honourably consecrated, several bishops meeting together for that purpose in a village belonging to the king, called Compiegne. He made some stay in the parts beyond the sea, after his consecration, and Oswy, following the example of the king his son, sent a holy man, of modest behaviour, well read in the Scripture, and diligently practising those things which he had learned therein, to be ordained bishop of the church of York. This was a priest called Ceadda, brother to the reverend prelate Cedd, of whom mention has been often made, and abbot of the monastery of Lestingau. With him the king also sent his priest Eadhed, who was afterwards, in the reign of Egfrid, made bishop of the church of Ripon. On arriving in Kent, they found that Archbishop Deusdedit was departed this life, and no other prelate as yet appointed in his place; whereupon they proceeded to the province of the West Saxons, where Wine was bishop, and by him the person abovementioned was consecrated bishop; two bishops of the British nation, who kept Easter-Sunday according to the canonical manner, from the fourteenth to the twentieth day of the moon, as has been said, being taken to assist at the ordination; for at that time there was no other bishop in all Britain canonically ordained, besides that Wine.
Ceadda, being thus consecrated bishop, began immediately to devote himself to ecclesiastical truth and to chastity; to apply himself to humility, continence, and study; to travel about, not on horseback, but after the manner of the apostles, on foot, to preach the Gospel in towns, the open country, cottages, villages, and castles; for he was one of the disciples of Aidan, and endeavoured to instruct his people, by the same actions and behaviour, according to his and his brother Cedd’s example. Wilfrid also being made a bishop, came into Britain, and in like manner by his doctrine brought into the English Church many rules of Catholic observance. Whence it followed, that the Catholic institutions daily gained strength, and all the Scots that dwelt in England either conformed to these, or returned into their own country.
CHAP XXIX. —
HOW THE PRIEST WIGHARD WAS SENT FROM BRITAIN TO ROME, TO BE CONSECRATED ARCHBISHOP, OF HIS DEATH THERE, AND OF THE LETTERS OF THE APOSTOLIC POPE GIVING AN ACCOUNT THEREOF.
Wighard sent to Rome to be consecrated.
At this time the most noble King Oswy, of the province of the Northumbrians, and Egbert of Kent, having consulted together about the state of the English Church, (for Oswy, though educated by the Scots, perfectly understood that the Roman was the Catholic and Apostolic Church,) with the consent of the holy church of the English nation, accepted of a good man, and fit priest, to be made a bishop, called Wighard, one of Bishop Deusdedit’s clergy, and sent him to Rome to be ordained bishop, to the end that he, having received the degree of an archbishop, might ordain Catholic prelates for the churches of the English nation throughout all Britain. But Wighard, arriving at Rome, was cut off by death, before he could be consecrated bishop, and the following letter was sent back into Britain to King Oswy:—
Vitalian’s letter to Oswy.
“To the most excellent Lord, our son, Oswy, king of the Saxons, Vitalian, bishop, servant of the servants of God. We have received your excellency’s pleasing letters; by reading whereof we understood your most pious devotion and fervent love to obtain everlasting life; and that by the protecting hand of God you have been converted to the true and apostolic faith, hoping that as you reign in your nation, so you will hereafter reign in Christ. Blessed be the nation, therefore, that has been found worthy to have such a wise king and worshipper of God; forasmuch as he is not himself alone a worshipper of God, but also studies day and night the conversion of all his subjects to the Catholic and apostolic faith, to the redemption of his own soul. Who will not rejoice at hearing such pleasant things? Who will not be delighted at such good works? Because your nation has believed in Christ the Almighty God, according to the words of the Divine prophets, as it is written in Isaiah, ‘In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to him shall the Gentiles seek.’ And again, ‘Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken ye people from far.’ And a little after, ‘It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation to the ends of the earth.’ And again, ‘Kings shall see, princes also shall arise and worship.’ And presently after, ‘I have given thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, and possess the desolate heritages; that thou mayst say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves.’ And again, ‘I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a light of the Gentiles, and for a covenant of the people; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness from the prison-house.’
“Behold, most excellent son, how plain it is, not only of you, but also of all the nations of the prophets, that they shall believe in Christ, the Creator of all things. Wherefore it behoves your highness, as being a member of Christ, in all things continually to follow the pious rule of the prince of the apostles, in celebrating Easter, and in all things delivered by the blessed apostles, Peter and Paul, whose doctrine daily enlightens the hearts of believers, even as the two heavenly lights, the sun and moon, daily illumine all the earth.”