Home  »  Volume VIII: August  »  St. Sebbi, or Sebba, King and Confessor

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VIII: August. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

August 29

St. Sebbi, or Sebba, King and Confessor

THIS prince was the son of Seward, and in the year 664, which was remarkable for a grievous pestilence, began to reign over the East Saxons, who inhabited the country which, now comprises Essex, Middlesex, and the greater part of Hertfordshire; he being the tenth king from Erkinwin, founder of that kingdom, in 527, and sixth from Sebert, the first Christian king, who founded St. Paul’s church, and Thorney abbey, about the year 604. Sebba was, by his wise and pious government, the father of his people, and a perfect model of all virtues, and on the throne sanctified his soul by the most heroic exercises of austere penance, profuse alms-deeds, and assiduous prayer. When he had reigned happily, and with great glory, during thirty years, he resigned his crown to his two sons, Sigeard and Senfrid, which he had long before desired to do, in order to be more at liberty to prepare himself for his last hour. His queen took the religious veil about the same time. St. Sebba received the monastic habit from the hands of Waldhere, successor of St. Erconwald in the bishopric of London, whom he charged with the distribution of all his personal estates among the poor. Our saint seemed to have death always present to his mind; and his grievous fears of that tremendous passage were at length converted into a longing joyful hope. After two years spent in great fervour in monastic retirement, he died at London, in holy joy, about the year 697, having been forewarned by God of his last hour three days before. Bede assures us that his death was accompanied with many miracles and heavenly favours. His body was interred in St. Paul’s church, and his tomb was to be seen there, adjoining the north wall, till the great fire in 1666. His Latin epitaph is extant in Weever’s Funeral Monuments, 1 as follows:—“Here lies Sebba, king of the East Saxons, who was converted to the faith by St. Erconwald, bishop of London, in 677. A man very devout to God, and fervent in acts of religion, constant prayer, and pious alms-deeds. He preferred a monastic life to the riches of a kingdom, and took the religious habit from Waldere, bishop of London, who had succeeded Erconwald.” His name occurs in the Roman Martyrology. See Bede Hist. l. 3, c. 30, l. 4, c. 11. Abo F. Alford’s Annals, (ad an. 693, t. 2, p. 413.) whose collection is a very valuable treasure of the ecclesiastical history of this nation, as our most learned antiquary Bishop Fleetwood observes, though the light of criticism must direct the reader in some parts of the work.  1
Note 1. P. 356. [back]