The Rood Screen

The rood screen carries paintings of eight saints. On the North side, there are four women (from left to right): they are St Mary Magdalen, St Theresa, St Elizabeth and St Frideswide. On the South side (from left to right) they are St Gregory, St Ambrose, St Jerome and St Augustine.

St Theresa of Avila

St Theresa of Ávila (1515–1582) was a Carmelite nun and prominent Spanish mystic. Along with St John of the Cross, she was responsible for reforming the Carmelite order. Her reforms led eventually to the establishment of the discalced Carmelites. Her most famous work was The Interior Castle. She was one of the first women recognised as Doctor of the Church for her teachings on prayer and contemplation. In this image, she is dressed as a Carmelite nun, and stands in front of the convent of San José in Ávila, Spain, which was the first of the reformed convents that she founded in 1562.

St Frideswide

St Frideswide (650–727 AD) was a Mercian princess. She founded a double monastery in what is now Oxford. The buildings of her monastery were incorporated into Christ Church college in Oxford (the cathedral church of Oxford). In this image, she wears the habit of an Augustinian nun and carries the pastoral staff of an abbess. She is patron saint of Oxford University and of the city of Oxford. The church of St Stephen & St Agnes lies within the Diocese of Oxford.

 St Ambrose of Milan

St Ambrose of Milan (340–397 AD) was Roman governor of Liguria and Emilia, because being elected bishop of Milan by popular acclamation in 374. He was an opponent of Arianism (the belief that Jesus is distinct from an subordinate to God the Father). As bishop, he adopted an ascetic lifestyle, giving his money to the poor and donating all his land. He was one of the four original Doctors of the Church. He wrote a treatise called, The Goodness of Death.

 St Augustine

St Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD) is depicted vested as a bishop of the Western church: he wears a mitre on his head, a cope on his shoulders and carries a crozier in his right hand. In his left hand, he carries a copy of his book, “The City of God” (De ciuitate Dei), in which he argues for a spiritual City of God in contrast to an Earthly City. He is considered one of the most important Church Fathers, having contributed to the formulation of the doctrines of original sin and predestination. The city of Hippo Regius of which Augustine was bishop, was in the Roman Province of Africa (modern-day Annaba, Algeria). He is patron saint of theologians.

He can be distinguished from the other St Augustine, who is Augustine of Canterbury and missionary to the English, because Augustine of Canterbury is conventionally depicted wearing the tonsure of a Benedictine monk and the pallium of an archbishop.

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