‘I am a Christian!’ declares babe-in-arms. This week JACOB MILNESTEIN tells us about St Rumwold – the baby saint who only lived for three days.
A child’s first words are often one of the most important moments for any parent. However when 7th century infant, St Rumwold first opened his mouth and declared in Latin, ‘I am a Christian!’ you can be assured that his pagan parents were more than a little surprised.
Born in AD 662 in Northamptonshire, St Rumwold only lived for three days. Yet during this time and from the very moment of his birth, he began to evangelise to any and everyone who surrounded his cot.
Much to the surprise of the pagan nobility of his mother’s court, the young infant declared his faith loudly and with increasing aplomb, insisting not only that he be baptised but also that his parents name him as Rumwold.
Whether this last request was a pious one or the infant saint had been ruminating on choices within the womb, the myth surrounding him does not say. In fact there is much that the surrounding myth does not clarify about the saint.
Conscious from before birth, St Rumwold is said to have proselytised ceaselessly on the subject of his religion, yet sadly none of his sermons were recorded in writing. There is also a lack of indication as to whether his teachings ever truly addressed the big issues of life beyond the accepted stance of the Church.
What St Rumwold had to say about life before birth, what he had to impart about the function of memory, the question of the soul is lost to us.
“… the young infant declared his faith loudly and with increasing aplomb, insisting not only that he be baptised but also that his parents name him as Rumwold.”
In many ways it is a shame that dissection was not introduced until late into the 16th century – St Rumwold’s brain could have been of invaluable use not only to medical science but also to our understanding of identity.
Though there are conflicting reports about the religious stance of St Rumwold’s parents prior to his birth, it is unlikely that they would not have heeded whatever sermons he delivered (assuming they weren’t all in Latin).
Yet if there was a master plan, a grand design at work in St Rumwold’s short presence on Earth, the story of the youthful saint gives no indication.
Despite the miracle of his birth, like the rest of us, St Rumwold was clutching in the dark, trying to make sense of his own mortality.
Quite who got the better deal remains an open question.
JACOB MILNESTEIN writes stories. His most recent story, “lecteur de tarot” can be found here.