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Journey through June – Saint Radegund of Poitiers – 18/26

Today I have drawn St Radegund of Poitiers (520-587)

 Her feast day is 13 August and she is commemorated by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life

Radegund was born about 520 to Bertachar, one of the three kings of the German land Thuringia.Radegund’s uncle, Hermanfrid, killed Bertachar in battle, and took Radegund into his household. After allying with the Frankish King Theuderic, Hermanfrid defeated his other brother Baderic. However, having crushed his brothers and seized control of Thuringia, Hermanfrid reneged on his agreement with Theuderic to share sovereignty.

In 531, Theuderic returned to Thuringia with his brother Clotaire I (also known as Chlothar). Together they defeated Hermanfrid and conquered his kingdom. Clotaire I also took charge of Radegund, taking her back to Merovingian Gaul with him. He sent the child to his villa of Athies in Picardy for several years, before marrying her in 540.

Radegund was one of Clotaire I’s six wives or concubines (the other five being Guntheuca who was the widow of his brother Chlodomer, Chunsina, Ingund, Ingund’s sister Aregund and Wuldetrada the widow of Clotaire’s grand-nephew Theudebald). She bore him no children. Radegund was noted for her almsgiving.

By 550 Radegund’s brother was the last surviving male member of the Thuringian royal family. Clotaire had him murdered. Radegund fled the court and sought the protection of the Church, persuading the bishop of Noyon to ordain her as a deacon; founding the monastery of Sainte-Croix in Poitiers circa 560, where she cared for the infirm. Radegund was widely believed to have the gift of healing.

Living under the Rule for Virgins of Caesarius of Arles, the nuns were required to be able to read and write, and to devote several hours of the day to reading the scriptures and copying manuscripts, as well as traditional tasks such as weaving and needlework. This Rule strictly enclosed women, to the point that nuns of Sainte-Croix were unable to attend Radegund’s funeral.

Her abbey was named for the relic of the True Cross that Radegund obtained from the Byzantine Emperor Justin II. Although the bishop of Poitiers Maroveus refused to install it in the abbey, at Radegund’s request king Sigebert sent Eufronius of Tours to Poitiers to perform the ceremony. To celebrate the relic and its installation into Sainte-Croix, Venantius Fortunatus composed a series of hymns, including the famous Vexilla Regis, considered to be one of the most significant Christian hymns ever written, which is still sung for services on Good Friday, Palm Sunday, as well as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Radegund was a close friend of Junian of Maire; Junian and Radegund are said to have died on the same day, August 13, 587. Further details of her miracles and life at Wikipedia.

 

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