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Original 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 English Church.
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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