Hilda (614-680) was intructed by Paulinus (one of the companions of Augustine of Canterbury) in the doctrines of Christianity in preparation for her baptism at the age of thirteen. Descended from the Northumbrian royal line, Hilda then lived, chaste and respected, at the King’s court for tweny years.
She decided to enter the monastic life, and Bishop Aidan persuaded her to do so in her home country rather than in Gaul. Aidan appointed her Abbess of Hartlepool, where she established the rule of life that she had been taught by Paulinus and Aidan. She became renowned for her wisdom, eagerness for learning, and devotion to God’s service.
Some years later, she founded the abbey at Whitby, where both nuns and monks lived. Several of her monks became bishops. She encouraged the poet Caedmon, a servant at Whitby, to become a monk and to continue his inspired writing.
Whitby was the site of the famous synod convened to decide divisive questions involved in the differing traditions of Celtic Christians and the followers of Roman order. Hilda favored the Celtic position, but when the Roman position prevailed she was obedient to the synod’s decision.
Bede’s account of Hilda: “So great was her prudence that not only ordinary folk, but kings and princes used to come and ask her advice in their difficulties and take it. Those under her direction were required to make a thorough study of the Scriptures and occupy themselves in good works… For her own example taught them all to serve God obediently when in health, and to render thanks to him faithfully when in trouble or bodily weakness.”
Our Father in heaven,
We thank You for the life and ministry of Hilda. We humbly petition You for a revival of monastic vocations in the Church of England. Amen.
Hat tip: SF