St Frideswide

St Frideswide is patroness of Oxford. Her legend tells that she was born to Didanus (an Anglo-Saxon king) and his wife Safrida around AD 650. Frideswide founded a priory (St Frideswide's Priory) while still young, but while bound to celibacy Algar (that is, Ælfgār), a Mercian king, tried to court her. When Frideswide refused him, Algar tried to rape her, but she hid in a nearby forest (in a "tub") to escape him. After she returned to the priory, Algar continued his advances until he lost his vision. According to tradition, Frideswide felt compassion for Algar and while in Binsey prayed to St Margaret of Antioch and St Catherine of Alexandria, who instructed her to hit the ground with her abbess's staff. Once Frideswide did this, the ground gave way to reveal a well, whose water she used to cure Algar's blindness.

The Holy Well associated with St Frideswide can be visited in St Margaret of Antioch's churchyard in Binsey (about a forty minute walk accross Port Meadow). The shrine of St Frideswide has been reassembled in Christ Church Cathedral. Although her relics are thought to be in some degree of proximity their exact location is not know.

St Frideswide's principal feast day is 19 October and in the Sarum use the feast of the translation of her relics is kept on 11 February.

Sequence for St. Frideswide

Sarum use

A holy virgin, worthy to be reckoned
Among the wise, O friends, we celebrate;
A daughter she of the king’s mother Mary,
Adopted sister of the Son of God.
She with the curb of fasting tamed her flesh,
And cut off luxury by suffering’s sward.
With all the enemy’s assaults she wrestled;
Trusting in Christ, she smote and vanquished him.
With joyous spirit following the bridegroom,
Who from the courts of heaven did visit her,
Into his chamber hastened she to enter.
O thou, in fullness of delights abiding,
Plead before Christ our present low estate,
And make for us a plenteous consolation.