School children celebrate St Frideswide

A BERKSHIRE primary school and staff at Christ Church Cathedral teamed up to conduct a pilgrimage to celebrate the life of Oxford’s patron saint.

Yattendon CE Primary School suspends its teaching timetable one day per year to celebrate the life of a remarkable Anglo Saxon princess who fled to Oxford to escape the attention of Algar, the pagan king of Mercia.

Princess Frideswide healed many people and a well from the legend, which was reputed to have healing properties, is near to Yattendon and is the pilgrimage destination.
To celebrate the patronal festival each class spent the morning on creative activities inspired by the saint and were joined by history expert Ruth Buckley and Christ Church Cathedral Education Officer Jackie Holderness.

The younger children acted out the story of the princess’ adventures, while Years 3 and 4 played a game, which involved the children reading short extracts from the saint’s legend, written in verse. In the Cathedral, Edward Burne-Jones’ window tells the story in stained glass and the children had to match a laminated picture of the window to each verse.
The older children performed a group drama about the life of St Frideswide. After lunch the whole school gathered for the pilgrimage to the holy well for a service.

Jackie said: “While history and tradition are important, the story of Frideswide seems to resonate with the Yattendon children primarily as an example of witness. The children seem to appreciate her example of trust in God, to whom she had dedicated her life.

“They are also very aware of Frideswide’s compassion and kindness, courage and determination, and her desire for a contemplative and prayerful life.”

Photo: Children enjoy circle dancing during the day’s activities (Christ Church, Oxford)