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November 2

St Winifred of Wales - November 2

Saint Winifred of Wales
Virgin, Martyr
(Around 600 – 7th Century)

“Whoever on that spot should ask a benefit from God in the name of Saint Winifrede would obtain the grace he asked if it was for the good of his soul.”

Saint Winifred of Wales’ spot where she was beheaded where her uncle Saint Bueno’s made this promise

Saint’s Life Story

Her Life  

The exact year of Winifred’s birth is unknown, but is thought to around 600 was born in Holywell, in Flintshire in North Wales. Winifred (Gwenffrewi in Welsh and also known as Winefride, Wenefrida, Guinevra) was the daughter of a chieftain of Tegeingl, a Welsh nobleman called Tyfid ap Eiludd, or Trevith, and advisor to the king. Her mother was Wenlo and a member of a family closely associated with the kings of South Wales. From a young age, Winifred showed great devotion to her faith and was blessed with remarkable physical beauty.

Winifred was a spiritual student of her maternal uncle Saint Beuno, who was a prominent Welsh abbot and renowned for his holiness. In her unwavering dedication to her faith, Winifred made a private vow of lifelong chastity, consecrating herself as a bride of Christ. This vow further deepened her commitment to her spiritual journey and her desire to serve God.

Head Cut off by Her Jealous Lover Caradog

Tragically, Winifred’s life was cut short when she became the victim of a heinous crime. The Welsh prince Caradog of Hawarden became enamored with Winifred’s beauty and made unwelcome advances towards her. Refusing his advances and seeking refuge, Winifred fled to a church. Caradog was infuriated and pursued her. Ultimately, in his anger, he cut off her head with his sword.

St. Winifrede’s Well And Miracles

Miraculously, it is said that where Winifred’s head after being severed from her body rolled downhill and stopped, a well sprang up, which became a place of pilgrimage and healing. Numerous accounts report that the waters of this well were endowed with miraculous powers, known to cure leprosy, skin diseases, and various other ailments. This long history as a place of pilgrimage has led Holywell to become known as the Lourdes of Wales, the only place in Britain with a continuous history of pilgrimage for over thirteen centuries.

Beuno informed the assembled Christians that Winifred had vowed to lead a virtuous and celibate life and had died a martyr for her virginity and Christianity. Then, he took up her head from the ground and set it in its place, at the same time commanding the congregation to pray that Winifred might be restored to life and fulfill her vow. When they arose from praying, Winifred arose with them . For the rest of her life, she had a red mark round her throat where it had been cut. In a divine act of justice, Beuno cursed Caradog, and shortly after, he was swallowed by the earth.

It is said that before Saint Beuno left the spot, he seated himself on the stone by the pool and promised in the name of God that “whoever on that spot should ask a benefit from God in the name of Saint Winifrede would obtain the grace he asked if it was for the good of his soul.”

Nun and Abbess

Following her resurrection, Winifred dedicated her life to God and entered religious life. She became a nun and later served as the abbess of Cwytherin, located in Denbighshire, Wales. Her leadership and piety inspired those around her, as she guided others on their own spiritual journeys.

Her Death

Winifred died in the 7th century around 660 in Denbighshire, Wales. After her death, Winifred’s relics were initially housed in Shrewsbury, England, following their translation in 1138. Two years after the translation of her relics, the Benedictine Abbot of Shrewsbury wrote one of the accounts of her life long after her death.

Unfortunately, during the time of King Henry VIII, her shrine was destroyed, and her relics were scattered. It was not until 1852 that the remaining relics were returned to England, where they are now housed at Holywell and Shrewsbury.

In the current Roman Catholic liturgical calendar for Wales, Winifred is commemorated on November 3, since November 2 is designated as All Souls’ Day.

Born :                 Around 600 in Holywell, Wales

Died:                  7th century (around 660) in Denbighshire, Wales

Beatified:          Pre-Congregation

Canonized:       Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         November 2, November 3 (some calendars), October 30 (some calendars)

Patron Saint:    Denbigh, Wales; Diocese of Shrewsbury, England; Gwytherin, Wales; Holywell, Wales; Incest Victims; Martyrs; Shrewsbury, England

Source:

Reflection

Saint Winifred of Wales’s refusal to marry the nobleman Caradog, who pursued her against her will, demonstrates her courage and determination to follow her conscience, even at great personal risk. Despite facing pressure to marry, she chose to dedicate herself entirely to Christ. Her bravery inspires us to stand up for what is right, even when it is difficult or dangerous to do so.

How can you embrace today purity of heart and body in your own lives, remaining steadfast in your commitment to God’s will?

Prayers

Saint Winifred of Wales,

You who remained steadfast in your commitment to Christ as a holy and virgin martyr,

Grant us the courage to stand up for what is right and to follow God’s will with unwavering determination.

May we experience the healing power of Christ in our lives, as you did, and may we be strengthened in our devotion to Christ, living a life of service and love and striving to glorify God in all that we do.

Saint Winifred of Wales, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Take a virtual pilgrimage to the “Lourdes of Wales”

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. November 3 St. Wenefride, Virgin and Martyr

Catholic Ireland – Oct 30 – St Winifred of Holywell in North Wales (died c. 650)

Catholic Online – St. Winifred

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Winifred – by Katherine I Rabenstein

Christian Apostles – St. Winifred of Wales

Galway Cathedral (Galway, Ireland) – Saint of the Month: St Winifred

Martyrologium Romanum (2004) – St Winifred

New Advent – Chandlery, P. (1912). St. Winefride. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Winifred’s Story

Sister Mary Martha – St. Winifred’s Well

St. Winifred’s Well

Video Link

St Winefride’s Well: the story of a Saint – YouTube Video (pchidell)