St. Audrey [Etheldreda]

June 23

d. 679

Known as both Etheldreda and Audrey, she was the daughter of Anna, King of the East Angles, and Bertha, and the sister of Erconwald, Ethelburga, Sexburga, and Withburga, all Saints. Etheldreda was born in Exning, Suffolk, England, was married at an early age to Tonbert, prince of the Gryvii, but convinced him to allow her to retain her virginity during their married life. He died three years after their wedding, and Etheldreda lived in seculsion on the island of Ely for the next five years. She then married Egfrid, son of King Oswy of Northumbria, who was only a boy at the time. When, after twelve years of marriage, he demanded his conjugal rights, she refused, saying she had dedicated herself to God. The case was referred to St. Wilfrid, who upheld her claim. With Egfrid's consent she then became a nun at Coldingham Convent. The following year she returned to Ely, built a double monastery there about 672, was abbess of the convent for the rest of her life, and died there.


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