Celtic and Old English Saints          3 November

* St. Winifred of Holywell
* St. Vulganius of Arras
* St. Rumwald of Brackley
* St. Cristiolus of Wales
* St. Elerius of Wales
* St. Tanglen of Scotland
* St. Guenhael of Landevenec
* St. Gwyddfarch of Moel yr Ancr

St. Gwenvrewi of Holywell, Abbess of Denbighshire, Wales
(Winefride, Winifred, Winefride, Wenefrida,
Gwenfrewi, Guinevra)
Died c. 680. Winifred is evidently an historical personage, but it is
equally true that her true story can no longer be reconstructed because
the written information is too late to be reliable.

Winefred was the daughter of Trevith, one of the chief advisers of the
king of North Wales. Through her mother she is related to the Welsh
saint Beuno, a holy priest. Her parents put her under instruction with
this holy man, from whom she learned the heavenly doctrine with great

She grew daily in virtue and desired to shun all earthly things so that
she might devote herself entirely to God. With the consent of her
parents, she consecrated herself entirely to God by a vow of virginity,
choosing Jesus Christ as her Spouse.

Tradition says that a prince of that country named Caradoc (Caradog of
Hawarden or Penarlag or Tegeingl in Flintshire) fell violently in love
with her. One day finding her alone in the house where she was
preparing things for use at the altar, her parents having already gone
to the church service, he tried to seduce her. Winefred told him she
was already espoused to another, but he would not leave her alone.

Sensing his evil designs she excused herself on the plea that she must
first adorn herself more becomingly. When she was free of him she
escaped through her own chamber at the rear of the house and fled toward
the church with all speed. The prince, tired of waiting and suspecting
some kind of deceit, looking out of the house saw a figure hurrying
along the valley.

Violently angry at being deceived, he mounted his horse but was not able
to overtake Winefred until she reached the door of the church. He was so
angry that he raised his sword and struck her before she could enter.
Hearing the tumult outside, Saint Beuno and her parents came out
immediately, to find their dying child lying slain before them at their

The saint cursed the slayer, some writers saying that the ground opened
and swallowed him up. The saint then praying to God, restored Winefred
to life again. It was on this spot where her blood had flowed that a
fountain gushed forth from the ground. On account of this
blood-shedding she was always regarded as a martyr, though she lived for
many years thereafter.

The spot became known as Holywell, a place of pilgrimage for many
succeeding ages, even to the present. After the death of Saint Beuno,
having taken the veil, Saint Winefred went to live at the convent she
established at Guthurin (Gwytherin in Denbigshire); there, with other
holy virgins, she gave her life to God. (Another version says she
succeeded Abbess Tenoi at the convent of a double monastery already on
the site.)

She died on June 24. In the 12th century (1138), her relics were taken
from Guthurin to Shrewsbury and deposited with great honour in the
Benedictine Abbey, founded there some 50 years earlier. Her cultus
spread to England as well. Miracles were attested at Guthurin,
Shrewsbury, as well as at Holywell (a.k.a. Treffynnon, Welltown).

Her story was recorded by a monk named Elerius as early as 660. It can
be safely said, however, from the names of her contemporaries, that she
lived and died in the first half of the 7th century, about the same time
as Saint Eanswith of Kent (Murray).

At Holywell such vast quantities of water spring without interruption
that it is estimated 24 tons are raised every minute, or 240 tons in
less than 10 minutes. The water is always clear as crystal.

No place was more famous for pilgrimages in the age of faith, where the
divine mercy was implored through the intercession of Saint Winefred,
who at that spot had glorified God and sanctified her own soul.

Many extraordinary physical cures of leprosy, skin diseases, and other
ailments are recorded up to the time of the wicked Reformation. Many
authentic records of cures during the 17th century are also extant, so
that the people still made pilgrimages there.

Part of the beautiful Gothic building erected by Henry VII and his
mother, the Countess of Derby, still remains. The people never forgot
this holy place or the saint whom they invoked. During the last century
the pilgrimages were revived.

Pilgrimages to Saint Winefred's Well persisted after the Reformation,
and they do to this day. Two poems of Gerard Manley
Hopkins are devoted to this saint.

There is evidence that the abbot Saint Beuno (f.d. April 21) was a man
of importance, but is story, too, as written in 1346, is
legendary. His name is particularly associated with Clynnog in
Caernarvonshire, where sick people were still brought to his
supposed burying-place towards the end of the 18th century. He may well
have had a small monastery there (Attwater).

In art Winefred is depicted as a Celtic maiden with a sword, fountain at
her feet, and red ring around her neck where her head has been severed
and restored. Sometimes she is shown with her head being restored by
Saint Beuno, at others as an abbess with a ring around her neck,
standing near the fountain (Roeder).

She is venerated at Holywell, Wales. Reputed as abbess of Gwytherin,
Denbighshire. Saint Beuno, Abbot, is chiefly venerated at Clynnog,
Carnarvonshire (d. 630). (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney,
Encyclopaedia, Metcalf, Murray).

Troparion of St Winefred tone 8
Caradog's anger struck off thy head, O pious Winefred,/ but by the
prayers of the Wonderworker Beuno thy mutilated form was miraculously
made whole and restored to life./ As thou didst dedicate thy life to
God's service in thanksgiving for His abundant mercy,/ pray that we,
never forgetting His mercy towards us, may live only for Him that our
souls may be saved.

Icon of Saint Winefred:

Holywell - Clwyd
by Roy Fry & Tristan Gray Hulse

Winifred's Well:

is a nice site of religious sites in Wales with some good pictures. Have
a look especially at the link to St Winefride's well, the little chantry
chapel above the well is where the annual Orthodox pilgrimage is held in

"The Lives and Miracles of St. Winifred of Holywell and Shrewsbury."
Translated by Hugh Feiss, OSB. Toronto: Peregrina Publishing Co, 1999.

St. Vulganius (Wulganus, Vulmar) of Arras, Hermit
Died c. 704. Saint Vulganius was an Irishman, Welshman, or Englishman
(according to a manuscript at Lens he was born at
Canterbury) who crossed over to France and evangelized the Atrebati.
Finally he lived as a hermit at Arras, under the
obedience of the abbot of Saint Vedast. Some refer to him as a bishop.
A portion of his relics are kept at the abbey of Liesse, others at Lens
(near Douai) of which he is patron. A claim was made that his body
rested at Christ Church in Canterbury "in a chest on the beam beyond the
altar of Saint Stephen." (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).

St. Rumwold, Infant Prince of Northumbria
(Rumwald, Rumbald)
Born at Sutton (King's Sutton, Northants); date unknown; feast day at
Brackley was August 28 (probably the date of the translation of his
relics). Saint Rumwald, whose shrine existed at Buckingham before the
Norman Conquest, was said to be the maternal grandson of King Penda of
Mercia and the son of a pagan prince of Northumbria. His 11th-century
Life relates that, in 650, the 3-day-old prince pronounced the creed
aloud immediately after his baptism, preached a sermon on the Holy
Trinity and the need for virtuous living, and then died.

The year following his death, his relics were moved by Bishop Widerin
(who had baptized him) to Brackley in Northamptonshire. Two years
later, his bones were again translated to Buckingham. Rumwald was
honoured with a cultus, chiefly in Northantshire and Buckingham. He was
also revered at monasteries in Mercia, Wessex, and Sweden; however, his
name is omitted from monastic calendars after 1100. Churches were
dedicated to his memory in Kent, Essex, Northantshire, Lincolnshire,
Dorset, and North Yorkshire (where there is also a Romaldkirk). The
well of Saint Rumwald survives at Alstrop, Northantshire (Benedictines,
Farmer, Husenbeth).

In art he is shown in the midst of this miraculous act (Roeder). A
statue of Rumwald at Boxley in Kent was destroyed during the
Reformation. He is invoked by the fishermen of Folkestone as their
patron (Farmer).

St. Cristiolus of Wales
7th century. Brother of Saint Sulian (f.d. September 1) and founder of
churches in Pembrokeshire and Anglesey (Benedictines).

St. Elerius, Prior in North Wales
6th century. A Welsh saint, mentioned in the legends concerning Saint
Winefred (f.d. today). He is supposed to have presided over a monastery
in northern Wales (Benedictines).

St. Englat, Abbot of Tarves, Scotland
(Englatiis, Tanglen)
Died 966. The Scottish Saint Englatius, said by some to have been a
bishop, lived at Tarves in Aberdeenshire (Benedictines).

St. Guenhael of Landevenec, Abbot
Died c. 550. Guenhael, meaning "white angel," was born in Brittany and
educated at Landevenec under Saint Winwaloe (Guenole, f.d. March 3). In
due course he became abbot there (Benedictines).

St. Gwyddfarch, Hermit of Moel yr Ancr, Wales
A number of ascetics chose the tops of hills. One such was the hermit
and monastic founder St Gwyddfarch. We know little about his early life
beyond the fact that he was part of the community founded by his
spiritual father, St Llywelyn at Trallwng (Tre = town, Llwng = Llywelyn,
i.e. Llywelyn's Town), now know in English as Welshpool. This was at
some point during the sixth century. It was part of the "Eastern
Mission" i.e. the influx of Christian Britons into Wales from what is
now Shropshire and probably in particular from the town of Wroxeter

>From Trallwng Gwyddfarch set out into rather wilder country to the North
East and settled in the Vyrnwy Valley near to the present-day village of
Meifod. Above this valley is a solitary, steep-sided hill and it was
close to the summit of this that Gwyddfarch built his cell, lived and
finally died. It was here that he was buried and he is still there to
this day. The hill is now known as Moel yr Ancr (the bald hill of the
anchorite). Looking at the setting today it is astonishingly beautiful
and pastoral and shows little signs of being a desert. In winter,
however, when there is a cold East wind one can better appreciate that
living on the top of that hill surrounded by wolf-infested woods was
hard, cold and uncomfortable - not so far off the deserts of North
Africa! St Gwyddfarch is commemorated on November 3rd.

The above is from " The Deserts of Britain"
by Fr Stephen Maxfield

Additional information from "History of the Church of the Holy Fathers"
by Fr Stephen Maxfield

...With the withdrawal of the legions at the beginning of the fifth
century a period of considerable political instability followed.
However Viroconium continued to flourish for some time. For instance St
Germanus of Auxerre came to Britain to counter
the teachings of the heresiarch Pelagius in 429 and again in 447. He
certainly visited Viroconium, indeed it seems to have been the base for
his mission into what is now mid and north Wales: The last British
Archbishop of London, Theonas (Teon) fled to Viroconium in 586 when
London fell to the pagan Saxons. The range of hills known now as the
Stiperstones are called, in Welsh, Carneddi Teon in memory of him. Some
of Teon's disciples, including his grandson St Llywelyn, started a
monastery at Welshpool, and their mission helped convert mid Wales
particularly through the work of their disciples Sts Gwyddfarch and

St. Tysilio (born c.548-640) (Latin-Disilius, English-Tysilio) was
Prince Tyslio (or Sulio) was the second son of Brochfael Ysgythrog (of
the Tusks). He fled his father's court at an early age to throw himself
on the mercy of Abbot Gwyddfarch of Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod) and beg to
become a monk.

Caer-Meguaidd may be Meifod, the court of the Kings of Powys at the
Manor of Mathrafal from around 750 or before. The place was also a major
ecclesiastical centre. St.Gwyddfarch built the original church which was
replaced by St.Tyslio in about 625. <Nennius, 28 British Cities>

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