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St. Felix of Dunwich,
Bishop of East Anglia

(Died AD 647)

Felix was a Burgundian priest, probably from one of the monastic houses founded by the Irish missionary, St. Columnbanus. In AD 630, he travelled to England, where he was welcomed at the Archiepiscopal Court of St. Honorius at Canterbury. Felix stayed there but a few months, before the primate sent him to evangelise the people of King Sigebert of East Anglia. King Sigebert allowed him to establish his see at Dommoc, or Dummoc-ceastre, generally accepted as Dunwich, a seaport on the coast of Suffolk (though some say it was Felixstowe). Dummoc had been a Roman station and, besides the advantage of its port, its walls may still have been strong enough to afford some protection for the new Bishop. It was, moreover, connected with the interior by ancient roads, which led in one direction toward Bury St. Edmunds and in another toward Norwich. At Dummoc, King Sigebert built a palace for himself and a church for Felix. Elsewhere, says Bede, "desiring to imitate those things which he had seen well arranged in Gaul, he founded a school in which boys might be taught letters, with the aid of Felix, the bishop....who furnished them with pedagogues and masters, after the Kentish fashion." Bede gives no locality for this school; yet the passage, without the slightest reason, has been looked upon as recording the foundation of the University of Cambridge, a place which, at that period, was not even within the borders of East Anglia. Four years after the establishment of the see, the King resigned his crown in favour of his cousin, Egric, and retired to a monastery which he had founded with the Irish monk, Fursey, at Burgh Castle. Felix founded a third monastery at Soham and it was here that he died, on 8th March AD 647, and was buried. His relics were later translated to Ramsey Abbey (Hunts).

 

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