My favourite Saint!
I also love St Margaret of Scotland for her organising skills ( & for being one of the few Saints to inspire pretty Victorian illustrations in British Children’s books), St Teresa of Avila for her mysticism, her fearlessness in the face of power and her incredible writing skills, and St Anthony of the Desert for his endurance in the face of isolation and derangement… but at the moment it’s St. Hilda who means the most to me.
She defies borders while always knowing her own boundaries. She was born a Pagan, half a Briton, half an Anglo-Saxon in 614 AD. She was baptised into the Roman Catholic Church at 13 but became a Nun under the customs of the Celtic Church, before re-joining the Roman Catholic Church in the cause of unity; it would take 60 years for the Irish Church to follow suit – but just as the Pagans were converted without bloodshed (bar the political maneuverings of Kings), the Celtic Church was given time to align.
It’s this patience and kindness in the face of hostility and anxiety that I find so inspiring. In her time Britain was a hodge-podge of rising and falling Nations (Mercia, Northumberland, Strathclyde…), tribes, clans and Royal Houses. Invasions were common, older settlers were constantly killed, replaced or absorbed by new Peoples, farming and trade were a precarious second-fiddle to war and plunder and being kicked off your land was an act of God rather than a crime against humanity.
These days Science has created a multi-verse of possibilities. We can be defined by ethnicity or DNA, by ideology or by our horoscopes. Sometimes it feels like a power struggle to the death by crazed Zealots and sometimes it feels like floating in a valueless flux while mindlessly consuming. We denounce bigots and clutch at categories.
Invoking St Hilda can give us the wisdom not to be dogmatic and the discipline to keep our faith (whatever that faith may be).