Etheldreda
ID:
 
1552
 
Alternate Name:
 
Æthelthryth, Audrey, Audree
 
Birth Date:
 
630s
 
Death Date:
 
679, 23 June
 
Region:
 
East Anglia
 
Location of Work:
 
Ely in the East Anglian fens.
 
Family:
 

Wuffing dynasty

 
Father:
 
King Anna of East Anglia.
 
Spouse:
 
Tondberht of the South Gwyre (1); Ecgfrith son of Oswiu of Bernicia (2). She was married against her will both times and retained her virginity through both marriages.
 
Children:
 

Sisters Abbess Æthelburgh of Brie (France), Queen Saexburgh of Kent, a brother Jurmin (died young), and half-sister Abbess Sæthryth of Brie (France).

 
Other Family:
 

Kings of Kent were her nephews and the kings of East Anglia were her cousins.

 
Education:
 

Under Abbess Æbbe of Coldingham and Bishop Wilfrid in Northumbria.

 
Social Status:
 

Queen of Northumbria, Abbess of Ely

 
Communities:
  
Religious Titles:
 

Saint, Abbess, founder of Ely in the East Anglian fens.

 
Religious Roles:
 

Founder of Ely monastery.

 
Ecclesiastical Relationships:
 

Bishop Wilfrid of York was a close advisor. He gave her the veil and her monastery of Ely may have remained under his jurisdiction until his death in 709. She was succeeded by her sister Sæxburgh who entered Ely when she was widowed. Abbess Sæxburgh was later in charge of elevating Æthelthryth’s body in the presence of Bishop Wilfrid and establishing her as a saint.

 
Secular Affiliations:
 

Royal families of East Anglia and Kent

 
Feast Day:
 
23 June
 
Misc Info:
 

She founded the monastery of Ely on land from her first marriage to Tondberht, and donated the estate of Hexham (with Heavenfield) to Bishop Wilfrid to found a monastery. Hexham later becomes the seat of a bishop. Bishop Wilfrid built the church of St Andrew at Hexham, considered one of the most elaborate churches in England at the time. He may have built this church with other donations made by Queen Æthelthryth before she took the veil.

St Æthelthryth was held up as a major role model during the Benedictine Reform by Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester (10th century). She is strongly featured in the Benedicational of Æthelwold. He refounded the monastery of Ely as an all male monastery after it had fallen into ruin following the Danish invasion.

On the eve of the Reformation, Æthelthryth was the most popular female native saint in England. Ely was on the pilgrims trail to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham from London. She is the current patron saint of the diocese of Ely. St Æthelthryth’s shrine and relics were destroyed during the Reformation.