The Companions of Eanswythe

Would you be interested in becoming a Companion of Eanswythe?

Eanswythe, c. AD 640-660, is the Patron Saint of Folkestone, and her bones reside there in St Mary & St Eanswythe Church, the earliest single remains of an English saint. She was an Anglo-Saxon, Kentish royal saint, and granddaughter of King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha of Kent. Bertha requested a Christian Mission from Pope Gregory the Great. He sent Augustine who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in AD 597, and Ethelbert was the first Anglo-Saxon King to convert.

Eanswythe founded one of the earliest monastic communities in England around AD 660 on The Bayle, the historic centre of Folkestone. Kent archaeological and history experts, working with Queen’s University in Belfast, estimate that she died around this time aged 17-22 years. Find out more at the Finding Eanswythe website: https://findingeanswythe.uk/

Her relics represent a continuous expression of Christian spirituality in Folkestone for over a thousand years. Eanswythe’s era was a time of international migration across the Christian World, and so her legacy has something to say about living in harmony across cultures. She lived before the Great Schism and, later, the Reformation tore the Christian Church apart, and so she is a Saint for all churches. The monastic spirituality embodied in her community still speaks today.

What are the aims of The Companions of Eanswythe?

  • To use monastic wisdom for spiritual growth
  • To develop the shrine of St Eanswythe as a centre of pilgrimage
  • To promote Eanswythe’s significance for spirituality, culture, history, archaeology and science

Spiritual growth

As a Companion of Eanswythe you will be supported in

  • Learning to practise the ancient monastic disciplines of
    Lectio Divina (sacred reading)
    Contemplatio (meditation)
  • Developing your own rhythm of spiritual practices
  • Joining an online group to receive and give support in doing this
  • Making an annual Pilgrimage to the shrine of St Eanswythe
  • Participating in lectures and workshops

Centre of pilgrimage

As a Companion of Eanswythe you will be invited to offer financial support for the development of the shrine through an annual donation. Our current challenge is to raise money for a new reliquary that will be crafted to both preserve Eanswythe’s bones with the correct humidity and also to express her spiritual and historic significance. Later, we aim to create installations that will tell her story. We’d also like to offer better hospitality to pilgrims than we’re able to do now.

You will be the first to hear of lectures, workshops, exhibitions or pilgrimage events and offered online streaming links for them. You’ll also be informed of concerts, although you may have to pay for these.

Local Companions will do their best to greet and welcome you should you make a pilgrimage to the shrine.

Eanswythe’s significance

The Companions of Eanswythe will assist St Mary & St Eanswythe Church in developing partnerships with other bodies with an historical, archaeological, scientific or cultural interest in Eanswythe. We will support or help staff events, lectures, symposiums or conferences.

Would you like to become a Companion of Eanswythe, or do you have questions?

Email Fr John Walker at sainteanswythe@gmail.com

Just want to support the shrine without becoming a Companion?

Then become a Friend of St Mary & St Eanswythe, and donate, at https://friendsofstmaryandsteanswythe.org.uk/