St. Eanswythe, abbess, of Folkestone (640)
St. Eanswith, or EANSWIDA, Aug.31. + c. 640. Abbess and founder of Folkestone. Daughter of Eadbald, king of Kent (610-040), and Emma, a princess of France. Represented carrying two fishes.
Eanswith was sister of the religious King Ercombert, and niece of ST. ETHELBURGA, queen of Northumberland. From her infancy she despised all that usually amuses and interests children, and grew up devoting herself to a religious life. She prevailed on her father to allow her to decline all alliances proposed for her, and retired, with his consent, to a lonely place between Folkestone and the sea, accompanied by other young women of kindred inclination. There King Eadbald built a church and a monastery for her.
St. Eanswith made her monastery a great agricultural establishment, as well as an ascetic sanctuary and literary school. She died young, and was buried in her own church. There are many legends about her miraculous powers. Her monastery was built on a cliff, and water being wanted there, she dug a canal with the tip of her crozier, and made the water run uphill. She miraculously lengthened a beam which the carpenters had made too short.
After her death the encroaching sea ruined the buildings, and the body of the saint was moved to the church at Folkestone, which Eadbald had built in honour of St. Peter. In process of time,
by the devotion of the people to her memory, the church was called St. Eanswide’s. AASS. Capgrave. Butler.
- orthodoxengland provides commemorative prayers for St Eanswitha here.
- Short hymns for our Holy Mother Eanswythe, Abbess of Folkestone by Andrew Bond
- French version of the same hymns by Claude Lopez-Ginisty
Troparion, Tone 6
With gladsome voices and hymns of praise let us extol the venerable Eanswythe, who, setting aside rich princely apparel, gladly put on the mean and lowly habit of a nun; and, in place of the idle pursuits of the royal court, set herself boldly to acquire all the virtues. Wherefore, having pleased Christ by her charity and love, she ever intercedeth with Him to have mercy on our souls.