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Saint Osyth

Saint Osyth
  • Century: 7th Century
  • Patronage: -
  • Feast Day: October 7th

St. Osyth was born in the mid 600’s, in Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire.  She was the born the daughter of Frithwald, who was the king of Mercia in Surrey.  We also know that she was the niece of St. Edith and St. Edburga.  Her mom was the daughter of the pagan King of Penda of Mercia.   

St. Osyth was raised in a convent in Warwickshire, England under St. Modwen.  She wanted to become the Abbess, but being from a Dynasty, she was not able to because of her royalty.  Her father forced her into an arranged marriage with the King of Essex.  She agreed to the arranged marriage and produced a son for the King.  The King was off on a hunting trip, and St. Osyth persuaded two local Bishops to accept her vows as a Nun.  Soon after the death of her husband, they agreed to it, and she established a convent at Chich, in Essex.   She finally fulfilled her wish of becoming an Abbess, and served as the Convents first Abbess.  

Early in the year 700, the Danish Viking Marauders came through and murdered a bunch of people.  St. Osyth was among them.  According to legend her death as Abbess was considered martyrdom by beheading.  The site of her martyrdom became transferred to the holy spring at Quarrendon.  Her aunts St. Edith and St. Edburga mentioned the holy spring at Quarrendon.  The legend these Saints spoke of, is that after the execution of St. Osyth, she stood up and picked up her head, and walking with it in her hands, to the door of the local Convent, before collapsing there.  This is very similar to St. Denis, who did the same thing upon his beheading, in Paris.  

St. Osyth ws burried at St. Mary’s Church in Aylesbury.  The site became a site of pilgrimage for many, and her bones were removed from the church and buried in secret, since this was not an authorized place of pilgrimage.  John Aubrey, in the 17th century antiquary states, “In those days, when they went to bed, they did rake up the fire, make an X on the ashes, and would pray to God and St. Osyth to deliver them from fire, and from water, and from all misadventure”.  A house in Aylesbury is still called St. Osyth’s House in her honor.  

Practical Take Away

St. Osyth was born into a Royal family.  She was raised by St. Modwen at the Convent in Warwickshire, England, and has two aunts that are both canonized saints.  Her desire was to remain in the convent, and become an Abbess.  Her father had different ideas, as he had arranged a royal wedding.  She was to marry a neighboring King and produce for him a son.  She did this, and after the death of her husband, became a nun and founded her own convent.  She was martyred in the year 700, during the uprising and masacre by the Danish King and his army. Legend holds it, after she was beheaded, she picked up her head, carried it in her hands all the way back to the convent before collapsing.  The church celebrates her feast day on October 7th.