This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12 -- Feast of Saint Wilfrid

NB. Seal and fish discussed next year
March 2 is the feast of Saint Chad, whose appointment as bishop of Northumbria was undone by the contemporaneous appointment of another guy.  Chad (Ceadd) got to hold the job for a while but eventually the archbishop of Canterbury backed the other guy.  That guy was Wilfrid (Wilfrith). 

Wilfrid was an impressive guy for the seventh century.  He was born to the 1%, but since he didn't get along with step-mom, he was packed off to the King's court, whence he moved to Lindisfarne.  In spite of having been educated at the center of Celtic Christianity in Great Britain, Wilfrid backed the Roman faction at the Synod of Whitby.  This settled some burning issues, including how best to cut a monk's hair and how to determine which Sunday is Easter.  Wilfrid's speech on the calculation of Easter was apparently memorable; moreover, he faction prevailed. 

On the strength of that, he was appointed bishop of Northumbria; needing consecration, he set out for Gaul (France) to find some Latin Rite bishops to lay hands on him.  The journey would have taken long enough, but he was shipwrecked in Sussex and attacked by heathens en route.  By the time he got back, political winds had shifted in Northumbria and Chad was seated on his cathedra.  Wilfrid went south, but when Theodore took over at Canterbury, he bounced Chad off the chair and gave it back to Wilfrid.  Later on, Archbishop Ted tried to break up Wilfrid's see, so Wilfrid took his case to Rome.  Rome backed him up, but King Ecgfrith refused to allow him back into York so he was exiled south once again, this time to preach to those Sussex heathens that had nearly killed him.  Fractious bunch, these Brits. 

His church in York -- St. Margaret Clitherow's shrine is here
Regime change in Northumbria permitted him to return to York again, but he hadn't been there long before he was exiled yet again.  Really fractious bunch.  Again he appealed to Rome, which this time said that an English council should settle it.  The council was held and determined that everything Wilfrid claimed should be confiscated from him.  Once more he appealed and this time the Pope backed him up with an order to restore all they had taken from him.  He died an embattled bishop, barely in possession of Northumbria, Hexham, and several monasteries. 

At worst, he was a bigshot who needed more monastic humility and less ecclesiastical pomp.  At best, he was a defender of the faith caught between the Celtic zealots who would have balkanized the Church and secular kings who would have subordinated the Church.  I lean toward the former, but I tend to think a Celtic rite church would have been healthy in keeping Rome open-minded.  It probably wouldn't have prevented the Schism, papal corruption, or the Reformation, but it couldn't have hurt.  Sorry, Wil. 

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