St. Etheldreda


June 23

BORN and brought up in the fear of God—her mother and three sisters are numbered among the Saints—Etheldreda had but one aim in life, to devote herself to His service in the religious state. Her parents, however, had other views for her, and, in spite of her tears and prayers, she was compelled to become the wife of Tonbercht, a tributary of the Mercian king. She lived with him as a virgin for three years, and at his death retired to the isle of Ely, that she might apply herself wholly to heavenly things. This happiness was but short-lived; for Egfrid, the powerful King of Northumbria, pressed his suit upon her with such eagerness that she was forced into a second marriage. Her life at his court was that of an ascetic rather than a queen: she lived with him not as a wife but as a sister, and, observing a scrupulous regularity of discipline, devoted her time to works of mercy and love. After twelve years, she retired with her husband's consent to Coldingham Abbey, which was then under the rule of St. Ebba, and received the veil from the hands of St. Wilfrid. As soon as Etheldreda had left the court of her husband, he repented of having consented to her departure, and followed her, meaning to bring her back by force. She took refuge on a headland on the coast near Coldingham; and here a miracle took place, for the waters forced themselves a passage round the hill, barring the further advance of Egfrid. The Saint remained on this island refuge for seven days, till the king, recognizing the divine will, agreed to leave her in peace. God, Who by a miracle confirmed the Saint's vocation, will not fail us if, with a single heart, we elect for Him. In 672 she returned to Ely, and founded there a double monastery. The nunnery she governed herself, and was by her example a living rule of perfection to her sisters. Some time after her death, in 679, her body was found incorrupt, and St. Bede records many miracles worked by her relics.

Reflection. —The soul cannot truly serve God while it is involved in the distractions and pleasures of the world. Etheldreda knew this, and chose rather to be a servant of Christ her Lord than the mistress of an earthly court. Resolve, in whatever stat s you are, to live absolutely detached from the world, and to separate yourself as much as possible from it.      

Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition

Prayers and Reading for Today’s MASS

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Introit • Ps. 32, 11, 19

The thoughts of his heart to all generations: to deliver their souls from death and feed them in famine. Ps. 32, 1. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just, praise becometh the upright. Glory be …

Collect (Prayer)

O God, who, in the Heart of thy Son, wounded by our sins, hast deigned mercifully to bestow infinite treasures of love upon us; grant, we beseech Thee, that as we offer him the faithful service of our devotion, we may also make worthy reparation. Through the same.

Epistle • Eph. 3, 8-19

Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.

[The mystery hidden from former ages was discovered to the apostle, to be imparted to the Gentiles. He prays that they may be strengthened in God.]

BRETHREN, To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, And to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things: That the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church,
According to the eternal purpose, which he made, in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I pray you not to faint at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named,
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened by his Spirit with might unto the inward man, That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts; that being rooted and founded in charity, You may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth: To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fulness of God.

Gradual • Ps. 24, 8-9

The Lord is sweet and righteous, therefore he will give a law to sinners in the way. He will guide the mild in judgment, he will teach the meek his ways.

Lesser Alleluia

Alleluia, alleluia. Att. 11, 29. Take up my yoke upon you and learn of me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls. Alleluia.

Gospel • John 19, 31-37

Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. John. 

[The continuation of the history of the Passion of Christ.]

At that time, the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe.
For these things were done, that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of him. And again another scripture saith: They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Offertory • Ps. 68, 21

My heart hath expected reproach and misery, and I looked for one that would grieve together with me and there was none; and I sought one that would console me and I found none.


Look, we beseech Thee, O Lord, on the unspeakable charity of the Heart of thy beloved Son: that what we offer up may be in your sight an accepted gift and the expiation of our sins. Through the same.

Communion • John 19, 34

One of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.


May the holy mysteries, O Lord Jesus, give us holy fervor; that by it perceiving the sweetness of thy most loving Heart, we may learn to despise earthly things and to love those of heaven. Who livest.