Saint Cunera

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Saint Cunera

Saint Cunera of Rhenen, (also Kunera of Rhenen, or St. C / Kunera of Rhenen) (deceased Rhenen, 28 October 340) was a virgin and martyr. She is first mentioned after the year 1000. She is the patron saint of the Utrecht city Rhenen in the Netherlands, and against cattle and throat diseases.


When Saint Ursula of Cologne and her ten thousand virgins in Cologne, Germany during the fourth century were attacked by the Huns, Cunera—a princess from York—was saved by the Frisian King Radbod, who took her to his castle at Prattenburg in Rhenen. Here she was deeply loved for her kindness and care for the poor around the castle. This aroused the jealousy of Aldegonde, Radboud's wife. When he was out hunting, Cunera was strangled by Aldegonde with the beautiful scarf that Cunera had received from her parents. She was buried in a cowshed. By a miracle the crime was discovered. Radboud converted to Christianity.


Problems arise when one takes a closer look at the authenticity of the story. There is no evidence that St. Ursula ever existed. Furthermore, there is no account of a 4th-century Frisian king Radbod. There was a king Radbod in the 8th century, but he was famously anti- Christian. Only after his successor Poppo was defeated by Charles Martel did Frisia begin to be Christianized.[1] It would have been nearly impossible to find a Christian Frisian in the 4th century, let alone a king.


Utrecht bishop St. Willibrord had Cunera venerated three centuries later. There was a great pilgrimage to Rhenen. Eventually this led to the consecration of St Peter at Cunera and later to the construction of the Cunerakerk and Tower (completed in 1531). The Protestants occupied Cunerakerk at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The relics were moved to Emmerich in the Duchy of Cleves and to Bedaf in Uden. Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht hosts the 'wurgdoek' of Cunera, with which she was strangled, woven of Coptic linen. The feast of Cunera is celebrated on June 12.


  1. ^ Hans Mol, Fryslân 10;4 (2004), pp. 16-20., [1]
  • Cunera, Online Dictionary of Netherlands

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