FEAST OF ST. ETHELDREDA, VIRGIN QUEEN AND ABBESS. Her death took place in the year 679, on the 23rd of June; the day appointed as her Festival in the Anglican Calendar being the anniversary of the (first) translation of her remains in 695.
THIS Princess, daughter of Anna King of East Anglia, was twice given in marriage. Her first husband, Prince Tombert, appears either to have shared her spirit of self-devotion or to have loved her better than himself, for, in compliance with her will, he forbore to enforce his marital rights during their three years' union. Left a widow she hoped for freedom: yet was constrained by family influence to marry Prince Egfrid, heir of the kingdom of Northumbria. Still, however, she adhered to her former resolution; and, after twelve years of successful contest, ended strife by separating from her enamoured husband; yet not wirhout first obtaining his reluctant consent.
Thus she fought the battle of life: thus she triumphed. Egfrid, indeed, not enduring her absence pursued her ere long to the monastery of Coldingham: whence however she fled and escaped him.
Finally, she built a monastery for men and women in the Island of Ely, which island she inherited from her first husband. She ruled her Community piously, performed many good deeds, and died (we are informed) still young:--
"At the last moment, surrounded by the brothers and sisters of the numerous community in tears, she spoke to them at length, imploring them never to let their hearts rest on the earth, but to taste beforehand, by their earnest desires, that joy in the love of Christ which it would not be given to them to know perfectly here below."