April 5 – St. Æthelburh and the Rose Named After Her

April 3, 2017

St. Æthelburh

Saint Æthelburh (died 647), also known as Ethelburga, Ædilburh and Æthelburga (Old English: Æþelburh), was an early Anglo-Saxon queen consort of Northumbria, the second wife of King Edwin. As she was a Christian from Kent, their marriage triggered the initial phase of the conversion of the pagan north of England to Christianity.

Æthelburh date of birth is not known. She was the daughter of King Ethelbert of Kent and the Merovingian princess, Saint Bertha, as well as the sister of Eadbald and Edburga. In 625, she married Edwin of Northumbria. A condition of their marriage was Edwin’s conversion to Christianity and the acceptance of Paulinus’s mission to convert the Northumbrians.

St. Ethelburga Rose

St. Ethelburga Rose

After Edwin’s death at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633, she fled to Kent, with Paulinus, the Bishop of York and her daughter, Eanfled. She then established one of the first Benedictine nunneries in England, at Lyminge, near Folkestone, Kent. There she served as abbess and taught medicine to women, healed and tended to the sick.

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