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Familiar author Ray Simpson uncovers the hidden history of Hilda of Whitby and explores her fascinating story
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Her first encounter with Christianity happens after her uncle Edwin wins power, encountering a vision of Christ which leads to the family's baptism. But victory is short term and Hilda is forced into exile in the Christian kingdom of the East Angles, holding on to her newfound faith while others cast it aside.
Hilda returns north after power passes to the Christian ruler Oswald, who now sets out to reconvert the people of the area, inviting Aidan of Ireland to lead the work.
Hilda had only known Christianity with Roman roots. She now comes into direct contact with Celtic Christianity for the first time and discovers a stark difference in terms of lifestyle, approaches to mission, models of church and the requirements of soul friends to assist personal faith development.
She was planning to become a nun and depart overseas but Aidan convinces Hilda to stay and sets her on the path of her life's work of pioneering monasteries and establishing learning for men and women. The Celtic church has no qualms over women leadership, unlike the Roman church.
Having set the scene, Ray goes on to unfold the story of Hilda's work at Hartlepool and Whitby, drawing out key lessons for our own age from her life, work and legacy, and through questions for reflection, encourages personal application.
Just before Hilda's birth, Hilda's mother had a vision of light cast across Britain from a necklace - a vision that St Bede, writing in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (completed 731AD), regarded as being fulfilled through Hilda. This light Ray Simpson now projects into our own age.
Hilda of Whitby by Ray Simpson was published by Bible Reading Fellowship in March 2014 and is our 3533rd best seller. The ISBN for Hilda of Whitby is 9781841017280.
"There have been times and places where the wise woman or wise man was central to the community. These people were not pandered celebrities, but those open to the depths of God, and a way of love. Hilda was such a woman. 'Hilda of Whitby' reveals Hilda's secret as well as her history and perhaps may challenge us to seek new styles of leadership for today." - Penny Warren, Members' Guardian, Community of Aidan and Hilda.
"We have much to be thankful for in God's own county, but of all the bright stars of Yorkshire's rich heritage of Christian witness, for me St Hilda of Whitby shines out as one of the brightest. I am thankful to Ray Simpson for retelling her story in a way that connects so directly with our contemporary world, inspiring prayer and reflection which I trust will bear fruit as it did so abundantly, graciously, and quietly in her own life.
"I enjoy my visits to Whitby, not just for the fantastic kippers I often come away with, but also because Hilda's memory lives on in the faith, hope, and love of today's Christian community in that town. I thank God also that the Sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete continue the monastic tradition in that town, with their Mother House, St Hilda's Priory, Sneaton Castle, looking across the bay to the ruins of the Abbey where Hilda's church once stood.
"Hilda's example of self-sacrificial leadership, and of courageous acceptance of what the gathered church discerned as the will of God, is a particular challenge to us today. At the Synod of Whitby over which she presided, although she was a firm believer in the Celtic way, she accepted fundamental changes to the time-honoured ecclesiastical polity of the Celtic Church. She was willing to embrace the new ways of the Roman mission for the sake of the unity of the Church's witness in this land.
"Hilda was baptised on Easter Day, April 12th 627 on the site where York Minster stands today, along with King Edwin, by Paulinus, first Bishop of York. In recent years I have baptised new believers on the same spot outside the Minster, along with other local church leaders. I visited Hinderwell a few months after becoming Archbishop of York. I baptised a baby at Hilda's well and drank water from the well too!
"My prayer is that those baptised today, and all of us who seek to follow Jesus in the North of England, will follow Hilda's example. With her I hope we shall live wholeheartedly for Jesus, carrying the light of God into the communities to which we belong, and seeing the love of God transform both church and nation.
"This book will help us along the way." - Sentamu Eboracencis
|Author / Artist||Ray Simpson|
|Publisher||Bible Reading Fellowship (March 2014)|
|Number of Pages||144|
|Page last updated||26th February 2019|