Translation of Etheldreda, 695, 1106, 1252
17 October

After her death and burial the body of Etheldreda was moved four times. In 695, her body was exhumed and found to be preserved from corruption. It was placed in a white marble sarcophagus found in the ruins of the Roman settlement at Cambridge, and on 17 October 695 was buried with great honour in the Anglian church, where it became a site of pilgrimage. In the years after his election as abbot in 1081, Simeon directed the building of the massive Norman church, much of which is still visible. In 1106 the building was sufficiently complete for the body of St Etheldreda, together with those of her sisters Sexburga and Withburga and her niece Ermenilda, to be translated to a new shrine, again on 17 October, and ‘with most fitting praise was placed behind the high altar in her bridal shrine.’ The shrine was a great centre of pilgrimage, and Hugh of Northwold, who became bishop in 1229, extended the Norman east end of the cathedral by six bays to create a new shrine for the Saint, east of the choir and high altar. Etheldreda’s remains were translated to this shrine, the last, on 17 October 1252. The location of this shrine is marked by a modern inscription in the floor of the choir of the cathedral. In 1541 her body, with those of the other Ely saints, was removed from the shrine and buried elsewhere. The location of this final burial place is not known.

Today may be kept as the Festival of Saint Etheldreda, using the material provided for 17 June.


Eternal God,
who bestowed such grace upon your servant Etheldreda (and NN)
that she gave herself wholly to the life of prayer
   and to the service of your true religion:
grant that we, like her,
may so live our lives on earth seeking your kingdom
that by your guiding
we may be joined to the glorious fellowship of your saints;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


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