Celts to the Creche: St. Hilda of Whitby

Icon of St. Hilda of Whitby written by iconographer writer, Bonnie Wiltz Fairbanks, March, 2021 as a treasured gift for the author of Celts to the Crèche. Notice Abbess Hilda’s Bishop’s crozier with Irish shamrock in her right hand and her abbey church in her left hand.


Celts to the Crèche

Day 2

November 16

St. Hilda of Whitby

613/614-November 17, 680 AD

On this 2nd day of our pilgrimage with the Celts to the Crèche, we journey with ST. HILDA (Hild) OF WHITBY.The name Hild means “warrior.” She was the powerful, well-educated, and deeply spiritual Abbess of a convent and two double monasteries, a Celtic way of monastic living that included monks and nuns in the same monastery in separate small houses, but worshipping together in the abbey church under the rule of an Abbess. Double monasteries were most often led by an Abbess and were particularly found in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon monasteries. Hilda first established a convent of nuns on the North bank of the River Wear and was there about a year before St. Aidan of Lindisfarne sent her to Hartlepool where she was the second Abbess. Next she established the double monastery at Whitby.

Hilda was a highly respected leader of the Celtic church (she is often portrayed with a Bishop’s crozier being held in her right hand and a church/abbey in her left hand); a patron of the arts, literature, and music; and greatly influenced the transformation of Britain from paganism to Christianity. The famous Synod of Whitby in late 663 or 664 AD that was pivotal in the history of the Church was held at her monastery. She was also the one who discovered the musical and poetic talents of Caedmon, considered to be the first poet of England.

Hilda is known to us 1400 years later mainly through The Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. (see day 23 of Celts to the Crèche). Bede penned this important work as a monk at Jarrow Abbey in Northumbria in 731. He probably wrote about this great Celtic leader based upon a lost history of Hilda’s life and from personal interviews with those who knew her, likely Bishop John of Beverly  who had been trained by Hilda at Whitby. Bishop John of Beverly (see day 12 of Celts to the Crèche) is the one who ordained Bede as a deacon and later ordained him into the priesthood.

Bede who seemed to have an unabashed admiration for Hilda, wrote that she was “a woman devoted to God and a person of devotion and grace.” Her last words on earth are appropriate for the struggle in today’s world, to maintain the gospel peace among themselves and with others.

Hilda is the patron saint of learning and  culture including poetry.

St. Hilda presiding at the Synod of Whitby. Unknown artist

St. Hilda presiding at the Synod of Whitby. Unknown stained glass artist. St. Hilda’s Priory, Sneaton Castle, Whitby

You are welcome to continue reading or  go directly to the Meditation below. Like Bede, I am very fond of St. Hilda, so this post is longer than all the other devotionals in Celts to the Crèche. 

Hilda’s Family. Bede recorded that Hilda was born into the royal Deiran household, the great-niece of King Edwin of Northumbria in England and the daughter of Hereric and his wife Breguswith. Bede also includes a story in which Breguswith while pregnant with Hilda,  dreamed that she suddenly became aware that her husband was missing. After searching for him frantically without success, she discovered a precious jewel under her garment. When she gazed at the jewel it flashed a blaze of light that illuminated all Britain with its splendor. Breguswith sensed that this was a prophetical dream not only about her husband, but also about her daughter Hilda who would bring light to the isle of Britain.

Almost immediately after her birth, Hilda’s parents and older sister were sent into exile in Elmet in western Yorkshire, England and Hereric (Hilda’s Father) died there, likely poisoned by their “host” King Cerdic of Elmet. Soon afterwards, Breguswith and her two young daughters moved back to Northumbria to be under the protection of King Edwin. They probably lived at King Edwin’s dual palaces at York and Yeavering.

According to Bede, Hilda was baptized alongside King Edwin and his extended family by St. Paulinus in the especially built wooden York Minster on Easter Sunday, April 12 in 627. It is interesting that the Annals of Wales (Annales Cambriae) and the Historia Brittonum record that King Edwin was baptized by Rhun, son of Urien in 626, so it is possible that Edwin and his family including Hilda were baptized by Rhun or perhaps they were baptized twice, by Rhun and by St. Paulinus!

Icon of St. Hilda of Whitby by Ellen Francis, OSH

Icon of St. Hilda of Whitby written by Ellen Francis, OSH. Used with her permission.

Hilda had an older sister Hereswith (see day 3 Celts to the Crèche) who married into East Anglian royalty connected to King Rædwald of the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial. Probably after her husband’s death, Hereswith was exiled to France to live at a Merovingian convent east of Paris with Anglo-Saxon familial ties.

Bede eloquently extolled the virtues of women who were virgins in spite of marriage. Since he never mentioned Hilda’s virginity, it is quite likely as a royal princess that she was married to another royal, and was possibly not only a queen, but also a mother  who  in her late 20’s or early 30’s was either widowed or divorced.


Hilda’s Calling and Her Monasteries. When Hilda was 33 years old, she was in East Anglia for a year preparing to travel by ship to a convent near Paris, France to join her sister, Hereswith. St. Aidan, the first Bishop of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in Northumbria  (see day 1 of Celts to the Crèche) had been brought from the great Celtic monastery of Iona off the western coast of Scotland by King Oswald to convert the people of his kingdom. When Aidan heard about Hilda, he pleaded with her to stay in England and to begin a small convent north of the River Wear. This may have been where St. Hilda’s Church, South Shields is located now or it may have been in the vicinity of St. Paul’s Church in Monkwearmouth.

St. Hilda’s Church. South Shields.
Some think that this church may have been  built over St. Hilda’s first monastery on the north side of the River Wear. The name may have originally been St. Hilda’s that was transformed over time in South Shields. (Arnold-Foster. Studies in Church Dedications, vol. 2, p. 399). My husband and I worshipped with this congregation in April 2012. Photo by Harvey Warren

Hilda Reassigned to Hartlepool Monastery. After Aidan saw Hilda’s great ability to lead a small convent on the north bank of the River Wear, a year later, about 649, he persuaded Hilda to become the second Abbess of Hartlepool (also called Hereteu or Hart’s Island), a double monastery on a headland at the mouth of the Tees estuary. Hilda succeeded Abbess Hieu (see day 24 of Celts to the Crèche), the founding Abbess of Hartlepool who had recently retired to Tadcaster. Hilda served there for nine years. Interestingly, in 1833, while digging some land for Cross Close, the monastic cemetery was located. Skeletons of females were discovered that were lying in two rows with their heads laying upon flat stones like pillows, with larger stones (gravestones?) above, engraved with Runic and Saxon letters. Most of the stones bore different types of crosses. There were several women’s names on the stones that were used in the time of Hilda including the name Bregusuid, the name of Hilda’s mother. Was her mother in her daughter’s monastery or was that a common name? It is more of a British name than an Anglo-Saxon name which makes it intriguing. 


St. Hilda’s Church, Hartlepool
Likely built over the original abbey founded by Abbess Hieu. Hilda became the second Abbess. I visited this church in June 2007 and Sept. 2014  that has an incredible display about Hilda.  Some believe that Hilda’s Mother, Breguswith was buried at Hartlepool. Photo from Doc Brown’s Travel Photos

I am with Dr. Michelle P. Brown speaking at Hartlepool Abbey in September 2014 on St. Hilda.

I am with my friend, Dr. Michelle P. Brown, former Curator of Medieval Manuscripts at the British Library and expert on the Lindisfarne Gospels who spoke on St. Hilda at Hartlepool Abbey in September 2014. She and I led a Celtic pilgrimage together in England in 2020.

Hilda builds a new monastery at Whitby. In 657, King Oswiu gave Hilda ten hides of land (about 1,200 acres) called Streanæsalch to build a double monastery and to raise his infant daughter, princess Ælfflæd (see day 29 of Celts to the Crèche) there. Later this monastery became known by the Viking name of Whitby.

The ruins of the later Whitby Abbey probably built upon St. Hilda’s original monastery of Streanaesalch. I visited here in June 2007,  September 2014, and October 2017. It was so foggy in 2014, that we could barely see the ruins of the Abbey.

Chancel Area of St. Mary's Church, Whitby, at the top of 199 steps! it is thought by some that the chancel area is built over St. Hilda's first wooden church. Sept. 2014

Chancel Area of St. Mary’s Church, Whitby, at the top of 199 steps! It is thought by some that the chancel area is built over St. Hilda’s first wooden church. Visited this church in Sept. 2014 and October 2017. Photo by Brenda Warren

There is some discussion among Anglo-Saxon scholars whether Hilda’s monastery was originally at this location or at Strensall (very similar name to Streanæsalch), a village slightly north of York where St. Mary the Virgin Church is now located. (see reference below: Barnwell, Butler, Dunn. in The Cross Goes North). I visited this Strensall church in April 2012 and in 2016. St. Hilda would probably be smiling that this ancient church is modern inside, has a praise band, and young families are once again worshipping here.

St. Mary the Virgin Church at Strensall, just north of York. I visited this church in 2016. Photo by Harvey Warren

Under Hilda’s leadership, Whitby flourished and became a center of great literacy and learning. It most likely had a scriptorium where illuminated manuscripts were copied and decorated as evidenced by styli (used to practice on wax tablets before putting pen to parchment) and other manuscript tools which were found at the site in archaeological excavations.

Hilda’s Satellite Convent. Towards the end of her life, Hilda began a satellite convent at Hackness, in a very beautiful part of North Yorkshire about 13 miles west of  Whitby. The broken cross in the photo below was discovered before 1848 (likely in the 1830’s) in one of the two outbuildings of Hackness Hall. It may have been used earlier as a gatepost and that is why it was so weathered. The writing on this cross reads, “Œdilburga…always…your community /devotees are always mindful of you…most loving mother…religious Abbess Æthelburga pray for (them?)”.

The shaft of an Anglo-Saxon cross in St. Peter’s Church in Hackness which is likely located on the foundations of another of St. Hilda’s convents/double monasteries. The cross in Latin and Runic bears the names of Abbesses of Hackness likely including  Hilda’s great niece Œdilburga (likely Aethelburga)  who was Hereswith’s granddaughter and Hilda’s great-niece. It was discovered in the 1830’s being used as a gatepost. I visited here in April 2012,  Sept. 2014, and October 2017. Photo by Brenda Warren

It is likely that Hilda also had a hermitage in Cumbria at Islekirk, which is said to be a corruption of Hild-kirk. She may have also established a monastery or hermitage where the current St. Hilda’s Church in Ellerburn is located. It is in a beautiful secluded spot beside any idyllic brook.

St. HIlda's Church, Ellerburn with two of the Sisters of the Holy Paraclete from St. Hilda's Priory/St. Oswald's Pastoral Centre. St. Hilda's Pilgrimage, Sept. 2014

St. Hilda’s Church, Ellerburn (possibly another outpost of Hilda’s Abbey) with two of the Sisters of the Holy Paraclete from St. Hilda’s Priory/St. Oswald’s Pastoral Centre. St. Hilda’s Pilgrimage, Sept. 2014. Photo by Brenda Warren

Synod of Whitby. Whitby was of the Celtic persuasion (vs. the Roman way). Hilda’s monastery was probably based upon the rather rigorous Celtic St. Columbanus’ Rule perhaps mixed with some of the more compassionate St. Benedict’s Rule and likely a rule that she wrote herself. As Abbess, Hilda emphasized learning and literacy, scholarly study of the Bible, good works, holding all things in common, and living with one another in peace and love.

In 664, (see Frank Stenton’s resource listing below for information on this date),  King Oswiu of Northumbria called the important and influential Synod of Whitby which was held at Hilda’s monastery. This synod was to bring together the leaders of both the Celtic and the Roman ways to decide dates of Easter, the types of tonsures (monks’ haircuts), and theological leanings. It has been implied (Dugdales Monasticon, v.1, p. 220), that Hilda presided over the synod.

At the close of the synod, King Oswiu  chose for his kingdom to follow the Roman way. Wilfrid, an Anglo-Saxon bishop of the Roman persuasion convinced the king that since St. Peter held the keys to heaven that it would be expedient to follow the Roman method of doing church. Even though Hilda was disappointed and rather disgusted with Wilfrid, she followed the ruling and began to transform Whitby towards the Roman way. Colman, the Bishop of Lindisfarne (see day 25 of Celts to the Crèche) who succeeded Aidan, could not follow this Roman way and he and some of his monks left Lindisfarne moving back to the abbey on Iona, and later some returned to Ireland. Even to the end of Hilda’s life, she was not very fond of Wilfrid.

Synod of Whitby Mural by Juliet MacMichael in the St. Hilda Room
St. Hilda’s Priory, Sneaton Castle, Whitby, Yorks. Sept. 2014

Hilda’s Influence. Bede records that Hilda was so loved and respected that everyone who knew her called her “Mother.” Bede also described her as “Christ’s servant” and many came to salvation through hearing of her industry and goodness.

Hilda’s wisdom led kings to come and ask her advice. Whitby became one of the greatest religious institutions and learning centers in England at that time. She was a great religious leader and teacher who was not only deeply spiritual, but was also a powerful administrator and visionary.

Among the men trained at Whitby, five went on to become Bishops.  Bosa of York (678-86, 691-706); Ætla of Dorchester (670’s); Oftfor of the Hwicce (c. 691-?); John of Beverly (Bishop of Hexham 687-706 and York 706-721); and Wilfrid II of York (721-732). Another of Hild’s students Tatfrid had been chosen to become Bishop of the Hwicce, but he passed away before he could be consecrated. (See Celts to the Crèche, day 12 John of Beverley)

Hilda recognizes the gifts of Caedmon. One day a cow herder on the monastery lands who had some ways with words and music was brought to Hilda to hear. She recognized his gift from God and encouraged him to stay at the monastery to learn the Bible stories and to create them into poetry and song. She must have recognized that teaching the Bible in the vernacular instead of Latin would help bring the people of the area to Christ. Through this encounter with Hilda, Cædmon became the first English poet. The only existing poem of his is the nine line alliterative vernacular praise poem in honor of God. Perhaps this appreciation for music and poetry was a carry-over from the Druidic Bards.

Standing next to Caedmon’s Cross on the grounds of St. Mary’s Church, next to Whitby Abbey. My friend Janet Davis joined me on this pilgrimage. October 2017. Photo by Janet Davis

Hilda has continued to influence Christianity in England for over 1400 years with many churches, colleges, convents, schools, and organizations named for her and she is the patron saint of numerous places.  Born only 600 years after the birth of Christ and 200 years after the Romans left Britain, she was chosen by the Spirit to be a strong and persuasive leader to bring literacy, learning, and the light of Christ to Britain.

St. Hilda's Well, Hinderwell, England

St. Hilda’s Well, Hinderwell, England. The name originally was likely “ Hilderwell.” Visited there and brought back water from this well. April, 2012 and Sept. 2014. Photo by Brenda Warren

St. Hilda by Edith Reyntiens of England, a Russian Orthodox iconographer. This icon resides in Durham Cathedral.

St. Hilda by Edith Reyntiens of England, a Russian Orthodox iconographer. This icon resides by the altar to St. Hilda at Durham Cathedral very near St. Cuthbert’s shrine

At Sneaton Castle in Whitby, there was a group of Anglican Sisters of the Holy Paraclete at St. Hilda’s Priory. They have many beautiful representations of this woman who helped bring Christianity to pagan England. The Sisters  sold this property in 2019 and they have built a beautiful new priory on a piece of the original land. It is quite likely that one of Hilda’s monastery outposts was on this land.

Statue of St. Hilda at Sneaton Castle, Whitby

Statue of St. Hilda on the former St. Hilda’s Priory, Sneaton Castle, Whitby. Notice the Bishop’s crozier in her right hand that denotes religious authority and her church/Abbey in her left hand, photo taken Sept. 2014. Photo by Brenda Warren

St. Hilda's statue outside of St. Hilda's Priory Chapel, Sneaton Castle

St. Hilda’s statue outside of the former St. Hilda’s Priory Chapel, Sneaton Castle, photo taken Sept. 2014. She holds a Bishop’s crozier in her right hand and her abbey/church in her left hand. Photo by Brenda Warren


The New Priory of The Sisters of the Holy Paraclete

The new St. Hilda’s Priory houses the accommodation of the Sisters as well as offices, refectory, and a beautiful new chapel. Photo from Priory websitehttps://www.ohpwhitby.org.uk/the-priory/

Hilda’s Resurrection Day. Hilda became very ill the last six years of her life and Bede compared her to the apostle Paul saying that her “strength might be made perfect in weakness.” In spite of her long illness, she kept serving the Lord with energy, strength, creativity, and courage. On her deathbed, she had her last Communion at age 66 surrounded by her nuns on November 17, 680. Her last words to her followers urged them “to maintain the gospel peace among themselves and with others.

It is recorded by Bede that on the night of Hilda’s resurrection, that Begu, a nun at the newly established Hackness convent saw a vision of the roof opened and Hilda’s soul carried to heaven by angels. Begu told the Prioress of her vision and they all began to pray. It is even said that the bells at Hackness rang on their own at her death.  While the nuns were in prayer, the monks from Whitby came to inform the nuns of Hackness of the news of Hilda’s death, but they were already aware of her death from Begu’s vision. According to the Old English Martyrology, at Hilda’s death,

“One of her nuns perceived how angels brought her spirit to heaven and it glittered in the midst of the angels like the shining sun or a glossy new gown. The same nun heard at the same time as she departed the sound of a wonderful bell in the air and she also saw that angels raised against her spirit a very large and wonderful cross of Christ and it shone like a star of heaven. With such joy was St. Hilda’s spirit brought to the heavenly glory, where she now sees our Lord without end, whose will she did before as long as she was alive in the flesh.”

St. Peter's Church, Hackness likely built over another of St. Hilda's foundations. photo taken Sept. 2014

St. Peter’s Church, Hackness likely built over another of St. Hilda’s foundations. photo taken Sept. 2014, also visited 2017. Photo by Harvey Warren

Hilda was most likely buried at Whitby and her relics later taken to Glastonbury. In Volume 1 of Dugdale’s Monasticon, it is recorded that Tica, the Abbot of Whitby when the Vikings may have destroyed it in 867,  fled to Glastonbury with St. Hilda’s relics. Hilda was succeeded as Abbess at Whitby by King Oswiu’s widow, Queen Eanflæd and their daughter Ælfflæd (see day 29 of Celts to the Crèche) who was raised at Hartlepool and at Whitby.

Hilda’s Feast Day is remembered on November 17. There is a Feast of the Translation of St. Hild, on August 25 with a fair held on August 25, 26, and 27 in Whitby. Hilda’s name is found in the early 8th c. Calendar of Willibrord.

Whitby Destroyed.  Whitby, being situated on the coast was easy prey for the Vikings that came from Scandinavia. This magnificent double monastery may have been destroyed by these marauders in 867. One can only imagine the fine illuminated manuscripts similar to the Lindisfarne Gospels or the Book of Kells which her scriptorium produced that were destroyed along with an extensive library of handwritten books for scholarly and theological learning.

Tools used in scriptoriums for producing illuminated manuscripts. These tools were found at Whitby.
2 copper alloy styli for practicing on wax tablets, bone pricker to prick lines in the parchment, and a parchment clip. From the Whitby Museum

St. Hilda Today: There are numerous  schools and colleges named after St. Hilda including at least 15 churches, eleven in Yorkshire, two in Durham, one at Hinderwell, and perhaps on,e in Ellerburn. Of course, there are other churches connected to her like Hackness. There is a renewed interest in St. Hilda among those who study the history of women, the Church,  and the early medieval era.

At Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in northeast England, the “Community of Aidan and Hilda,” a dispersed international ecumenical community of men and women has it’s office and a retreat center. Rev. Ray Simpson is the Founding Guardian of this community.

What a treat to have lunch with Ray Simpson on Lindisfarne, October 2017. He is the Founding Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda. He is also the author of the well-researched and excellent book on St. Hilda that is listed in the bibliography below. I shared an icon of St. Hilda with him written by Sister Ellen Francis, OSH. The Celtic Pilgrimage I led in the Fall of 2019 also met with Ray for dinner. Photo by Janet Davis

Hilda’s Way Pilgrimage. There is also a 43 mile St. Hilda’s Way pilgrimage path in Northeast England from Hinderwell in Yorkshire to Whitby Abbey. It visits eight churches and chapels all dedicated to St Hilda. St Hilda’s Way was launched on Sunday June 28,  2015 with a special service at St. Hilda’s Well at Hinderwell Church.

St. Hilda of Whitby by Betsy Hayes. Contact pastor pilgrim for information on this artist.

St. Hilda of Whitby by Betsy Hayes


Feast day is November 17

                   St. Paul prays for the new converts in Asia Minor:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 TNIV

God is full of wonderful surprises and often leads us to places we never dreamed or imagined. When we trust our lives to the good God of the universe who loves us, then we are taken on journeys beyond our wildest imaginations.

The early Celtic monks would climb into their little leather coracles in the rough Irish Sea and ask the Spirit to blow them to where they were to share the Gospel. Their faith brought Christ to the Druids, pagans, and those  who had lost their Christian foundation after the Romans left Britain.

God still calls men and women in his equal opportunity kingdom to serve, to minister, and to share the Gospel of the good news. May we be open to the Spirit’s work in our lives even if it is different than what we would have planned or divergent from what our social or religious culture says we can do.

Hilda’s affirmative response to Bishop Aidan’s requests to become the head/founder of influential double monasteries was transformative to that pagan continent. During her lifetime, much of Britain became Christian. We can imagine St. Hilda crossing that Saints’ Bridge, that thin place between heaven and earth to emphatically tell us that a simple “yes” can transform your piece of the world. Both Hilda and Mary would encourage us to simply say “yes” to Jesus the Christ being born anew in your life this Advent season.

Prayer: Thank you God for St. Hilda and her courageous good work of establishing monasteries as beacons of learning, literacy, and light bearing Christ to the Anglo-Saxons. Spirit of the Living God, blow me to places I never dreamed of or imagined and I will say “yes!”  Amen.

Hymn: God of grace and God of glory on Thy people pour Thou power. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of these days.

St. Hilda of Whitby stained glass from Sneaton Castle, UK

St. Hilda of Whitby stained glass from Sneaton Castle, UK

© Brenda G. Warren and http://www.saintsbridge.org, 2018-2029. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda G. Warren and http://www.saintsbridge.org (Celts to the Creche) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Some Resources:

The Annales of Cambriae. from Fordham University.

Arnold-Forster, Frances Egerton. Studies in Church Dedications: Or, England’s Patron Saints, Volume 2. London: Skeffington & Sons, 1899. (St. Hilda of Whitby dedications). 

Barker, Rosalin. Whitby Sisters: A Chronicle of the Order of the Holy Paraclete, 1915-2000. Whitby, UK: Order of the Holy Paraclete, 2001.

Barnwell, Butler, and Dunn. “The Confusion of Conversion: Streanæsalch, Strensall and Whitby and the Northumbrian Church.” In The Cross Goes North, ed. by Martin Carver. Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press, 2003, 2005 reprint.

Bauer, Nancy. “Abbess Hilda of Whitby: All Britain Was Lit by her Splendor,” in Medieval Women Monastics, Miriam Schmitt, Linda Kulzer, eds. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.

Bede, The Venerable. Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book IV, Chapter 23.

Blair, John. The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Blair, Peter Hunter. The World of Bede. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

British Pilgrimage Trust. St. Hilda’s Way. 

Brown, H.E. For God Alone: The Lives of the Early English Saints: St. Hilda and St. Elfleda  of Whitby. Phoenix: Leonine Publishers, 2016.

Brown, Michelle P. How Christianity Came to Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2006.

Browne, G. F. The Importance of Women in Anglo-Saxon Times: The Cultus of St. Peter and Paul And Other Addresses. New York: Macmillan, 1919. reprint.

Cavill, Paul. Anglo-Saxon Christianity. London: Fount, 1999. (Chapter 6 is good on Cædmon)

Colgrave, Bertram, trans. The Earliest Life of Gregory the Great by an Anonymous monk of Whitby. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968, 2007 reprint.

Connelly, Roland (Father). Saint Hilda and her Abbey at Whitby. Middlesbrough, UK: printed by Quoin Publishing, n.d.

Dales, Douglas. Light to the Isles. Mission and Theology in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Britain. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 1997.

Dalladay, J. Hild of the Headlands: The Story of St. Hilda of Whitby. 3rd ed. Whitby, UK: St. Mary’s Church, 2002.

Earle, Mary C. Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from Celtic Saints. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2004.

Eckersley, John and Nancy. Walking St. Hilda’s Way(note: according to their website, this book is no longer available, but a copy may be located in a used book shop).

Eddius Stephanus (Stephen of Ripon). The Life of Bishop Wilfrid, trans. by Bertram Colgrave. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

Farmer, D. H., ed. The Age of Bede. London: Penguin, 1983, 2004 reprint.

Fell, Christine. Women in Anglo-Saxon England and the Impact of 1066. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1984.

Foot, Sarah. Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England, c600-900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Gibson, Becky Gould. Need-Fire. Treadwell, NY: Bright Hill Press, 2007.

Goffart, Walter. The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550-800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988, 2009 reprint.

Goodall, John. Whitby Abbey. London: English Heritage, 2002, 2006 reprint.

Griffith, Nicola. Hild. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. 2013. (a meticulously researched sci-fi/historical fiction/fantasy by an award-winning author of St. Hild’s life that is receiving major book awards and will likely become a movie).

Hackness Church

Haigh, Daniel H. Notes on the History of S. Bega & S. Hild: and on some relics of anqituity discovered in the sites of the religious establishments of them. J. Procter, 1858.

Harrison, Dick. The Age of Abbesses and Queens: Gender and Political Culture in Early Medieval Europe. Lund, Sweden: Nordic Academic Press, 1998.

Hartlepool Church, The Parish Church of St. Hilda

Hume, Basil. Footprints of the Northern Saints. London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, Ltd. 1996, 2006 reprint.

Jones, Andrew. Every Pilgrim’s Guide to Celtic Britain and Ireland. Ligouri, Missouri: Ligouri Publications, 2002.

Kilpatrick, Kelly A. “Latin, Runes, & Pseudo-Ogham: The Enigma of the Hackness Cross. The International Research Network. Runes.Monuments and Memorial Carvings Workshop. Chester, UK. 8 April 2013.

Lapidge, Michael, “Hild or Hilda,” in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

Leyser, Henrietta. Beda: A Journey Through the Seven Kingdoms in the Age of Bede. London: Head of Zeus, 2015.

McDonald, Ian, ed. Saints of Northumbria. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1997.

Mayr-Harting, Henry. The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England. University Park, PA:  The University of Pennsylvania Press, 3rd ed. 1991.

Meehan, Bridget Mary and Regina Madonna Oliver. Praying with Celtic Holy Women. Hampshire, UK: Redemptorist Publications, 2003.

Mundahl-Edwards, Sylvia. St. Hilda and Her Times. Whitby: Caedmon of Whitby, 1997.

Nennius. Historia Brittonum. from Fordham University.

Old English Martyrology. ed. by Georg Herzfeld. available online at Google books. New edition, 2013 ed/tr. by Christine Rauer.

Order of the Holy Paraclete. 

Parbury, Kathleen. Women of Grace: A Biographical Dictionary of British Women Saints, Martyrs, and Reformers. Boston: Oriel Press, 1985.

Pearse, W. Guy, ed. The Story of Saint Hilda of Whitby (The Children’s Library of the Saints, XXV). London: A.W. Mowbray & Co., n.d.

Plunkett, Steven. Suffolk in Anglo-Saxon Times. Stroud, UK: Tempus, 2005.

Rees, Elizabeth. An Essential Guide to Celtic Sites and Their Saints. London: Burns & Oates, 2003.

Register and Records of Holm Cultram.    Islekirk

“Rhun, son of Urien” at carlanayland.blogspot.com

Sawyers, June Skinner. Praying with Celtic Saints, Prophets, Martyrs, and Poets. Franklin, WI: Sheed & Ward, 2001.

Sellner, Edward C. Wisdom of the Celtic Saints, rev. and expanded. St. Paul, MN: Bog Walk Press, 2006.

Simpson, Ray. Hilda of Whitby: A Spirituality for Now. Abingdon, UK: The Bible Reading Fellowship, 2014.

_______. St. Hilda, the Synod of Whitby, and the Great Emergence. Talk at St. Giles Church, Oxford, November 15, 2013. youtube.

St. Hilda on BBC4’s In Our Time.  April 5, 2007.

“St. Hilda and St. Etheldreda” by Dame Etheldreda Hession in Benedict’s Disciples, ed by D.H. Farmer, Leominster, UK: Fowler Wright Books Ltd., 1980.

The St. Hilda Community. The New Women Included: A Book of Services and Prayers (with new introductions and prayers). London: SPCK, rev. and updated 1996.

St. Hilda’s Way. 43 mile walk that was instituted in 2015. It starts at Hinderwell and ends at Whitby Abbey. The British Pilgrimage Trust.

Stenton, Frank. Anglo-Saxon England, 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974. (note: according to  this author, p. 129, the official dating of the Synod of Whitby would be late Sept.or early Oct, 663).

Szarmach, Paul E., ed. Holy Men and Holy Women: Old English Prose Saints’ Lives and Their Contexts. Albany NY: State University of New York, 1996.

Time Team. The Time Team endeavors to locate where St. Hilda’s original Anglo-Saxon church and nun’s cemetery were on this headland.  Season 7. Episode 12Hartlepool Excavation. April 27, 2013. Youtube.

Tristram, Kate.  The Story of Holy Island: An illustrated history. Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2009.

Wallace-Hadrill. Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People: A Historical Comentary. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1988.

Ward, Sister Benedicta. A True Easter: The Synod of Whitby 664 AD. Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2008.

Warren, Brenda Griffin. Chasing Hilda.” July 23, 2016. Godspacelight.com.

________________. “St. Hilda of Whitby…maintaining the gospel peace.” November 17, 2016. Godspacelight.com.

Webb, Simon. In Search of the Northern Saints. Durham, UK: Langley Press, 2012.

Whitby Abbey website. English Heritage

Winterbotham, James. Hackness and it’s Church: A brief history. 2000.

Yorke, Barbara. Nunneries and the Anglo-Saxon Royal Houses. London: Continuum, 2003.

Young, Rev. George. A History of Whitby and Streoneshalh Abbey. London: Clark and Medd: 1817. Google books.

Ziegler, Michelle. Heavenfield blogpost on St. Hilda.

____________. Heavenfield blogpost on Rhun. 

Yes, I even had a Maine Coon cat named “Hilda!” Here I am picking up our little bundle of silver fur from the breeder, Donna Hinton of Nascat Maine Coons. And…Hilda was very intelligent, busy, and strong-willed like the great St. Hilda probably was. She lived up to her name as she designated herself as  the Abbess of our home. She was in charge of our home and her two brother cats that she kept in line. We miss this Abbess of our home. 

St. Hilda of Whitby cat celebrating Advent.

St. Hilda of Whitby cat celebrating Advent. Our sweet, scary-smart, strong-willed  Hilda crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Easter Week, 2018. It is my hope that she immediately went to look for her namesake. We miss her so much.

About Brenda

Rev. Warren is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) retired Pastor, that still does some preaching. I am married to a wonderful guy with two grown awesome sons; an equally awesome daughter-in-love; adorable grandchildren; and a very large, much-adored Maine Coon cat. I love reading, writing, travel, mountains, and beachcombing. As a former public and theological Library Director, I love doing research that has helped me in composing this Advent devotional, “Celts to the Creche” at www.saintsbridge.org. My research has been enriched by libraries, way too many books and journals purchased, and numerous pilgrimages to the places where these saints lived and worked and had their being. I cannot even begin to express what a great gift it has been to meet like-minded friends along the path who have generously and kindly shared their scholarship, knowledge, and enthusiasm for the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon saints. I often wonder if the saints have in some way been instrumental in introducing me to their friends on both sides of the thin veil.
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