Saint Ethelburga (Aethelburh) was born into the royal family of East Anglia in the seventh century. She was the sister of St Erconwald (May 13), who founded the monastery of Barking (Berecingum) in Essex. St Ethelburga became the first abbess of this monastery.
St Bede (May 27) says (HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND PEOPLE, Book IV, Chapters. 6-9) that she was worthy of her holy brother in every way. She led a virtuous life and guided those who were under her. It is said that many miracles took place at the monastery during her time.
Shortly before St Ethelburga’s death, a nun called Tortgith had a vision in which she saw a body wrapped in a shroud, and shining with a bright light. She watched as the body was drawn up to Heaven on cords which seemed brighter than gold. Sister Tortgith had no doubt that this vision signified the immanent death of one of the nuns. Not many days later, St Ethelburga fell asleep in the Lord.
Years later, when the nun Tortgith was dying, St Ethelburga appeared to her and told her that the hour of her passing was at hand.
This St Ethelburga should not be confused with another saint of the same name (April 5), who was married to the holy martyred King Edwin of Northumbria (October 12).