Monday, March 9, 2020

Earliest Female Saint in England?

Human remains kept in a Kent church are those of England's earliest known female saint, St Eanswythe. She was a member of the Kent royal family and is believed to have founded monastic communities in England in AD 660. These are the earliest verified remains of an English saint, and of a relative of the British monarch.

She is the patron saint of St Mary and St Eanswythe’s Church in Folkestone, Kent, situated near cliffs overlooking the English Channel.

Eanswythe was a devout Christian who refused to marry the pagan king of northeast England. Instead, she became a nun. This was a common practice among royal maidens who were denied marriage or refused to marry.

One of the earliest known male English saints is St. Alban who died in 305 AD. He was beheaded when he refused to renounce his Christian faith. Alban is honored as Britain’s first saint, and his hillside grave became a place of pilgrimage. St Albans Cathedral stands near the site of his execution.

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