St Wilfrid

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Bishop. St Wilfrid was born in Northumbria in 633, the son of a noble family. He was educated at Lindisfarne, and later studied at Canterbury and then Rome. He returned to become Abbot of Ripon and introduced the Rule of St Benedict and the Western, or Roman, method of calculating Easter. This had been introduced by Kentish missionaries like Paulinus but rejected by monks of Lindisfarne who stuck to the old Celtic system.

At the Synod of Whitby, held in the monastery of monks and nuns presided over by St Hilda, in 663-4, his arguments for the calendar won. King Oswy, who opened the Synod, said that all who served one God should observe one rule of life.

Wilfrid built many churches and monasteries around the country and fell in and out of favour with the royal families of the day. He died in 709, aged 76, at his monastery near Oundle, in Northamptonshire.

The cult of Wilfrid centres on Ripon, where he was buried, and on Hexham, where his disciple Acca succeeded him as bishop and abbot. Forty-eight ancient churches were dedicated to him. The crypts of his churches at Hexham and Ripon survive.

St Wilfrid is considered one of the most important saints of the Old English church.

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