Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Radegundis, St

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Radegundis, St., born in 519, queen of Clotaire I. and founder of the nunnery of Sainte-Croix, at Poictiers. Her father was a Thuringian prince named Bertharius. Her austerities were so incessant that it was commonly said the king had wedded a nun (Venant. Fort. Acta S. Rad. c. i.). Abhorring the married state from the first, she seems to have finally decided to escape from it upon her husband's treacherous murder of her brother. Withdrawing to Noyon on the pretext of some religious observance, her urgency overcame the hesitation of bp. Medardus to make her a deaconess. She then escaped from her husband's territory to the sanctuary of St. Martin of Tours, and thence to St. Hilary's at Poictiers. Here she founded her monastery within a mile or two of the city; finally, with the consent of Clotaire, clerks were sent to the East for wood of the true cross to sanctify it, and the rule of SS. Caesarius and Caesaria of Arles was adopted. Here the rest of her life was spent, first as abbess, then as simple nun under the rule of another. We have full information about the beginnings of this institution from the two Lives of Radegund, one by Venantius Fortunatus, her intimate friend (Patr. Lat. lxxii. 651), the other by one of her nuns called Baudonivia (ib. 663); and also from the fact that in Gregory's time, after Radegund's death, the attention of all France was drawn to the spot by the scandalous outbreak of a body of the nuns, headed by Chrodieldis, a natural daughter of king Charibert I. After a residence of about 37 years she died Aug. 13, 587, and was buried by Gregory of Tours (de Glor. Conf. c. cvi.).

[S.A.B.]