St. Hild

The life and example of St. Hild (St. Hilda) are central to the core values and heart of our school. Here is some information regarding our Patron Saint.

St. Hild was born in Northumbria in 614, the daughter of Hereric, the nephew of King Edwin of Northumbria. She was baptised by St. Paulinus in 627 at the age of 13 along with King Edwin and his entire household. She learned the traditions of Celtic monasticism, which Aidan brought from Iona. St. Aidan appointed Hild as the second Abbess of Hartlepool Abbey. In 657 Hilda became the founding abbess of a new monastery at Whitby, then known as Streoneshalh, she remained there until her death. Through St. Hild’s leadership Whitby gained a great reputation, becoming a place of pilgrimage for many believers and a burial place for kings. People travelled from afar to consult her, as her wisdom became known and respected by monks royal personages. The monastery grew and St. Hild became the governor of a double monastery for both men and women, with a chapel in between. The place became a significant point of learning in both scripture and the arts and sciences. Five of the monks who studied under Hild later became bishops, including Saint Wilfrid of York and Saint John of Beverly.

Her kindness and encouraging spirit led to St. Hild being known as ‘Mother Hild.’ For St. Caedmon in particular she became a very influential person. The Venerable Bede praises St. Hild “as one of the greatest women of all time: She was the adviser of rulers as well as of ordinary folk; she insisted on the study of Holy Scripture and proper preparation for the priesthood; the influence of her example of peace and charity extended well beyond the walls of her monastery; and "all who knew her called her Mother, such were her wonderful godliness and grace."

Often represented in art as holding Whitby Abbey in her hands with a crown on her head or at her feet St. Hild appears as a Godly and humble leader.

Even on her death bed St. Hild thought of the guidance of others with her last recorded words being: "Have evangelical peace among yourselves." She died on November 17, 680.

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