Saints of the Day – Ermengild of Ely, Widow

main article for Saint Ermenilda of ElyArticle

(also known as Ermenilda, Erminilda)

Died 703. The daughter of King Erconbert and Saint Sexburga, Erminilda was herself a queen, for she married Wulfhere, King of Mercia, and used her powerful influence to remove the remaining pockets of idolatry in a land which had been the last stronghold of Anglo-Saxon paganism. By her virtuous example and unwearied kindness she won the hearts of her subjects; she had great pity on all in distress, and throughout her life she bore her witness as a Christian queen.

Like her mother before her, the saintly Sexburga, the widowed Queen of Kent and abbess of Minster in Sheppey, she desired to be wholly devoted to God. On Wulfhere’s death Erminilda joined her mother and succeeded her as abbess when her mother moved to Ely.

Later, Erminilda, too, migrated to the abbey of Ely, which was the center of a flourishing community, had the unusual distinction of having as its first abbesses a succession of three queens; for, before Sexburga, her sister, Queen Ethelreda had held the office. Erminilda was the mother of Saint Werburga, and so this royal succession of Christian witness was carried into the fourth generation.

In a primitive age these noble and saintly women by their selfless and devoted lives set before their people a high example of Christian service, and their gracious and ennobling influence had a far-reaching effect upon the period in which they lived. They are counted among the saints of England and take their place among the most faithful and distinguished followers of our Lord (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Gill).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 May 2020. Web. 29 January 2022. <>