Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester
The last Anglo-Saxon
Orthodox bishop of Worcester.
He was a close spiritual advisor of King Harold, with a
vast reputation for sanctity; after the Conquest, many
leaders of the anti-Norman insurgency had close ties to
the bishop and his cathedral. In spite of this, Wulfstan
chose to collaborate with the new regime, becoming the only
Anglo-Saxon bishop allowed to retain office. He used his
position to slow the Romanisation of the church, acting
as a sort of de facto Anglo-Saxon ethnarch while
encouraging the Normans to emulate the spirituality of
native English saints. Ultimately, of course, these policies
did not succeed, a failure symbolised by the replacement,
during Wulfstan's tenure, of the ancient cathedral building
with a new Romanesque structure. Nevertheless, popular veneration
of Wulfstan by both Saxons and sympathetic Normans continued
long after his death, and he was eventually canonised by Rome.
While it is unclear from this distance whether he
should be numbered among the Orthodox saints, there is
little reason to doubt his personal virtues, manifested
notably in his campaign against the slave-trade. At the
same time, his loyalty to the new regime extended to bearing
arms in the cause of William II Rufus against rebel Norman
lords of the Welsh Marches.
Wulfstan is frequently confused with
St. Wulfstan of York, who also served as bishop
of Worcester in the earlier part of his career.
Norman Hugh Redington
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