Feast of Sts. Colman of Lindisfarne, Agilbert, and Wilfrid (February 18)   5 comments

Above:  England in 600 C.E.

Image in the Public Domain



Celtic Bishop of Lindisfarne



Roman Catholic Bishop of Dorcester and Bishop of Paris

His feast transferred from October 11



Roman Catholic Bishop of York, Bishop of Lichfield, and Bishop of Hexham

His feast transferred from October 12


A calendar of saints ought to reflect the breadth and width of Christian traditions.  Consider the Roman Catholic calendar, for example:  it contains feasts for Sts. Colman of Lindisfarne, Agilbert, and Wilfred.  The first disagreed strongly with the other two.  The short version of their common story follows.

St. Colman of Lindisfarne, Irish-born, entered Iona monastery under St. Columba He became the third Bishop of Lindisfarne.  In that capacity St. Colman attended the Synod of Whiby (664), where he argued for Celtic practices which contradicted Roman Catholic ones.  He lost that argument, resigned as bishop, and founded a new monastery (on the island of Inishbofin) for English and Irish monks who agreed with him.  When disputes erupted between the English and Irish monks, St. Colman founded a second monastery and served as abbot of both.

St. Agilbert, a Frank, studied at a West Saxon monastery before becoming a missionary bishop.  He ordained St. Wilfrid.  He and St. Wilfrid argued for the Roman practices at the Synod of Whitby.  St. Agilbert returned to France, becoming Bishop of Paris in 668, after King Cuenwald of the West Saxons divided his diocese.  A few years later, St. Agilbert declined the king’s invitation to return to England.  The saint sent his nephew instead.

St. Wilfrid, educated at Lindisfarne and Canterbury, became an advocate of Roman practices over Celtic ones.  He left for the European continent in 654, living alternatively in Rome and Lyons for a few years.  St. Wilfrid became abbot at Ripon in 660, where he introduced the Rule of St. Benedict and became a leader in replacing Celtic rites and practices with Roman ones.  St. Wilfrid, on the winning side at the Synod of Whitby (664), became Bishop of York.  Ordained by non-schismatic bishops in France in 666, St. Wilfrid returned to England to find that one St. Chad was the new Bishop of York.  St. Wilfrid chose not to contest this fact; he returned to Ripon instead.  St. Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, made St. Wilfrid the Bishop of York in 669.  Eight years later, in 677, St. Wilfrid appealed to Rome because King Egfrid had divided the Diocese of York and deposed him.  Rome overruled the king in 680, at which point the king imprisoned St. Wilfrid for nine months.  The liberated bishop went to Sussex, where he converted almost everyone and founded a monastery.  King Aldfrid, Egfrid’s successor, recalled St. Wilfrid to Ripon in 686 yet exiled him five years later. St. Wilfrid filled the vacant See of Lichfield.  In 703, he refused an order from Berhtwald, Archbishop of Canterbury, to resign as Bishop of Lichfield and return to Ripon.  Rome upheld the bishop.  In 705, after Aldfrid died, St. Wilfrid became Bishop of Hexham.  He died at St. Andrew’s Monastery in Oundle, Northhamptonshire, during a visitation.

Christians will disagree, of course.  Yet this fact need not override our unity in Christ.  These three men served Christ, each in his own way.






Almighty God,

you raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servants

Saint Colman of Lindisfarne,

Saint Agilbert,

and Saint Wilfrid.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60


Revised on December 2, 2016


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