Happy St. Frideswide’s Day. We may be the only people remembering it outside of Oxford, England, so we’ll just have to party all the harder on her behalf, right?
For those who have wondered where Frevisse’s unusual name came from, it’s the French version of Frideswide. Frideswide seems to have been effectively unknown outside the English Midlands, except for a single church dedicated to her in France as St. Frevisse. Frevisse’s wandering parents may have been just a touch homesick when their daughter was born in France and gave her a name that reminded them of home. So I am never over-sensitive about how a reader may choose to pronounce Frevisse’s name. There is the French version, the English version, the dialect version from some particular part of England — or of France, come to that — and far be it from me to claim there’s only one true way to say it. Knowing Frevisse, I’m sure she responds to all of them with equal ease.
It’s St. Etheldreda I feel sorry for. An Anglo-Saxon princess (like St. Frideswide), her name degenerated over the centuries to Audrey and then to the adjective tawdry. Frideswide may be pronounced “Fryswyd” today, but at least she hasn’t become an adjective. That I know of, anyway.