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Died c. 700 or 722; This is the feast of the translation of her relics. The ruins of Wenlock Abbey in Shropshire, dating from the 11th century, remind us of Saint Milburga, whose name still lingers in that area. She was one of a family of eminent saints and belonged to the royal house of Mercia.

How often a good mother is blessed in her children! Her mother Domneva (Domna Ebba or Ermenburga), princess of Kent, had three daughters: Milburga, Mildred, and Mildgytha, each of whom grew up to follow the pattern of her mother's faith, and each, after a life wholly devoted to Christ, was recognised as a saint.

Those were the days when the daughters of kings were proud and eager to dedicate their wealth and talents in Christian leadership and to pour out their youth and strength in the service of the Church. They founded and ruled great abbeys, taught the young, cared for the sick, and relieved the poor.

Milburga, like her mother before her, surrendered her high estate, forsook the luxury and comfort of her home, and counted it her highest privilege to serve God in a consecrated Christian life. Helped by her father, Merewald, an Anglian chieftain, and her uncle Wulfhere, king of Mercia, she founded the monastery of Wenlock, which was placed under the direction of Saint Botulf of East Anglia. Its first abbess was Liobsynde, a French nun from Chelles. Its second was Milburga, who was consecrated abbess by Archbishop Saint Theodore. It was no ordinary monastery; everything about it reflected the grace and fragrance of her own pure spirit. The gardens were full of the choicest flowers, the orchards bore the sweetest fruits, and within its walls was found, we are told, the very peace of heaven.

By her sheer goodness Milburga converted many to the Christian faith, and this in a dark and primitive age when, outside the monastery walls, the countryside was wild and remote, and full of unknown dangers. One day, for example, on one of her errands of mercy, she was terrified by a neighbouring princeling who, wishing to marry her, intercepted her with a band of soldiers, but she providentially escaped. In her flight she crossed a small stream called the Corve, and he, following, found when he reached it that the waters had risen and his plan was thwarted. The place where it happened it called to this day Stoke Saint Milburgh.

She loved flowers, birds (over which she had a mysterious power), country life, and country people, to sit and work in the sun and tend the herbs in her garden, and to visit in the villages around. People came to her with their troubles and ailments and even ascribed to her miraculous cures. Milburga was venerated for her humility, holiness, the miracles she performed, and for the gift of levitation she is said to have possessed.

According to Boniface, the famous Vision of the Monk of Wenlock occurred during Milburga's abbacy. Goscelin also preserved her testament, which is a long, apparently authentic list of lands that belonged to her at her death.

When she was on her deathbed, she said to her followers, I have been mother to you. I have watched over you like a mother, with pious care. And in mercy, I go the way of all flesh. A higher call invites me. One by one they said farewell, gave her the holy sacraments, and after her death buried her body near the altar of the abbey.

Her tomb was long venerated but its site was unknown when the Cluniac monks from La-Charite-sur-Loire refounded Wenlock in 1079. The church had a silver casket that contained her relics and documents describing the site of her grave, near an altar then unknown. Apparently, the church was destroyed by the Danes.

After consulting Anselm, the monks excavated an old, disused church. Thus, centuries later, two boys who were playing among its ruins fell through the pavement by the broken altar, as a result of which her tomb was rediscovered. When opened, according to legend, there came from it a heavenly sweetness, and the lost garden of the monastery seemed filled again with the fragrance of the flowers she had planted.

Among the miracles documented were the healing of lepers and the blinds, and, the vomiting of a worm that had caused a wasting disease. Goscelin wrote her vita in the late 11th century. Her feast was common in English calendars from the Bosworth Psalter (c. 1000) onwards (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Milburgh holds the abbey of Wenlock. There may be geese near her. She is venerated at Stoke (Roeder).

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