Shrewsbury Abbey

Saint Winefride

St Winefride — Seventh-Century Welsh Martyr

St. Winefride

Winefride, (Welsh: ‘Blessed Stream’) was the daughter of a seventh-century Welsh prince. She had taken a vow of celibacy. However, according to legend, Caradoc, a young nobleman, fell in love with her. One day, passions aroused, he made demands upon her which as a virgin and under her vow, she could not accept. She fled and he chased after her. He was so enraged at being rejected that when he caught her, he cut off her head, which rolled to where her uncle, St. Beuno, was at prayer nearby. At this spot, now called Holywell, a well of pure water sprang from the earth. Meanwhile, Caradoc fell to the ground, dead, and the earth opened up to swallow his body. St. Beuno replaced Winefride’s head on her body, and she lived. She became abbess of a nunnery at Gwytherin, North Wales, dying there fifteen years later. Her remains were brought to the Abbey in 1137.