... so Saint Frideswide prayed to S Margaret and S Catherine, who made a spring arise from the ground (the spring can still be seen at Binsey, a little country chapel which comes under my daughter church of S Frideswide) with the water of which S Frideswide cured her erstwhile suitor of his blindness (I bet he was more careful thereafter to practise Custody of the Eyes).
So were S Margaret and S Catherine the other two ladies in the arms of the See of Oxford? I'm not sure that my great predecessor Canon Thomas Chamberlain thought so, since in our Eucharistic Window he potrayed S Frideswide, S Margaret, and S Etheldreda - another Saxon royal virgin who preserved her chastity against onslaught (this time the importunities of no fewer than two husbands).
I don't know what you think about all these female saints - some of them a tadge mythical - who clutter up the Bollandist volumes and whose sanctity appears to lie at least partly in their heroic protection of their virginity. It's easy to call this dualist or paranoid; to complain about an unnecessary denigration of the holy estate of Matrimony; and to speculate along semifreudian lines. Perhaps all these points could, with profit, have been made in earlier generations. But in our culture, surely, a quite different point has to be made. We have a superstition that everybody is naturally going to express genitally the sexuality in which God has created them ... whatever their circumstances, whatever their orientation (... er ... unless, of course, God has created them as paedophiles, in which case, at least in this sceptred isle, our current instinct is to lynch them). The point which these Armoured Virgins - the mythical as well as the historical ones - make is that it is not compulsory or inevitable to be sexually active. Our Christian cult of Virginity teaches that if you want, or are called, to be a male or a female who is not committed irrevocably to another individual 'in bed and at board', the consequence is simple. You live a sexually abstinent life. The assumption around us is that since mechanical means exist whereby sexuality may now be divorced from commitment, we are all at liberty to be uncommitted and promiscuous. It is one of the most superbly crafted of the deceits of the Evil One.