Hilda of Whitby

As the General Synod considers yet again how to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of England without driving out those of its members who are unable to accept that change, it seems apt that today's commemoration is for Hilda, Abbess of Whitby.

St Hilda (Hild) was a woman of great influence in the 7th century church in England. As Abbess of a monastery for women and men at Whitby she,
"...taught there the strict observance of justice, piety, chastity, and other virtues, and particularly of peace and charity; so that, after the example of the primitive church, no person was there rich, and none poor, all being in common to all, and none having any property. Her prudence was so great, that not only indifferent persons, but even kings and princes, as occasion offered, asked and received her advice; she obliged those who were under her direction to attend so much to reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to exercise themselves so much in works of justice, that many might be there found fit for ecclesiastical duties, and to serve at the altar." Bede: Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, Chapter XXIII.

If you want to know more about St Hilda's life and times, here is a very interesting article.

The collect prayer for today:

Eternal God,
who made the abbess Hilda to shine like a jewel in our land
and through her holiness and leadership
blessed your Church with new life and unitry:
help us, like her, to yearn for the gospel of christ
and to reconcile those who are divided;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


  1. What is it about that 'neck of the woods' that seems to have produced so very many of our greatest thinkers writers and sages? Just thinking about The Venerable Bede, St Cuthbert, St Hilda and many more who graced the Northumbrian and Cumbrian regions in days of yore.
    Something in the air do you think? Or more likely, the fact that life was particularly hard in those areas and the survivors were a special breed.
    I feel sure that were she alive today Hilda would have been at the very least a bishop.

    1. Something in the air? I don't know. Life probably was harder than in the south for most people, although less hard I imagine for the privileged few, of whom Hild was one, being the niece of a king. As an Abbess of that time she probably had more power in the region that the bishops of our time. Sorry to be slow to respond to your comment - I'm convalescing after an operation.

    2. Hoping all is well with you and that you are recovering well.

    3. Recovering OK, but I'm much more tired than I had expected at this stage, but apparently that is normal, thank you Ray.

  2. A great saint and a perfect commemoration for Synod. I was so pleased the first vote went through so overwhelmingly today.

    1. Today's vote is certainly very good news. As my diocesan bishop said, we are "on the road". There's still a way to go but much more hope and a better sense of unity I think. Synod could have done with St Hild's wisdom before last November's disaster.


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