‘When the English people had been taught and baptised through blessed Augustine’s preaching, priests and deacons were appointed, and churches were built and dedicated throughout the nation. So ‘the multitude of believers grew’, and through the whole land of the English the church abounded with new offspring.
Long afterwards there was a king of Oxford named Didan. He took a wife named Sefrida, a godly woman diligent in all good works. They rejoiced together in the flower of their youth, and the Lord made them fruitful. So revered Sefrida conceived, and in due time produced a daughter. When the king heard this he rejoiced greatly and ordered that she should be re-born with water and the Holy Spirit.
So she was baptised and they called her Frideswide… After her mother’s death the religious virgin studied to serve God day and night in vigils and prayers, always striving to forget bodily food, and to absorb spiritual food with all her might. Viewing the passing pomp and glory of this world, and valuing it all as dung, the virgin Frideswide gave everything that she had to the poor. She always wore a hair-shirt, and her food was a little barley-bread with a few vegetables and water. Meanwhile, all the English people marvelled at such virtue in one so young, and the king rejoiced, seeing and understanding that his only daughter was a vessel of the Holy Spirit’.
from an early 12th century account of the life of Saint Frideswide
Almighty, everlasting God, the author of virtue and lover of virginity: grant us, we beseech thee; that as Saint Frideswide, thy Virgin and Abbess, was pleasing unto thee by the merit of her chastity, so by her prayers we may find favour with thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon