Hilda of Whitby
Wisdom calls out at the crossroads: Take my instruction, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you desire cannot compare with her. I hate pride and arrogance. I have good advice. By me, rulers rule, and all who govern rightly. Proverbs 8: 1, 10, 11, 13 – 16.
Hilda was born in 614 a pagan. In 627 she was baptised by Paulinus, a missionary sent from Rome. She nobly served God for the first half of her life as a laywoman within a large royal household. She was motivated for service by Aidan and his friends, who ‘visited her frequently, instructed her assiduously, and loved her heartily for her innate wisdom and her devotion to the service of God’.
It seems that in 635 she decided to enter a monastery in France. Aidan acted swiftly, and persuaded her to use her gifts in Britain. After a trial period at a small community house by the river Wear, Hilda ruled over the monastery at Hartlepool for some years, where she established the Rule of Life that Aidan had taught her, no doubt based upon the Rule Columba had introduced at Iona. Here she showed such qualities of leadership that she was called upon to establish or reform a community at Whitby.
At Whitby they lived by the same Rule. These Christ-like qualities particularly made an impression upon people: peace, love, respect for every person, purity and devotion.
After the example of the primitive church, no one was rich, no one was in need, for they had all things in common and none had any private property. So great was her prudence that not only ordinary people, but kings and princes sometimes sought and received her counsel when in difficulties.
Wisdom on High, help me to learn from the likes of Hilda:
to be reliable
to grow in prudence.
to study, work and pray hard, but not too hard;
to treat every person with courtesy and none with contempt;
to maintain resolute faith,
balanced judgement, and outgoing friendships