Oil dedicated to St Etheldreda
The oil is dedicated to St Etheldreda Healing commonly known as Audry, was Queen of Northumbria.
She was born at around 630, and while still very young she was given in marriage by her father, Anna, King of East Anglia, to a subordinate prince, who gave her a piece of land locally known as the Isle of Ely. She remained a virgin even during her marriage, and five years after his early death, lived in isolation.
St. Etheldreda was forced to marry again out political convenience, this time to the heir of Oswy, King of Northumbria. Throughout her 12 years of marriage, she kept her virginity, and she gave much of her time to devotion and charity.
St. Wilfrid was her friend and spiritual guide, and helped to persuade her husband that St. Etheldreda should live for some time in peace as a sister of the Coldingham nunnery, founded by her aunt, St. Ebb.
During this time, St. Etheldreda only ate once a day, except on feast days or while she was sick, and wore only clothes made of wool. After midnight prayers, she would always go back to the church and continue praying until morning.
St. Etheldreda’s Death
St Etheldreda Healing took pain and humiliation as a blessing – on her death bed, she thanked God for an illness that had painfully swollen her neck, which she considered to be punishment for having vainly worn necklaces with jewels as a young lady.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Prayer and a gesture of faith, like applying the oil, are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. By doing so we place our trust in God.