Saint Seaxburh of Ely
b.abt 0625 East Anglia, England
Facts and Events
Seaxburh's sisters were Æthelburg of Faremoutiers, Saethryth, Æthelthryth and possibly Withburga. Her marriage to Eorcenberht produced two sons, both of whom ruled, and two daughters. After her husband's death in 664, Seaxburh remained in Kent to bring up her children. She acted as regent until her young son Ecgberht came of age.
Seaxburh founded the abbeys at Milton Regis and Minster-in-Sheppey, where her daughter Ermenilda was also a nun. She moved to the double monastery at Ely where her sister Æthelthryth was abbess and succeeded her when Æthelthryth died in 679. According to Bede, in 695, Seaxburh organised the movement (or translation) of Æthelthryth's remains to a marble sarcophagus, after they had lain for sixteen years in a common grave. On opening the grave, it was discovered that her body was miraculously preserved. The legend is described in Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which celebrates the saintly virtues of Æthelthryth, but speaks less highly of Seaxburh, referring only to her marriage, succession as abbess and translation of her sister's relics. The date of Seaxburh's death at Ely is not known. The surviving versions of the Vita Sexburge, compiled after 1106, describe her early life, marriage to Eorcenberht, retirement from secular life and her final years as a nun and abbess at Ely.