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Hymn for St Mildred, in the 'Life of St Mildred'

Hymn for St Mildred, in the 'Life of St Mildred'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1205

Shelfmark: Harley MS 3908

Item number: f.43r

Length: 16.6

Width: 11.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Saint Mildred was a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon princess whose mother, Ermenburga or Aebbe, founded the monastery of Minster-in-Thanet, which Mildred and her sisters, Mildgytha and Milburge, joined. Eventually she became abbess herself and after her death in about 700 was entombed there as a saint. One of her disciples and successor as abbess, Edburga, moved her relics to a shrine in the new church she had built for the monastery in 759. Made after the Normans had established rule in England, this copy of her life story promoted her sanctity for the sake of the community as well as to provide an example of Christian charity and holiness. On this page near the end of the 'Life of St Mildred', a hymn with square musical notation praises her in with conventional figures of speech that echo those used in the 8th century by Bede in his hymn on St Aetheldreda and Aldhelm in his 'On Virginity', a long poem on virgin saints. It envisions her in the heavens with the stars, compares her with roses and lilies and praises her virtues. It makes frequent mention of St Augustine, the missionary sent by Pope Gregory I, to Kent to convert the Anglo-Saxons. The relics of Mildred were later moved to St Augustine's monastery (St Gregory's hospital), Canterbury. The hymn is one of the reasons why the manuscript is believed to have belonged to that community

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