Fire in the Spirit: A Story of St. Hild and St. Æthelthryth By Valerie Tupling Ansdell
In a time when peasants often lived in huts alongside their animals, raiding parties from warring kingdoms regularly slaughtered whole villages, and superstition still held sway with religion, two enlightened women seek to find their own destiny in an emerging Christian Church. Based on historical tradition and set in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon Britain, Fire in the Spirit follows the story of Hild (St. Hild) and Dreda (St. Æthelthryth or St. Audrey) on their way to sainthood.
While Hild soon becomes an important Abbess, Dreda’s path is not so straightforward. As a princess, Dreda’s life is controlled by the politics of the time. Despite taking a vow of chastity, she is first married off to an older man and then, upon his passing, to a young prince of 15. Punished for refusing to consummate her marriage, she is eventually forced to flee and pray a miracle will allow her to live long enough to serve God as she believes she should. With an in depth introduction, detailed footnotes, and appendix, Fire in the Spirit will not only appeal to those interested in medieval Britain and the time of its great conversion to Christianity, but also to anyone interested in the very human story of two women trying to find their own path in a male-dominated and often brutish world.