Theodora
ID:
 
1547
 
Alternate Name:
 
Christina of Markyate
 
Birth Date:
 
November 6, 1096
 
Death Date:
 
ca. 1155
 
Country:
 
England
 
Region:
 
Huntingdonshire
 
Region:
 
Hertfordshire
 
Town:
 
Markyate
 
Family:
 

Christina was the first daughter of Beatrix and Autti. Her family comprised part of the aristocracy of Huntingdon.

 
Father:
 
Autti de Markyate
 
Mother:
 
Beatrix
 
Spouse:
 
Burthred
 
Other Family:
 

Gregory, brother to Christina and monk at St. Albans.
Simon, brother to Christina.
Margaret, sister to Chrsitina and a member at Markyate.
Matilda, sister to Christina and married in Huntingdon.
Alveva, aunt to Christina.

 
Education:
 

Raised as an aristocratic lady, Christina was taught to read and write.

 
Social Status:
 

Nobility

 
Communities:
 

St. Albans in Markyate, Hertfordshire. Founded a priory for anchorites in Markyate in 1145.

 
Religious Titles:
 

Professed as nun to St. Albans in around 1130.

 
Religious Roles:
 

Took over the St. Albans Abbey from its founder, a hermit named Roger, at his death in around 1120. She became a nun of the abbey in 1130.

 
Orders:
 

Cistercian

 
Ecclesiastical Relationships:
 

Priest Sueno confirmed her vow of betrothal to Christ in 1066. He also played a role in her martial legal trials after her second, public betrothal to Burthred. The bishop of Lincoln, Robert Bluet, participated in the hearings between Christina and her parents pertaining to her second betrothal.

 
Founder of:
 
Priory at Markyate in 1145
 
Literary Works:
 

She wrote her autobiography "Life of Christina of Markyate" and published it in 1150. Abbot Geoffrey de Gorham (Abbot of St. Albans 1119-1145), wrote the "St. Alban's Psalter," which also contains a biography of Christina's life.

 
Brief Profile:
 

Christina, baptised as Theodora, was born in 1096 amidst the social upheaval caused by the Norman Conquest. As her family was formally of English nobility, her parents looked to their daughter as the key to regaining their social standing through a marriage into a wealthy Norman family. However, as a young girl, Christina was taken to St. Albans to visit the family's patron saint; there, she made a private oath of servitude to Christ and had her priest, Sueno, legitimize the spiritual betrothal.

Her parents, upset that she had chosen to jeopardize the family's fortune through her spiritual marriage to Christ, forced her to accept a second betrothal to a wealthy Frenchman named Burthred. Though she continually fought with her parents, both at home and in court, Christina was made to marry Burthred in 1116. She still considered herself truly married to Christ, however.

After the verbal consent to marriage, Christina's parents tried to force Burthred and their daughter to consummate the marriage, making it legitimate. Christina managed to resist all of Burthred's attempts to rape her, and again turned to the ecclesiastical court system to seek justice and annul her marriage to him.

She took her case to Robert Bluet, the bishop of Lincoln, who was immediately bribed by her father to side with Burthred. Finally, a prior of the local college of canons, Fredebert, agreed to publicly accept her marriage to Christ and urged her parents to desist in their attempts at forced consummation.

After receiving Fredebert's approval, Christina fled to the protection of widely-famed hermit, Roger. She remained in hiding with him, acting as his student, until 1122, when Burthred came to Roger's hermitage with an agreement for annulment. This public agreement finally freed Christina from her court struggles and allowed her to devote herself to her worship.

She entered the monastery St. Albans with Roger and from there established herself as an independent recluse. Her story began to spread throughout the region and she began to gather like-minded religious women. Her following grew to such an extent that she founded a priory at Markyate in 1145.

In 1150, she published her autobiography "Life of Christina of Markyate." She died some time after 1155. She was best known for her marital struggle between a spiritual betrothal and a physical one.