History of St Radegund

st-radegund-2Born a Thuringian Princess, in c. 520, at the age of 12, Radegund was captured as spoils of war by the Frankish King, Chlothar I. She spent the rest of her childhood being educated at court, but at 18, was forced to marry Chlothar. She was a reluctant Queen and as one of six wives, her marriage to was not a happy one. Following the murder of her brother by her husband, she escaped court and sought the protection of the Church, persuading, first, the Bishop of Noyon to consecrate her a deaconess and, later, the Bishop of Paris to mediate with the King on her behalf. With Chlothar’s consent founded a monastery on her own royal estate at Poitiers, to which gathered many high-born converts – both men and women. The sisters of the Convent of Our Lady of Poitiers lived under the Rule of Caesaria of Arles, requiring them to be able to read and write, and to devote several hours of the day to reading the scriptures and copying manuscripts. Radegund lead the rest of her life a simple nun and direct canonisation followed her death.

In 1159, a group of nuns formed ‘the special centre of the cult of St Radegund’ and were given 10 acres adjoining Midsummer Common, by Malcolm IV of Scotland as Earl of Huntingdon. The nunnery was the first of only two religious houses to be dedicated to this sixth century saint. The dedication to St Mary and St Radegund is said to be connected with Malcolm’s visit to Poitiers. It was a future King of England that would cause the demise of the order. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, the ruinous buildings and exiguous endowments were used to found what is now known as Jesus College. In 1496, when the College was founded by Bishop John Alcock, it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the Glorious Virgin Saint Radegund. In the ensuing centuries, the name of this reluctant Queen has been bestowed on several other neighbouring locations, including the pub