St Ethelburga 2020 -reflections in a time of pandemic

(c) D Simms

Worshipful Companies in the 21st Century carry on the ancient tradition of an affiliation with a City church and the appointing of a Christian Chaplain. Though the Company of Entrepreneurs welcomes Freemen and guests of any faith (and none), it follows the spirit of this tradition through its affiliation with the church of St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall, and its friendship with the church of All Hallows’ by the Tower.

The Entrepreneurs’ patron saint is St Ethelburga. Ethelburga was Abbess of the Benedictine Abbey of Barking, and founded a chapel on the site of All Hallows’ in the 7th Century. It was an enterprising move, in a time when the City of London was growing, and, with it, demand for religious succour. It was also a time of pandemic, with waves of plague and other illnesses rolling in from the city’s ports and travellers. In the maelstrom of medieval London, the community at Barkingside was a millpond where Ethelburga and her nuns tended to the sick and dying.

It was appropriate then, that, in the midst of modern London’s coronavirus pandemic, All Hallows’ was gifted an ikon of Ethelburga as an aid to prayer. The Clerk, on behalf of the Master and Wardens of the Company of Entrepreneurs, attended the patronal festival of All Hallows’ (All Saints’

Day – 1st November) to see the ikon formally unveiled and blessed.

The ikon has been painted to emphasise Ethelburga’s strength of character and her remarkable leadership qualities, and includes many symbols of her earthly ministry. In an encouraging homily, the Reverend Canon Tricia Hillas expounded on those symbols, and the example of Ethelburga and her life for all who shoulder responsibilities and struggle with the challenges of illness.

In memory of the sacrificial ministry of Ethelburga, prayers were said for all those working in medicine and health today. Entrepreneurs were also brought to mind, as the congregation considered Ethelburga’s pioneering leadership.

Notes: This ikon of St Ethelburga is the gift of Richard Walduck OBE DL (Alderman for Tower Ward 2003-2007). It was painted by Aidan Hart and can been seen at All Hallows’, which remains open for prayer . St Ethelburga’s Day 2021 is on Monday 11th October.


Posted in