Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Wulfhad and Ruffin, Martyrs

Article

They were two brothers, the sons of Wulfere, the king of Mercia, second brother and successor of Peada. Having been privately baptized by Saint Chad, bishop of Litchfield, about the year 670, they were both slain whilst they were at their prayers by their father’s order, who, out of political views, at that time favoured idolatry, though he afterwards did remarkable penance for this crime. His father Penda had persecuted the Christians; but his elder brother Peada had begun to establish the faith in his dominions. Florence of Worcester says, Wulfere was only baptized a little before his death, in 675, consequently after this murder; but Bede testifies that he was godfather to Edelwalch, king of the West-Saxons, almost twenty years before. But either he relapsed, (at least so far as to be for some time favourable to idolatry,) or this murder was contrived, by some Pagan courtiers, without his privity, as Bradshaw relates it. The queen Emmelinda, mother of the two young princes, caused their bodies to be buried at Stone, which place took its name from a great heap of stones which was raised over their tomb, according to the Saxon custom. She afterwards employed these stones in building a church upon the spot, which became very famous for bearing the names of these martyrs who were patrons of the town, and of a priory of regular canons there. The procurator of this house, in a journey to Rome, prevailed on the pope to enrol these two royal martyrs among the saints, and left the head of Saint Wulfhad, which he had carried with him, in the church of Saint Laurence at Viterbo. After this, Wulfere and his brother and successor Ethelred, abolished idols over all Mercia.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saints Wulfhad and Ruffin, Martyrs”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 13 September 2013. Web. 1 October 2014. <>