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Venerable Bede The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation

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Venerable Bede
The Ecclesiastical History Of The English Nation
page 112

untimely death, and Wilfrid was reserved to be bishop of his own, that is, the English, nation; for Queen Baldhilda sent soldiers with orders to put the bishop to death; whom Wilfrid, his clerk, attended to the place where he was to be beheaded, being very desirous, though the bishop opposed it, to die with him; but the executioners, understanding that he was a stranger, and of the English nation, spared him, and would not put him to death with his bishop. Returning to England, he was admitted to the friendship of King Alfrid, who had always followed the catholic rules of the Church; and therefore finding him to be a Catholic, he gave him land of ten families, at the place called Stanford; and not long after, the monastery, of thirty families, at the place called Ripon; which place he had lately given to those that followed the doctrine of the Scots, to build a monastery upon. But, forasmuch as they afterwards, being left to their choice, would rather quit the place than adopt the catholic Easter, and other canonical rites, according to the custom of the Roman Apostolic Church, he gave the same to him, whom he found to follow better discipline and better customs. At the same time, by the said king’s command, he was ordained priest in the same monastery, by Agilbert, bishop of the West Saxons above-mentioned, the king being desirous that a man of so much piety and learning should continue with him as priest and teacher; and not long after, having discovered and banished the Scottish sect, as was said above, he, with the advice and consent of his father Oswy, sent him into France, to be consecrated bishop, at about thirty years of age, the same Agilbert being then bishop of Paris, and eleven other bishops meeting at the consecration of the new bishop, that function was most honourably performed. Whilst he was yet beyond the sea, Ceadda, a holy man, was consecrated bishop of York, by command of King Oswy, as has been said above; and having ably ruled that church three years, he retired to govern his monastery of Lestingau, and Wilfrid was made bishop of all the province of the Northumbrians.

Wilfrid expelled.

Afterwards, in the reign of Egfrid, he was expelled his bishopric, and others were consecrated bishops in his stead, of whom mention has been made above. Designing to go to Rome, to answer for himself before the pope, when he was aboard the ship, the wind blew hard west, and he was driven into Frisland, and honourably received by that barbarous people and their King Aldgist, to whom he preached Christ, and instructed many thousands of them in the word of truth, washing them from their abominations in the laver of salvation. Thus he there began the work of the Gospel which was afterwards finished by Wilbrord, a most reverend bishop of Jesus Christ. Having spent the winter there with his new converts, he set out again on his way to Rome, where his cause being tried before Pope Agatho and several bishops, he was, by their universal consent, acquitted of what had been laid to his charge, and declared worthy of his bishopric. At the same time, the said Pope Agatho assembling a synod at Rome, of one hundred and twenty-five bishops, against those that taught there was only one will and operation in our Lord and Saviour, ordered Wilfrid also to be summoned, and, when seated among the bishops, to declare his own faith and the faith of the province or island from whence he came; and they being found orthodox in their faith, it was thought fit to record the same among the acts of that synod, which was done in this manner: “Wilfrid, the beloved of God, bishop of the city of York, having referred to the Apostolic See, and being by that authority acquitted of every thing, whether specified against him or not, and having taken his seat in judgment, with one hundred and twenty-five other bishops in the synod, made confession of the true and catholic faith, and subscribed the same in the name of all the northern part of Britain and Ireland, inhabited by the English and Britons, as also by the Scots and Picts.” After this, returning into Britain, he converted the province of the South Saxons from their idolatrous worship. He also sent ministers to the Isle of Wight; and in the second year of Alfrid, who reigned after Egfrid, was restored to his see and bishopric by that king’s invitation. However, five years after, being again accused by that same king and several bishops, he was again expelled his diocese. Coming to Rome, together with his accusers, and being allowed to make his defence before a number of bishops and the apostolic Pope John, it was declared by the unanimous judgment of them all, that his accusers had in part laid false accusations to his charge; and the aforesaid pope undertook to write to the kings of the English, Ethelred and Alfrid, to cause him to be restored to his bishopric, because he had been falsely accused. His acquittal was much forwarded by the reading of the synod of Pope Agatho, of blessed memory, which had been formerly held when Wilfrid was in Rome, and sat in council among the bishops, as has been said before. For that synod being, on account of the trial, by order of the apostolic pope, read before the nobility and a great number of the people for some days, they came to the place where it was written, “Wilfrid, the beloved of God, bishop of the city of York, having referred his cause to the Apostolic See, and being by that power cleared,” &c., as above stated. This being read, the hearers were amazed, and the reader stopping, they began to ask of one another, who that Bishop Wilfrid was? Then Boniface, the pope’s counsellor, and many others, who had seen him there in the days of Pope Agatho, said, he was the same bishop that lately came to Rome, to be tried by the Apostolic See, being accused by his people, and who, said they, having long since been here upon such like accusation, the cause and controversy between both parties being heard and discussed, was proved by Pope Agatho, of blessed memory, to have been wrongfully expelled from his bishopric, and so much honoured by him, that he

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