AB | ET Student
It was a rainy day when we pulled up to the Church of Holywell, where St. Winefride’s Well is located. Once I saw the well, I instantly felt that this was a sacred place. The water bubbled in the well, as if coming from nowhere. This particular well has been a place of public pilgrimage for over 13 centuries. Many come to the well to be healed. There are numerous records of cures claimed after bathing in the well. The shrine still has a collection of wooden crutches discarded by the cured in former times. The origin of this well has a fascinating story.
Winifred was royalty, and a man named Prince Caradoc wanted to marry her, but she was keeping herself pure so she could become a nun. She refused to marry Caradoc, so he got angry and tried to rape her. He beheaded her and an earthquake took place. A well opened up and a stream of water burst forth. St. Beuno, Winifred’s uncle, prayed for Winifred to be restored to life. His prayer was answered and Winifred was resurrected. After being resurrected, Winifred then became abbess of a convent in the village of Llanrwst, where she died and was buried.
The story may seem a bit farfetched, but there are aspects of it that are true. Winifred has a scar on her neck, so it is possible that she was attacked by Caradoc. Winifred’s aunt was the abbess of the convent in Gwytherin. She likely always intended to take over from her aunt as abbess. Family lands were run like family businesses. Regardless of the truth of the legend, the site is an important destination for pilgrims.
A pilgrimage is defined as a “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.” I am not going to St. Winifred’s Well to be healed, but I am on a journey of spiritual significance. My pilgrimage is England Term. I came on this trip because I felt God calling me here. I hope to leave with a new understanding of God and myself when I return home.