St Hild was an outstanding figure in the early English Church. She was a bringer of light. She and her monastic female and male companions contributed directly and indirectly to the conversion of England. St Bede’s account of Whitby Monastery under her, reveals Hild as the first great English female saint.
Through Hild’s faith and Rule of Life in teaching and example, Whitby monastery became a centre for the conversion of the laity – bringing salvation to many living at a distance – such as the Monastery’s famous son, Caedmon, a servant labourer on the monastic estate. Hild’s prophetic foresight recognised the potential of Caedmon’s poetic and musical gifts, gifts she fostered when she called him to join her monastery.
She taught Caedmon Holy Scripture inspiring him to compose the first Christian poem in vernacular as well as turning sacred scripture into song. Thus the earliest vernacular expressions of Christian devotion came out of Whitby.
According to St Bede, Whitby Monastery during the lifetime of Hild was “the pre-eminent centre of learning in Anglo-Saxon England and made a unique contribution to the Church at a time when its fortunes were at their nadir, particularly as the priests and bishops it trained were in desperately short supply”.
You can read my sermon as delivered at the consecration of Rose Hudson Wilkin as Bishop of Dover & Olivia Graham as Bishop of Reading at: https://t.co/0sJ6wsxBgk (Photo: Graham Lacdao/St Paul’s Cathedral) pic.twitter.com/gru4O2q3nz
— John Sentamu (@JohnSentamu) November 19, 2019