Holywell: St Winefride’s Well elevated to national shrine status by bishops of England and Wales
The historic St Winefride’s Well in Holywell has been elevated to national shrine status by the bishops of England and Wales, reports the Catholic Herald.
The decision, announced at the bishops’ autumn plenary meeting, acknowledges the site’s long-standing significance in British religious history and heritage.
St Winefride’s Well has been a revered pilgrimage destination for almost 1,400 years.
The site commemorates the miraculous story of St Winefride, who, according to legend, was decapitated by Caradog, a spurned suitor, and subsequently re-headed by her uncle, St Beuno.
The shrine has attracted pilgrims from various walks of life, including historical figures such as King Henry V and literary personalities like Ellis Peters and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Its elevation to a national shrine is seen as a recognition of St Winefride’s importance to the Church in the British Isles and the site’s heritage value.
Bishop Peter Brignall of Wrexham, the local ordinary for Holywell, said: “Everyone is more than welcome, whether they are of faith or not, to come and discover a bit of our country’s tradition and heritage, and that they come with open hearts to that commitment to God that they may not have within their own lives, but are able to recognise in the lives of others and be prepared to be touched by that.”
The bishop added that he hoped the shrine would appeal particularly to women who sought healing as a result of violence or abuse and might draw inspiration from the saint who is honoured there.
St Winefride is celebrated as a virgin-martyr in Roman martyrology and is notably venerated outside Wales more than any other Welsh saint. Her story, steeped in legend and history, tells of her life as a nun and her miraculous resurrection after a brutal attack.
The shrine has been a beacon of hope and faith for centuries, surviving the Reformation and continuing to attract pilgrims seeking solace and healing.
Notable visitors have included royalty, such as King Richard I and King James II, who sought blessings at the well.
The elevation of St Winefride’s Well to a national shrine is expected to renew interest in this historic site, further cementing its place in the cultural and spiritual landscape of the UK. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com