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St. Aebbe the Younger, Abbess of Coldingham
(Died AD 870)

In AD 867, the seven pirate sons of Ragner Lothbroc, King of Sjaelland (Denmark) & Uppsala (Sweden), having conquered Norway, invaded England. They wintered among the East Angles, sailed northward in summer and, landing at the mouth of the Tweed, laid waste the country with fire and sword, apparently actuated as much by cruelty and love of destruction as by desire of plunder. On 2nd April, they attacked the monastery of Coldingham, at that time the largest in Scotland. St. Aebbe the Younger assembled all her nuns in the chapter-house and exhorted them to save themselves from falling into the hands of the barbarians, by voluntary disfigurement. She set the example by cutting off her own nose and upper lip. All the nuns did the same and are commemorated with her, although their names are not preserved. The Vikings broke into the convent and, disgusted by the horrible spectacle presented by the nuns, set fire to the house and burnt them all within it. In the same expedition, many other monasteries were demolished and the inhabitants massacred.

Edited from Agnes Dunbar's "A Dictionary of Saintly Women" (1904).

 

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