Wednesday, November 17, 2010

St Hilda (614-680 )

Bede is enthusiastic in his praise of Abbess Hilda, one of the great Celtic saints and memorable woman of antiquity: 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."

St. Hilda was especially revered for her ability to recognize spiritual gifts in both men and women. Her kindheartedness can be seen from the story of Caedmon, one of her herdsmen, whose poetic gift was discovered and nurtured by Hilda. She encouraged him with the same zeal and care she would use toward a member of the nobility, urging him to use his gifts as a means of bringing the knowledge of the Gospel Truth to common folk. St. Caedmon later composed the first hymns in the English language.

Though she presented and supported the Celtic monastic model her presence at the Council of Whitby and  leadership  of  Lindisfarne Community were key in the spirit of  Humility that pervaded the transition ( right or wrong) after the Council.

Bede described Hilda’s final years as a time of illness ‘she was attacked by a burning fever that racked her continually for six years’. Hilda died on 17 November 680 at the age of 66.
graphic:  Icon of Hilda and Caedmon

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