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Sexburga

(c. 679—700)


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Abbess of Ely 679–c.700.

Daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, Sexburga married Erconbert, king of Kent, by whom she had two sons who succeeded their father as kings, and two daughters, Erkengota and Ermengild. While Sexburga was queen, she founded a nunnery at Minster-in-Sheppey, to which she retired as abbess after her husband's death in 664. In 679, on the death of her sister Etheldreda, foundress of Ely, Sexburga became abbess there in her place. In 695 she translated Etheldreda's body, still incorrupt, into an old Roman sarcophagus from Grantchester, which was brought to the church at Ely. Sexburga died on 6 July. In 1106 the relics of saints Etheldreda, Sexburga, Withburga, and Ermengild were again translated into new shrines at Ely, where they remained until the Reformation. Sexburga lay at the feet of Etheldreda, to her east. She is depicted with Etheldreda in a fine retable from Etheldreda's shrine, now at the Society of Antiquaries. London, and also figures in sculptured scenes of Etheldreda's life at Ely Cathedral. Feast: 6 July, translation, 17 October.

Bede, H.E., iii. 8; iv. 19–21;R.P.S.; E. O. Blake (ed.), Liber Eliensis (1962);J. Bentham, The History and Antiquities of the Conventual and Cathedral Church of Ely (1771), and W. Stevenson, Supplement to Bentham's History (1817).

Subjects: Christianity.


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