Friday, October 19, 2012

Frideswide of Oxford

(c. 650 – 19 October 727; Old English: Friðuswīþ; also known as Frithuswith, Frideswith, Fritheswithe, Frevisse, or simply Fris) was an English princess and abbess who is credited with establishing Christ Church in Oxford.

Born in Oxford, which was then in the Kingdom of Mercia, St. Frideswide was the daughter of pious parents, sub-King Didan and Sefrida. These two committed her to the care of a holy woman named, Elgitha, but, after her mother's death, Frideswide returned to live with her father. She persuaded him to build her a church at the gates of Oxford and, there, she took the veil with twelve young women of her acquaintance. Didan enhanced the establishment, by erecting convent buildings nearby and, there, they lived, not bound by the rules of the cloister, but by holy charity and love of seclusion.

Algar (that is, Ælfgār), a Mercian prince, sought to marry her. When Frideswide refused him, Algar tried to abduct her. Algar searches for her in Oxford, but the people refuse to tell him where she is. He searched the whole town but cannot find her, she sneaks back into the town. The king follows her, but just outside the Oxford city gates he falls off his horse and breaks his neck.

St. Frideswide's Priory, a medieval Augustinian house which became Christ Church, Oxford following the dissolution of the monasteries is claimed to be the site of her abbey and relics. The authority on the subject, Dr. John Blair of Queen's College, Oxford believes that Christ Church Cathedral is built on the site of her Saxon church.

St. Frideswide died on 19th October AD 735 and was buried in her monastery in Oxford, where Christ Church Cathedral now stands. Multitudes of pilgrims resorted to her tomb, to the chapel at Binsey and to the fountain nearby. All became famous for miraculous cures, though it is clear that the place of her flight was originally understood to be Bampton. She is represented, in art, with the pastoral staff of an abbess, a fountain springing up near her and an ox at her feet.

Propers for Frideswide of Oxford - Abbess

The Collect.

O GOD, by whose grace the blessed Frideswide enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we may be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love, and ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle - Philippians 3:7-15

The Gospel - St. Luke 12:22-37

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