St. Etheldreda aka St. Audrey
Britain 640 - 679

St. Etheldreda in paper maché

St. Etheldreda or St. Audrey, was a princess who took a vow of virginity although married for reasons of state. She was widowed and given in marriage again and when her second husband attempted to pressure the Bishop to release her from her vow, the Bishop helped Etheldreda escape. A seven day high tide which prevented her husband from catching her was taken as divine intervention.

Her marriage annulled, Etheldreda took the veil and founded an abbey at Ely where she led an ascetic life.

During the middle ages on her feast day there was an annual festival at Ely, called St. Audrey's fair. The goods sold at this fair were notoriously cheap and gave rise to the expression 'of St. Audry' later shortened to the English word tawdry to describe cheap or poorly made items.

While St. Audrey is the patron of Cambridge University, neck or throat ailments and widows - she should perhaps be considered for The patron of bargain basements and dollar stores having added such a valuable word to the English language.

Further information on St. Etheldreda can be found in Lives of the Saints, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Saints Index on Catholic Forum or Saints Index on

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