Today, St Etheldreda is remembered on her feast day of 23rd June. She is the patron saint of Ely Cathedral.
A Queen of Northumbria. She was born at around 630, and while still very young she was given in marriage by her father, Anna, King of East Anglia, to a subordinate prince, who gave her a piece of land - the Isle of Ely. She remained a virgin even during her marriage, and five years after his early death, lived in isolation.
St. Wilfrid was her friend and spiritual guide, and helped to persuade her husband that St. Etheldreda should live for some time in peace as a sister of the Coldingham nunnery, founded by her aunt, St. Ebb.
A year after she had taken the veil at Coldingham, Etheldreda returned to her home in the Kingdom of the East Angles and founded her own monastery at Ely, where she became Abbess and was famed for her ascetic lifestyle.
She died on June 23, 679, and requested to be buried in a wooden coffin. When St. Etheldreda’s body was moved to a stone coffin, it was found incorrupt and her neck was perfectly healed, according to physicians.
Although Etheldreda is little known today, she was once one of England’s most popular saints, and her shrine at Ely was a site of pilgrimage up to the Reformation.
If you would like to know more about this remarkable woman, Charles Moseley's book is out now - Etheldreda's World, Princess. Abbess, Saint.