St. Etheldritha (Alfreda) of England


Commemorated on August 2

St. Etheldritha (also called Alfreda) was the daughter of King Offa and Queen Quendreda of Mercia. Her father was one of the most powerful of the Saxon kings, holding court at Sutton Wallis, in Herefordshire.

In 793, Etheldritha was betrothed to Ethelbert, king of the East Angles. However, Quendreda had him murdered so that her brother could ascend the throne in his place. Ethelbert was buried secretly at Marden. However, a pillar of light appeared at night over the spot, and revealed his grave. His body was translated to the church at Hereford. Tortured by remorse, Queen Quendreda died in a fit of terror.

Etheldritha fled to the monastery of St. Guthlac in Croyland and became a recluse there. She occupied a cell in the south part of the church opposite the high altar.

Etheldritha lived there for forty years, entering into the Heavenly Kingdom in 834.

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