The Golden Legend
The Life of Saint Winifred
Here followeth the life of Saint Winifred, Virgin and martyr.

After that the holy man Beuno had do make many churches, and had ordained the service of God devoutly to be said in them, he came to a place of a worshipful man named Tenythe, the which was the son of a noble senator called Elinde, and desired that he would give to him as much ground as he might build a church on in the honour of God. Then he granted him his asking with good will, and then did do build thereon a fair church, to the which this worshipful man, his wife, and his daughter Winifred, resorted daily for to hear therein divine service. And then Winifred was set to school to this holy man Beuno, and he taught her full diligently and informed her perfectly in the faith of Jesu Christ. And this holy maid Winifred gave credence to his words, and was so inflamed with his holy doctrine that she purposed to forsake all worldly pleasancies and to serve Almighty God in meekness and in chastity. And then it fortuned upon a Sunday she was diseased, and she abode at home and kept her father's house while they were at church. To whom there came a young man for to defoul her, who was named Cradok, the son of a king named Alane, which young man burned in the concupiscence of her by the enticing of the fiend, which had envy at this holy virgin, Winifred. And she demanded the cause of his coming. And when she understood his corrupt intent, she excused her and put him off all she might. And he, alway abiding in his foul purpose, would in no wise be answered. Then she, considering his foul desire, and fearing lest he would oppress her, feigned her as she would have consented, and said she would go into her chamber for to array herself for to please him the better. And when he had agreed to her, she closed fast the chamber door, and fled privily by another door toward the church. And when this young man had espied her, he followed her with his sword drawn like a wood man, and when he had overtaken her he said to her these words: Sometime I loved thee and desired to have thee to my wife, but one thing tell now to me shortly, either consent to me to accomplish my pleasure or else I shall slay thee with this sword. Then this blessed virgin Winifred thought firmly that she would not forsake the son of the everlasting king for to please the son of a temporal king, and said to him in this manner: I will in no wise consent to thy foul and corrupt desire, for I am joined to my spouse Jesu Christ which preserveth and keepeth my virginity. And trust thou verily, that I will not forsake him for all thy menaces and threatenings. And when she had said thus, this cursed tyrant full of malice, smote off her head. And in the same place whereas the head fell to the ground, there sprang up a fair well giving out abundantly fair clear water, where our Lord God yet daily showeth many miracles. And many sick people having divers diseases have been there cured and healed by the merits of this blessed virgin, Saint Winifred. And in the said well appear yet stones besprinkled and speckled as it were with blood, which cannot be had away by no means, and the moss that groweth on these stones is of a marvellous sweet odour, and that endureth unto this day. And when the father and mother knew of their daughter, they made great lamentation for her death because they had no more children but her only.

And when this holy man Beuno understood the death of Winifred, and saw the heaviness of her father and mother, he comforted them goodly, and brought them to the place whereas she lay dead. And there he made a sermon to the people, declaring her virginity, and how she had avowed to be a religious woman. And after, took up the head in his hands, and set it to the place where it was cut off, and desired all the people that were there present to kneel down and pray devoutly to Almighty God that it might please him to raise her again unto life, and not only for the comfort of father and mother, but for to accomplish the vow of religion. And when they arose from prayer, this holy virgin arose with them also; made by a miracle alive again by the power of Almighty God. Wherefore all the people gave laud and praising unto his holy name for this great miracle. And ever, as long as she lived after, there appeared about her neck a redness round about, like to a red thread of silk, in sign and token of her martyrdom.

And this young man that had thus slain her had wiped his sword on the grass, and stood still there beside, and had no power to remove away, ne to repent him of that cursed deed. And then this holy man Beuno, reproved him, not only of the homicide, but also because he reverenced not the Sunday and dreaded not the great power of God, there showed upon this holy virgin, and said to him: Why hast thou no contrition for thy misdeed? But sith thou repentest not, I beseech Almighty God to reward thee after thy deserving. And then he fell down dead to the ground, and his body was all black, and suddenly borne away with fiends. Then after, this holy maid Winifred was veiled and consecrate into religion by the hands of this holy man Beuno. And he commanded her to abide in the same church that he had do make there by the space of seven years, and there to assemble to her virgins of honest and holy conversation whom she should inform in the laws of God. And after the seven years to go to some holy place of religion, and there to abide the residue of her life. And when this holy man should depart from her and go into Ireland, she followed him, till she came to the foresaid well, where they stood talking a long while of heavenly things. And when they should depart, this holy man said: It is the will of our Lord that thou send to me every year some token, which thou shalt put into the stream of this well, and from hence it shall by the stream be brought into the sea, and so by the purveyance of God it shall be brought over the sea the space of fifty miles, to the place where I shall dwell. And after they were departed, she with her virgins made a chasuble of silk work, and the next year following she wrapt it in a white mantle and laid it upon the stream of the said well, and from thence it was brought unto this holy man Beuno, through the waves of the sea, by the purveyance of God. After this, the blessed virgin Winifred increased from day to day in great virtue and goodness, and specially in holy contemplation with her sisters, moving them into great devotion and love of Almighty God. And when she had abode there seven years, she departed thence and went to the monastery called Wytheriachus, in which were both men and women of virtuous and holy conversation. And when she had confessed and told her life unto the holy abbot Elerius, he received her honourably and brought her to his mother, Theonia, a blessed woman which had the rule and charge of all the sisters of that place, and when Theonia was deceased out of this world, this holy abbot Elerius delivered to this holy virgin Winifred, the charge of the sisters, but she refused it as long as she might. But by constraint she took the charge and lived afterward a virtuous life, and more straiter and harder than she did tofore in giving good ensample to all her sisters. And when she had continued there in the service of God eight years, she yielded up her spirit to her maker, to whom let us pray to be a special intercessor for us. Amen.

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