Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Winefrida, Virgin

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Winifred, Our Lady and Saint Non's Chapel, Saint David's, Wales; artist unknown; photographed on 21 July 2011 by Wolfgang Sauber; swiped off WikipediaArticle

Winefrida was born in England, of pious and wealthy parents. Her father, Tevith, gave her in charge of Beuno, a saintly priest, who left nothing undone, to lead his pupil in the path of righteousness. Winefrida soon imbibed an aversion for all that is temporal and perishable, and resolved to consecrate her virginity to the Almighty. Her pious parents, without whose knowledge she would not do any thing, gladly gave their consent, and Winefrida made her vow with a cheerful heart, and after it, endeavored to lead a holy life in retirement from the world.

Cradoc, the son of a neighboring prince, desired her hand in marriage; and ceased not to annoy her with his importunities even after he had become acquainted with her vow. He sought opportunity to speak to her alone, and to make her yield to his wishes. Hearing, one day, that her parents had left her alone at home, whilst they were at church, he hastened, with some of his domestics, to her house, determined either to gain her consent, or carry her off by violence. Unannounced, he entered her apartment, and, representing to her the object of his coming, told her how happy she could make his life by accepting his offer. The chaste virgin, in her fear and trepidation, knew not how to escape from the prince. At last, under the pretext of going into an adjoining room to prepare for her journey, she fled from the house, toward the church. Cradoc, seeing her leave the house, drew his sword, and hastening after her, overtook her near the church, and full of rage, he said to her: “How dare you insult me thus? Either consent to my wishes, or instantly die!” Winefrida, strengthened by the Almighty, answered fearlessly: “I am the spouse of the eternal King. To Him I have given my love and cannot give it to another. Neither your promises nor your threats can make me faithless to Him.” The wicked prince, enraged at her words, severed her head from her body at one stroke, and spurning it with his foot, remained standing on the spot where he had committed the murder, as though he had done a heroic deed. He imagined that, being a royal prince, he had no one to fear. But when Saint Beuno, the pious priest, was informed of what had taken place, he hastened to the scene, and taking the head of the virgin in his hand, he addressed the murderer: “Thou godless man, what hast you done? Behold! as I, a weak man, cannot oppose thy power, I will call upon heaven to requite thee according to thy desert!” Scarcely had these words been spoken, when Cradoc fell dead, without having given one sign of repentance. Beuno kissing the holy head of Winefrida, laid it, by divine inspiration, on the dead body, and then preached a powerful sermon to the people on the horrible vice of unchastity. This being ended, he exhorted his hearers to pray to God that He would restore to life the chaste Christian heroine. And behold! during this prayer life returned to the dead body of the virgin, and the people, breathless with astonishment, saw her rise. On her neck, where the head had been severed from her body, was a red mark, which time did not efface, as a sign of the miracle. She lived many years after and became Abbess of a Convent, in which she ended her life, with the fame of great holiness. On the spot where she received her death-stroke, arose a spring called Holy-Well, the water of which has cured many invalids.

Practical Considerations

Saint Winefrida proved by deeds that she feared to sin against chastity, more than she feared death; for she consented not, although Cradoc endeavored to force her, sword in hand. She was resolved rather to die than to offend the Almighty. What this holy virgin did, you and every one else are obliged to do; because it is your duty to love God above everything, ?and, therefore, more than your life. What have you done until now? You have never been threatened with death; and yet how often you have sinned! Repent of your misdeeds, and resolve rather to suffer death than to sin against that purity to which you are obliged by your station in life. Believe, without any doubt, that sin is a much greater evil than death; and does not reason teach us, that of two evils we should avoid the greater? To consider the matter rightly, death is in itself no evil: sin is the only true evil of mankind. “Sin alone,” says Saint Rupert, “is truly an evil, as nothing but sin can hurt man.” And Saint Chrysostom says: “The only real evil on earth is sin.” Hence this Saint used to say: “I fear nothing but sin.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Winefrida, Virgin”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 May 2018. Web. 19 September 2018. <>