King Oswald of Northumbria - A vision
Type of Spiritual Experience
After Cadwallon ap Cadfan, the king of Gwynedd, in alliance with the pagan Penda of Mercia, killed Edwin of Deira in battle at Hatfield Chase in 633 (or 632, depending on when the years used by Bede are considered to have begun), Northumbria was split into its constituent kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira.
Oswald's brother Eanfrith became king of Bernicia, but he was killed by Cadwallon in 634 (or 633) after attempting to negotiate peace.
Subsequently, Oswald, at the head of a small army (possibly with the aid of allies from the north, the Scots and/or the Picts), met Cadwallon in battle at Heavenfield, near Hexham.
Before the battle, Oswald had a wooden cross erected; he knelt down, holding the cross in position until enough earth had been thrown in the hole to make it stand firm. He then prayed and asked his army to join in.
Adomnán in his Life of Saint Columba offers a longer account, which Abbot Ségéne had heard from Oswald himself. Oswald, he says, had a vision of Columba the night before the battle, in which he was told the following...............
A description of the experience
Be strong and act manfully. Behold, I will be with thee.
This coming night go out from your camp into battle, for the Lord has granted me that at this time your foes shall be put to flight and Cadwallon your enemy shall be delivered into your hands and you shall return victorious after battle and reign happily.
Oswald described his vision to his council and all agreed that they would be baptised and accept Christianity after the battle. In the battle that followed, the British were routed despite their superior numbers; Cadwallon himself was killed