Artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey
Hilda (Hild) of Whitby,
Religious, Abbess. 614 - 680.
17th November RC National Calendar England & Wales
18th November in the Anglican Church.
St. Bede was effusive in
his praise of her considering her one of the greatest of all Englishwomen.
Born into the
Northumbrian royal family she entered religious life in her thirties inspired
by the call of Aidan of Lindisfarne and was superior of the double monastery
(men and women) in Hartlepool before becoming founding Abbess of the double
monastery of Whitby (Streoneshalh).
She hosted the famous
Synod of Whitby 663 - 664 to reconcile differences between Roman & Celtic
customs in the Church. Her support for the synod's decision to observe Roman
customs despite favouring Celtic ones herself helped secure unity in the
She was known for
spiritual wisdom, learning and sound administration. Her influence extended
beyond the monastery walls; she encouraged her herdsman Caedmon, who is the
first known English poet, to compose. She insisted on the study of scripture
and proper preparation for the priesthood. Five of the monks who studied under
her became bishops, including St. Wilfrid of York and St. John of Beverly.
Usually shown holding a
replica of Whitby Abbey.
St. Bede wrote of her, "all who knew her
called her Mother, such were her wonderful godliness and grace."
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