Catholic Dictionary




St. Winifride's Well in North Wales. A place of pilgrimage throughout the year but especially on November 3, the saint's feast day. The legend of St. Winifride, virgin and martyr, is authenticated by two twelfth-century documents. A daughter of a Welsh chieftain, she lived in the seventh century. When St. Beuno came to her father's house, he was hospitably received and instructed Winifride in the Christian faith. So impressed was she that she determined to become a religious. Then followed a series of extraordinary events: Winifride was beheaded, miraculously restored to life, and a spring arose in a dry region where her blood had fallen. She later founded a convent on the spot, the later holy Well. She died in 660. In the twelfth century Winifride's bones were moved to Shrewsbury and later scattered during Henry VIII's reign of terror. All were lost except one finger, which was transferred to Holy Well. The shrine is the site of numerous miraculous cures, including those of well-known Protestants. The water from this well is also believed to have miraculous qualities. Though at one time for-bidden, pilgrimages to her shrine continued. In recent decades conditions have improved and the number of pilgrims has increased.