ST. SEBBI, OR SEBBA, KING, C.
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 greatest part of Hertfordshire; he being
the tenth king from Erkenwm, 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 Wald-here, successor of St.
Erconwald in the bishopric of London, whom he charged with the
distribution of all his personal estate 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 fervor in a
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 favors. His body was interred in St. Paul’s
church, and his tomb was to be seen there, adjoining to 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 almsdeeds. 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.1. 3, c. 30,1. 4, c. 11. Also 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.