Posted by: anna | September 14, 2009

St Cuthburga of Wimborne

St. Cuthburga, Aug. 31 Aug. (CUDBURG, CUDBURH, CUTHBRITHA, etc.). + c. 720.
Queen of Northumberland and abbess of Wimborne. She was the daughter of Quenred, brother of Ceadwalla, king of Wessex (685-688). Her brothers were Ingild, great-great-grandfather of Egbert, and direct ancestor of Alfred the Great, and St. Ina, king of Wessex. (See ETHELBURGA (2).) Her sisters were QUIMBURGA, Edburga, and Tetta. Ceadwalla became a Christian in 688, and went to Rome to be baptized, resigning the throne to his nephew Ina. Cuthburga was a pupil of ST. HILDELID, second abbess of Barking. Cuthburga married Aldfrid, or Alfrith, king of Northumberland (685-705). He was the illegitimate son of Oswin, king of Northumberland, and was educated among the monks of Ireland, or lona. He was learned in the Scriptures, and was the friend of Adamnan and of St. Bennet Biscop.

There is some discrepancy in the accounts of the married life of St. Cuthburga, as she is confounded with ST. KYNEBURGA (1), who married Alcfrith. It has been said, on the one hand, that Aldfrid and Cuthburga lived a celibate life as brother and sister ; on the other, that she was the mother of his son Osred, and perhaps of ST. OSANNA. Another account has it that she was the wife of Osred, whom she left on account of his godless and dissolute life. Aldfrid and Cuthburga separated from religious motives. Cuthburga took the veil with her sister, ST. QUIMBURGA, at Barking. This nunnery was famous for the zeal of the nuns in the study of sacred and classic literature. Ina, now king of Wessex, seeing that his sisters had devoted themselves to the service of God, and desiring to build a church for the good of his soul and the advantage of his people, built a monastery, between 700 and 705, for Cuthburga, at Wimborne,in Dorsetshire, near his own residence. Cuthburga was its first abbess. Quimburga was a nun there with her.

Wimborne soon became even more famous than Barking as a training-school for learned and active women. Thence went, in the next generation, ST. LIOBA, ST. WALBURGA, and others, at the call of Boniface, the great English apostle of Germany, to help in his grand mission. The abbey of Wimborne was destroyed by the Danes about the year 900, and afterwards restored, dedicated anew in the name of St. Cuthburga, and given to secular canons. St. Cuthburga’s burial-place is still shown under the wall of the chancel.

Sources: AA.SS. Lappenberg, Hist. England under Anglo-Saxon Kings. Strutt, Chronicle of England. Smith and Wace. Dict. Christian Biog. Montalembert, Monks of the West. Bede. Alford, Annales Ecclesise Anglicanae. Capgrave, Legenda Angliae. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Holy St Cuthburga, pray to God for us.

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