I wonder whether we will in the future be saying Before Pandemic and After Pandemic: BP and AP. On this feast of St Mildred which the church celebrates today I will use the words “Before Pandemic.” It was BP since coming to Canterbury that I counted as a great blessing that I was a short drive away from St Mildred’s Priory the home of a community of Benedictine nuns that was founded in the 8th Century. I would be able to go there for a quiet day and share in the various offices of the day.
It says that according to legend, Minster Abbey was a double monastery founded AD 670 by Domne Eafe a Kentish princess who accepted land for a house of prayer as wergild for the killing of her brothers Aethered and Aetheberht. The story is that she was granted as much land as her pet deer could run around in a day, whence the deer used to symbolise Minster-in-Thanet.
Domne Eafe was succeeded as abbess in about 700 by her daughter Mitdrith (Mildred) whose feast it is today. She was educated in the french nunnery of Chellerd and on her return received the Benedictine habit from St Theodore of Canterbury. Her relics were first enshrined at Canterbury and afterwards removed to Holland. In 1882 her feast was officially reinstated by Pope Leo XIII. In 1937 the abbey was bought by nuns of the Benedictine Order, and in 1937 a relic of St Mildred was brought there.
Mildred was one of the most popular Saints in medieval England. In her life she is described as “ever merciful, of easy temper and tranquil”.
Let us pray today for the nuns at Minster on the isle of Thanet and thank God for they witness of prayer and service. We also pray for the Anglican parish community of St Mildred, St Dunstan and St Peter here in Canterbury.