Saint Wilfred, Bishop of York 633 – 709

Bishop of York. Wilfred, born in Northumbria in 633AD., was educated at Lindisfarne, northern centre of Irish culture and learning. He furthered his studies in Rome and took the tonsure in Lyons where he spent three years. On his return to England, at the invitation of King Alcfrith, he became Abbot of Ripon where he introduced the monastic rule of St. Benedict and the Roman method of calculating Easter.

Chosen by King Alcfrith as bishop, he received episcopal consecration by twelve Frankish bishops at CompiFgne. On his return in 666AD he found King Oswiu had succeeded Alcfrith and chosen Chad to supplant him as Bishop of York. Wilfred retired to Ripon. In 669AD he was reinstated by Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury.

In collaboration with king Egfrith, Theodore, in 678AD divided the Northumbrian diocese into four. Wilfred, feeling unjustifiably deposed, appealed to Rome — the Pope ruled in his favour.

Unacceptable, however, to King Egfrith, Wilfred was barred from the Kingdom of Northumbria. And so, he came in 681AD to Sussex – the last pagan stronghold of Anglo-Saxon England. He established a monastery and Episcopal See at Selsey which remained until transferred in 1075AD by the Normans to Chichester.

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