Frideswide of Oxford, St.
FRIDESWIDE OF OXFORD, ST.
Abbess; b. c. 650–80; d. Oct. 19, 735. The legends describe Frideswide (Fredeswinda or, in Artois, Frévisse) as the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon subregulus who entered religious life after rejecting a princely suitor who was stricken blind when he continued to pursue her. For this reason, the legend contends, the English kings for centuries feared to approach Oxford, where she founded a monastery c. 727. The Danes burned her convent c. 1000, but it was refounded by Augustinian canons regular in 1122. St. Frideswide's relics were translated to splendid shrines in 1180 and 1289. She was the patroness of the city and the University of oxford by the late 12th century. Her cult was officially established at Oxford in 1434 and 1481 with special offices in the Breviary of the
Sarum Rite, and she was venerated also in parts of France as Frévisse. Her convent was transformed into Christ Church College c. 1526–46, and its church was made into a cathedral for the Anglican Diocese of Oxford in 1546. The shrine of St. Frideswide was dismantled in 1538, and her bones were mixed in 1561 with those of Catherine Cathie, the Protestant wife of Peter Martyr Vermigli. The tomb was restored in 1890 and is a popular shrine with English Catholics today.
Feast: Oct. 19.
Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Oct. 8:379, 533–590. w. hunt, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 1885–1900) 7:715–716. f. m. stenton, "St. Frideswide and Her Times," Oxoniensia 1 (1936) 103–112. e. f. jacob, St. Frideswide, The Patron Saint of Oxford (Oxford 1953). a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum: Die Heiligen und Seligen des Benediktinerorderns und seiner Zweige, 4 v. (Metten 1933–38) 3:197–200. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:150–151.
[h. e. aikins]