wīf, n.n: woman; a married woman, wife. (“weef”)

From K. Karasawa, The Old English Metrical Calendar (Menologium) (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2015):

15 August is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven. Kazutomo Karasawa says, “The origin of the feast, as well as the date of Mary’s death, is unknown, but it is said to have been celebrated in Rome on 15 August at least from the sixth century” (p. 113).

Swylce ϸæs ymb fif niht   fægerust mægða, / wifa wuldor,   sohte weroda God / for suna sibbe,   sigefæstne ham / on neorxnawange;  hæfde nergend ϸa / fægere fostorlean   fæmnan forgolden / ece to ealdre. (Menologium, lines 148-53a)

Likewise after five nights, the fairest of maidens, the glory of women, went to the God of hosts, the victorious home of paradise, for the love of her son. Then the Saviour beautifully gave a reward for his fostering to the Lady for ever and ever. (trans. by K. Karasawa)

Wifa wuldor [glory of women] is, according to Karasawa, “a kenning used for Mary and is attested nowhere else” — compare with cyninga wuldor [glory of kings], a kenning used for Christ in this poem as well as many others. Elsewhere Mary has been called ealra femna wyn [joy of all women] and wifa wynn [joy of women]. (p. 114)


The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, from a French Book of Hours. Bibliotheque Renaissance de Nancy, MS 1874. Creative Commons licensed via Flickr. [via Jo the Librarian’s Lost and Found]

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