SS. WULFHAD AND RUFFIN, MM.
THEY were two brothers, the sons of Wulfere, the
king of Mercia, second brother and successor of Peada. Having been
privately baptized by St. Chad, bishop of Litchfield, about the year
670, they were both slain whilst they were at their prayers by their
father’s order, who, out of political views, at that time
favored idolatry, though he afterward did remarkable penance for this
crime. His father Penda had persecuted the Christians, but his elder
brother Peada had begun to establish the faith in his dominions.
Florence of Worcester says, Wulfere was only baptized a little before
his death, in 675, consequently after this murder; but Bede testifies
that he was godfather to Edelwalch, king of the West-Saxons, almost
twenty years before. But either he relapsed (at least so far as to be
for some time favorable to idolatry), or this murder was contrived by
some Pagan courtiers, without his privity, as Bradshaw relates it.
The queen Emmelinda, mother of the two young princes, caused their
bodies to be buried at Stone, which place took its name from a great
heap of stones which was raised over their tomb, according to the
Saxon custom. She afterward employed these stones in building a
church upon the spot, which became very famous for bearing the names
of these martyrs who were patrons of the town, and of a priory of
regular canons there. The procurator of this house, in a journey to
Rome, prevailed on the pope to enrol these two royal martyrs among
the saints, and left the head of St. Wulfhad, which he had carried
with him, in the church of St. Laurence at Viterbo. (Leland, Collect.
t. 1, p. 1, 2.) After this, Wulfere and his brother and successor
Ethelred, abolished idols over all Mercia. See the acts of these
royal martyrs in the History of Peterborough abbey, and Leland’s
Itinerary, and Collect. t. 1, p. 1. Also Cuper the Bollandist, t. 5,
Julij, p. 571.