Werburgh


Werburgh

__NOTOC__Infobox Saint
name=Saint Werburgh
birth_date=early 7th century
death_date=death date|699|2|3|mf=y
feast_day=3 February
venerated_in=


imagesize=200px
caption=Saint Werburgh, Chester Cathedral
birth_place=Stone, Mercia
death_place=Trentham
titles=
beatified_date=
beatified_place=
beatified_by=
canonized_date=
canonized_place=
canonized_by=
attributes=
patronage=Chester, England
major_shrine=Hanbury then Chester Cathedral
suppressed_date=
issues=

Werburgh (also known as Werburga) (d. February 3 699 at Trentham) is an English saint and the patron saint of Chester.

She was born at Stone (now in Staffordshire), and was the daughter of King Wulfhere of Mercia (himself the Christian son of the pagan King Penda of Mercia) and his wife St Ermenilda, herself daughter of the King of Kent. She was a nun for most of her life, and was tutored under her great aunt Etheldreda (or Audrey), the first Abbess of Ely and former queen of Northumbria.

Werburgh was instrumental in convent reform across England. She eventually succeeded her mother Ermenilda, her grandmother Seaxburh, and great-aunt Etheldreda as fourth Abbess of Ely.

She was buried at Hanbury in Staffordshire and her remains were later transferred to Chester, of which church and monastery she became the great patroness (see Chester Cathedral). She is the last abbess whose name is recorded.

The cult of St Werburgh

By the year 708 her brother Cenred had succeeded as king of Mercia; he now decided to move his sister's body to a more conspicuous place within the church at Hanbury. Her body was found to be miraculously intact. This was considered to be a sign of divine favour, and her tomb therefore became an object of veneration and a centre for pilgrimage. Her brother is said to have been so affected by this miracle that he decided to abdicate and enter holy orders himself; however, he came from a notably religious family (his mother, grandmother and great-aunt all being abbesses). It is possible that the anecdote about the saint reviving a goose dates from this time.

The shrine of St Werbergh remained at Hanbury for the next 160 years or so but due to the threat from Viking raiders in the 9th century, the shrine was relocated in 875 to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul which lay within the protection of the city walls of Chester.

The city of Chester therefore became the focus for the cult of Werburga. Sometime later, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was re-dedicated to St. Werburgh and St Oswald around the year 975, when a monastery was also built in the names of these two saints.

In 1057 the church was rebuilt and further endowed by Leofric, Earl of Mercia. By this time, St. Werburgh was regarded as the protector and patron saint of the city, after the supposed miraculous withdrawal of the Welsh king Gruffudd ap Llywelyn from a siege of the city.

St. Werburgh remained popular after the Norman conquest. In 1093, the Norman Earl of Chester, Hugh d'Avranches, better known as "Hugh the Fat" to the Welsh, further endowed the abbey and its church. He also established a Benedictine monastery, with monks from Bec Abbey in Normandy, which had provided the first two post-Conquest Archbishops of Canterbury: Lanfranc and Anselm). Like many other Anglo-Norman barons, Hugh d'Avranches entered the monastery himself shortly before he died. He was buried therein. The abbey became Chester Cathedral in 1540 and was rededicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

An elaborate shrine had been constructed in the fourteenth century but did not survive the reign of Henry VIII. When the abbey was dissolved, the shrine was broken up and the remains of the saint scattered. The various remains of the shrine that survived were collected together in 1876, reassembled, and now remain on display to this day at the Lady Chapel of the cathedral.

The saint today

St Werburgh remains the patron saint of Chester. Her feast day is February 3.

At least 10 churches in England, and some overseas, are dedicated to her.

A suburb of Bristol, in the South West of England, just north of the city centre, is named St Werburghs.

ee also

*St Werburgh's Church

Further reading

* Gordon Emery, "Curious Chester" (1999) ISBN 1-872265-94-4
* Gordon Emery, "Chester Inside Out" (1998) ISBN 1-872265-92-8
* Gordon Emery, "The Chester Guide" (2003) ISBN 1-872265-89-8
* Roy Wilding "Death in Chester" (2003) ISBN 1-872265-44-8

External links

* [http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1448240 Life of St Werbergh]
* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/Europe/Great_Britain/England/_Topics/churches/_Texts/KINCAT*/Ely/2.html St Werberga and her royal and saintly relatives at Ely]
* [http://www.btinternet.com/~p.g.h/travel_england_cheshire.htm Reference to Earl Hugh building the abbey church]
* [http://www.bwpics.co.uk/cathedral.html Steve Howe's 'Chester: a Virtual stroll Around the Walls']
* [http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/werburga.html Early British Kingdoms: St. Werburga of Chester, Abbess of Ely]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15588b.htm "Catholic Encyclopedia", 1912: St. Werburgh]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Werburgh, Saint — • Benedictine abbess, died 699 or 700. Biographical article Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Werburgh Street Theatre — The Werburgh Street Theatre, also the Saint Werbrugh Street Theatre or the New Theatre, was a seventeenth century theatre in Dublin, Ireland. Scholars and historians of the subject generally identify it as the first custom built theatre in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Werburgh Welch — Dame Werburg Welch, OSB (1894 1990) was an English artist and Benedictine nun.Born as Eileen Welch in Cheltenham, she was sent to Holy Trinity School,Kidderminster, shortly after it was founded. She was always interested in art and attended the… …   Wikipedia

  • St Werburgh's Church — St Werburgh s Church, dedicated to Saint Werburgh, may refer to:ChurchesEngland*St Werburgh s Church, Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside *St Werburgh s Church, Blackwell by Alfreton, Derbyshire *St Werburgh s Church, Bolsover, Derbyshire *St Werburgh …   Wikipedia

  • St Werburgh's Church, Warburton — Old Warburton Church Warburton Old Church …   Wikipedia

  • St. Werburgh —     St. Werburgh     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► St. Werburgh     (WEREBURGA, WEREBURG, VERBOURG).     Benedictine, patroness of Chester, Abbess of Weedon, Trentham, Hanbury, Minster in Sheppy, and Ely, born in Staffordshire early in the seventh… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • St Werburgh's Road Metrolink station —  St Werburgh s Road Manchester Metrolink …   Wikipedia

  • St Werburgh's Church, Derby — St Werburgh s Church, Derby, showing the body of the church on the left, and the conserved tower on the right …   Wikipedia

  • Hoo St Werburgh — infobox UK place country = England latitude= 51.4233 longitude= 0.5583official name= Hoo St Werburgh civil parish = Hoo St Werburgh static static image caption = Hoo seen from across the Medway population = 7356 unitary england= Medway… …   Wikipedia

  • St Werburgh's Church, Bristol — Infobox Historic building thumb|St Werburghs Church caption= name=St Werburgh s Church, Bristol location town=Bristol location country=England latitude=51.4719 longitude= 2.5748 map type=Bristol architect= client= engineer= construction start… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.