Radegund

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Saint Radegund
Radegonde se retire dans le monastère dédié à la Vierge.JPG
Radegund retires to the monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Born~520
DiedAugust 13, 587
Honored inRoman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
FeastAugust 13
PatronageJesus College, Cambridge
 
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Saint Radegund
Radegonde se retire dans le monastère dédié à la Vierge.JPG
Radegund retires to the monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Born~520
DiedAugust 13, 587
Honored inRoman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
FeastAugust 13
PatronageJesus College, Cambridge

Radegund (also spelled Rhadegund, Radegonde, Radigund) (ca. 520–587) was a 6th-century Thuringian princess and Frankish queen, who founded the monastery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers. She is the patron saint of several churches in France and England and of Jesus College, Cambridge (whose full name "The College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint John the Evangelist and the glorious Virgin Saint Radegund, near Cambridge".

Life[edit]

Radegund was born about 520 to Bertachar, one of the three kings of the German land Thuringia.[1] Radegund's uncle, Hermanfrid, killed Bertachar in battle, and took Radegund into his household. After allying with the Frankish King Theuderic, Hermanfrid defeated his other brother Baderic. However, having crushed his brothers and seized control of Thuringia, Hermanfrid reneged on his agreement with Theuderic to share sovereignty.

In 531, Theuderic returned to Thuringia with his brother Clotaire I. Together they defeated Hermanfrid and conquered his kingdom. Clotaire I also took charge of Radegund, taking her back to Merovingian Gaul[1] with him. He sent the child to his villa of Athies in Picardy for several years, before marrying her in 540.[2]

Radegund was one of Clotaire I’s six wives or concubines (the other five being Guntheuca who was the widow of his brother Chlodomer, Chunsina, Ingund, Ingund’s sister Aregund and Wuldetrada the widow of Clotaire's grand-nephew Theudebald). She bore him no children. By 550 Radegund's brother was the last surviving male member of the Thuringian royal family. Chlothar had him murdered. She fled the court and sought the protection of the Church, persuading the bishop of Noyon to appoint her a deaconess;[1] founding the monastery of Sainte-Croix in Poitiers circa 560.

Living under the Rule of Caesaria of Arles, the cloistered sisters were required to be able to read and write, and to devote several hours of the day to reading the scriptures and copying manuscripts, as well as such traditionally tasks such as weaving and needlework.[3]

Radegund was a close friend of Junian of Maire; Junian and Radegonde are said to have died on the same day, on August 13, 587.[4]

Literary connections[edit]

The poet Venantius Fortunatus and the bishop, hagiographer, and historian Gregory of Tours were close friends with Radegund and wrote extensively about her. She wrote Latin poems to Fortunatus on tablets that have been lost. The three of them seem to have been close and Fortunatus' relations with Radegund seem to have been based on friendship. There are two poems written in the voice of Radegund, De Excidio Thoringiae and Ad Artachin. While it has been proposed that Venantius wrote them, recent historians see her as the author.[5]

Another hagiography was authored by the nun Baudovinia following a rebellion at the abbey described by Gregory of Tours.


Radegund's funeral, which Venantius Fortunatus and Gregory of Tours attended, was three days after her death. She was buried in Église Sainte-Radegonde-de-Poitiers. Her tomb can still be found in Sainte-Radegonde's crypt. The church remains the center of cult devotion to Radegund. In the 1260s a church decoration program included stained-glass windows depicting Radegund's life. These were later destroyed by Huguenots.

Later history[edit]

Church of St Radegund, Grayingham, England
Church of St Radegund, Breg (Žirovnica), Slovenia

Five English parish churches are dedicated to her, and she had a chapel in Old St Paul's Cathedral, as well as in Gloucester, Lichfield, and Exeter Cathedrals. St. Radegund's Abbey, near Dover, was founded in her honour in 1191, and Longleat Priory in Wiltshire was also dedicated to her. She is also a patron saint of Jesus College, Cambridge, which was founded on the site of the 12th century Nunnery of Saint Mary and Saint Radegund.

The St Radegund public house in Cambridge is named in her honour. St Rhadagund's Holiday and Conference Centre on the Isle of Wight is also named after her.

There are many places named Sainte-Radegonde in France.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]