LONDON, Dec. 4 (AP) -- Election drama? St. Chad knows all about it. (And may have a message for Al Gore and George W. Bush.)

The seventh-century cleric--whose own election as bishop was disputed--is enjoying a renaissance, thanks to the drawn-out fight for the U.S. presidency.

Officials of St. Chad's church in Lichfield, central England, report a surge in hits on their website, due to the growing interest in "chads," the tiny holes U.S. voters pierce in their ballots.

Instead of the usual four or five hits a day, the site is now receiving several hundred visitors after some of the U.S. media speculated St. Chad might be the patron saint of disputed elections.

"We are delighted to have so many visitors," said Church of England Rev. Jill Warren, adding that there may be "a lesson to be learned from Chad's election as Bishop of the Northumbrians 1,300 years ago."

Ancient chronicles show Chad was consecrated Bishop of the Northumbrians in 665 A.D. in place of the Abbot of Ripon, who had gone missing. But two years later, the abbot turned up, and in 669 A.D. the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore of Tarsus, declared Chad's consecration invalid.

Chad humbly stepped aside, declaring, "If you know I have not duly received episcopal ordination, I willingly resign the office, for I never thought myself worthy of it; but, though unworthy, in obedience submitted to undertake it."

Moved by Chad's attitude, Theodore appointed him as Lichfield's first bishop.

"There really is a message in the actions of St. Chad and we pray for all those involved in determining the outcome of the American election," said Warren, the church's rector.

Born in northeastern England in the 620s, Chad entered holy orders in Ireland. As Bishop of Lichfield, he insisted on walking everywhere, not wanting to put himself above his parishioners. He died of the plague in 672 A.D.

St. Chad's church serves a parish of around 16,000 people to the north and east of the city. Each year, hundreds of visitors make a pilgrimage to the church and a nearby well, which, tradition holds, is the spring where Chad baptized his converts into the Christian faith.

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