St Wilfrid

Galatians 5.18-25; Psalm 1; Luke 11.42-46

Wilfrid (c633-709/710), born a Northumbrian noble, entered religious life as a teenager and studied at Lindisfarne, at Canterbury, in Gaul and at Rome. He returned to Northumbria about 660 and became Abbot of the newly-established monastery at Ripon. At the Synod of Whitby, called in 664 to settle the differences between the customs of Rome and those practised by the Irish monks of Iona and their satellites, Wilfrid was the outstanding spokesman for the Roman position, and his eloquence persuaded the Synod to agree to adopt Roman usage, especially concerning the date of Easter. Wilfrid was appointed Bishop of Northumbria. He went to Gaul for consecration because he was unsure of the valid consecration of the Anglo-Saxon bishops. During his absence political machinations led to the appointment of a rival Bishop of Northumbria. Wilfrid returned to become Bishop of Ripon instead.

Throughout his 45-year episcopate political strife was a constant between the Anglo-Saxon tribes and kingdoms. Wilfrid repeatedly had to appeal to Rome to secure his position. He was frequently at loggerheads with Kings and Archbishops alike. For five years he was an itinerant missionary in Sussex, on the Isle of Wight, and in Frisia. He was a prolific builder of churches and a very successful fundraiser. He was buried at Ripon, where miracles were said to have taken place at the spot where the water used to wash his body was discarded. Forty-eight churches were titled for him, and his relics were divided among eleven places. The many monasteries he founded produced a generation of scholars and saints.

Posted in Daily Reflection.