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St Wilfrid and the Angel of Light : St Wilfrid finds comfort during his tussle with the King of Northumbria
St Wilfrid and the Angel of Light

Based on the ‘Life of St Wilfrid’ by Stephen of Ripon (early 8th century).

St Wilfrid was made Bishop of York, capital of the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria, in 665. He was involved in constant controversy as he resented King Ecgfrith’s interference, but he was also a key figure in keeping the English Church in close contact the Orthodox churches of Rome and Greece, for which Bede praises him.

AFTER the King of Northumbria, Ecgfrith, expelled Wilfrid from his place as Bishop of York in 678, Wilfrid went to Rome, and brought back with him a letter of support from the Pope. However, the letter only made the King more angry. He had his sheriff, Osfrith, lock Wilfrid in a deep dungeon where little daylight came, ordering for good measure that no lamps be lit there by night.

There Wilfrid sat under guard, singing Psalms by day and by night, and the watchmen on night-shift were so intrigued by this that they pulled the door ajar to look at the prisoner within the cell.

The moment they did so, they were blinded by a light brighter than day bursting out through the crack. It was an angel of God, sent to bring light to Wilfrid, just as an angel of the Lord appeared to St Peter when Herod Agrippa had thrown him in gaol, and light shone in his cell too.*

* See Acts 12:2-11.

Based on the ‘Life of St Wilfrid’ by Stephen of Ripon (early 8th century).

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Stephen of Ripon (3) Lives of the Saints (95) History (405) St Wilfrid of Hexham and York (4) Northumbrian Enlightenment (30) Yorkshire (5) Bible and Saints (110)

Picture: © MacedonianBoy, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0. View original
An icon of the Archangel Gabriel, painted onto a rock at the Osogovo monastery in the Republic of Macedonia. © MacedonianBoy, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0.
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Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

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