Saint William of Rochester: Patron Saint of Adopted Children

Saint William of Rochester, also known as Saint William of Perth was born in Perth, a very well known town in Scotland at the time. He was a wild, and mischievous child but, as he grew he devoted himself to God and to the service of God. Some accounts say he was a fisherman, others say he was a baker who set aside every tenth loaf of bread for the poor. By either account he was a kind and generous man of God.

He was known to attend mass each and every day. One very early morning. while it was still quite dark outside, he found an abandoned child in the threshold of the church. Saint William adopted this child and taught him his trade and all that he knew. He named him “Cockermay Doucri,” which is Scots for “David the Foundling.” They took a vow and travelled to visit the Holy places together. They stopped at Rochester and stayed there for three days. They were planning on heading to Canterbury, and then possibly on to Jerusalem. It was then that events took a very sad turn. David, betraying his adopted father purposely misled William to take a short cut. David planned on robbing William and in the midst of the robbery he violently hit him over the head, and slit his throat. Saint William was dead, at the hand of his adopted son, to whom he had taught everything he knew.

Soon after William’s death, David had disappeared and left his body in the very spot he had murdered him for his money. William’s body was discovered by a woman who was known to many as being one stricken with madness. She collected honeysuckle and made a garland of it, first placing it on William’s head, then on her own. It it said that from this very moment her madness left her and she became free of her burden. When the monks learned of her tale, they carried the body of William to Rochester and buried him at the cathedral. They honored him as a martyr because he died while on a noble and holy journey. The people acclaimed William as a saint because of the miracle of the mad woman.

While some might look at Saint William’s story and see it as a cautionary tale to trust no one, it is actually quite the opposite. William took David under his wing and taught him well. He gave him a loving home, holy and practical training, and every tool to a successful happy life. As parents, we must all teach our children well and give them these tools. The only hope for mankind to stay on a path of God is through the future generations. We must also accept though, that no matter how good we are to our children, and how well they are taught, some still stray from God. It is our duty to give them the love and the tools, but it is up to them to maintain a relationship with God. David was tempted by evil and greed. He killed his father and with that sin his father became a martyr and a saint. In death William helped a madwoman shed her burden and he performed miracles that helped many. William did what was right, and though it cost him his life, in death he became a saint. He remains with God in Heaven.