chapter 2

Howe the people of Hambury brought the shryne to Chestre / and of the solemne receuyung of it by all the inhabitauntes of Chesshyre.

stanza 42

288 Venerable virgins next sette in ordre clere,
With lilies in theyr handes 1 / coronate with chastite,
Good widowes and wuyes appoynted well were,
Gyuynge true thankes vnto this virgin fre.
Nex[t] them assemble all the commonte
In all goodly maner, dyuised by discrecion,
Praysyng saynt Werburge with humiliacion.

stanza 43

295Whan they approched to her hie presence
And comon were afore this relique most riall,
They kneled all downe with mycle reuerence,
Salutynge the shryne with honour victoriall, 2
Magnifying with melodye and tunys musicall
This glorious virgin / nothyng done amis,
Syngynge Te deum to the kyng of blysse.

stanza 44

302The lordes / the citezins / and all the commons 3
Mekely submytted them-selfe to the shryne,
With manyfolde prayses and humble supplicacions,
With interiour loue / and morall discipline,
Trustyng all in her to saue them from ruyne,
From greuous daunger / and cruell enmite
By her entercession vnto the trinite.

stanza 45

309They gaue due thankes vnto this abbasse,
Deuoutly sayenge knelyng vpon kne:
'Welcome, swete lady, replet with grace,
The floure of mekenes / and of chastite,
The cristall of clennes and virginite; 4
Welcome thou art to vs euerychone,
A speciall comfort for vs to trust vpon!

stanza 46

316'Welcome, swete princesse / kynges doughter dere,
Welcome, faire creature / and rose of merciens ,
The diamonde of dignite / and gemme shenynge clere ,
Virgin and moiniall of mycle excellence;
Welcome, holy abbasse of hie preeminence,
The rutilant saphire of syncerite, 5
Welcome, swete patronesse, to Chestre cite!

stanza 47

323 Thou art our refuge / and singular succour,
Our sure tuicion, next to the trinite,
Oure speciall defence at euery houre
To releue thy seruauntes in all necessite;
Thou art our solace and helpe in eche degre,
Oure ioye / trust / and comfort / and goostly treasure:
Welcome to this towne, for euer to endure!'

stanza 48

330Agaynst her comynge into Chestre cite
The stretes were strawed with flours fragrant,
The mancions and halles edified rialle
Were hanged with arras precious and plesaunt,
Torches were carried on eche syde flagrant;
Also ouer the shryne was prepared a canaby
Of cloth of golde and tissewe riche and costly. 6

stanza 49

337Thus with great worship, decoure and dignite
Of all clergie, lordis and citezens
She was receuyed with great humilite
Into the cite with humble reuerence,
The clergie syngyng with mycle diligence,
The comons prayeng with loue feruent,
Folowynge this relique after their entent.


The lily is a conventional symbol of virginity and chastity in medieval literature. Back to context...
'Victoriall' appears in several late Middle English texts in specific collocations which refer to the (actual or metaphorical) pilgrim's badge or symbol of victory. See for example 'crownys victoriall' in Wisdom, Eccles, 1969, 150. Bradshaw's choice of language this subtly casts the Chester procession as proto-pilgrims approaching Werburgh's shrine. The particular incidence of 'victoricall' in medieval English dramatic texts might also suggest its association with a performative, ritual context, such as that depicted by Bradshaw here. Back to context...
Here again Bradshaw distinguishes three groups amongst urban secular society: the nobility, fully enfranchised citizens, and the commoners - either inhabitants of the city or those living outside who did not enjoy the full status and rights of a citizen. Back to context...
The words of the prayer to Werburgh echo those of the Marian prayer Ave Maria ('Hail Mary'), in which the Virgin is addressed as 'gratia plena' ('full of grace'). The other metaphors used here for Werburgh ('floure of mekenes', 'cristall of clennes', also 'rose' in line 317 and 'diamonde' or 'gemme' in line 318 also recall the conventional imagery of medieval Marian hymns. Back to context...
The sapphire is a common epithet for the Virgin Mary in medieval literature. Bradshaw seems specifically to suggest a yellow sapphire here, which was associated with powers of healing and protection in medieval gemology. See for example Evans and Serjeantson, 1933, 100-123 and 120 or Stones in Sharon Coolidge, Medieval Literature Annotated Bibliography. Back to context...
The pageantry accompanying the arrival of Werburgh's relics into Chester suggests the pomp and ceremonial of the medieval 'civic triumph' or 'royal entry', in which a monarch was welcomed into an - obedient and celebrating - city. For discussion of the practice, see Kipling, 1998, and for a late-medieval literary account, see Richard Maidstone's Concordia (Carlson, 2003 or the TEAMS online edition). Back to context...