St Hilda of Whitby Reconsidered

Medievalists may have turned to this post expecting a close analysis of Bede’s text and hoping for some amazing new insights into the person of St Hilda (as it happens, yes, I do think she was formerly married, did try to join a monastery in Gaul, etc, etc, but I have no new material to … Read more

From Nerses to Hilda and Back Again?

I love the way the liturgical calendar confronts us with contradictions. Today is the feast of two great saints, Nerses of Armenia and Hilda of Whitby. Nerses was a man of inflexible principle, sent into exile and eventually poisoned (or so it is alleged) for ‘speaking truth to power’. Hilda, by contrast, was a listener, … Read more


The Cambridge Dictionary’s word of the year is ‘perseverance’. Blithely ignoring the fact that most people probably associate the word with NASA’s Perseverance Rover and Mars, I’d like to bring us firmly down to earth by thinking about its meaning and how it applies to monastic life and, indeed, life generally. ‘Perseverance’ means going on … Read more

The Church’s Powerful Women

What does that phrase convey to you? Whom do you think of as the Church’s powerful women? My guess is that the majority of Catholics would be hard put to name any living woman as such. A little scratching of the head might produce a few names from the past: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, say, … Read more