Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kyneburgha,Daughter of Penda and Holy Abbess, or Gloucester Saint?

St Kyneburgha was a female 7th century Mercian saint, daughter of the pagan King of  Mercia called Penda. She married King Ealhfrith, co-regent of Northumbria (who went to the Synod of Whitby  in 664AD but then she left him to establish an abbey at Castor,near Peterborough, Northamptonshire, of which she became the first abbess. She was buried in her church, but her remains were taken, before 972 to Peterborough Abbey. She had been one of the signatories, together with her brother Wulfhere of the founding charter of Burh Abbey, dated 664AD, according to DugdalesMonasticon.(Burh Abbey was later dedicated to St. Peter, becoming "Peterborough"). She was venerated as a saint by the monks of Peterborough, but there was another saint who was of Kyneburgha, the wife of King Oswald. A hymn to praise the life of Christ as lived in St Kyneburgha was found and restored in recent times along with her Festival.
The Latin and English texts of the chants comes from the literature accompanying a Compact Disc recording entitled “Chant in honour of Anglo Saxon saints”. The singing was by a group called Magnificat, directed by Philip Cave and recorded in Durham Cathedral in 1995. (CD ref is CGCD4004). The CD was produced by a firm called Griffin of Church House, St Mary’s Gate, Lancaster LA1 1TD. The music was transcribed from an original manuscript by David Hiley, who also wrote the foreword above. The text was translated by Davis Norwood. Philip Cave is a member of The Tallis Scholars and a layclerk at New College Oxford
Laudet dominum cum Petro sancto
Burgensis ecclesia in claris
lampadibus Kyneburgha et
Kyneswitha ac Tibba

Let the Burgensian church praise the Lord,
together with St Peter, and, with their bright torches,
 let Kyneburgha and
Kyneswitha and Tibba do likewise.

                                                                                                                                                                     In translatorem sanctarum
reliquiarum exorta est regis et populi
tempestas naufragosa sed mox
imperante domino facta est
tranquillitas magna. Nobis quoque
bene prosperetur trinitas benedicta
per nos, o beate Kyneburgha et
Kyneswitha ac Tibba.
Against the remover of the sacred relics
here arose a fierce storm from king and
people but, ere long, at the bidding of the  Lord,
 peace was fully restored
Gloriosa dispensatione dei interfector
regis et martyris Oswaldi, Rex Penda,
protulit gemellas rosas Christo de sua
spina – Christianissimas filias Christo
suscipiente de pagano parente.
Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto.
May we also
find good fortune, o blessed Kyneburgha,
Kyneswitha and Tibba, our blessed trinity.
By the wondrous contrivance of God
the slayer of Oswald, king and martyr, King
Penda, fathered two roses for Christ from
his own thorny stock and Christ received
these devotedly Christian daughters from
their pagan father.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen
 The Feast Of St Kyneburgha with St Kyneswitha and St Tibba was of this type being transcribed from a medieval manuscript. St Kyneburgha and her sister St Kyneswitha were daughters of the fearsome king Penda of Mercia. They converted to Christianity, Kyneburgha founded the convent of Castor in Northamptonshire and was succeeded as abbess by her sister. With their kinswoman Tibba they were later buried at Peterborough.
A later abbess also became a popular saint under the name of St. Kyneburga of Gloucester. Her date is uncertain, but her chapel was in use from 1147 until the Reformation; her feast day was June 25th, and her death was celebrated on April 10th. Her name survives in Kimbrose Way near Southgate Street in Gloucester. During the Three Choirs Festival of 1992 a play was performed at St. Mary le Crypt Church there entitled “Kyneburgh, Virgin of Gloucester”, which combined her story with that of Kyneburga of Castor.
Or was it the Tragic Princess?

In May 2010, following the discovery by workmen of two ancient buried coffins containing skeletons near Kimbrose Way, Gloucester, the local press published another version of the life of St Kyneburg - or possibly the story of a different Kyneburg, known as the Virgin of Gloucester. This according to William Hart's Historia et cartularium Monasterii Sancti Petri Gloucestriae i, pp. lxvi–lxviii
derives from a C15th manuscript, itself itemised as No.387 of the Lansdown Papers held in the British Museum. It said that she was a virgin of Royal Saxon descent who fled an arranged marriage by becoming adopted by a Gloucester baker. The baker's wife became jealous and killed Kyneburg, then threw her down a well, on the site of which the chapel was later built.The bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the chapel site on 4th.May 2010.This version may well be apocryphal, and sounds like many a tale contained within a mediaeval Lives of the Saints; though it is not the one given for St Kyneburg, nor is in the Rev. Alban Butler's authoritative work Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and other Principal Saints published in 1866. Butler in volume 2, under "6th. March" relates the history of Kyneburg as a daughter of King Penda, as above related.
Chapel of St. Kyneburg at Gloucester
A chapel was established in early times at Gloucester dedicated to this saint, and was transferred with all its lands to Llanthony Secunda  Priory by Roger Earl of Hereford between 1143 and 1155. It was situated inside Gloucester's city wall at the south gate.The chapel was eventually demolished and the effigy taken to the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene in Gloucester, the site of the former leper colony at Wooton also known as the Hospital of Dudstone, which had been founded in the early 11s when it was rife. It was probably founded by Walter of Gloucester and in the early 1150's it had support from Roger, Earl of Hereford. His family was closely connected with Llanthony Secunda Priory and the canons there cared for the lepers at Wooton, However then the Priories were taken by the King, the Crown had to assume reponsibility for the hospital and the inmates, inmates being residents in the almshouses.1546 the revenue was £3.4s 8d and there is a record, that they had retained a reader and six poor men and women. By 1598 it was derelict. In 1614, however, the Governor was personally paying for 13 more incombents.
St. Mary Magdalene's (or Magdalen's) chapel is the chancel and Senctuary of the church which originally served the inmates of the former St Mary Magdalene's almshouses. It was here that the lepers chapel was situated, the saint being very beloved of the lepers. The original road ran to the north of the church but has been realigned on the south, cutting the church off from the original almshouses (which are now buried). It is built in the romanesque, or Norman, style of the 1100s. The rest of the church extended left from the facade on the picture, and had to be demolished in 1861. Outside the chapel there are carvings on the wall, considered to be linked with St Mary Magdalene, a very popular saint and patron of lepers, and there may have been pilgrimages here in the Middle Ages. The date of the chapel could be perhaps dated to the carving of the Aragon Pineapple on one of the columns.There are crosses and floral motifs. In our sceptical age there are those who do not believe the small effigy held in the chapel is that of St Kyneburgha and, even though it was in her chapel, tend to believe it was one of the young daughters of Humphrey de Bohun, a patron of Llanthony Secunda. A new oak door was fitted at the entrance of the chapel, now only a chancel.to replace that which had been vandalised.Repairs were carried out to the leaded windows at the same time.I was fortunate Gloucester History Week allowed me to get in to photograph the St Mary Magdalene Chapel and the effigy.

St Anselm wrote this beautiful prayer to St Mary Magdalene

St Mary Magdalene, you came with springing tears to the spring of mercy, Christ; from him your burning thirst was abundantly refreshed through him your sins were forgiven; by him your bitter sorrow was consoled.

My dearest lady, well you know by your own life how a sinful soul can be reconciled with its creator, what counsel a soul in misery needs, what medicine will restore the sick to health.It is enough for us to understand, dear friend of God, to whom were many sins forgiven, because she loved much. Most blessed lady, I who am the most evil and sinful of men do not recall your sins as a reproach, but call upon the boundless mercy by which they were blotted out.This is my reassurance, so that I do not despair; this is my longing, so that I shall not perish.

I say this of myself, miserably cast down into the depths of vice, bowed down with the weight of crimes, thrust down by my own hand into a dark prison of sins, wrapped round with the shadows of darkness.Therefore, since you are now with the chosen because you are beloved and are beloved because you are chosen of God, 1, in my misery, pray to you, in bliss; in my darkness, I ask for light; in my sins, redemption; impure, I ask for purity.

Recall in loving kindness what you used to be, how much you needed mercy, and seek for me that same forgiving love that you received when you were wanting it. Ask urgently that I may have the love that pierces the heart; tears that are humble; desire for the homeland of heaven; impatience with this earthly exile; searing repentance; and a dread of torments in eternity.Turn to my good that ready access that you once had and still have to the spring of mercy.

Draw me to him where I may wash away my sins; bring me to him who can slake my thirst; pour over me those waters that will make my dry places fresh. You will not find it hard to gain all you desire from so loving and so kind a Lord, who is alive and reigns and is your friend.  St Mary Magdalene, Pray for us.

St Anselm (Catholic) Archbishop of Canterbury, 1093-1109



1 comment:

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.