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Wolstan, Saint

Benedictine, and Bishop of Worcester, b. at Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England, about 1008; d. at Worcester, Jan. 19, 1095

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Wolstan, Saint, Benedictine, and Bishop of Worcester, b. at Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England, about 1008; d. at Worcester, January 19, 1095. Educated at the great monastic schools of Evesham and Peterborough, he resolutely combated and overcame the temptations of his youth, and entered the service of Brithege, Bishop of Worcester, who ordained him priest about 1038. Refusing all ecclesiastical preferment, he became a novice in the great priory of Worcester, and after holding various offices in the monastery became cathedral prior there. He held this position, edifying all by his charity, holiness of life, and strict observance of rule, until 1062, when the See of Worcester fell vacant by the translation of Bishop Aldred to the Archbishopric of York. Two Roman cardinals, who had been Wolstan's guests at Worcester during Lent, recommended the holy prior to King Edward for the vacant see, to which he was consecrated on September 8, 1062. Not a man of special learning or commanding intellect, he devoted his whole life to the care of his diocese, visiting, preaching, and confirming without intermission, rebuilding his cathedral in the simple Saxon style, planting new churches everywhere, and retaining the ascetic personal habits which he had acquired in the cloister. His life, notwithstanding his assiduous labors, was one of continuous prayer and recollection; the Psalms were always on his lips, and he recited the Divine Office aloud with his attendants as he rode through the country in discharge of his episcopal duties, Wolstan was the last English bishop appointed under a Saxon king, the last episcopal representative of the Church of Bede and of Cuthbert, and the link between it and the Church of Lanfranc and Anselm. After the Conquest, when nearly all the Saxon nobles and clergy were deprived of their offices and honors in favor of the Normans, Wolstan retained his see, and gradually won the esteem and confidence both of Lanfranc and of the Conqueror himself. Aedred of Rievaulx tells the legend of his being called upon to resign his bishopric, and of his laying his crozier on the tomb of Edward the Confessor at Westminster. The crozier remained immoveable—a sign from heaven, as was believed, that the holy bishop was to retain his see. He survived both William the Conqueror and Lanfranc, and was one of the consecrators of St. Anselm.

D. O. HUNTER-BLAIR.


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