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Æthelburh [St Æthelburh, Ethelburga] (fl. 664), abbess of Barking, was the sister of Earconwald (d. 693), abbot of Chertsey and bishop of London. Nothing certain is known of her family background, though she may have originated among the Kentish aristocracy: Æthelburh shares her name with the Kentish princess who became ...

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Bega [St Bega] (supp. fl. late 7th cent.), abbess of Hartlepool, was a legendary Irish saint, supposedly active in northern England in the seventh century. Her life and miracles are described in an anonymous account, probably written at the priory of St Bees...

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Botwulf [St Botwulf, Botolph] (fl. 654–c. 670), abbot of Iken, began to build his minster of ‘Icanho’ (now conclusively identified as Iken, Suffolk) in 654 according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Ceolfrith, the future abbot of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, is said by his anonymous biographer to have visited ...

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Brynach [St Brynach, Bernachius, Bernacius] (fl. 6th cent.), founder of the church of Nevern, Pembrokeshire, was not of Welsh descent. His pedigree is in neither of the two main collections of saints' genealogies, Bonedd y saint and Achau'r saint, and his life, twelfth-century in its present form, fails to give the names of his parents, though it does say, probably as a mere hagiographical formula, that he was of noble descent. Much of the substance of the life is a collection of traditional narrative motifs, some purely hagiographical (such as voyaging upon a rock), others more general; it is, however, a well-constructed text written in good and vigorous Latin. There are two main sections: first, the saint's wanderings, and, second, his dealings with ...

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Bugga (fl. late 7th–early 8th cent.), abbess, was the daughter of King Centwine of Wessex (r. 676–85). She is known chiefly from a poem written by Aldhelm to celebrate a church she had built dedicated to the Virgin Mary; her nunnery is the earliest recorded in the kingdom of the West Saxons. The poem gives some interesting information on the operation of the mixed community of monks and nuns over which ...

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Cadfan [St Cadfan] (supp. fl. 6th cent.), founder of a religious settlement, was the patron saint of Tywyn (Merioneth), Llangadfan (Montgomeryshire), and perhaps a monastery on Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island); his feast day was celebrated on 1 November. There is no surviving life of ...

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Chambers [Borowe, Burgh], John (d. 1556), abbot and bishop of Peterborough, was a native of Peterborough, and is therefore sometimes named as Borowe or Burgh in the records. The suggestion that he was an illegitimate son of Richard Chambers cannot be confirmed. He studied at ...

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Hild [St Hild, Hilda] (614–680), abbess of Strensall–Whitby, was the daughter of Hereric, a Deiran prince, and his wife, Breguswith. Hereric was a nephew of Eadwine of Northumbria and the family fortunes seem to have been determined by that relationship. Hereric's exile and murder were probably a consequence of the fall of ...

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Osgyth [St Osgyth, Osyth, Osith] (fl. late 7th cent.), abbess of Chich, is an extreme illustration of the problems of elucidating the lives of the first generation of princess-saints from late hagiographies. In two twelfth-century lives, themselves known only from later and fragmentary versions, two distinct bodies of tradition, one apparently derived from ...

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William Hunt

revised by Marios Costambeys

Petronius (d. 654?), abbot of St Peter's and St Paul's, Canterbury, was probably born in or near Rome. All that is known about him comes from a late medieval Canterbury tradition recorded by William Thorne and Thomas Elmham. According to this, Archbishop Honorius...