Frideswide was the daughter of Didan the king of Lower Mercia and Selfrida, his wife. She lived in the middle of the 7th century and was born in the royal palace in Oxford. She was brought up at what is now called Didcot which belonged to her father and was named after him. Frideswide was known as Fritha to her family and friends and placed under the guidance of a holy woman named Elgitha, or Algiva, who was her governess. Elgitha came to have a tremendous influence on Frideswide teaching her that, “Whatever is not God is nothing”. So it was that she grew up in a spiritual environment and was a very quick and enthusiastic student, especially with her Christian studies.
When her mother died she moved back to Oxford to be with her father and managed to persuade him to give her a substantial plot of land to build a church on which was situated at the city gates. Along with twelve companions, she took the holy vows and her father built a convent next to the church for them. Although they were bound by rules of chastity and seclusion they were not bound by the rules of the cloister which was consecrated by Edgar the bishop of the diocese and her father gave generous lands and farms to the convent and church.
Frideswide and the Devil
Frideswide was a very beautiful young woman. Word of her beauty spread far and wide and as a royal princess, she would come with a rich dowry. Consequently, she was seen as was a highly desirable prize by neighboring princes and royals and had many suitors. Nevertheless, Frideswide was dedicated to her faith and had no wish for marriage, instead she intended to devote herself to God and Jesus. According to legend, Satan was jealous of the peace she found in her life and was jealous of the rewards she would surely be given in the afterlife for her devotion and good works.
Although he knew she would never directly be tempted by him and what he had to offer he tried to deceive her by devious means. He caused her to have a dream where he visited her in the guise of Jesus urging her to follow him. Frideswide saw straight through the deception and called upon her Lord who drove him from her presence.