St Hilda of Whitby: All that knew her called her Mother

THOU wast called mother by all who knew thee, O Hilda; for by goodly instruction in the Christian life thou didst nourish those who came to thee, imparting virtue and piety to them as a loving mother feedeth her children at her breast.

Young and old found thee to be a well-spring of wisdom, O venerable one, and like deer panting after fountains of living water, they drew forth refreshment from thee.

Prayers in honour of St Hilda composed by Reader Isaac Lambertson, of the Orthodox England website.

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The coastline below the ruined Abbey at Whitby, North Yorkshire

The coastline below the ruined Abbey at Whitby, North Yorkshire.

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Today is in the Orthodox Church the feast of St Hilda, Abbess of Whitby in Northumbria.

“All that knew her called her Mother”, St Bede tells us, and no higher praise could be bestowed.

Abbess Hilda was a woman of strong leadership, evident humility, and experienced prayer, whose monastery trained dozens of Christian bishops and priests suited to the nursing of souls and bodies wounded in a hard pagan world.

SHE put this monastery under the same rule of monastic life as the former; and taught there the strict observance of justice, piety, chastity, and other virtues, and particularly of peace and charity; so that, after the example of the primitive Church, no one there was rich, and none poor, for they had all things common, and none had any private property.

Her prudence was so great, that not only meaner men in their need, but sometimes even kings and princes, sought and received her counsel; she obliged those who were under her direction to give so much time to reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to exercise themselves so much in works of justice, that many might readily be found there fit for the priesthood and the service of the altar.

» More about St Hilda on my Page dedicated to her.

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(Irmos) ALL Thy works are true and Thy paths straight, O God of our fathers!

THOU hast passed from death unto Life, O Hilda, for the sake of thy great love.

In works of righteousness was thine ardent faith justified, O saint of God.

Christ the Redeemer abode in Hilda, for she kept well His commandments.

Theotokion

VERILY thou guidest our steps aright, that we may reach the dwelling-place of God, O Lady.

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The monastery was located at a place called Streonæshalch, or the Bay of the Beacon, more than apt since the Orthodox love to call their monasteries “lighthouses” for the Church.

SHINING forth like a brilliant beacon over the crashing waves of the sea, whereon the ships of men’s souls were foundering, thou didst guide them to calm harbour, O Hilda, establishing a safe monastic haven at the Bay of the Beacon.

Wherefore, rescued by thee from the dire perils of life and the surgings of the passions, they lifted their voices in praise to the Lord Who, saving His disciples, rebuked the waves and stilled the raging tempest.

Prayers in honour of St Hilda composed by Reader Isaac Lambertson, of the Orthodox England website.

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