Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 5th -- St Modwenna of Polesworth

St Modwenna was an Irish nun of the 9th century who cured the son of King Ethelwolfe of Mercia of a disease that was then thought incurable. "When her monastrie was destroyed in Ireland [probably in the Norse invasions] Modwena came over into England unto whom King Ethelwolfe gave leave to build two abbies and also delivered unto her his sister Edith to be a professed nun." So says Mrs. D'Arcy quoting O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints. She is said to have built several monasteries in both England and Scotland. But the one in Polesworth lasted until the 16th century when Henry VIII, the archetype of the Labour Party, nationalised all the abbeys of England.

Polesworth Abbey still functions as a parish church of the Church of England.

Modwenna ended her days as a hermit on a small island called Andressey, named after St Andrew. She was buried there and her shrine became a place for many miracles. Her relics were at one time transferred to a church in Burton-on-Trent but I can find no indication of which church or whether their location survived the furies of the Reformation.