Saturday, 30 July 2011

Saints of Britain: St Hilda of Whitby— August 25th

St Hilda lived the life of a noblewomen until she joined her sister (Saint Hereswitha ) as a nun in the Chelles Monastery in France. At St Aidan of Lindisfarne’s request, she went to the double monastery in Hartlepool by the River Wear where there were both monks and nuns in separate areas. Here she became the abbess for a few years before becoming the abbess of the monastery of Whitby at Streaneshalch. There she had amongst her subject monks the Bishop Saint John of Beverly, the herdsman Caedmon (the first English religious poet), Bishop St Wilfrid of York, and three other bishops. It was her influence that was a decisive factor in se-curing the unity of the English church.
In 664 she convened a conference at Whitby abbey to decide whether the Roman or Celtic ecclesiastical customs should be observed. The decision was that the Roman rule would be-come the norm. Though St Hilda and her followers were adherents of the Celtic tradition, they followed the decision of the conference.
St Bede speaks highly of St Hilda, saying among other things that “all who knew her called her Mother, such were her wonderful godliness and grace”. St Hilda died at Whitby in the year 680.