St Wilfrid

The window in the St Wilfrid’s Chapel illustrates events from his colourful life. Wilfrid was born around 634 in the Kingdom of Northumbria into an aristocratic family. At 14 he was sent by the Queen to be educated at the monastery on the island of Lindisfarne. A few years later he set out on the first of his three adventurous trips to Rome where he was impressed by the glorious church buildings and their monastic communities.

On his return to Northumbria, Wilfrid was made Abbott of Ripon and began to build a breath-taking church here whose crypt still stands some 1350 years later. Although Wilfrid travelled widely, lived and built churches in other kingdoms, the church at Ripon remained his spiritual home.

Wilfrid’s passion was to lay strong foundations of the Christian church in the Pagan Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and he became one of the most influential and pioneering leaders. But his life was turbulent. His bravery, loyalty and straight-talking led him to face execution, battles and prison when he was younger. However, he also provoked conflict and made enemies through his driven personality and confident, uncompromising self-belief.

After he died, in 709 he was buried here and it is thought his shrine would have been at the top of the church where the high altar is today. A year after his death, a moonbow appeared above Ripon, just as the monks finished evening prayer; a sign, they believed, that through Wilfrid God was blessing this special place.

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