Saint Hugh of Lincoln

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Hugh of Lincoln, St (1140–1200). Bishop. Born in Burgundy and educated in a convent at Villard-Benoît, Hugh was ordained deacon at 19 and subsequently made prior of a smallholding at Saint-Maximin. He became a Carthusian in 1160 after visiting the Grand Chartreuse. Known for his holiness, in 1175 he was asked by King Henry II to become abbot of the first Carthusian monastery in England at Witham (Som.) (built as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket). He reproached Henry for keeping sees vacant to enrich royal coffers and as a result, in 1186, Hugh was elected to the see of Lincoln, vacant for some time. In 1192 Hugh undertook the rebuilding of the cathedral at Lincoln, a project which continued long after his death. He is said to have had remarkable concern for lepers, tending them with his own hands and often sharing a meal from the same dish. Hugh condemned the persecution of the Jews which spread throughout England in 1190–1. He had a sharp clash with Henry over ecclesiastical patronage, and later refused to help Richard I fund his war with Philip Augustus in 1198 (the first time an English king had been refused a levy). Hugh died in 1200 after undertaking a diplomatic mission to France for King John, and his funeral was attended by the primate of all England, 14 bishops, 100 abbots, an archbishop from Ireland, and another from Dalmatia, Gruffydd ap Rhys from south Wales, King William the Lion of Scotland, and King John of England. Twenty years after his death he was canonized by Pope Honorius III, the first Carthusian saint.

Sandra M. Dunkin

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Saint Hugh of Lincoln, 1140–1200, bishop of Lincoln, b. Avalon, Burgundy, of a noble family. He was educated and made his profession at the priory of Augustinian canons at Villarbenoît. Hugh joined (c.1160) the Carthusians at age 25, rising to become procurator general. About 1176 he was, at the request of King Henry II, sent to England to become prior of the charterhouse founded by Henry at Witham, Somerset. In 1186 he was consecrated bishop of Lincoln. He opposed Henry's forest laws and his demands for the preferment of unworthy courtiers. In 1198 he was spokesman for the barons in their refusal of money to Richard I and was also in conflict with Richard's successor, John. But the bishop's high courage, devotion to religion and justice, and ready tact helped him to convert the angry royal brothers to his own views. He was noted for his charity, love of the poor and oppressed, and the holiness of his life. He partially rebuilt Lincoln Cathedral, where his shrine was a place of pilgrimage until the Reformation. He is also known as St. Hugh of Avalon. Feast: Nov. 17.

See D. H. Farmer, St. Hugh of Lincoln (1985).