Born 653; died 714. Daughter of King Oswy of Northumbria and his wife
(f.d. November 24),
Elfleda was offered to
(f.d. November 17)
and the convent of Hartlepool as a little child. Her
parents had vowed to consecrate her in infancy if Oswy were successful
in battle against the heathen King Penda of Mercia. Oswy won the battle
of Winwaed in 654, he kept his vow. In 657, Hilda founded or refounded
Whitby Abbey and Elfleda migrated there with Saint Hilda. When Oswy died
in 670, Eanfleda joined her daughter at the double monastery governed by
Hilda, and which later become the mausoleum of the Northumbrian royal
family. In turn Eanfleda and Elfleda succeeded Hilda as abbess of
Whitby. During Elfleda's abbacy, the earliest "vita" of
Saint Gregory the Great
(f.d. September 3)
was written there.
Elfleda was one of the most influential personages of her time. She
(f.d. March 20)
(f.d. October 12)
as friends. In 684, she met Cuthbert on Coquet Island. He
told her that her brother, King Egfrith, would die within a year and
that her half-brother Aldfrith would succeed him. Both of which
occurred. Later she was cured of paralysis by Cuthbert's girdle.
One of her primary means of influence was in her role as mediator.
Elfleda was instrumental in reconciling
Saint Theodore of Canterbury
(f.d. September 19)
and Saint Wilfrid. At the synod of the River Nidd in
705, she exercised her talent to reconcile Wilfrid to both Canterbury
and the church in Northumbria. She asserted that Aldfrith on his death
bed had promised to obey the commands of the Roman See concerning
Wilfrid and had enjoined his heir to do the same.
Elfleda's relics were discovered and translated at Whitby about 1125.
Her cultus, however, is attest only by late martyrologies