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Saint Canute

Feast Day - January 19

Lived (1043 - July 10, 1086)



Canute is the King of Denmark for 6 years (1080-1086). He ascended the throne after his brother Harold Hen. Their father was King Sweyn II Estrithson.

Canute disagreed with aristocracy and his reign associated closely with the church, attempting to create a strong and unified monarchy.

In clerical issues, Canute generously favoured many churches, like the Cathedral of Lund in Denmark; built a Benedictine abbey in Odense; and supported preaching the Gospel throughout Denmark. In temporal matters, he attempted an administrative reform, particularly an enforced levying of tithes that incurred the wrath of the rural monarchy. In 1085 he reasserted the Danish claims to England and, with the count of Flanders and King Olaf III of Norway, prepared a massive invasion fleet that alarmed the Norman-English king William I the Conqueror.


Assassination of Saint Canute King of Denmark
Martyrdom of Saint Canute

Canute’s plan, however, had to be abandoned suddenly, for those aristocrats who opposed his tax policy revolted as he was preparing to embark for England. He fled from the rebels, led by his brother Prince Olaf, to St. Alban’s Church, Odense, which he had founded, and was assassinated there with the entire royal party.

Canute was buried in Saint Alban’s Church, renamed in 1300 to Saint Canute’s Cathedral. 

Many miracles were recorded at his tomb, and when King Erik III (Evergood of Denmark) in 1099 requested that his cause for sainthood begin, he was canonized by Pope Pascal II, in 1011.

Picture Credit - AnaStPaul

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