The Right Reverend Edwin Regan, Bishop of the Diocese of Wrexham, entrusted St. Winefride`s Parish Holywell to the Vocationist Fathers on April 6, 2008.
St. Winefride’s is unique, in both its history and its remarkable physical presence. For 13 centuries this shrine in the tiny north Wales town of Holywell has been a place of unbroken veneration. Right through penal times the pilgrims still came. And the glorious, early 16th century, two-story Gothic shrine building – a crypt into which the well rises tucked beneath a chapel – was never damaged, and remains intact today.
The shrine building was built — probably partly through the munificence of Henry VII’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort — by the Cistercian monks of nearby Basingwerk Abbey, to replace an earlier building. Richard III was an earlier royal patron. He ordered the sum of ten marks to be paid annually from the treasury for the support of the chapel of St Winefride, and the stipend of the priest. Henry V made the pilgrimage in 1415 after his victory at Agincourt. Henry VII is said to have made a secret visit here before winning his crown at Bosworth in 1485.
In 1605, many of those involved with the Gunpowder Plot came with the Blessed Father Edward Oldcorne to give thanks for his deliverance from a gangrene that had formed in the roof of his mouth or, as some have it, to plan the plot.
Every minute, 3,000 gallons of water surges up through the 7ft deep, bottle green waters of the well basin, which is enclosed by an octagonal parapet from which eight columns rise to meet overhead in a traceried canopy, forming a crypt. The surface of the well shimmers like hot oil as the waters rise and flow into a narrow poll and out to the bath, from which they run down Greenfield Valley to the River Dee.
The Vocationist Fathers, Fr. Salvatore Musella, S.D.V. and his community of two other priests and two novices have a thriving center here, with facilities for First Communion and Confirmation groups, those on retreat, a gift center, and museum. This is a place in which many begin their journey towards God.
The Vocationist Fathers are always available to welcome people, youth, pilgrims, association for spiritual assistance, spiritual direction, and vocational discernment. You may contact us at any time.
St Winefride’s Presbytery
Well Street, Holywell, Flintshire CH8 7PL
Telephone 01352 713181