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Whyte


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Female saint who gave her name to, and is buried at, Whitchurch Canonicorum (Dorset); her modest shrine, together with that of Edward the Confessor at Westminster, are the only ones to survive intact in this country to this day. Various theories about her identity have been advanced: (1) that she was a West Saxon of whom no other record survives, (2) that she was a Welsh saint Gwen, whose relics were given by King Athelstan to this church, (3) that Whyte was a man, Albinus, bishop of Buraburg or a companion of Boniface, martyred with him and then translated back to Wessex. William Worcestre and John Gerard both mentioned her relics: Thomas More ironically referred to the custom of offering cakes or cheese to the saint on her feast, which was probably confined to this church alone. In 1900 her leaden coffin was opened. It was inscribed Hic requiescunt reliquie sancte Wite: the badly damaged reliquary contained the bones of a small woman, aged about forty. Feast: 1 June.

(1) that she was a West Saxon of whom no other record survives, (2) that she was a Welsh saint Gwen, whose relics were given by King Athelstan to this church, (3) that Whyte was a man, Albinus, bishop of Buraburg or a companion of Boniface, martyred with him and then translated back to Wessex.

William Worcestre, pp. 73, 123; John Gerard, Autobiography (1950), p. 50; Baring-Gould and Fisher, ii. 68–9; B.L.S., vi. 5.

Subjects: Christianity.


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