Wednesday’s People: Saints Ebbe the Elder and Cuthbert

by Melanie on October 11, 2017

in Catholicism, Nonfiction, Saints, Sisterhood of Saints, Spirituality, Wednesday's Woman

Note: This is the last in a series of posts about women saints who had notable relationships with male saints–their sons, husbands, fathers, or colleagues in faith.

The Basics: Ebbe the Elder, born about 615 in England; died about 683 in Scotland; feast day, August 25; canonized pre-congregation; woman religious. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, born about 634 in England; died in 687 in England; feast day, March 20; canonized pre-congregation; bishop and hermit.

The Story: Ebbe’s life was full of conflicts that, for the most part, she navigated relatively successfully. She was only about ten years old when her father, the king of a section of eastern Britain, was defeated in battle. As a result, her mother and siblings retreated to Scotland, where Ebbe became a Christian. The family eventually returned to power and, rather than marry, Ebbe chose to become a woman religious with the support of her brothers. She established a double monastery (for both monks and nuns) at Coldingham and oversaw both communities. As might be expected, especially given how unsettled things were at the time, getting the communities to operate in a restrained, pious way was challenging. Ebbe was able to accomplish this to a degree, but the monastery still came under attack by some and burned not long after her death.

Ebbe must have had some sort of special presence, as Cuthbert, who generally avoided the company of women (and people in general, for that matter), accepted her invitation to visit. Legend has it that he encountered temptation while at Coldingham, and that he would go to the sea in the evenings to resist it; he was seen swimming with two otters on one occasion. When Cuthbert died a few years after Ebbe, it’s said he was covered with a piece of fabric she had given him.

What We Can Learn from Ebbe and Cuthbert: We can find kindred spirits amid the most challenging of situations if we trust in the Lord.

Wisdom from Cuthbert : Perhaps Ebbe’s situation was part of what was on Cuthbert’s mind when he wrote, “Do not despise those faithful who come to you seeking hospitality. Receive them, put them up, and set them on their way with kindness, treating them as one of yourselves.”

To Learn More About : See Ebbe’s biography at the site for the Village of St. Abbs, which was named for her.

To Learn More About Other Women Saints and Blesseds: Come back next week, or consider buying my book, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration.

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