Hilda

hild) (614-680. Abbess of Whitby. She was the daughter of Hereric, nephew of King Edwin of Northumbria, who was converted through the preaching of Paulinus and baptized by him in 627. She served God faithfully in the secular world for a number of years, being influenced by both the Roman and the Celtic streams of Christianity. She then decided to become a nun, and was on her way to France to join a religious community when she was recalled from East Anglia by Aidan* in 649. Aidan appointed her abbess of the convent at Hartlepool in County Durham. In 659 she became the founder and abbess of the double monastery for men and women set strikingly on the cliff top at Streanshalch (Whitby) in Yorkshire. This community became famous as a school of theology and literature, nurturing five future bishops and Caedmon, the earliest known English poet. At the Synod of Whitby* in 663/4 she defended the Celtic customs, but when the decision went in favor of the Roman usage she accepted that.