St Osburga

_a8a4751St Osburga

Photos from Sundays Mass, 11th September, in Honour of St Osburg link
Watch Sunday’s Mass, 11th September, live stream recording link
Photos from Friday, 9th September, 1000 Years of Coventry Heritage link

St Osburga of Coventry

St Osburga was celebrated with a Civic celebration on Friday 9th September, and then Mass on Sunday 11th September.

Civic celebration

On the Friday the City celebrated 1000 years of Coventry Heritage including the death of St Osburga, Lady Godiva, and the 1000th Anniversary since the destruction of the St Osburga’s convent.  Coventry’s present-day Lady Godiva, Pru Porretta, welcomed the large crowd from across the city at the iconic Lady Godiva statue. This included many of the schools in the City.

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The procession from Broadgate was led by Lady Godiva to the original grounds where St Mary’s Cathedral once stood in the 12th Century, where prayers were said at the statue of Our Lady of Coventry led by Canon Tom Farrell and was assisted by the Very Rev Nenad Popovic the Serbian Orthodox priest for the Midlands.

The procession then continued into Coventry’s Cathedral. The history of Coventry was told through various artistic  performances mentioned below:

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  • Cofa’s Tree to Coventre (up to 1016). The destruction of the convent by the Vikings was told in a dance performed by St Osburg’s year 5 to music ‘Overcome’  by Laura Mvula and choreographed by Melody Starkey.

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  • Lady Godiva Truth and Legend (1016-1316) The Lady on the Horse dance was performed by Pattison College.

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  • Rise and Fall (1316-1616). The Coventry Carol performed by Unlock the music Lizzy Perring & Patsy Clarke

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  • War and Industry (1616-1916). Featured a Penny Farthing ridden by Steve Bagley.

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  • Coventry Inspires (1966-2016). Two dances the first by the Coventry Chinese Dance Group and the 2nd  performed by the children of St Mary and St Benedict’s Primary school.

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  • The Blitz leading to Peace and Reconciliation (1916-1966). Piano duet Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring performed by Darren Leaper & Cecilia Xi.

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  • Future Coventry (Beyond 2016). A grand finale led by Lizzy Perring and Patsy Clarke singing ‘All you need is Love’ the well Beatles song.

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A ten metre tapestry, telling the story of Coventry was gradually built up as each performance concluded. The tapestry was made up of individual panels that had been hand crafted by different members of the community.

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  • Cofa’s Tree: Christ the King & St Augustine’s Schools, Maureen Funnell & Pat
  • St Osburga: Myra Breslin & Devinder Kaur Bagri, Glynis Wilmore
  • Vikings: St. Osburg’s School

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  • Nuns, Leofric & Godiva: Rajinder Kaur Ghattaure & Ektar Unity
  • Godiva Truth legend: Annie Bench, Pru, Avtar Kaur & Devinder Kaur Bagri
  • Monasteries, Walls & Spires: Olive French, Helen Lovely, Caroline Booth, Francis McManus

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  • Major, Events & Buildings: Soroptimists International of Coventry
  • Wool Trade: The Weavers
  • Henry VIII & Martyrs: Pam Goodwin & Rajinder Ghattaure

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  • Royalist & Parliament Civil War: Sacred Heart School
  • 17th Century Map & Fair:  Carole Cutler & Devinder Kaur Bagri
  • Industry: Kenilworth Arts and Textiles Group

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  • Blitz & Purpose: Whitley academy & Penny carpenter
  • Blitz -1940: St Michaels Needle workers led by Pat Stansbie
  • Post War-1962: Basil Spence Cathedral Pam Goodwin

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  • Cash’s: June Mills, Elizabeth Cravers, Mary Baker, Maria Burton, Anne Rutherford, Pat McDonnell
  • Peace & Reconciliation: Annie Bench, Maureen Pilkington & Shelagh Monks
  • Ring Road: St Peters & St Pauls School

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  • Schools & Universities: Our Students & Children
  • Schools & Universities: Our Students & Children

The celebration finished with Pru thanking all those who had helped make the celebration possible.

Mass in Honour of St Osburga

The Mass took place Sunday 11th at St Osburg’s the mother church of Coventry and recently restored in 2010. Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley. Also in attendance was the Bishop of Coventry Dr Christopher Cocksworth, the Lord Mayor and several councillors.  The mass was followed by a celebration of food and drink in the parish hall made possible by the parishioners of St Osburg.

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The Story of St Osburga

St Osburg or St Osburga, founded a monastery for nuns in Coventry. The name ‘Coventry’ is thought to derive from the description ‘Conventry’ which means the place of the convent. The monastery was built under the patronage of King Canute and Osburg was the first Abbess. The building stood along the Sherbourne River and was the first major building in the area, leading to Coventry being established as a townland

According to St Bede, the native Midland Angles were heathen at the time of King Penda (633), it was only after his death and the arrival of chad at Lichfield that Mercia, the Midlands, was introduced to Christianity.

By the eighth century Christianity was flourishing. St Chad had come from Northumberland to be Bishop of Mercia in 669 and Osburg might have had a similar journey. The prefix “Os” was one used by noble families in the north east at the time and may give an indication of Osburg’s place of birth.

Her knowledge of St Chad and his journey to Mercia may explain her interest in establishing a monastery in the Midlands. Indeed, some commentators date St Osburg herself to the 7th Century rather than the 11th Century.

The monastery thrived but then was destroyed in 1016 by Viking invaders. The invaders burnt down Warwick, the Saxon town at Stoneleigh and the monastery at Coventry. It is not clear whether Osburg died in this raid of 1016 or in 1018, or whether the Abbess was named Osburg after the much earlier devotion to St Osburg in the 7th century. We know that the monastery was rebuilt in 1043 by the Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva and developed into the large monastery and the first Coventry cathedral, the ruins of which are preserved to the left of Holy Trinity Church on Broadgate.

There is a bronze statue of ‘Our Lady of Coventry’ to mark the site.

There was a strong devotion to St Osburg throughout the Middle Ages and her relics were kept at the rebuilt monastery and eventually moved to the Cathedral along with other relics brought from Rome and presented to Leofric for the Cathedral which had become a place of pilgrimage for many.

On 15th January 1539, the shrine and relics were destroyed at a dissolution the monasteries. There are no relics of St Osburg that survived the destruction. A fragment of a cross believed to date back to the nunnery of 1016 was found in 1930 when Trinity Street was being built, this is now in the Coventry Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

With the Catholic revival, a few Catholics met for Mass in the ‘Mass House’ 74 Little Park St .This was organised by the Franciscans and continued until 1805 when the house was sold by the owner. In 1806 the Benedictines took charge of the mission in Coventry and bought land in Hill Street where a chapel was built later to be replaced by a larger church.

It was built by Father William Ullathorne, later to become the first Archbishop of Birmingham le decided to dedicate the church to St Osburg, seeing her as a local saint and a reminder of Coventry, early history.  Bishop Wiseman consecrated the new church on 9th September1845 and this become the annual feast day in celebration of St Osburg in the Diocese.