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A View of Ely Cathedral
A View of Ely Cathedral

The Community of St. Etheldreda


The Community of Etheldreda was established in 2005 in order to help people live their daily lives by a simple Rule of Life. This rule is inspired by our monastic heritage.

Etheldreda came to Ely in the year 673 and founded a religious community of men and women. The quality of her life and the miracles attributed to her, even after her death, attracted pilgrims from far and wide, to what was then a remote and inaccessible place. Etheldreda was deeply influenced by St Wilfred, who was a great advocate of St Benedict's Rule. It is very likely that, from the beginning, Etheldreda's community followed a Benedictine pattern of living.

The Saxon monastery was destroyed by the Danes in 870 but rebuilt by Benedictines in 970. Around 1080 work began on what is now Ely Cathedral. The monks lived their common life according to the Rule written by St Benedict in the sixth century. It has been, and still is, the most influential of all the monastic 'Rules'. Heavily based on Scripture, it's wisdom and balance seem to span the centuries.

For us in the 21st century, living hectic lives with many demands in a complex world, the task of finding a simple rule to live by, to keep us rooted in Christ and living for him, is all the more essential. The principles behind Benedict's rule are just as relevant today as they were 1500 years ago.

Statue of St. Etheldreda in St. Etheldreda's Chapel
Statue of St. Etheldreda
in St. Etheldreda's Chapel

Benedict's rule has at its heart a careful balance of the following major disciplines:

Listening: the call to listen to God through his word, through silence, through quiet days and retreats, through others, through prayer and through corporate worship (particularly the praying of the psalms) which is the real 'Work of God'
Obedience: the Latin root means 'to listen intently' to God. Those who hear the word are called to let it shape their lives.
Stability: important for us in an age of constant change - the need to belong & to be content within a stable Christian community, learning to live together in love even with those we find most difficult
Work: the call to reflect God's creative activity, including practical service, however humble, for the benefit of all
Transformation: a commitment to be changed, to see the need for it, to seek to realise all the potential that God has put within us, to be open to God's transforming love and grace in us, to become more Christ-like

Future Meetings

In May we will begin a new series of meetings in which we will study and discuss the Rule of St. Benedict and it's relevance for us today. Each meeting will include a 'Bring and Share' lunch, a time of worship and a period of study and discussion. The first meeting on 18 May will begin with a Eucharist in Prior Crauden's Chapel. The meetings will take place as follows:

  • Saturday 18 May 12noon - 3.30pm. Begins with Holy Communion in Prior Crauden's Chapel, then at Powcher's Hall. Study topic: Rule of Benedict, Prologue
  • Saturday 27 July, 12.30 - 3.30pm at Powcher's Hall. Study Topic: Rule of Benedict, Chapter 1
  • Saturday 28 September, 12.30 - 3.30pm at Powcher's Hall. Study Topic: Rule of Benedict, Chapter 2
  • Saturday 16 November, 12.30 - 3.30pm at Powcher's Hall. Study Topic: Rule of Benedict, Chapter 3

Further Information

If you would like to know more about the Community of St. Etheldreda or come to our open meetings contact the Canon Missioner, Alan Hargave a.hargrave@cathedral.ely.anglican.org

Rule of the Community of St. Etheldreda

To find out more about spirituality and prayer

Please visit the Diocesan website or the Church of England website