jeudi 2 avril 2015

Sainte EBBA (EBBE) la JEUNE, abbesse, et ses compagnes, martyres

Sainte Ebba la Jeune

Abbesse de Coldingham ( 870)

En Ecosse, sainte Ebba, abbesse de Coldingham et ses compagnes, martyres. Les Danois ayant envahi l'Ecosse, sainte Ebbe craignit moins pour sa vie que pour sa chasteté et celle de ses religieuses : elle se coupa le nez et la lèvre supérieure. Toutes ses filles eurent le courage de l'imiter. Les barbares reculèrent d'horreur, mais ils mirent le feu au monastère dont toutes les habitantes furent brûlées vives.

Sainte Ebba la Jeune

Abbesse de Coldingham (Berwickshire)

Fête le 23 août

† Coldingham, Berwickshire, Écosse, 2 avril 870

Autres graphies : Aebbe la Jeune, Aebbe ou Ebbe

Autre mention : 2 avril

Abbesse de Coldingham (dans les Borders), en Écosse, elle décida, en apprenant l’arrivée des pirates danois, de se défigurer pour sauver sa chasteté. Elle se coupa donc le nez et la lévre supérieure et ses religieuses l’imitèrent. Les Danois mirent le feu au monastère et firent périr dans les flammes toute la communauté, qui gagna ainsi la palme du martyre en 870.


Sainte Ebba la Jeune, Vierge & Martyre.


Morte en 879; ancien jour de fête le 23 août. Ebba était l'abbesse de la grande fondation monastique de Coldingham dans les marais sur la frontière écossaise, qui avait été fondée 2 siècles plus tôt par sainte Ebba l'Ancienne (25 août). Pendant l'invasion des Danois, sainte Ebba a craint pour sa virginité, à cause de la réputation de violeur des Vikings et à cause des massacres. Elle a rassemblé ses religieuses dans le chapitre et les a encouragées à suivre son exemple: avec un rasoir elle s'est coupé (ou ouvert) le nez et sa lèvre supérieure pour décourager le viol par les envahisseurs. La communauté entière a fait de même. Cela devait être un spectacle effroyable. Leur apparence a tellement dégoûté les assaillants que les femmes ont été épargnées du viol mais pas de la mort : Les Danois ont mis le feu au couvent en le quittant. La communauté entière a péri dans les flammes.

Bien qu'on n'ait pas conservé de trace écrite de sainte Ebba, elle devait se trouver dans les manuscrits perdus de Tynemouth, où un sanctuaire lui était dédié au 13ième siècle. A Coldingham, un autre manuscrit se réfère à une curieuse fête de l'élévation d'un autel de sainte Ebba le 22 juin, qui peut avoir rapport soit avec la Jeune, soit avec l'Ancienne Ebba (Bénédictins, Encyclopaedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).


April 2

St. Ebba, Abbess, and Her Companions, Martyrs

IN the ninth century St. Ebba governed the great monastery of Coldingham, situated in Merch, or the Marshes, a province in the shire of Berwick, which was for some time subject to the English, at other times to the Scots. This was at that time the largest monastery in all Scotland, and had been founded by another St. Ebba, who was sister to St. Oswald and Oswi, kings of Northumberland. 1 In the year 870, according to Matthew of Westminster, or rather in 874, according to the Scottish historians, in an incursion of the cruel Danish pirates, Hinguar and Hubba, this abbess was anxious, not for her life, but for her chastity, to preserve which she had recourse to the following stratagem: Having assembled her nuns in the Chapterhouse, after making a moving discourse to her sisters, she, with a razor, cut off her nose and upper-lip, and was courageously imitated by all the holy community. The frightful spectacle which they exhibited in this condition protected their virginity. But the infidels, enraged at their disappointment, set fire to the monastery, and these holy virgins died in the flames spotless victims to their heavenly spouse, the lover and rewarder of chaste souls. See Matthew of Westminster, Baronius ad an. 870, Cressy, &c.


Note 1. The monastery of Coldingham was burnt by John, king of England, and after it was rebuilt retained only the rank of a priory till the change of religion. A nephew of bishop Lesley, a Scottish Jesuit, tells us, in the lives of Scottish Saints, which he compiled in Latin, that he found the ruins very stately when he took a survey of them in 1610. See this MS. History of Scottish Saints, p. 98.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866. 

Ebba (Ebbe) the Younger, OSB VM (AC)

Died 879; feast day formerly August 23. Ebba was abbess of the great Benedictine foundation of Coldingham in the Marshes on the Scottish border, which had been founded two centuries earlier by Saint Ebba the Elder. During a Danish invasion Saint Ebba feared for her virginity because of the Viking reputation for rape and massacre. She gathered her nuns in the chapter house and encouraged them to follow her example: with a razor she cut off (or cut open) her nose and upper lip to discourage rape by the invaders. The entire community did likewise. They must have made a frightful spectacle. Their appearance so disgusted the raiders that the women were saved from rape but not from death: The Danes soon returned and set fire to the convent. The entire community perished in the flames.

Although there is no surviving ancient record of Saint Ebba, it may have been among the lost manuscripts at Tynemouth, and no ancient cultus, there was a shrine dedicated to her in the 13th century. In Coldingham, another manuscript refers to a curious feast of the dedication of the altar of Saint Ebba on June 22, which may refer to either the Younger or the Elder (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

St. Ebba the Younger, Martyr, of Coldhingham, Northumbria

Commemorated on June 22

St. Ebba the Younger was abbess of the great monastic foundation of Coldingham in the Marshes on the Scottish border overlooking the North Sea, which had been founded two centuries earlier by St. Ebba the Elder, the daughter of the King of Northumbria and sister to Ss. Oswald and Oswy.

During a Danish invasion of Scotland in 879, St. Ebba feared for her virginity because of the Viking’s reputation for raping and massacring women. She gathered her nuns in the chapter house and encouraged them to follow her example. Thereafter, she cut open her nose and upper lip with a razor to discourage rape by the invaders. The entire community did likewise.

Their appearance so disgusted the invaders that the women were saved from rape but not from death. The Danes soon returned and set fire to the convent. The entire monastic community perished in the flames.

Troparion (Tone 1) –

Having finished your course and kept the Faith unto the end 

In the agony of immolation ye died for Christ 
The Lamb and Shepherd, slain as reason-endowed ewe-lambs 
Wherefore, magnifying Him with joyous soul 
We celebrate your holy memory today, 
O right wondrous and glorious Ebba and all those of thy flock who suffered with thee.

By permission of

Saint Ebba and the nuns of Coldingham- a 9th century perspective

Although Mt.5:8 states that the pure in heart are blessed, our present day culture has made sensuality easily accessible. Porn sites and adult movies are just a click away, filling the computer or tv screen with licentious images. Chastiy is often viewed as an anachronism, something to be disposed of as quickly as possible.

How very different, then for certain women of an earlier time, those who viewed purity and virginity as supreme virtues. During the 9th century on a Scottish coast bordering the North Sea, a community of Christian nuns lived in  Coldingham monastery, worshipping and serving God . Their leader, an abbess named Saint Ebba the Younger, was named after Saint Ebba the Elder who had founded the monastery two centuries earlier in order to convert Angles to Christianity.

Saint Ebba the Younger was equally devoted to her faith. Yet women alone in medieval Scotland were especially vulnerable to those who didn't espouse the same values and many invasions occurred during this time. Rapacious looters delighted in stealing treasures, such as  crosses of gold, from these monasteries. But they didn't stop at stealing. These thieves also raped nuns who had few ways of protecting themselves.

A particularly treacherous band of Danish barbarians, headed by the brothers Hinguar and Hubba, invaded the Scottish coast in 874. Pillaging throughout the country, they raged against Christianity, demolishing churches and killing religious personages. Hearing of their approach toward Coldingham, Saint Ebba quickly gathered her nuns.She did not fear death. But she desired that she and her nuns could preserve their virtue and remain chaste so that they might be part of the 144,000 virgins singing at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. Earnestly hoping to retain their purity, she hatched a desperate plan. Although horribly gruesome, Ebba felt sure  it would work. Subsequently she took out a razor, hacking off her nose and upper lip. One by one, the others nuns followed suit, also mutilating their faces.

When the marauders reached the monastery, they were so repulsed by the sight of these disfigured women that they did indeed leave them alone. But this situation so  enraged the Danes that they torched the monastery, burning the women alive.

Still, despite their extreme sacrifice, the martyred nuns of Coldingham held fast to what had been so dear to them, retaining their virtue even in the face of death.