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St. Aelfgith of Glastonbury
(Died c.AD 935)

Of uncertain parentage, St. Aelfgith was apparently a niece of King Aethelstan of England. She was said to have been governess to the future Kings Edwig All-Fair and St. Edgar the Peacemaker, but almost certainly died before they were born.

Hearing of the sanctity of St. Dunstan, Princess Aelfgith determined to settle at Glastonbury, so that she might profit from his instruction. She therefore built a house close to his monastery there and, with his sanction, erected a chapel in honour of the Virgin Mary. She appointed a number of canons to perform the offices, endowing them with fat livings for their trouble.

When King Aethelstan visited Glastonbury, she asked him and his retinue to dine at her house. He accepted the invitation and some of his attendants went ahead to check out the venue. They praised her perfect preparations said but were a little worried that she might run out of mead. She, however, had faith that the Virgin Mary would not allow such a misfortune. Aethelstan arrived with his suite, attended mass and then came to Aelfgith's house and sat down to dinner. At the first draught he took, he emptied a flagon of mead all but about half a pint. The saint continued to serve the King and his retinue from the same flagon. There was but a cupful of mead at the bottom, but it was always miraculously increased and for she poured without a refill. After her numerous guests had all had enough, there was still a cup of mead left in the flask!

After living very piously at Glastonbury for some years, Aelfgith was taken ill and felt that death was near. St. Dunstan came to see her and exhorted her to bear all her sufferings with patience. She charged him to give all her possessions to the poor and to sell her land for the benefit of the Church. He stayed so late talking to her that, when he got back to the monastery, the door was locked for the night. So he stood outside saying his prayers. While he was singing the psalms, he saw a shining white dove fly in at Aelfgith's window. He returned at once to her room, where he heard two voices talking about eternal life. He saw that the room was brilliantly lit and he heard the familiar voice of Aelfgith thanking the other speaker. On opening the door, however, he found her alone. "Who were you talking to ?" asked Dunstan.

"The Lord, who appeared to you when you were waiting and praying at the door of the church, has visited me and promised me eternal glory, and now I no longer fear the devil." She then asked him to bring her the last sacraments next day. This he did. The lady died on 23rd October probably around AD 935 and was buried in the church where she had so often prayed. She could not have been much more than twenty years of age.

Edited from Agnes Dunbar's "A Dictionary of Saintly Women" (1904).

 

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