Oxford remembers Frideswide, its local saint, as an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon princess. The canons of St Frideswide’s Priory (now Christ Church) shaped her story in the twelfth century when two successive priors, Robert of Cricklade and Philip of Oxford, created her shrine as a new centre for pilgrimage. This book introduces new editions and translations of the earliest literary sources for Frideswide and her miracles.
Works by Robert and Philip illuminate how medieval experiences and theories of sickness and healing motivated everyday people to travel for days to visit Frideswide’s shrine. Philip’s Miracles of St Frideswide is a vibrant collection of over one hundred stories recording the experiences of pilgrims from all walks of life. It offers a brilliant window into the physical and spiritual lives of laypeople, and particularly women, bringing contemporary readers into closer contact with medieval beliefs and experiences. St Frideswide’s shrine emerges as a dynamic and at times chaotic community: a place where holy water is transformed to milk; paralysed pilgrims gain full mobility; and a three-year-old boy, on the brink of death, is returned to life.
Two Priors and a Princess presents a fresh assessment of the manuscript evidence with translations that are easily accessible to non-specialists. It is essential reading for students and scholars of medieval literature, as well as social and religious historians. It will be of particular value to readers interested in medical explanations and mental health in the Middle Ages; in the probative functions and stylistic development of the genres of hagiography and miracle collections; and in the function and definition of the ‘supernatural’ in medieval England.