Sexburga of Ely

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Sexburga of Ely was the Queen of Kent, wife of King Ercenbert. After her husband's death she retired to the convent at Sheppey, that she had founded, before moving to the convent of Ely. After her repose, Sexburga succeeded her sister Etheldreda as abbess of Ely. Her feast day is July 6.


Sexburga was born early in seventh century to Anna (Onna), the King of East Anglia, and his second wife Saewara. She had three sisters and a half-sister who all were glorified as saints. She was married at a young age to Ercenbert, King of Kent, with whom she had four children, two sons, Egbert and Hlothere both of whom became kings of Kent, and two daughters Ermenilda and Ercongota. While she was queen, Sexburga founded a convent at the Isle of Sheppey, of which her daughter Ermenilda became the abbess.

On July 14, 664, her husband Ercenbert died during the "yellow plague" that had desolated England. After his death, Sexburga ruled Kent as regent until her son, Egbert, came of age. After Egbert came of age, Sexburga retired to Sheppey, where she assembled a community of 74 nuns. Desiring to live in greater obscurity, which she could not enjoy as head of her own monastery, Sexburga moved to the convent of Ely of which her sister Etheldreda was the abbess. There, she received a tonsure as a nun under her sister.

Upon the repose of her sister in 679, Sexburga became abbess of Ely. In 695, she was responsible for the translation of her sister’s body into an old Roman sarcophagus in the church. After twenty years as abbess of Ely, Sexburga reposed on July 6, 699 and was buried next to her sister.


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