Blog British Saints Daily Drawing women saints

Journey through June – Saint Winifred of Holywell – 23/26

Today I have drawn St Winifred of Holywell (7th century)

Her feast day is 3 November and she is commemorated by the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman Catholic Church.

Her life

The oldest accounts of the saint’s life date to the 12th century. According to legend, Winifred was the daughter of a chieftain of Tegeingl, Welsh nobleman, Tyfid ap Eiludd. Her mother was Wenlo, a sister of Saint Beuno and a member of a family closely connected with the kings of south Wales. Her suitor, Caradog, was enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her.

A healing spring appeared at where her head fell. Winifred’s head was subsequently rejoined to her body due to the efforts of Saint Beuno, and she was restored to life. Seeing the murderer leaning on his sword with an insolent and defiant air, St. Beuno invoked the chastisement of heaven, and Caradog fell dead on the spot, the popular belief being that the ground opened and swallowed him. St. Beuno left Holywell, and returned to Caernarfon. Before he left the tradition is that he seated himself upon the stone, which now stands in the outer well pool, and there promised in the name of God “that whosoever on that spot should thrice ask for a benefit from God in the name of St. Winefride would obtain the grace he asked if it was for the good of his soul.”

After eight years spent at Holywell, Winifred received an inspiration to leave the convent and retire inland. Accordingly, St. Winifred went upon her pilgrimage to seek for a place of rest. Ultimately she arrived at Gwytherin near the source of the River Elwy. She later became a nun and abbess at Gwytherin in Denbighshire. More elaborate versions of this tale relate many details of her life, including Winefride’s pilgrimage to Rome. Further details of her veneration and relics at Wikipedia

The drawing shows her holding a crozier as Abbess and the holy well from her decapitation (& restoration to life).

St Winifred of Holywell


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