St. Hugh of Lincoln, Confessor Bishop; commemoration of St Hilda of Whitby: Missa “Sacerdotes“
A native of Burgundy, Hugh was born in Avalon, near Grenoble in 1140 and joined the Carthusian Order at the age of 20. He was highly regarded for his intellectual ability, his integrity and caring nature. At the request of Henry II, he came to England in 1175 to found the first English Charterhouse at Witham in Somerset, which he did in the face of obstacles of all kinds. It flourished so well under his care that in 1181 the King chose him to be Bishop of Lincoln. Hugh was reluctant to leave the monastic life but agreed and moved to Lincoln in 1186. He set about rebuilding the part of the Cathedral which had been damaged in an earthquake the previous year.
The diocese was vast and Hugh travelled ceaselessly round it on horseback, ministering to the needs of the people. He stayed at small diocesan manors, as he travelled through the countryside. The most central of these was what has become Buckden Towers. He also had a manor at Biggleswade.
Hugh was known for his love of justice and his kindness to the oppressed, children and animals. Throughout his ministry he tended to lepers and in 1190 he risked his life to protect a group of Jews from violence. He also upheld the rights of the peasants against the King’s harsh and unjust forestry laws. Although he was highly principled and outspoken, his conciliatory nature and sense of humour helped him to win over his opponents.
Hugh was held in great affection by everyone from peasants to monarchs and on his death in 1240, at the age of 60, he was greatly mourned. At his magnificent funeral the kings of England and Scotland helped to carry the bier. He was buried in Lincoln Cathedral and canonized soon after, in 1220.
St Hugh is usually depicted as a bishop, sometimes as a Carthusian. In either case he is accompanied by a swan, as it was reported that a fierce swan at his manor at Stow became very tame and attached to him, although it was still aggressive towards everyone else!
St Hilda of Whitby According to Bede, Hilda lived a secular life until the age of 33, when she became a nun. She first travelled to East Anglia, intending to join her sister in a monastery in France, but returned to Northumbria at the request of Bishop Aidan. Soon afterwards she became the abbess of Hartlepool and in about 657 she founded the monastery at Whitby, then known as Streanaeshalch. Nothing of the original monastery can now be seen, but a Benedictine abbey was founded on the same site in the late 11th century. It is the ruins of that monastery which stand proud on Whitby’s headland today.
In Hilda’s time the abbey was a double monastery, home to both monks and nuns. Double monasteries led by abbesses were common in the fifth to seventh centuries. At some, such as at Wimborne in Dorset, there was a strict separation between men and women, but there is no evidence for this at Whitby. Hilda, for instance, seems to have had regular contact with visiting clerics and the religious elite.
Bede praises Hilda for implementing a monastic regime that required strict observance of ‘justice piety, chastity’ and ‘particularly of peace and charity’. In her monastery, ‘no one there was rich, and none poor, for they had all things common’.
INTROIT Psalm 131: 9-10
Let Thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with justice, and let Thy saints rejoice: for Thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of Thy anointed. V. O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
God, who didst signally adorn Thy blessed Confessor Bishop Hugh with eminent virtues and shining miracles, in Thy goodness grant that we may be stirred by his example and enlightened by his virtues. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Hebrews 7: 23-27
Lesson from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews: Brethren, there were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: but Jesus, for that He continueth forever, hath an everlasting priesthood. Whereby He is able also to save forever them that come to God by Him; always living to make intercession for us. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, and undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as the other priests, to offer sacrifice first for His own sins, and then for the people’s; for this Jesus Christ our Lord did once, in offering Himself.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 131: 16-17
I will clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy. There will I bring forth a horn to David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. Psalm 109: 4 Alleluia, alleluia. The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 24: 42-47
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: Watch, because you know not what hour your Lord will come. But this know ye, that, if the goodman of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Wherefore be you also ready: because at what hour you know not the Son of man will come. Who, thinkest thou, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath appointed over his family, to give them meat in season? Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come he shall find so doing. Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 88: 25
My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted.
We, pray Thee, Lord, that Thy blessed Confessor Bishop Hugh may commend the gifts we are offering, and that with the help of his merits, grace and glory may be ours. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 24: 46-47
Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord cometh he shall find watching: Amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
May Thy blessed Confessor Bishop Hugh render the tribute of our homage acceptable to Thee, Lord, lest our guilt debar us from the effect of this heavenly sacrament. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
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