[St. Pachomius Library]


Originally called Streoneshach, which in Old English means lighthouse bay, the monastery at Whitby was established c. 657 by St. Hilda (or Hild) under the patronage of King Oswiu of Northumbria. Founded a double-monastery, Whitby followed the Celtic rule and attained a reputation for learning. For that reason, it was chosen as the site of the synod that in 664 debated the primacy and rectitude of the Celtic and Roman rites. When St. Wilfrid prevailed in the debate, Hilda adopted the Roman customs; she later encouraged Cædmon, a farm-laborer, to become a monk. Whitby is also a burial ground for kings. Danes destroyed the monastery c. 867 and established a colony in the town, which the Normans destroyed during the conquest of England. William de Percy re-established and endowed Whitby as a Benedictine house after the conquest. From the XII-XIV Centuries, the monastery and town quarrelled over privileges, an argument settled in favor of the monastery. It was dissolved in 1543.

Karen Rae Keck


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