Feb. 3, St. Werburga


Today is the feast of St. Werburga, fourth Abbess of Ely, the double monastery founded in 673 by her great aunt, St. Etheldreda.

(Etheldreda was also known as Audrey. "At St Audrey's Fair necklaces of silk and lace were sold, often of very inferior quality, hence the derivation of the word tawdry from St Audrey." The souvenir badges worn by pilgrims to Werburga's shrine depicted geese in a wattle enclosure, referring to the saint's miraculous clearing of geese from Weedon and restoring one that already had been eaten to "life and full plumage".)

St. Sexburga, sister of St. Etheldreda, became the second Abbess of Ely. The third Abbess, daughter of Sexburga, was St. Ermenilda, Werburga's mother. She appointed Werburga to succeed her as Abbess of Minster-in-Thanet. Upon Ermenilda's death, Werburga became Abbess of Ely. She also ruled the monasteries at Weedon, Hanbury, and Trentham.

In 699, St. Werburga "died at her own monastery of Trentham but the monks of Hanbury carried off her body to enrich their own church. In the ninth century, during the ravages of the Danes, the venerable body was removed for greater safety to the Church of SS. Peter and Paul in Chester."

The Royal Saints of Anglo-Saxon England: A Study of West Saxon and East Anglian Cults, by Susan J. Ridyard, Cambridge University Press, 1989, is based on the original sources for the lives of Werburga and her relatives, the "'dynasty' of royal ladies, descendants of the East Anglian king Anna (c.635-54), who came to be venerated at the abbey of Ely". Search term, "Werburga".

Don't miss a thing! Get NCR's free newsletter.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017