Saint Edward the Confessor: The Iconography

St. Edward the Confessor, King of the English. He went to sleep in the Lord on January 5 but is most often celebrated today, the day of the translation The day when his body was moved to a shrine behind the high altar at Westminster Abbey of his body.

This saint was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. Portraits most often show him with no attributes other than a crown and perhaps a sceptre. But in some images he holds a ring between two fingers, as at right and in the images at right.

The story goes that a poor pilgrim asked Edward for alms. Having nothing else, the king gave him a costly ring (image). Some time later another pilgrim brought the ring back to Edward with the message that the poor man had actually been St. John the Evangelist.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-10-30.


Detail from the Wilton Diptych (See the description page)

Detail from a stained-glass window in Barton, England. (See the description page)


  • Ring held between fingers
  • Crown


  • Feast day: October 13
  • Lived 1003-1066