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Ceolfrid of Wearmouth, St.


Benedictine abbot; b. c. 642; d. Langres, France, Sept. 25, 716. Born of a noble family, he entered the monastery of Gilling at the age of 18 but in 664 moved to Ripon, where the benedictine rule had been introduced under wilfrid of york. Benedict Biscop brought him to Wearmouth as prior in 674, and together they traveled to Rome (678680) to obtain books, pictures, architects, stonemasons, and glassmakers for England. They also brought John, archchanter of St. Peter's, from Rome to teach and write music at Wearmouth. When Benedict founded the abbey at Jarrow in 681, Ceolfrid, together with Easterwine (d. 686), was made deputy abbot under the founder. The dedication stone from this monastery, dating from 685, is the oldest written record in Northumbria. The twin foundation of Wearmouth-Jarrow was very rich and had one of the best schools and libraries in England. The Codex Amiatinus, the oldest and best Vulgate Bible extant, may have been made at Wearmouth-Jarrow c. 700, and Ceolfrid, taking it to Rome as a gift, died on his journey through France. His relics were translated to Wearmouth-Jarrow and later to Glastonbury. Ceolfrid's influence was especially important in the Romanization of the Celtic Church and in the cultural renaissance of Europe in the eighth century. The two chief vitae of the saint are an anonymous Vita abbatum (tr. Douglas S. Boutflower, Sunderland 1912) and the Vita beatorum abbatum of bede.

Feast: Sept. 25.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Sept. 7:113126. bede, Historia Ecclesiastica 2:79103, 325361, 375389. p. h. blair, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge, Eng. 1959). Bibliotheca sanctorum 3:112627. i. n. wood, The Most Holy Abbot Ceolfrid (Jarrow, Durham 1995). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:635637.

[h. e. aikins]

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