The Way of St. Werburgh

Another week closer to my first through hike of the year, and here is one of two posts giving some background on the Saints this pilgrimage is named after.

You probably have never heard of St. Werburgh and why her shrine is the destination for pilgrims. So here is a TLDR synopsis.

St. Werburgh had great influence in the 7th century for the spread of Christianity through the kingdom of ‘Mercia’, which covered the entire midlands, south of the the river Dee and Humber and north of the Avon and Thames.

She was the daughter to the Mercian King Wulphere. It is believed she was born at ‘Bury Bank’ outside the village of ’Stone’ in Staffordshire.

She entered a convent at the Abbey of Ely where her aunt was the Abbess. She adopted the modest life of a nun, giving up the luxuries of royalty.

She eventually became responsible for the all the convents in Mercia, and through the wealth of her family, she established numerous convents throughout the kingdom that became models of the monastic lifestyle.

She had founded a monastery in Weedon, a village that is a stones throw from me! Before her death she visited all her convents and was buried in Repton. However, she was re-interred due to the invading vikings, at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, which is now Chester Cathedral.

The goose that has become associated with St. Werburgh, originates from a story about the Weedon convent. A flock of wild geese ravaged farmland belonging to her, and as a punishment she locked them up indoors overnight; however she pardoned them the following morning and released them from captivity.

During the night a servant had stolen one; the flock realising they were one down, noisily pestered St. Werburgh. Grasping the meaning of the racket, she tracked down the servant to secure the release of the bird.

The flock then flew away, never to return and interfere with convent or it’s lands again.

Whether it is on a long journey like the Camino or a short walk like the Two Saints Way, there are such fables like this, that add a bit of culture to the walks.

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