Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On the Feast Day of St. Hilda of Whitby

Image of St. Hilda
from Caedmon's Cross
For Hilda of Whitby

In a simpler time
Of kingdoms and and fiefdoms
When liege lords and princes
Set their boundaries across the land,
Killing one another for the right to rule,
A lady arose
Who called for a higher vision.

She established at Whitby
A spiritual path,
A community of grace
For both men and women
Who sought love and life
Rather than power and death.
Learning was foremost
In a setting where
The arts
The sciences
And sacred texts
Were all studied
And held in high esteem.

Hilda became advisor to kings,
Counselor to bishops,
Encourager of poets,
Mediator in religious controversy.
King Edwin
Bishop Wilfrid
Caedmon
The Synod of Whitby
All give her thanks.

Honored as a saint
By Rome and Canterbury alike,
Followers of Celtic spirituality
Pay their respect
To the Abbess of Whitby.

The hildoceras ammonite*,
Named for the saint from Yorkshire
Connects her name
To eons past.
Thus her grace-of-being
Extends to both past and present
As Hilda of Whitby
Is remembered on this day.





The ruins of the present abbey reputably near the site where Hilda had her first monastery Streonashalh on the headland at Whitby. The present ruins are from an abbey built by the Norman knight Reinfrid in 1070s which was rebuilt in 1220s. (From the Parish Church of St. Wilfrid website)



Hildoceras Bifrons ammonite
Early Jurassic Period

*From Wikipedia: The genus name has been given the name Hildoceras in honour of St. Hilda of Whitby (614-680 AD). Legend has it that this lady was required to found an abbey on the cliffs above Whitby, in the north of England. Finding the site to be infested by snakes (a devilish omen), she prayed to the Lord and the snakes coiled up and were turned to stone. She picked them up and threw them over the cliff, and that is why there are so many ammonite fossils in the rocks below the abbey. The specific name bifrons comes from Bifron, a demon, another name for the Roman god, Janus






For Further Reading: 


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