This holy virgin was the third daughter of Annas, the saintly King of East Anglia. Three of her sisters, Sexburga, Ethelburga, and Withburga, are numbered among the Saints. She came into this world at Exning, a village in Suffolk. To comply with the desire of her parents she married Prince Tonbert, but she remained a virgin, for they lived in perpetual continence. After three years, her husband died and she lived a secluded life of contemplation for five years.
The Saint’s fame reached the ears of Egfrid, the King of Northumberland, who extorted her consent to marry him. With her second husband she lived, as she had done with the first, more as his sister than as his wife, devoting her time to the exercises of devotion and charity. Finally, after twelve years of weddedlife, upon the advice of St. Wilfrid and more or less with her husband’s consent, she embraced the religious life. She retired to the monastery of Coldinghan near Berwick, where she lived in obedience to the Abbes, St. Ebba.
In the year 672, St. Etheldreda returned to the Isle of Ely and founded a monastery. He life henceforward was one of great austerity and perfection. She became a model of virtue to all he Sisters. Suffering were her delight. She thanked God when, in her last sickness, she had much to suffer. After a lingering illness she expired in peace on June 23, 679.
PRAYER: Lord God, You showed heavenly gifts on St. Etheldreda. Help us to imitate her virtues during our earthly life and enjoy eternal happiness with her in heaven. Amen.