Celtic and Old English Saints          9 September

* St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise (see #1)
* St. Bettelin of Croyland
* St. Osmanna of Brieuc
* St. Wilfrida of Wilton
* St. Wulfhilda of Barking

St. Bettelin of Croyland, Hermit
(also known as Beccelin, Bertelin, Berthelm, Bertram, Bethlin, Bethelm)

8th century. Saint Bettelin, a disciple of Saint Guthlac, was a hermit
who practised the most austere penances and lived a life of continual
prayer in the forest near Stafford, England. He received counsel from
his master on his deathbed and was present at his burial. After the
death of Guthlac, Bettelin and his companions continued to live at
Croyland under Kenulphus,
its first abbot.

There are unreliable legends about Bettelin, including a later one that
he had to overcome temptation to cut Guthlac's throat while shaving him.
They also say that Bettelin was the son of a local ruler who fell in
love with a princess during a visit to Ireland. On their return to
England, she died a terrible death. He left her in the forest when she
was overcome by labour pains, while he had gone in search of a midwife.
During his absence she was torn to pieces by ravenous wolves.
Thereafter, Bettelin became a hermit. Another legends relates that Saint
Bettelin left his hermitage to drive off invaders with the help of an
angel, before returning to his cell to die.

Some of his relics may have been translated to Stafford before the
plunder and burning of Croyland by the Danes. He is the patron of
Stafford, in which his relics were kept with great veneration
(Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth).

St. Osmanna (Argariarga) of Brieuc, Virgin
Died c. 650. Saint Osmanna was descended from an illustrious Irish
family. She migrated to Brittany in northern France to live as a
consecrated virgin and served God with fervour in solitude until her
death near Saint Brieuc. Until the Reformation, her relics were
enshrined in a chapel under her patronage in the abbatial church of
Saint Denys near Paris; but some of them
were dispersed by the Calvinists in 1567 (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

St. Wilfrida of Wilton, Abbess
(also known as Wulfritha, Wulfthryth)
Died c. 988. Saint Wilfrida was a novice at the convent of Wilton when
she caught the eye of the King Saint Edgar the Peaceful, who had been
rejected by her cousin, Saint Wulfhilda. She became his concubine and
bore his daughter, Saint Edith of Wilton, out of wedlock. Shortly after
Edith's birth, she returned to Wilton with her child. There she took the
veil at the hands of Saint Ethelwold. As a nun, and later as abbess,
Wilfrida did penance and made ample amends for the irregularity of her
liaison with Edgar (Benedictines, Farmer).

St. Wulfhilda of Barking, Abbess
Died c. 980-1000; other feasts include that of her translation on
September 2, c. 1030 (with the relics of Saints Hildelith and
Ethelburga), as well as on March 7 and September 23 at Barking.

Saint Wulfhilda was raised in the abbey of Wilton. When she was a
novice, King Saint Edgar sought her hand in marriage, but she had a
vocation that was irrevocable. Her aunt, Abbess Wenfleda of Wherwell,
invited the young novice to become her successor, but it was just a ploy
to lure her from Wilton. When she arrived at Wherwell, she found the
king waiting for her and her aunt willing to allow him to seduce her.
Wulfhilda escaped through the drains despite the chaperons inside and
the guards outside the convent. The king pursued her back to Wilton and
caught her in the cloister, but she escaped his grasp and took refuge in
the sanctuary among the altars and relics. Thereafter Edgar renounced
his claim on her and took her cousin Saint Wilfrida as his mistress

Wulfhilda went on to found and serve as the first abbess of the convent
of Horton in Dorsetshire. Later she was appointed abbess of the convent
of Barking, which had been restored by King Edgar and endowed with
several churches in Wessex towns. During this period she was credited
with several miracles, including the multiplication of drinks when King
Edgar, Saint Ethelwold, and a naval officer from Sandwich visited the

After Edgar's death, his widowed queen, Elfrida (Aelfthryth), conspired
with some of Wulfhilda's nuns, to drive her out of Barking. She retired
to Horton for the next 20 years until she was recalled to Barking by
King Ethelred. For the last seven years of her life, Wulfhilda served as
abbess of both Horton and Barking. Goscelin wrote her "vita" within 60
years of her death. (Benedictines, Farmer).

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