Posted by: anna | March 19, 2010

SS Cyneburgh and Cyneswith

Today (6 March) we commemorate SS. Cyneburgh and Cyneswith, abbesses of Castor, and St. Tibba (ca. 680). From Miss Dunbar:

St. Kyneburga ( 1 ), Queen, March 6, Sept. 15 (English Mart.),+ 680

(Cuneburga, Cunneberg, Cunnyburrow, Cymburga, Cyneburh), Abbess of Dormundcaster in Northamptonshire. Eldest daughter of Penda, king of Mercia (628- 655). Wife of Alchfrid, king of Northumbria.

Penda, king of Mercia, was an inveterate heathen, and a cruel and savage devastator of his rivals and neighbours. He had many children, all of whom became Christians during his life. Some were eminent for their sanctity, or their marriages to saints, and all for their generous patronage of the clergy and strenuous exertions in the cause of evangelization. Kyneburga is the only one in whose name churches have been dedicated.

When in 651 Oswy, king of Northumbria, succeeded in defeating Penda and bringing him to terms, one of the chief conditions of the treaty was that Alchfrid or Alfrid, the eldest (illegitimate) son of Oswy, a pious Christian prince, should marry Kyneburga, the daughter of Penda. If she was not already a Christian, she became so on her marriage, and kept her house with so much regard to prayer and religious observances, that it was more like a monastery than a court. She assisted her husband in the conversion of her brother Peada, who married Alchfrid’s sister.

Alchfrid joined his father in opposing Penda in 651, in the great battle where the Mercian king fell, fighting, in his eightieth year. Soon afterwards, in 657-658, Alchfrid began to reign in Northumbria with his father. He was a religious man, and a friend of the clergy. St. Wilfrid lived at his court for three years, and was there ordained priest. Alchfrid built the monastery of Ripon, and the smaller one of Stamford. Alchfrid and Kyneburga were present at the Conference of Whitby and took the Latin side. Kyneburga’s signature followed that of her brother, King Wulfere of Mercia, in his charter giving the abbey of Medehamstede ( Peterborough) to the Church, in 650. When her husband died or retired to a monastery, Kyneburga left Northumberland and became a nun near Peterborough, at Dormundcaster, of which she was, perhaps, the founder. It was afterwards called in her honour, Kyneburgcaster, and this was shortened to Caster or Caistor. Here IDABURG or EADBURG, sometimes called her sister, was abbess, and her sisters KYNEDRIDE and KYNESWIDE, who had taken the veil very young, were nuns with her. She had another sister, WILBURGA. Kyneburga was abbess of Caster for several years.

According to some authorities, Alchfrid and Kyneburga had a son, Osric, king 718-729 and another, St. Rumwold,a very precocious infant who died about three days old. EADBURGA and EVA are some times called the daughters, sometimes the sisters of this Kyneburga. It is possible she was the mother of KYNEBURGA abbess of Gloucester. In the llth century the body of Kyneburga (1) was translated to Peterborough, with those of her sister KYNESWIDE and their kins woman TIBBA.

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St. Kyneburga (2), March (Kenburg, Keneburga), +710, first abbess of St. Peter’s, Gloucester. This nunnery was founded in 681, by her brother Osric, who is variously described as a minister of Ethelred, king of Mercia (brother of Kyneburga (1), and as king of the Hwiccii. He is perhaps the same as Osric, king of Northumbria, 718-729; in which case he and Kyneburga (2) were perhaps the children of Kyneburga (1). Kyneburga (2) is said to have been succeeded by her sister EDBURGA (3). She has been supposed to be identical with Kyneburga (1) or Kyneburga (3).

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St. Kyneburga (3), June 25, 7th or 8th century. Stanton says all we know of Kyneburga of Gloucester is derived from the lessons of her office, compiled after her translation late in the 14th century. According to these, she was of a royal race among the ancient Saxons, and a royal marriage was arranged for her. To escape from this earthly tie, she fled to Gloucester, where she was unknown. She there engaged herself as servant to a baker, who soon adopted her as his own daughter. His wife, however, was jealous of her in fluence. One day, in his absence, she murdered the holy virgin and threw her into a well, afterwards called by her name. When the master came home, he called Kyneburga, who answered from the well. The body was taken up and reverently buried ; after a time a church was built over her grave, and miracles attested her holiness. The Gloucester annals, Camden, and Leland all represent her as the first abbess of St. Peter’s at Gloucester, founded by Osric, king of Northumberland, where KYNEBURGA, EDBURGA, and EVA or WEEDE, all Mercian queens, successively presided ; but Stanton thinks this seems to be a confusion between KYNEBURGA (1) and the baker’s maid.

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St. Kyneswide, March 6 (CYNESUITH, KYNESWITHA ), nun at Dormundcaster. Daughter of Penda, king of Mercia. Wife of Offa, king of the East Saxons. Sister of KYNEBURGA (1) and of five kings, some of whom are accounted saints. Kyneswide incited her brothers to found the great abbey of Medehamstede, afterwards Peterborough, and attended its dedication in 656, sanctioning Wulfere’s grants, and signing the charter with her mark. Offa had reigned seven years when, with Kyneswitha’s approval, perhaps at her instigation, he resolved to leave her and his country. In conjunction with her nephew, Kenred, king of Mercia, son of Wulfere and ERMENILDA, he endowed the new monastery of Evesham founded by St. Wilfrid, freed it from all temporal jurisdiction and witnessed its dedication in 709; after which, the two young kings, accompanied by the Bishop of Worcester, travelled together to Rome, and became monks there. Kyneswide became a nun with her sisters Kyneburga and Kynedride at Kyneburgcaster. Another version of the history of Kyneswitha is, that she was betrothed to Offa, but never married him, having persuaded him to make a vow of celibacy and become a monk. She is commemorated as a virgin saint.

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St. Tibba, THIBBA, TILBA, or THILBA, Dec. 16, March 6. 7th century. Patron of hawking and of fowlers. Tibba had a religious house at Kyhall, near that of her relations SS. KYNEBURGA(I) and KYNESWIDE. She was taken up from her grave at her own place at the same time that they were removed from theirs, and all three were ” offered to St. Peter,” at Peterborough, in one day. Tibba is called by Camden, ” a saint of inferior order.” Bede. Ferrarius. Eckenstein.

– The Rev Dr Baring-Gould deals with them very briefly, as ‘an obstinate tradition’!
– a life from the website of Castor Church

Holy Saints Cyneburga, Cyneswitha and Tibba, pray to God for us.

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