The Life of Saint Rumwold

Rumwold was a medieval infant saint in England, said to have lived for three days in 662. He is said to have been full of Christian piety despite his young age, and able to speak from the moment of his birth, professing his faith, requesting baptism, and delivering a sermon prior to his early death.

Rumwold is reported to have been born in Walton Grounds, near King’s Sutton in Northamptonshire, which was at that time part of the Mercian royal estates, possessing a court house and other instruments of government. The field in which he was born, where a chapel once stood on the supposed spot, may still be seen. King’s Sutton parish church claims that its Saxon or Norman font may well have been the one where Rumwold was baptised. Rumwold was baptized by Bishop Widerin.

His hagiography, the Vita Sancti Rumwoldi was written in the eleventh century, after the Norman conquest. 1

The people of Rumwoldstow in the ninth century have their own version which includes a miraculous duck, similar to animal stories from other saint’s lives. In order to communicate the story to lay people, a mystery play of his life was written (this is of course modern – and includes our hypothetical duck). We owe our detailed knowledge of Rumwold’s life to our magistra, Sister Æscwynn.

You can read the Rumwoldstow Mystery Play here or see the pdf displayed below, if everything in the internet is working today.

Saint Rumwold would have been known to Saint Frithuswith, the patron saint of Oxford. We at Rumwoldstow have our own version of her life also. Rumwold’s short life happened while Frithuswith was around twelve years of age and so he would have been a recent local sensation, and is mentioned in the play below.

Again, Sister Æscwynn provided the factual details of Frithuswith’s noble life of scholarship and prayer.


  1. Rosalind C Love Three Eleventh Century Anglo-Saxon Saints’ Lives: Vita S. Birini, Vita et Miracula S. Kenelmi and Vita S. Rumwoldi (Oxford Medieval Texts: Oxford, 1996) p. xii. Love thinks it more likely that the Vita Rumwoldi was composed for Buckingham Church, perhaps at Worcester.