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 Post subject: St Winifred the Pagan?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:15 pm 
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i was asked today for any evidence relating to a pre-Christian use of St Winifred's Well, and gave a reply as follows:

In essence the evidence boils down to the cult legend showing strange points of similarity with other well cult legends, that describe a person being struck down when refusing another’s advances, and their blood bringing forth a healing well. The general opinion is that these cult legends because they relate a curative property being accrued though the actions of a saint, are then showing the sanctifying of a prior ?healing cult site for which there is much evidence. Moreover, there is a particular question with regard to Winifred that the association of milk with her cult legend, i.e. the well produced milk for three days after her 'death', suggests a link with pre Christian spring and fertility rituals. I am a little dubious about this causality myself, but it is interesting that these cult legends all appear to relate to 6th century saints seemingly suggesting the time of the first pagan/Christian transition, and more importantly, a flurry of edicts telling missionaries to convert the heathen temples and fountains.

Accepting that the point about prior healing cults is a little dubious, maybe, I wonder if anyone can add any more info as to why the site is regarded as Pre Christian?


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