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Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester

XI Century
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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