03 November 2008

Feast of Saint Winifred

Today is the feast day of Saint Winefride (Welsh name Gwenffrewi) who was a legendary 7th century Welsh noblewoman who was canonized after dying for the sake of her chastity. Winefride was the daughter of a Welsh nobleman, Tyfid ap Eiludd. Her suitor, Caradog, was enraged when she decided to become a nun, and decapitated her. In one version of the tale, her head rolled downhill, and, where it stopped, a healing spring appeared. Winefride's head was subsequently rejoined to her body due to the efforts of her maternal uncle, Saint Beuno, and she was restored to life. She later became a nun and abbess at Gwytherin in Denbighshire, and Caradog, cursed by Beuno, melted into the ground.

The moving of Winefride's bones to Shrewsbury is woven into A Morbid Taste for Bones, the first of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels. Throughout the series, the protagonist - a Welsh monk at the English monastery at Shrewsbury - has a kind of "special understanding" with the saint, whom he affectionately calls "The Girl".

Some of the Cadfael (pronounced Cadvile) books were made into films starring Derek Jacobi as the modest monk with a deep history, and were filmed in poland. But he was also narrated by Philip Madoc in some BBC dramatisations.

21 books make up the total number of Cadfael novels, and are well worn on my bookshelves along with the companion of the series showing locations on the Welsh/English border where the fictional monk visited or were close to Shrewsbury Abbey. Worth a read if you like this period of history with Stephen and Maud fighting for control of England.


dickiebo said...

When you said that her head was chopped off, rolled downhill, was stuck back on and she was brought back to life, I really thought you were going to add, "As a politician!" Silly me! Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Just testing!

Elaine said...

I loved all the Cadfael books, but did not enjoy the televesion shows.

Janet said...

I knew that story sounded familiar and I was about to tell you I read about it in "A Morbid Taste for Bones" but then you beat me to it. I loved the Cadfael series, but don't have all of them, and they're missing from our library, which I had considered well-stocked until I discovered this glaring oversight. I never saw the TV series but Mom liked it real well.

Sage said...

@ dickiebo - LOL

@ Elaine - I rarely like televised versions of books, they are never how I imagined the characters to be but I did think that Derek Jacobi made a good brother Cadfael.

@Janet - it took me a number of years before I managed a complete collection of both the novels and the audio books.. when I can't sleep I listen.

Nicey said...

Mmmm A bit intelectual for me, but I have learnt something !

The W.O.W. factor said...

Sage, do you re-read books numerous times? Not sure how you find time to read soooo much, let alone re-read.
When I first started reading this post, I though I was getting a history lesson on local lore.
And they made TV versions of these books? I've never thought filming of any book could compare to the written words.