Saint Etheldreda was a Catholic Saxon princess who married the Northumbrian king Egfrith. They chose to live a chaste life together as husband and wife with the king agreeing to allow the queen to live in a convent where she spent her day in prayer and holy service to Our Lord as a nun, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
However, the king later changed his mind. Word reached Saint Etheldreda that the king was heading for the convent to bring her back to the palace and make her his wife, so she fled. Many miracles occurred to assist her escape and the king saw that it was clear Our Lord wished Etheldreda to be set aside solely for service to the Church and as spouse of the Eternal King.
Thus, he left her free. Saint Etheldreda continued to live a remarkably holy life until her death in 679. Years later, her holy body was moved to a shrine and it was found to be in-corrupted, perfectly preserved as though she was simply sleeping.
The open tomb of this Saint in her holy Shrine at Ely cathedral attracted many, many thousands of pilgrims to England yearly for almost a thousand years.There were at least a dozen or so Saints whose body miraculously did not decompose. This phenomenon is spread throughout the universal church with many displayed in churches and shrines today, such as Saint Bernadette Soubirous in Nevers, France.
As part of the Protestant destruction of Catholicism throughout England, the in-corrupt bodies of the Saints were destroyed. Saint Etheldreda's body was infamously dragged from her holy reliquary and thrown onto a rubbish dump.
Part of the Protestant Reformation was to attack the major doctrines and beliefs of the people such as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, miracles, purgatory etc...and it was the diabolical rampage of the reformers throughout England that saw the destruction of practically every convent, monastery, relic, image of the Saint, statue of Our Lady (such as the Saxon statue of Our Lady of Walsingham) and Shrine, stained glass window, prayer book, library etc...all the heritage of Mary's Dowry that pointed toward the truths of the Roman Catholic Church as that founded by Christ under the authority of the Pope.
Almost all evidence of miracles were destroyed, including the bodies of the miraculously preserved Saints, such as Saint Etheldreda. Such a terrible tragedy for England, Our Lady's Dowry.
As we journey towards the historic re-dedication of England to the Mother of God as her Dowry, part of the preparation could be to familiarize ourselves with the lives of our British Saints and English Martyrs. We can make pilgrimages to the sites where their Shrines once stood and light candles for the return of the people and the country to the Catholic Faith under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We have many films available including several to watch for free on our YouTube channel as well as on DVD and Instant Download about many of our British Saints and English Martyrs. Our film about Saint Etheldreda (as seen on EWTN) is available worldwide on DVD from: www.marysdowryproductions.org