According to the records, Caradog was enraged at being thwarted in love and he took his sword and decapitated the young woman on the spot.
Life in Wales was pretty bloody in those days and Winifred's brother, Owain, sought and actually killed Caradog in a violent act of revenge.
Now the tale becomes somewhat twisted as some accounts state that the young saint was then restored fully and her head rejoined to her body by her uncle, Saint Beuno. Other accounts state that she made a pilgrimage to Rome and became Abbess at Gwytherin in North Wales.
She is the patron, obscurely of payroll clerks and, more obviously, of virgins.
|"The Welsh Lourdes", Holywell|
Where her head had fallen a well sprang up and was found to have a curative effect on the sick and diseased.
It became a place of pilgrimage and remains an important focal point for pilgrims today.
The Latin Mass Society organises a pilgrimage each year in July and the well has earned its reputation as the "Welsh Lourdes".
Now come with me to the English Midlands, some 150 miles or so from Holywell, shrine of St Winifred.
The Chapel appears, more or less, as it was nearly 500 years ago but, on the window ledge stands a bottle half filled with water. Pick it up, shake it, it is clear as....well, it's gin clear. Not a sign of green algae, yet it has stood in full sunlight for some considerable time, months or even years.
Besides the bottle is a card that simply states: "Water from St Winifred's Well"
I asked several guides for information on the bottle but there was no enlightenment, doubtless, members of the family kept it there to bless themselves with...who knows?
But it was good to find such a poignant reminder of my adopted home in the heart of England.
* also Winifride or Winefride