Basic Information

Etheldreda of Ely

Feast Day

23 June

Short Bio

Etheldreda/Etheldreada, Princess of East Anglia, was born in 680, in what is now Exning in Suffolk, UK. She was called to the religious life, but due to her political role, she was married twice. First to Alderman Tonbert, who not only respected her religious vow but gave her the Ile of Eels (Ely) to build her Monastery. After Tonbert’s death, she married Egfrid, Prince of Northumbria. Egfrid was only 15 at the time, and allowed her to practice her religious interests – but not join a nunnery. As he matured, he realized the importance of an heir and pursued her. Etheldreada fled back to Ely with two women companions and her loyal steward. Two miracles aided her; first, a miraculous tempest south of Coldingham deterred Egfrid and his troops from their pursuit. Secondly, she stuck her ash/willow staff into the ground. As she slept the staff sprouted. Once safely back in Ely, Etheldreada was persistent about building her monastery on the highest point in the marshy fen lands. Etheldreada died in 680 from a neck tumor, and her body was found to be incorrupt when exhumed 17 years later. It was moved to a new shrine at Ely Cathedral. This shrine was destroyed in 1541. Today there is a plaque denoting the location.


c. 636


23 June 679

Patron of

neck ailments, throat ailments, University of Cambridge, widows

Adopted by

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Born in


Lived in




Form of Passing

Natural Causes


Abbess, Virgin, Royalty / Nobility


7th Century


Religious Life, Marriage

Family & Relationships
Married to

Tombert (c.652) & Egfrith (c.660)


Jurmin, Seaxburger, Ethelburga, Withburga

Family Members

Jurmin (brother), Seaxburger (sister), Ethelburga (sister), Withburga (sister), King Anna of East Anglia (Father)

Details & Interests
Name Variations

Æðelþryð. Æthelthryth, Athelthryth, Audrey, Edeltrude, Edilthride. Ediltrudis. Ethelreda

Name Meaning

Noble and strength

Favorite Books

‘Liber Eliensis, Etheldreda: Princess, Queen, Abbess and Saint’ by Norman Sneesby

Canonization Status

Pre-Congregation Canonization

Major Shrine

Ely Cathedral in Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK. St Etheldreda's Roman Catholic parish church in Ely, Cambridgeshire, UK. St Etheldreda's Church, Ely Place, Holborn.

Mortal State



CC Fr Lawrence Lew OP


CC Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. |

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