Osburh of Coventry

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Osburh (or Osburga) was an Anglo-Saxon saint who rested at Coventry Cathedral.[1] Although there is some tradition holding her to be an early 11th-century abbess of Coventry Abbey, it is suspected that her cult predates the Viking Age.[1]

A 14th-century note in MS Bodley 438 mentions an early nunnery at Coventry.[2] The 15th-century writer John Rous related that Cnut the Great destroyed the old Coventry minster, and noted that the "holy virgin Osburga now laid there in a noble shrine" (probably lay in the south transept of the church).[3] As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the devastation of neighbouring Warwickshire in 1016, Cnut's attack on a monastery at Coventry is possible.[2]

Leofric's 1043 Coventry charter relates that the abbey was dedicated to Osburh (as well as St Mary, St Peter and All Saints), though this could potentially be a later addition.[2] Osburh was said to rest at Coventry in the 12th-century resting-place list of Hugh Candidus.[2]

She is mentioned the 13th-century Scandinavian Ribe Martyrology, which gives 21 January as her feast-day.[1] According to a description of Coventry's relics made in 1539, her head was enclosed with copper and gold.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Blair, "Handlist", p. 548
  2. ^ a b c d Baxter, Earls of Mercia, p. 161
  3. ^ Baxter, Earls of Mercia, p. 160; Blair, "Handlist", p. 548
  4. ^ Blair, "Handlist", p. 548; the saint was thought to be male and called 'Osburn'

References[edit]

  • Baxter, Stephen (2007), The Earls of Mercia: Lordship and Power in Late Anglo-Saxon England, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-923098-3 
  • Blair, John (2002), "A Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Saints", in Thacker, Alan; Sharpe, Richard, Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 495–565, ISBN 0-19-820394-2