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Feastday: October 7

Death: 700


Martyred nun, also called Osith and Sytha. Known mainly through legends, she was supposedly the daughter of a chieftain of the Mercians in England and Wilburga, daughter of the powerful pagan king Penda of Mercia. Raised in a convent, Osyth desired to become a nun but was married against her will to King Sighere of Essex, by whom she had a son. Eventually, she won his permission to enter a convent, and she established a monastery on land at Chich, Essex, donated by Sighere, where she served as an abbess. She was reputedly slain by Danish raiders and is thus depicted in art as carrying her own head. There are historical difficulties associated with her existence, especially as no mention is made of her by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History.


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