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St Werburgh pilgrimage to visit Audlem this week

17th June 2007 @ 11:11am – by Audlem Webteam
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Today, an unusual pilgrimage is starting out from Hanbury in Staffordshire after the morning service at St Werburgh Church. The pilgrims then set off to Chester, carrying a casket which was created for the Saint's relics. The 73-mile walk passes through Audlem, which is the overnight stop on Tuesday. From Audlem, they will then be walking for a further two days to Chester Cathedral. There is to be a special service in the Cathedral to celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of the dedication of Chester Cathedral to St Werbergh, where she is still Patron Saint of the city.

St Werburgh was born about 650 in Staffordshire, the daughter of Wulfere, King of Mercia, a Kingdom only partially Christian. She founded nunneries at Trentham, Repton, Weedon and Hanbury, being renowned for her sanctity and performing miracles. Her most well known was healing a goose!

She died at Threntham in 699 but the people of Hanbury stole her body away thus fulfilling her dying wish. Hanbury became a place of pilgrimage and miracles began to happen there and it became a great area of Christianity. In 875 the Danes were rampaging through Britain, killing, burning and looting. The people of Hanbury feared for the safety of Werburgh's body and decided to remove it to Chester, where her shrine remains in the Cathedral.

It is said that her Shrine was responsible for miraculous interventions that saved Chester in times of peril. King Gruffyd of Wales besieged the City, the shrine was lifted up onto the battlements. As soon as the King looked upon it, he was struck blind and the siege was abandoned.

Whether Tuesday's visit will produce any miracles in Audlem is as yet unclear – but Audlem Online will investigate and your correspondent has arranged to meet the leader of the pilgrimage. By a hopefully miraculous coincidence, DerwentHydro, a small scale hydro-electricity company, has been invited to the village that very day – to see if we can turn the Shropshire Union's water into electricity – wine being a step too far! More on Wednesday.


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