A saint otherwise

On this day of 12 February in 1266, Walter de Cantilupe, the bishop of Worchester, died a broken man. He had been a mentor to Simon de Montfort and headed the coterie of bishops that legitimized his regime. There was nothing in Cantilupe’s background to suggest he would one day be the spiritual guide to opposition to Henry III. Born around 1200, Walter came from a family steeped in royal service. His father and brother, both former stewards in the king’s household, were among the “evil councillors” cited for their loyalty to King John. Walter benefited from the connection and held thirteen benefices when he was elected bishop in 1236. His faith was strong – he owned a hair shirt – but he remained a passionate defender of pluralism and was a politician at heart. It was at this time that he and other clerics turned to Magna Carta for protection against the king. Since Henry wasn’t about to give them more privileges than they already had, they looked to Simon de Montfort and supported his victory over Henry at the battle of Lewes. Cantilupe and eight other bishops gave sanction to the new Montfortian constitution proclaimed in Westminster Hall on 11 March 1265. The king was forced to give his consent, but took names during the ceremony. After Montfort’s defeat and death at Evesham in August of that year, Henry sued to have the bishops suspended from office, but Cantilupe died before his turn came. His nephew Thomas de Cantilupe was another prominent Montfortian, but was rehabilitated, became the bishop of Hereford and was canonized after his death in 1282. This effigy found during reconstruction of Worcester Cathedral in the 19th century is said to belong to Walter.

One thought on “A saint otherwise

  1. I read that Thomas de Cantilupe was canonised because he allegedly raised a Welsh rebel from the dead(who ended up being hanged 8 yrs after Thomas died)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *