Hilda of Whitby was clearly a strong character, as is evidenced from reading Ray Simpson’s book, Hilda of Whitby. She made a big impact. As Simpson comments, “More important than Hilda’s great energy and ability, however, was her management style of love.”
She was born in 614AD and died in 680AD. She became Abbess of Hartlepool Abbey before moving to Whitby to found the new abbey there in 657. This was a double abbey for both monks and nuns and Hilda’s position of leadership is an indicator of her abilities and the respect in which she was held. She also played an important role in the Synod of Whitby in 664, one of the great meetings of the Christian church in the British Isles.
Simpson suggests three key characteristics which demonstrate what Hilda was like and how she provided a helpful example:
- Having a big enough heart without being anyone’s fool.
- Enabling much to come to birth, without allowing that which has already come to birth to die out through lack of a secure, affirming framework in which to grow.
- Maintaining consistency; standing with the marginalised without losing our own identity.
There is clearly a great deal to gain from reflecting on Hilda’s example.