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St. Werburga of Mercia,
Abbess of Bardney

(Died AD 783)

St. Werburga was the wife of Ceolred, King of Mercia. Ceolred had none of the Christian piety of his predecessors: his life was riotous and dissolute and he lost the respect and affection of his subjects. One act of devotion - probably inspired by his saintly wife - is, however, recorded of him: namely, that he provided a beautiful shrine for the bones of his cousin, St. Werburga of Chester. In AD 716, he was seized with madness and excruciating pains as he sat at a feast; he died shortly afterwards, blaspheming Christ and also the heathen gods. After his death Werburga of Mercia became a nun and departed not, from the temple of the Lord, day or night for sixty-five years. She was abbess, probably of Bardney. She died in the odour of sanctity. The day of her death is not known. She is therefore commemorated on the day of her more famous namesake and kinswoman Werburga of Chester.

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


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