Thursday, 3 February 2011

St Werburgh

At one time Chester Cathedral was dedicated to St Werburgh. St Werburgh died on 3rd February 706 and in 875 her remains, then held in Staffordshire, were threatened by an invading Danish army so Queen Ethelfleda (daughter of Alfred the Great) brought them to Chester for safety. The Queen refortified the city walls and founded a monastery, rededicating the existing church in St Werburgh's honour.

St Werburgh in the cloister windows

St Werburgh in the 1961 great West window.

An elaborate shrine had been constructed in around 1340 but did not survive the reign of Henry VIII. In 1538 when the abbey was dissolved, the shrine was broken up and the remains of the saint scattered. The various remains of the shrine that survived were collected together in 1876, reassembled, and now remain on display to this day at the Lady Chapel of the cathedral.


  1. Your post prompted me to look up St. Werburgh as I'd neve heard of her. And, lo and behold, today is her Feast Day!

  2. What did Werburgh do to be considered a Saint? Has the female name Werburgh survived in some different form? I don't think I have ever come across it anywhere.

  3. Pauline - saint's days are nearly always on the day they died.

    librarian - She was a nun for most of her life and was instrumental in convent reform across England. In 708 her brother Cenred had succeeded as king of Mercia; he now decided to move his sister's body to a more conspicuous place within the church at Hanbury. Her body was found to be miraculously intact. This was considered to be a sign of divine favour, and her tomb therefore became an object of veneration and a centre for pilgrimage.

    I'm not aware of any forms of the name either. I wonder why?

  4. Never heard of the name! You seem to have dug yourself deeper into history than your book with this one...? ;)

  5. Having taught in Catholic schools for 30 years, one would think I should have heard of St. Werburgh, but no, nary a word. I love still being a learner. Thank you! The windows are spectacular.
    Since she was a librarian and nun, I wonder why she's shown wearing a crown. Do you know why?

  6. Yes, Scrappy Games, she was the daughter of King Wulfhere of Mercia.

  7. beautiful art - the stained glass windows.



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