Withburga, nun, 743(?)
17 March

Withburga was a sister of Etheldreda. In 654 she established a religious community at East Dereham, in Norfolk. It is told that during a famine, two deer came to the town every day and provided milk for the community. When a huntsman tried to kill the deer, he was thrown from his horse and died. Withburga died on this day in 743 [? this chronology is surely faulty -- this would make her over 100 years old, her sister Etheldreda was born c.630 and died in 678] and fifty years later her body, found to be incorrupt, was translated into the church, where it became a centre of pilgrimage. In 974, the newly-refounded Abbey of Ely obtained permission from King Edgar for her body to be translated to Ely, and this was done with some subterfuge. It is said that a well sprang up from her empty tomb at the church at East Dereham, after her removal to Ely, and this well still exists. Her shrine remained at Ely, with that of her sisters Etheldreda and Sexburga, and her niece Ermenilda, until the destruction of the shrines at the Reformation.

If kept as a Lesser Festival, the propers for 23 June may be used.

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