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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saint Hilda, Virgin and Abbess, November 17

November 17, Saint Hilda of Whitby, Virgin and Abbess
Saint Hilda of Whitby, 680
Hilda of Whitby was born a princess of the blood-royal, but until the age of thirteen, she was an heathen, at which time along with her great-uncle, King Edwin of Northumbria, she received the light of faith in Baptism at the hands of Saint Paulinus. Whereupon, for over thirty years she lived very nobly amongst her fellows, and then understood that God had called her to leave her country and kindred and her royal honours, and become a nun. Whereat she planned to cross over to France, and enter there one of the monasteries whither many Saxon maidens had already gone, including (as some maintain) her sister Saint Hereswitha. But Saint Aidan sent for her, and after twelve months of religious discipline with some companions in a place on the north band of the Weir, he made her Abbess of Hartlepool, which convent she set in order and wisely ruled for nine years. Then she founded a new religious house on a high headland overlooking the sea, which same became a great abbey, afterwards called Whitby, wherein she ruled with wisdom and holiness for many years. * God had bestowed upon her not only high rank, but a rare prudence in the government of souls, and a zeal for knowledge and ecclesiastical discipline, whereby she became a choice instrument in his hands during the troublous times when the infant Church was carrying on a great battle with paganism. All who knew her, that is to say, common and simple folk, as well as monks and bishops, princes and kings, sought to profit by her clear judgement and wise experience, insomuch that she was honored as the mother her country. Truly was she so called, for both in her own land and is distant places whither her fame had gone, she was the mother of spiritual sons and daughters. And in later days many of her kinswomen followed her on the road to sanctity, such as Saints Sethrida, Audrey, Sexaburga, Ermenilda and Werburga. According to the Celtic custom, a place for monks was joined to the nunnery at Whitby, and Hilda ruled over both. She so inspired these monks with zeal for the rule, for study and for good order, that their house became a school of missionaries, of whom no less than five became bishops ; and of these were Saints John of Beverly and Wilfrid of York. Also a poor cowherd who worked on the monastic lands was encouraged by her to become an ecclesiastical bard, namely, Caedmon, the father of English poetry ; which same was admitted to monastic vows, wherein he lived in holiness till death, and ever after, even unto this present, hath been revered as a Saint. * A council was called at Whitby whilst Saint Theodore ruled the Church of Canterbury, to wit, in 664, to decide whether or not the Celtic customs should continue to be observed in respect to the date of Easter Day and other questions. Persuaded by Saint Wilfred, King Oswy moved the synod to adopt the Roman customs in these things, whereby the Saxon Church did greatly benefit from closer unity with Western Christendom and the larger culture and growing power thereof. Yet out of this council grew certain difficulties and controversies, albeit Saint Theodore and Saint Hilda liked not these things. During the last six years of her life a grievous fever never left her, yet failed she not this while to return thanks to her Maker, nor to instruct and rule her flock. She called the monks and nuns to her death-bed at early cock-crow, and exhorted them to peace amongst themselves and all men, and then passed by death to life eternal, in the year of salvation 680. The tolling of her passing bell was wondrously heard at Harkness, thirteen miles away, where also Begu, a devout soul, saw her blessed soul borne by Angels to heaven.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
Come, thou bride of Christ, receive the crown * which the Lord hath prepared for thee forever (alleluia).
Graciously hear us, O God of our salvation : that , like as we do rejoice in the festival of blessed Hilda, thy holy Virgin, so we may learn to follow her in all godly and devout affection, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, * who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it (alleluia).

1 comment:

  1. Very nice, thanks for this. Here's one for you.