Daughter to Trevith, a member of the Welsh landed class and advisor to the king. Spiritual student of her maternal uncle Saint Beuno Gasulsych. Physically beautiful, she made a private vow of chastity, becoming a bride of Christ. Murdered when she rejected the amorous advances of a chieftain named Caradog of Hawarden; she had escaped from him, and was seeking shelter in a church when he caught and killed her. Legend says that where her head fell, a well sprang up which became a place of pilgrimage, and whose waters were reported to heal leprosy, skin diseases, and other ailments. Saint Beuno raised her back to life; he cursed Caradog who was promptly swallowed by the earth. Winifred became a nun, and later abbess at Cwytherin, Deubighshire, Wales.
- beheaded in the early 7th century
- c.655 of natural causes at Denbighshire, Wales
- relics translated to Shrewsbury, England in 1138
- shrine destroyed and relics scattered by order of King Henry VIII in 1540
- remaining relics taken to Rome, but returned to England in 1852, and now housed at Holywell and Shrewsbury
- friend of peace (Celtic / Gaelic)
- abbess with a ring around her neck standing near the fountain
- beheaded woman carrying her head and a martyr‘s palm
- beheaded woman with a block, axe, and her head at her feet
- carrying a sword and palm with a spring of water at her feet
- Celtic maiden holding a sword with a fountain at her feet, and red ring around her neck where her head has been severed and restored
- having her head restored by Saint Beuno
A virgin flourishing as the rose,
The comely bride of Him Who is the Lamb,
As the precious martyr of Christ,
Hath Winifred richly blossomed.
Sprung from the stock of Britons,
Unshakable in faith, joyful in hope,
Holy in deeds, and pure of mind,
She was free of this world’s deceptions.
This virgin was slain by Caradoc,
And immediately the pit of Orcus hell swallowed him up.
For that is the place for the wicked,
And there with Satan he is burning.
In demonstrating proof of this happening,
A fountain welleth up at the bidding of God,
In the likeness of crimson reddening,
Where she was deprived of her head.
There many miracles are performed;
The blind see, and the dumb are given speech,
All manner of disease is put to flight,
When those who ask have faith.
O Winifred, our glorious lady,
Calm for us the billows of the sea,
Lest we become the ready prey of the enemy,
O compassionate one, afford us thy protection.
– from the Complete Old Sarum Rite Missal
- “Saint Winifred of Wales“. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 December 2008. Web. 28 May 2015. <>