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on the south side in the fifth bay from the west end. The effigy represents a young woman with long hair and a turban, with a beard. “She reads from a book, which she rests on the top of a T cross.” Mr. Micklethwaite observes that this is the only image he has seen of this curious saint, and refers to the famous image of her at St. Paul's. “ It was supposed”, he adds, “ that a saint who had obtained a beard in order to avoid matrimony would have some sympathy with those who wished to escape from it; so ladies who had husbands whom they would be rid of used to ask her help, whence her popular name of St. Uncumber.” He gives
He gives an excellent plate of the effigy, and in a note adds that one of the Pastons, writing to his mother in 1465, implies that ladies who had not husbands and desired to have them paid their devotions to the Rood of north door at St. Paul's. The note is full of interest, as it serves to explain the close association of the Rood and St. Uncumber already indicated.
The letter referred to is written by John Paston the youngest to his mother, and is dated 14th September, 1465.
"I pray yow voysyt the Rood of northedor, and Seynt Savyour at Barmonsey, amonge whyll ye abyd in London, and lat my sustyr Margery goo with yow to pray to them that sche may have a good hos bond or sche com hom ayen; and now I pray yow send us some tydyngys as ye wer wonte to comand me; and the Holy Trynyte have yow in keping, and my fayir mastras of the Fleet. Wretyn at Norwyche on Holy Rood Daye. Your sone and lowly servaunt,
“ J. Paston the youngest."1 Mr. Gairdner adds a note to inform the anxious reader that Margery Paston afterwards married Richard Calle.?
The Rev. S. Baring Gould, writing to Mr. Micklethwaite, says that “there is a new Altar and picture to her in a Chapel near Dieppe ; and”, he adds, “I know a German one on the Seisser Alp, near Botzen”. In the Archæologia Cantiana,“ in an article by Mr.
1 Paston Letters, ii, 233.
Granville Leveson-Gower on Cowden Church, is an extract from the will of John Wickynden in 1524.
“I bequeath to buy an image of S. Uncumber to stand in Cowden Church of alabaster iiij.s. Item, I bequeath 3 lights to burn in Cowden Church, one before the Trynyte, one before S. Erasmus, one before S. Uncumber: this to continue as long as they be abill."
The author of the article suggests that her name Uncumber is “a shortened form of disencumber—she that was ready to disencumber or free women from their husbands."
It is to be hoped that no one will inquire to what nation she belonged. She is said to have been English, French, Portuguese, Italian, German and Belgian in different accounts.”i Readers will perhaps be equally lenient in the matter of exact chronology, for the date of her death is variously given as July 12, July 20, and October 2; whilst the year to which it is assigned is equally elastic: some writers saying that her death occurred about the year 130 or 138 A.D., whilst Père Carles assigns her birth to the fourth century, and says that her father was King of Galicia, Catilius by name, and that her mother was called Callia.?
Her body, says Mr. Baring Gould, 3 “ is preserved at Siguenza in Spain, but other relics, indulgenced by Pope Urban VIII, existed at Brussels before 1695.”
The beard of St. Wilgefort inspired Petrus Justus Sautel with the following poem*:--
S. WilgeFortis V. barba repentè enascentis miraculo castitatem
(Nam nitet eximio pulcher in ore decor :)
His rogat, aut paribus supplice voce sonis :
Quosque pius tangit Virginitatis amor :
i Father Stanton, Menology, p. 755. 2 Les Petits Bollandistes, January 28, vol. ii, p. 96. 3 Lives of the Saints, July 20, p. 489. 4 See his Annus Sacer Poeticus, 12mo., Paris, 1665, i. 63.
Vos precor, vt nostro species abscondat ab ore,
Quæ solet infestos sollicitare procos.
Nec quæ gibboso tubere terga tument.
Dum meus egregio cedat ab ore nitor.
Hirsutis coepit crescere barba pilis.
Seque fugit comitem jungere virgo comes,
Nec proprio nota est hispida Nata patri.
Excidit, optatis non fruitura suis.
Coepit ab impuro tutior esse viro.
In the Revue Britannique for January 1852 (pp. 232233), a translation is given of these Latin verses into French : but the writer of the article says, “ Comme nous venons de traduire très librement le poète jésuite, nous allons citer ses vers pour dédommager ceux de nos lecteurs qui peuvent goûter les expressions pittoresques d'un latin presque classique, Il nous a été impossible de rendre l'opposition de mots par laquelle Sauteuil fait ressortir dans ses vers la métamorphose d'une douce vierge en virago (virgo facta virago barbata).”