Posted by: anna | July 21, 2009

saints of the day

Today, according to the Russian online menologion, is the feast of
  • St. Grimbald, hieromonk of Winchester.
  • Translation of the relics of St. Withburga, hermitess of East Dereham.
  • Virgin-martyr Urith (Hieritha) of Chittlehampton.

What is to be known about these people and their lives? Well, quite a lot really. I am continuing to concentrate on British saints for now – the main commemoration in the Russian calendar is the appearance of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, but I’ll leave that for… next year…

Holy men and women of these islands, pray to God for us.

I have just discovered a wonderful resource for images of icons of western saints:

Grimbald of Winchester:

Grimbald (c.825–901), monk of Saint-Bertin, dean of New Minster (Winchester). Born at Thérouanne (Pas-de-Calais), he joined the community of Saint-Bertin c.840 and was ordained priest c.870. Grimbald became a notable scholar; he went to Reims in 886; through Fulk of Reims he was invited to England by King Alfred in 887. Here he lived in a small Winchester ‘monastery’, becoming a court-scholar who assisted Alfred with his translations of Latin works into OE, notably Gregory’s Pastoral Care. Alfred wished him to become archbishop of Canterbury in 889, but Grimbald refused. Instead he became dean at Winchester of the secular canons of the New Minster. This was a town-church, where prominent Winchester citizens had burial-rights; it was distinct from the cathedral and probably absorbed the small community which Grimbald had previously ruled. There Grimbald died and was buried; his relics, with those of Judoc, were the most notable in this church. There were translations in 938, c.1050, and again in 1110, when the whole establishment was moved out to Hyde. Grimbald’s cult centred at Winchester, was extended to Malmesbury and at least nine other Benedictine abbeys; his feast was in the calendars of York and Hereford.

The extent of Grimbald’s achievements is partly disputed. It seems probable that he brought to England the 9th-century MS of Prudentius, now at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; it has also been conjectured that he brought the famous Utrecht Psalter. His interpolated Legend (from Hyde) provides the earliest legendary account of the foundation of Oxford University. Feast: 8 July .

AA.SS. Iul. II (1721), 651 ff.; N.L.A., i. 500; P. Grierson, ‘Grimbald of St. Bertin’s’, E.H.R., lv (1940), 529–61; id., ‘The Relations between England and Flanders before the Norman Conquest’ in R. W. Southern (ed.), Essays in Medieval History (1968), 61–92; M. Biddle, ‘Felix Urbs Wintoniae’ in D. Parsons (ed.), TenthCentury Studies (1975); J. B. L. Tolhurst, The Monastic Breviary of Hyde Abbey, s.d. 8 July (H.B.S., 1939).

“Grimbald” The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Oxford. 21 July 2009


Withburga (1) (Witburh) (d. c.743), virgin. The youngest daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia and a sister of Etheldreda, she lived as a solitary at Holkham (Norfolk), and later at East Dereham, where she is reputed to have founded a community and to have died before the buildings were completed. She was buried in the churchyard, but after fifty years her body was exhumed, found incorrupt and enshrined in the church.

In 974 Brithnoth, abbot of Ely, stole the body under the pretext that she would have wanted to be buried near her sisters. A band of his monks accompanied by soldiers went secretly by night to Dereham, having obtained the approval of King Edgar and Ethelwold. They removed the body to their wagons, drove twenty miles to the river Brandun, on which they continued their journey by boat to the dismay of the men of Dereham, who had pursued them by land and could only watch helplessly while their treasure slipped away. The body was reburied at Ely where, however, the incorruption story was never exploited, as it might have detracted from Etheldreda’s glory. In 1102 Withburga’s relics were moved into the new part of the church; in 1106 they were joined by the bones of the other three Ely saints (Etheldreda, Sexburga, and Ermegild). The church at Holkham is dedicated to her; water in Withburga’s well at Dereham churchyard was reputed to have sprung up when her body was first exhumed. Withburga’s emblem in art, as on six Norfolk screens, is a tame doe, which William of Malmesbury described as her companion in solitude who provided her with milk. Feast: 17 March ; translation 8 July ; 18 April at Cambridge (C.S.P.).

E. O. Blake (ed.), Liber Eliensis (C.S., 1962), pp.pp. 120–3, pp.221–34; A.S.C., s.a. 798; G.P., pp.pp. 324–5; N.L.A., ii. 468–70; M. R. James, Suffolk and Norfold (1930).

“Withburga (1)” The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Oxford. 21 July 2009

Urith of Chittlehampton:
Urith of Chittlehampton (Erth of Chittlehampton, Heiritha of Chittlehampton), virgin, foundress of its church. Leland and N.L.A. do not mention her, Roscarrock knew of her existence, but said: ‘What she was more, I know not. I would to God others would learne.’ In fact there was a book of her life in the shrine, with a record of her miracles. The rhyming Latin poem about her in Trinity College, Cambridge (MS. 0.9.38), is probably based on this. Hence and from Camden we learn that she was born at East Stowford (Devon), that she was a maiden dedicated to the religious life and was killed by haymakers with their scythes at the instigation of a jealous, possibly pagan, stepmother. A stream sprang out of the ground from where she fell. These last details are the same as in the legends of Sidwell and Cyniburg. Urith is a Celtic name; she may have been a victim of the Saxons. Her date is unknown.

The offerings to her shrine were sufficient to build the tower of Chittlehampton, reputed the finest in Devon, and even in the last year of the pilgrimages there, the vicar’s share of the offerings was £50, or three times his income from tithes and glebe. The removal of her statue in 1539–40 caused the loss of another £50 in offerings to the church. The pulpit of c.1500 survives with a figure of St. Urith holding a palm of martyrdom and the foundation stone of the church; her body may still be buried in the church. There is a 16th-century stained-glass window of her at Nettlecombe (Somerset). Urith is a Christian name favoured in Devon to our own day. Feast: 8 July .

M. R. James, ‘St. Urith of Chittlehampton’, Cambridge Ant. Soc. Proc. 1902, 230–4; J. F. Chanter, ‘St. Urith of Chittlehampton’, Rept. and Trans. Devon Association, xlvi (1914), 290–308; G. McN. Rushforth, ‘St. Urith’, Devon Notes and Queries, xvii (1933), 290–1.

“Urith of Chittlehampton” The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. David Hugh Farmer. Oxford University Press 2003. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. University of Oxford. 21 July 2009


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