(c. 949—1000) abbess of Wilton

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St Ethelwold (c. 908—984)

Hildelith (fl. c. 690—710) abbess of Barking

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(d. c.1000), abbess of Barking. Nearly all that we know of Wulfhilda comes from Goscelin, who wrote her Life in her monastery within sixty years of her death. She was brought up at the abbey of Wilton. When she was a novice, King Edgar wished to marry her, but she wished to remain a nun. Her aunt Wenfleda, abbess of Wherwell, deceptively invited her there to become her successor, but when she arrived, she found the king waiting for her and her aunt an accomplice to his desires. But she escaped through the drains in spite of chaperons inside and guards outside. Edgar pursued her at Wilton and seized her in the cloister; but she fled from his grasp and took refuge in the sanctuary among the altars and relics. After this Edgar renounced her and gave her Barking abbey, re-endowing it with the monastery of Horton (Dorset) and several churches in Wessex towns, and took her cousin Wulftrudis as his mistress instead. Her rule was neither peaceful nor uneventful. On the one hand she once miraculously multiplied drinks when Edgar, Ethelwold, and a naval entourage from Sandwich visited her, but later, through intrigues of some of her nuns with Edgar's second wife, Ælfthryth, she was ejected from Barking and retired to Horton for twenty years. In c.993 she was reinstated, and for seven years was abbess both of Horton and Barking. Her principal feast was on the day of her death, 9 September; her translation took place on 2 September, c.1030 with that of Hildelith and Ethelburga. Both feasts were kept at Barking: the cult was local. There were additional feasts there on 7 March and 23 September.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.

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