Eata of Hexham

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Eata of Hexham
Bishop of Hexham
See Diocese of Hexham
Appointed 685
Term ended 686
Predecessor Trumbert
Successor John of Beverley
Other posts Lindisfarne (682-685)
Bernicia (678-682)
Abbot of Melrose
Personal details
Died 686
Hexham
Denomination Orthodox Christian / pre-schism Catholic of the Celtic tradition
Sainthood
Feast day 26 October

Eata (died 26 October 686), also known as Eata of Lindisfarne, was bishop of Lindisfarne from 678 until 685, and of Hexham from then until his death.[1] He was the first native of Northumbria to take the bishopric of Lindisfarne.

Life[edit]

Eata was originally taken to Lindisfarne as a boy under Aidan and trained as a monk. He was chosen as one of the 12 monks selected from Lindisfarne to found the new daughter monastery at Melrose.[2] In 651 he was elected abbot of Melrose. Around 658 he left Melrose and founded a new monastery at Ripon in Yorkshire, taking with him the young St Cuthbert, who was his guest-master. In 661 King Alchfrith of Deira expelled Eata from Ripon, because he had appointed Wilfrid as the new abbot.[3][4] Eata returned to Melrose.

The historian Bede described Eata as a gentle and greatly revered man. As an administrator Eata applied his skills at the time of plague, civil disorders and major ecclesiastical change.[5]

In 663 Alhfrith and Wilfrid persuaded King Oswiu to hold the Synod of Whitby to decide whether the local Church, English and Celtic, would come into line with the traditions of the universal Church which had had 6 Oecumenical Synods to date, and would practice the Roman [aka Western] Rite of that Church, or would continue to diverge from it where it clashed with local Celtic traditions. Thus it would decide whether Roman traditions, would take priority in Northumbria over matters such as the clerical tonsure and the date of Easter; the synod decided to accept the arguments of Wilfrid and the king for the universal Church traditions using the Roman Rite, to which Eata, unlike Colmán of Lindisfarne, acquiesced.[6]

Before Whitby, the abbot of Lindisfarne was also the Bishop of Lindisfarne, after Whitby these two roles were divided. The old abbot, Colman, left Lindisfarne to go back to Iona with 30 English monks. Tuda was selected as the next Bishop of Lindisfarne and Eata moved from Melrose to become abbot of Lindisfarne. He appointed Cuthbert as prior at Lindisfarne.[7]

In 678, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore split the diocese of Northumbria into two new bishoprics. Eata became bishop of Bernicia.[2] Bernicia had two episcopal sees, one at Hexham and the other at Lindisfarne. Eata was the bishop of the whole of Bernicia for three years, after which the see of Hexham was assigned to Trumbert, and Lindisfarne to Eata.[1] After the death of Trumbert in 684, Cuthbert was elected Bishop of Hexham. Eata and Cuthbert exchanged sees shortly thereafter, and for the last two years of his life Eata occupied Hexham. He died of dysentery in 686,[1] and was buried in the Benedictine Abbey of Hexham.[3]

Like most of the early saints of the English Church, St. Eata was canonized by general repute of sanctity among the faithful in the regions which he helped to Christianize.[2]

Legacy[edit]

The only church dedicated to him in England is St Eata's Church at Atcham in Shropshire, where he is depicted in one of the stained glass windows.[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 238 and p. 231
  2. ^ a b c Macpherson, Ewan. "St. Eata." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 12 May 2013
  3. ^ a b Walsh A New Dictionary of Saints p. 166
  4. ^ Stephanus Vita Wilfridi 8
  5. ^ a b St. Eata's, Atcham, Shrewsbury
  6. ^ Bede Ecclesiastical History of England Chapter 25
  7. ^ Bede Ecclesiastical History of England Chapter 26

References[edit]

  • Colgrave, Bertram, in Battiscombe, C. F. (ed), The Relics of Saint Cuthbert, Oxford, 1956
  • Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961
  • Walsh, Michael A New Dictionary of Saints: East and West London: Burns & Oats 2007 ISBN 0-86012-438-X

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
New diocese
Sub-Divided from York
Bishop of Bernicia
678–682
Sub-Divided into
Lindisfarne and Hexham
New diocese
Sub-Divided from Bernicia
Bishop of Lindisfarne
682–685
Succeeded by
Cuthbert
Preceded by
Trumbert
Bishop of Hexham
685–686
Succeeded by
John of Beverley