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20 May

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  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Celtic and Old English Saints 20 May =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * St. Ethelbert of East Anglia
    Message 1 of 14 , May 19 9:24 PM
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      Celtic and Old English Saints 20 May

      * St. Ethelbert of East Anglia

      St. Ethelbert of East Anglia, Martyr & King
      Died near Hereford, England, c. 793-794. King Ethelbert had a
      considerable cultus as a wonder worker and martyr during the middle
      ages. However, some, such as William of Malmesbury, have misgivings
      about the continuance of his veneration. He cited the authority of
      Saint Dunstan (f.d. May 19) and the witness of miracles as reasons to
      allow the cultus to continue. Ethelbert was murdered at Sutton Walls in
      Herefordshire, apparently for dynastic reasons at the instigation of the
      wife of Offa of Mercia.

      His pious "vita," written by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales),
      tells us that Ethelbert was a man of prayer from his childhood. While
      still very young, he succeeded his father Ethelred as king of East
      Anglia and ruled benevolently for 44 years. It is said that his usual
      maxim is that the higher the station of man, the humbler he ought to be.
      This was the rule for his own conduct.

      Desiring to secure stability for his kingdom by an heir, he sought the
      hand of the virtuous Alfreda (Aelfthryth), daughter of the powerful King
      Offa. With this in mind, he visited Offa at Sutton-Walls, four miles
      from Hereford. He was courteously entertained, but after some days,
      treacherously murdered by Grimbert, an officer of King Offa, through the
      contrivance of Queen Quendreda who wanted to add his kingdom to their

      His body was secretly buried by the river Lugg at Maurdine of Marden,
      but miracles revealed its hiding place. Soon it was moved to a church
      at Fernley (Heath of Fern), now called Hereford. The town grew around
      the church bearing Ethelbert's name after King Wilfrid of Mercia
      enlarged and enriched it. Hereford became the second most important
      pilgrimage site (next to Canterbury) in medieval England. The body was
      burned by the Danes in 1050, but Ethelbert's head was buried at
      Westminster. Ethelbert's feast is kept in the dioceses of Cardiff and
      Northampton. He is titular patron of the cathedral at Hereford, and the
      churches at Marden (Herefordshire), Little Dean (Gloucestershire), and
      eleven others in East Anglia.

      Quendreda died miserably within three months after her crime. Her
      daughter Alfreda became a hermit at Croyland. Offa made atonement for
      the sin of his queen by a pilgrimage to Rome, where he founded a school
      for the English. Egfrid, the only son of Offa, died after a reign of
      some months, and the Mercian crown was translated into the family
      descended of Penda (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Farmer).

      These Lives are archived at:
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