories were told about his actions both prior to becoming and while a bishop, but few of these incidents are recorded in contemporary accounts. After being named to Canterbury in 941, Oda was instrumental in crafting royal legislation as well as involved in providing rules for his clergy. Oda was also involved in the efforts to reform religious life in England. He died in 958 and legendary tales afterwards were ascribed to him. Later he came to be regarded as a saint, and a hagiography was written in the late 11th or early 12th century.

Early career

Oda's parents were Danish, and he may have been born in East Anglia.[3] His father was said to have been a Dane who came to England in 865, together with the Viking army of Ubba and Ivar, and presumably settled in East Anglia. Oda's nephew Oswald of Worcester later became Archbishop of York. It is possible that Oswald's relatives Oscytel, afterwards Archbishop of York, and Thurcytel, an abbot, were also relatives of Oda, but this is not known for sure.[4]

In Byrhtferth of Ramsey's Life of Saint Oswald, Oda is said to have joined the household of a pious nobleman called Æthelhelm, whom he accompanied to Rome on pilgrimage. While on pilgrimage, Oda healed the nobleman's illness.[5] Other stories, such as those by the 12th-century writer William of Malmesbury, describe Oda as fighting under Edward the Elder and then becoming a priest, but these statements are unlikely. Other statements in the Life have Oda being named "Bishop of Wilton" by the king, who is stated to have been Æthelhelm's brother.[4] The chronicler may be referring, slightly inaccurately, to Aethelhelm cousin of the king. This benefactor has also been associated with bishop Athelm, who reportedly sponsored Oda in his ecclesiastical career.[6] Some sources state that Oda became a monk at Fleury-sur-Loire in France.[4][7]