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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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ST., daughter of Berthar, a prince of Thuringia, flourished in the earlier part of the 6th century. Having been carried as a prisoner to France in the twelfth year of her age by Clothaire V, at that time king of the district whose capital is now called Soissons, she was educated in the Christian religion, and when she reached a maturer age was induced, very reluctantly, to become his wife. Her own wish having been to become a nun, her married life was in great measure given up to works of charity and religion, and Clothaire complained that he "had married a nun rather than a queen." Romanists delight in extolling her virtues, and many curious feats are reported to have been performed by her. Thus they tell that one day, as she walked in her garden, she heard the prisoners, who were only separated from her by a wall, weeping and imploring pity. She thought only of her own sorrows in the past, and she prayed earnestly for them, not knowing how else to aid them; and as she prayed, their fetters burst asunder, and they were freed from captivity. Eventually, about the year 553, Radegunda obtained the king's leave to retire to a monastery at Noyon, where she was consecrated a deaconess by the bishop Medard. Soon afterwards she founded a monastery at Poitiers, in which she lived as a simple sister, but which she endowed richly, not only with money and lands, but also with relics and other sacred objects obtained from the Holy Land and all the more eminent churches of the East and West. It was on the occasion of the translation to her church at Poitiers of a relic of the holy cross that the Christian poet Venantius Fortunatus composed the celebrated and truly magnificent Latin hymn, Vexilla Regis Proderent. Radegunda outlived him by more than a quarter of a century, during which she was regarded as a model of Christian virtue; and her life has formed the subject of many beautiful legends, still popular in Germany and France. Her monastery, before her death, which took place in 587, numbered no fewer than 200 nuns. Her feast is held on August 13, the anniversary of her death. In ecclesiastical paintings she is represented with the royal crown, and beneath it a long veil. See Butler, Lives of the Saints, Aug. 13; Montalembesrt, Monks of the West, vol. ii, bk. vi; Chambers's Encyclop. s.v.; Rettberg, Kirchengesch. Deutschlands, vol. ii.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Radegunda'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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