(d. 715)

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(d. 715),

abbess. Daughter of Merewald, king of Mercia, and Ermenburga, princess of Kent, Milburga was the sister of Mildred and Mildgyth. Merewald founded the nunnery of Wenlock c.670 and placed it under the direction of Botulf of East Anglia. Its first abbess was Liobsynde, a French nun from Chelles; its second abbess was Milburga. Goscelin's Life of her (late 11th century) said she was consecrated as a virgin by Theodore, had miraculous healing powers, and lived and died in a conspicuously saintly way. During her abbacy occurred the famous Vision of the Monk of Wenlock, described by Boniface. Goscelin also preserved her testament, which is a long, apparently authentic list of lands which belonged to her at her death. Her tomb was long venerated, but its site was unknown when Cluniac monks from La-Charité-sur-Loire refounded Wenlock in 1079. The church had a silver casket which contained relics of Milburga and documents describing the site of her grave, near an altar then unknown. After consulting Anselm, the monks excavated an old, disused church. Some boys playing on the site fell into a tomb, where bones were found with the remains of a coffin and an altar. Details of this discovery and of cures in 1101 were described by Otto, cardinal bishop of Ostia, the next year. These included the healing of lepers and the blind, also the vomiting of an extraordinary worm, which had caused a wasting disease. The distinction of this writer contributed to the diffusion of Milburga's cult, which resulted in five ancient churches being dedicated to her. Her feast was common in English calendars from the Bosworth Psalter (c.1000) onwards. Feast: 23 February; translation (according to Goscelin), 25 June.

AA.SS. Feb. III (1658), 388–91;G.P., pp. 305–6;N.L.A., ii. 188–92;A. Edwards, ‘An early twelfth century account of the Translation of St Milburga’, Trans Shropshire Archaeol. Soc., lvii (1962–3), 134–51;H. P. R. Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands (1962), pp. 197–224;P. Grosjean, ‘Saints anglo-saxones des Marches Gauloises’, Anal. Boll., lxxix (1961), 163–6.

Subjects: Christianity.

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