The Cult of St Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins and the Middle Welsh Life

21/02/2018, 15:30 - 16:30


Speaker: Jane Cartwright (Wales, Trinity St Davids)

Chair: Dylan Foster-Evans

The legend of St Ursula is an epic tale which recounts how this daughter of a British king, reluctantly agreed to marry a pagan prince in order to save her father’s kingdom, but delayed the betrothal by insisting on performing one final pilgrimage to Rome in the company of 11,000 virgins. The virgins never returned to Britain, having reputedly been martyred in Cologne. In the twelfth century, a mass grave was discovered and it was claimed that these were the relics of St Ursula and her companions. This presentation looks at the history and cult of St Ursula, and discusses its significance for medieval cultural life.


Jane Cartwright is Professor of Celtic Studies and author of Mary Magdalene and her Sister Martha: An Edition and Translation of the Medieval Welsh Lives (2013), Feminine Sanctity and Spirituality in Medieval Wales (2008) and Celtic Hagiography and Saints’ Cults (2003).

Dylan Foster-Evans is Head of Welsh, Cardiff University.


The seminar starts at 3.30pm.  Wine and cake available from 3.20pm


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Religion & Theology Research Seminar Series