Infobox Saint
name=Saint Winifred
death_date=c. 660
feast_day=3 November
venerated_in=Orthodox Church; Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Communion

caption=St Winifred's Well, Woolston, Shropshire
death_place=Gwytherin in Denbighshire
titles=Virgin, Martyr & Abbess
attributes=abbess holding a sword, sometimes with her head under her arm
patronage=Holywell; Gwytherin; Shrewsbury; against unwanted advances
major_shrine=Shrewsbury Abbey, now destroyed although a small part of the shrine base survives. Holywell, fully active Catholic holy well and well-house shrine.

Saint Winefride (called in her native Welsh Gwenffrewi; in modern English Winifred and various variations) was a legendary 7th century Welsh noblewoman who was canonized after dying for the sake of her chastity. A healing spring at the site of her death is now a shrine and pilgrimage site called St Winefride's Well in Holywell, known as the Lourdes of Wales. In modern times, St Winefride has been unofficially adopted as the patron saint of payrolls and payroll clerks.Fact|date=July 2008

According to legend, Winefride was the daughter of a Welsh nobleman, Tyfid ap Eiludd. Her suitor, Caradog, was enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her. In one version of the tale, her head rolled downhill, and, where it stopped, a healing spring appeared. Winefride's head was subsequently rejoined to her body due to the efforts of her maternal uncle, Saint Beuno, and she was restored to life. She later became a nun and abbess at Gwytherin in Denbighshire, and Caradog, cursed by Beuno, melted into the ground.cite book |author=Cormack, Margaret |authorlink= |editor= |others= |title=Saints and their cults in the Atlantic world |edition= |language= |publisher=University of South Carolina Press |location=Columbia, S.C |year=2007 |origyear= |pages= p204-206|quote= |isbn=1-57003-630-6 |oclc= |doi= |url=|accessdate=] More elaborate versions of this tale relate many details of her life, including Winefride's pilgrimage to Rome.

In spite of the slim records for this period, there appears to be a historical basis for this personage. Winefride's brother Owain is known to have killed Caradog as revenge for a crime. She succeeded the Abbess, Saint Tenoi, who is believed to be her maternal grand-aunt.cite book |author=Brad Olsen |authorlink= |editor= |others= |title=Sacred Places Europe: 108 Destinations (Sacred Places: 108 Destinations series) |edition= |language= |publisher=CCC Publishing |location= |year=2007 |origyear= |pages= p58|quote= |isbn=1-888729-12-0 |oclc= |doi= |url=|accessdate=]


After her death (c. 660) Winefride was interred at her abbey. In 1138, relics were carried to Shrewsbury to form the basis of an elaborate shrine. The shrine and well became major pilgrimage goals in the Late Middle Ages, but the shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540.

Another well named after St Winifred is in the hamlet of Woolston near Oswestry in Shropshire. It is thought that on her way to Shrewsbury Abbey, Winifred's body was laid here overnight and a spring sprang up out of the ground. The water is supposed to have healing powers and be good at healing bruises, wounds and broken bones. The well is covered by a 15th century half-timbered cottage. The water flows through a series of stone troughs and into a large pond, which then flows into a stream. The cottage is in a quiet, peaceful setting in the middle of the countryside, and is maintained by the Landmark Trust.

Another spring supposed arising from the laying down of Winefride's body is at Holywell Farm, midway between Tattenhall and Clutton, Cheshire. There is a spring in the garden of this non working farm which supplies two houses with their drinking water.Fact|date=July 2008

A Norman church dedicated to Saint Winifrede can be found in the village of Branscombe, Devon. There is some archaeological evidence to suggest an earlier Saxon church may have occupied the site.

References in literature

William Rowley's seventeenth century comedy "A Shoemaker a Gentleman" dramatizes Saint Winefride's story, based on the version in Thomas Deloney's story "The Gentle Craft" (1584).

English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins memorialized Saint Winefride in his unfinished drama, "St Winefred's Well."

The moving of Winefride's bones to Shrewsbury is woven into "A Morbid Taste for Bones", the first of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels.

The Feast of Saint Winefride is the day that the rent is due in Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novel, "The Rose Rent".


External links

author-link=Rice Rees
contribution=Legend of Gwenfrewi or St. Winefred
title=An Essay on the Welsh Saints
publisher=Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, Rees

editor-first=William Jenkins
contribution=Life of St. Winefred
title=Lives of the Cambro-British Saints
publisher=William Rees

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