Posted by: anna | July 20, 2010

St Ethelburga

Today (7 July) we commemorate St. Ethelburga (Edburge, Aubierge), abbess of Faremoutiers (ca. 664). I have already posted about Ethelburga, abbess of Barking, in October. From Miss Dunbar:
St. Ethelburga (3), Oct 11 (AEDILBURGA, ATHELBURGA, AUBIERGE, EDILBURGA). 7th century. Abbess of Brie. Daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles, and sister of ETHELREDA and SEXBURGA. Ethelburga and her stepsister SAETHRYTH were sent to the monastery of Faremoutier, in Brie, to be educated. Here Ethelburga took the veil, and afterwards became abbess. While she was abbess, she began to build in her monastery a church in honour of all the apostles, where she wished to be buried. She died, however, before the building was finished, but was buried where she desired. After her death, the building was left untouched for seven years; then the brothers of the monastery, instead of building this church, decided to move Ethelburga’s bones to some church that was consecrated. On opening the tomb, the body of the saint was found so fresh that they had it washed and dressed, and removed to the church of St. Stephen. RM. Bede, iii. 8. Eng. Mart.
Today closes the circle that started a year ago – I have been blogging about the (mostly) British saints for a whole year! Many more to come. So of course the circle is made whole, but is not complete. I love how the temporal and sanctoral calendars work together – time is both linear and cyclical in the Church. I love that Orthodoxy is able to hold all sorts of apparent paradoxes together – if both are true, then the seeming contradiction is only part of our imperfect understanding. Madeleine L’Engle, in both her fiction and non-fiction, is a favourite writer of mine about questions of time, space and the connectons between them.

Troparion of St Ethelburga of Faremoutier

Ange venue du pays des Angles d’Albion,*

Fille d’Anna, qui était roi d’Anglie de l’Est,*
Tu vins au couvent sacré de Faremoutiers,*
Dont tu fus bientôt par tes vertus l’higoumène,*
Rendant sans cesse gloire au Dieu de l’univers.*
Sainte Edelburge, prie le Seigneur pour nos âmes!

Angel (messenger) from Albion, country of the Angles,*
Daughter of Anna, king of East Anglia,
You went to the holy convent of Faremoutiers
Where because of your virtues you were soon made abbess,
Unceasingly giving glory to the God of the universe.
Holy Ethelburga, pray to the Lord for our souls!
* from a joke, ‘non Angli, sed angeli’ (not Angles but angels) attributed by Bede to Gregory the Great, on his seeing fair-haired English children in the slave market at Rome – apparently this incident prompted Gregory to send out Augustine’s mission to Britain. Troparion provided by Claude Lopez-Ginisty (though the icon illustrating his post is of Ethelburga of Barking, in the icon of the Synaxis of the Saints of London). Translation by me, 2011.

Holy Mother Ethelburga, pray to God for us.


  1. Nice.

    I like M L'Engle as well; really love Elizabeth Goudge though.

    have you read her?

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