Monday, November 18, 2013

HIlda, Abess of Whitby, nun





Hilda, Abbess of Whitby (614-17 November 680) (Transferred from Sunday) was born to the royal family of Deira, being the daughter of Prince Hereric and his wife the Lady Bregswith.  She grew up in exile until her uncle King Edwin regained Northumbria.  She and her sister were baptised by St. Paulinus, but were more influenced by the Celtic rather than Roman Christianity. 

Little is heard of her until she is on her way to France to join a convent there.  Instead, Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne, called her back to Northumbria, where she was given land, and developed a monastery.  This did so well, that she was made abbess of the double monastery of Hartlepool, using the Irish Rule, and especially the rule of Coumbanus.  In 657 she went on to found the double monastery at Whitby.  In a double monastery the monks and nuns lived apart (in small houses with 2-3 per house) and came together for worship.  All property and goods were held in common.  Peace and charity were encouraged, and everyone had to study the Bible and do good works.  She remained at Whitby until her death.  She is famous as a centre of learning because at least five bishops and two saints came from Whitby. 

Hilda was known for her good judgment and learning, and had gifts of encouragement as well.  C├Ždmon, the famous poet started out as a herder, but was encouraged by Hilda to develop his poetic gifts.  Hilda is probably most well know for her role during and after the synod of Whitby, where it was decided that the churches would follow the Roman rather than Celtic customs.  Even though Hilda preferred the Celtic ways, she encourage her Abbey as well as the surrounding peoples to follow the Roman ways (these mostly had to do with the date of Easter, and forms of tonsure.)  Many of the monks of Lindisfarne refused to follow and eventually returned to Iona and Ireland. 

Hilda was very kind and referred to as mother by many.  Many came to her for advise.  In art, she is often showed with a crozier, which is the sign of an abbess’s authority. 


Readings:
Psalm 114
Proverbs 6:20-23
Ephesians 4: 1-6
Matthew 19:27-29
Dear Lord, you gave your abbess Hilda of Whitby gifts on prudence, good sense and encouragement, help us like her to encourage others in the faith and to submit to the authority of the church, even it does not follow our will.  This we ask in the name of our saviour, Yeshuah, who prayed, not my will but your will be done.  Amen.  (white)

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