The Faithful of the Diocese of Sourozh Venerate the Memory of Saints of the Undivided Church
On 12th June 2021, with the blessing of the bishop of Sourozh Matthew, a pilgrimage was held to the site of the famous seventh-century monastery in Barking. The trip was organized by archpriest Joseph Skinner, rector of the parish of St. Andrew the First-Called in Romford, Great Britain. Taking part in the pilgrimage along with the parishioners of Romford were the faithful of Swindon and Brighton.
After the Divine Liturgy, which Fr. Joseph celebrated in the Church of Ss. Mary and Ethelburh near the ancient abbey of Barking, a prayer service was offered to the saints of Barking St. Erconwald and St. Ethelburh and other saints of the holy house from the time of the undivided Church.
The monastery in Barking was founded c.660 by St. Erconwald, the bishop of London. His relics and prayers were a source of many miraculous healings. Erconwald’s sisters St. Ethelburh (+675) was the first mother superior of Barking and a wise and caring abbess. St. Ethelburh’s successor was the educated abbess St. Hildelith (+712). Both abbesses were buried in the monastery. Their graves, however, have sadly been lost. In his Ecclesiastical History of the English People the Venerable Bede mentions the monastery in Barking, the saints who laboured there and the miracles that occurred such as, for example, the healing at the saints’ relics of a woman who was almost blind. The faithful who witnessed these miracles often saw a heavenly radiance and sensed a miraculous sweet-smelling fragrance, as well as other signs.
Some miracles are linked to the holy nun Torhtgyth (+700), who meekly endured for many years the disease of paralysis. The holy nun laboured for the glory of God in the seventh century in Barking. She was also a member of the royal house of Cuthburgh, who later founded a monastery and missionary centre at Wimborne. In the tenth century at a time of the revival of English monasticism there shone forth yet one more holy woman, the abbesses Wulfhild (+1000).