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Commemorated also July 13. The Minster in the Isle of Thanet about six miles from Sandwich was founded by St. Ermenburga the granddaughter of St. Ethelbert, the first Christian King of Kent. She had been married to a King of the Mercians, Merewald and by him had three daughters, Mildred, Nilburga and Mildgyth. When Ermenburga was widowed she returned to Kent, where her nephew Egbert was King, leaving Milburga at Wenlock, where she was established in the abbey built by her father and of which she later became abbess. On arrival with her two other daughters at her old home, she found that her younger brothers, Ethelred and Ethelbright, had been murdered by Thunor, one of Egbert's men, and she obtained land in compensation for their deaths, what was called "wergild", on which to build a monastery.

The extent of the land ceded by Egbert was decided by the area round which Ermenburga's pet hind could run and amounted to about a thousand acres of fertile ground which would maintain those who joined the community. The present parish stands on the site of the first minster which was dedicated by St. Theodore, the Archbishop of Canterbury about 670. He also gave the veil to Ermenburga and installed her as the first abbess in the monastery, where she was known as Domna Eva. In the meantime Mildred had been sent to Chelles to be trained in the religious life and she must have been glad to receive the summons to return, once the abbey was built. While on the continent she had been pestered by one of the local princes, who tried to persuade her to renounce her vocation to be a nun, but her resolve remained unshaken and she was professed as soon as she got back to Kent.

It was not long before her mother resigned the charge of the abbey to Mildred, who became one of the most famous and well loved of the Anglo Saxon saints. Although the government of the abbey was firm, she always preserved an easy temper and showed humility in dealing with those who came to her, particularly to the widows and orphans, the poor and the afflicted. Her sister Mildgylt also embraced the religious life and for a time was a nun at Eastry but probably joined St. Mildred later in the flourishing community at Minster and may have succeeded her as abbess on her death. Eventually the community grew to such a size that it became necessary to build a larger complex and this was sited a few hundred yards from the old one.

Like most Christian churches on the coast Minster suffered from pillaging by raiders from the sea, and in 1035 King Canute agreed that St. Mildred's body should be moved to Canterbury where it was enshrined in the abbey of SS Peter and Paul. There is however another tradition that relics were taken to the abbey at Lyminge and from there translated by Archbishop Lanfranc to the Collegiate church of St Gregory which he built by the Northgate at Canterbury.

At the dread time of the Dissolution the abbey buildings at Minster passed into secular hands and the conventual church was demolished. In 1937 a small group of Benedictine nuns from St. Walburga's Abbey at Eichstadt occupied the remains of the old abbey and a relic of St. Mildred from Derenter is preserved in the altar of the small chapel they have built. There were ten ancient dedications to St. Mildred, two in the City of London and six in Kent (Bowen).

Tone IV
Through constant prayer and frequent fasting, by ceaseless hymnody and great humility, the glorious Mildred forsook the allurements of her royal rank, trampling underfoot all worldly pride and presumption. Wherefore, let us imitate her virtues, that, free from all earthly attachments, we may join her at the wedding feast of Christ our Saviour.

Service to Our Venerable Mother Mildred,
Abbess of Minster-in-Thanet, Wonderworker of Kent

Icon of Saint Mildred

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