Ithamar (bishop)

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Bishop of Rochester
Term endedbetween 655 and 664
PredecessorPaulinus of York
Consecrationbefore 655
Personal details
Diedbetween 655 and 664
Feast day10 June

Ithamar (sometimes Ythamar[1]) was the first bishop in England to be Saxon-born rather than consecrated by the Irish or from among Augustine's Roman missionaries. He was also the first Saxon bishop of Rochester.


Ithamar was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Honorius, and was said by Bede to be "of the Kentish nation, but not inferior to his [episcopal] predecessors for learning and conduct of life".[2]

Upon consecration as bishop, Ithamar took his new name from Ithamar, a son of Aaron, from the Old Testament.[3] Although a number of new Anglo-Saxon bishops had taken new names upon either entering religious life or upon consecration as bishops, these names were usually taken from church history.[4] The practice of taking a new name from the Old Testament was extremely rare in the Roman tradition, but did occur more often in the Celtic Church.[3]

As bishop, Ithamar consecrated Deusdedit as the first Saxon archbishop of Canterbury on 26 March 655.[5]

Ithamar died between 655 and 664,[6] probably close to 656, at Rochester.[7]

After Ithamar's death he was considered a saint and given a shrine at Rochester Cathedral. His feast day is 10 June.[7] There is no written Life detailing his biography, but a short work giving his miracles was composed in the 12th century. At that time, his remains were translated to a new larger shrine in Rochester Cathedral. The work on his miracles survives in one manuscript, MS Corpus Christi College Cambridge 161.[5]


  1. ^ Farmer Oxford Dictionary of Saints p. 266
  2. ^ Bede, Ecclesiastical History, 3.14
  3. ^ a b Sharpe "Naming of Bishop Ithamar" English Historical Review pp. 892–894
  4. ^ Sharpe "Naming of Bishop Ithamar" English Historical Review pp. 890–891
  5. ^ a b Bethell "Miracles of St. Ithamar" Analecta Bollandiana pp. 421–423
  6. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 221
  7. ^ a b Walsh A New Dictionary of Saints p. 287


  • Bethell, D. T. (1971). "The Miracles of St Ithamar". Analecta Bollandiana. 89: 421–437.
  • Farmer, David Hugh (2004). Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Fifth ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-860949-0.
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Sharpe, R. (September 2002). "The Naming of Bishop Ithamar". The English Historical Review. 117 (473): 889–894. doi:10.1093/ehr/117.473.889.
  • Walsh, Michael J. (2007). A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West. London: Burns & Oats. ISBN 0-86012-438-X.

External links[edit]

Christian titles
Preceded by
Paulinus of York
Bishop of Rochester
644–c. 660
Succeeded by