In Chester Cathedral you’ll find something extremely rare: The reconstructed 14th century shrine of Saint Werburgh. Destroyed during the reformation, some parts of it were found during the 1873 restoration of the cathedral and Sir Reginald Bloomfield reassembled the shrine in 1888. It’s surrounded by gothic niches and beautiful, gilded, figures (now headless) stand around the top. It’s so rare to find a shrine in a British church or cathedral because the iconoclasts we’re usually quite thorough in their destruction of them.
I can only imagine what it must have felt like to approach the shrine in order to kneel and place one’s head into one of the stone niche’s on the sides... The jewels and gems draped all around the saint’s relics must have sparked in the candlelight while devout monks quietly shuffled through the shafts of incense-filled sunlight streaming into the Lady Chapel.
Werburgh’s brother, Coenred, was king of Mercia. She was a nun most of he life, dying in 700. Her brother decided to move her remains in 708. When the tomb was opened, her body was found to be miraculously intact. This preservation was taken as a sign of divine favour. Coenred abdicated a year later to become a monk in Rome, and at about the same time (according to a Benedictine hagiographer) Werburgh appeared in a vision and restored a dead goose to life! Pilgrims to her shrine wore a badge depicting a basket of geese.