[MR] BBC: Henry V Welsh Pilgrimage Recreated
Garth Groff via Atlantia
atlantia at seahorse.atlantia.sca.org
Sun Jun 19 03:21:05 PDT 2016
After the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V undertook a pilgrimage of thanks
from Shrewsbury to St. Winifred's Holy Well in Flintshire, Wales. As you
read this, a recreation of this pilgrimage is underway, complete with a
stand-in for the King:
Those of you who have read the Brother Cadfael novels, or seen Derrick
Jacoby's TV portrayals, will be familiar with St. Winifred. She was a
minor Welsh saint until her relics were translated to Shrewsbury's
Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in 1138 (with permission,
though it didn't happen as in the novels):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Winifred . This allowed the Abbey to
get in on the lucrative pilgrim business, and a Life of Winifred written
by the real-life Prior Robert (Cadfael's antagonist in the novels and TV
series) made the saint into a star. The monks later went back to Wales
and took (without permission) the remains of Winifred's uncle St. Beuno:
http://catholicsaints.info/saint-beuno-gasulsych/ . They had to have a
complete set, I suppose.
St. Winifred's Holy Well remains largely as it was 500 years ago,
somehow surviving the Protestant Reformation. Much of the current site
was built by Henry's grandmother, which might explain why. It remains an
active pilgrimage destination, now run by the Jesuit order, and
spiritual center welcoming people of all faiths. Lady Sarah Sinclair and
I had the good fortune to visit the shrine on our first trip to England
(where we helped two very tottery and aged nuns cross the busy road
between the shrine and its car park, thus receiving their blessings).
Our visit remains among our most treasured memories:
The Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul was destroyed during Henry VIII's
dissolution of the monasteries. The church building itself was spared
and became an Anglican parish church: http://www.shrewsburyabbey.com/ .
The shrines and relics of St. Winifred and St. Beuno were destroyed.
Only a few fragments of Winifred's relics survive, including one tiny
piece of her finger in a local Catholic church near Shrewsbury.
Lord Mungo Napier, That Crazy Scot
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