This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the life of Queen Bertha of Kent, whose devotion to God made a huge impact on the spread of Christianity across England in the sixth century.
She arrived in England from France to marry King Ethelbert, who was a pagan. However, her parents would only let her marry him if she was freely able to practice her Christian faith.
Because of this, King Ethelbert - even though he was a pagan - restored an abandoned church in Canterbury so that Bertha could have a place to pray.
Queen Bertha had great influence within the Christian world at the time - the Pope even wrote to her saying, “Your good deeds are known not only among the Romans... but also through various places”*
17 years of prayer later, a group of 40 monks, including St Augustine, arrived from Rome with the purpose of introducing the gospel to England.
Augustine and the monks were welcomed by Queen Bertha, and even used her prayer chapel as the base for their mission, which is why Canterbury has such significance within the Church of England today.
Her husband King Ethelbert reluctantly agreed to meet the Christian monks, but over time he was convinced by their faith and converted to Christianity. As a result of his conversion - and thanks to Queen Bertha’s commitment to prayer - the gospel spread across England and it later officially became a Christian country.
Queen Bertha is an incredible example of a woman who was devoted to Jesus; who persevered in faith, and who God used powerfully and miraculously to impact the faith of a nation.
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We praise you for the way that throughout history, women have been central to your mission all over the world. We invite you, Holy Spirit, to continue to empower and influence women to impact our world for your glory. Remove barriers and bring equality.
Queen Bertha's story is also told in session 3 of the Prayer Course, our eight-week small group prayer resource.
Photo credit: 24-7 Prayer has purchased the rights to this image: Holmes Garden Photos / Alamy Stock Photo