Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Aebbe the Younger

Saint Aebbe the Younger (died 870) was the Abbess of Coldingham Monastery in southeast Scotland.

When the monastery was attacked by Vikings and they feared being raped, she and the nuns cut off their own noses and upper lips. In revenge, the Vikings burned down the building with the nuns inside.

The accuracy of the story is questionable, since it did not surface until five hundred years later. It could have been a case of confusion, with a scribe mistaking the Ebba and Etheldreda stories. Despite its debated accuracy, however, it has given birth to the common phrase to cut off one's nose to spite the face.