Ripon, Abbey of

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Early English monastic foundation about 20 miles northwest of York (Latin, Ad Ripam; OE, In Hrypum ). The foundation of the abbey is credited to a group of Celtic monks from melrose, led by Abbot Eata, on land given by Alcfrith, subking of Deira, c. 651. cuthbert of lindisfarne was a member of this early community and his famous "miracle of the heavenly loaves" occurred at Ripon. Declining to institute the Roman practices demanded by Alcfrith, the Celtic monks abandoned the house (c. 661), which was then given to wilfrid of york, who established the benedictine rule there. One of Wilfrid's first disciples at Ripon was the later "Apostle of Frisia," willibrord. Although Wilfrid soon after became bishop of York, Ripon remained the place he "loved better than any other place" during his stormy career, and it was there that he passed his last years and was later to be buried (709). The first abbey church, dedicated to St. Peter, was built by Wilfrid before 678, and its crypt, called "Wilfrid's Needle," is still extant under the present cathedral, which was commenced in the second half of the 12th century. The original monastic buildings and church were destroyed c. 948 during King Edred's wars against the Danes. The abbey was rebuilt and populated with monks later in the century by Abp. oswald of york as part of the monastic revival. Before the Norman Conquest, however, the monks were replaced by canons regular. This foundation was dissolved under henry viii. In 1604 Ripon was refounded as an Anglican collegiate church; in 1836 the church became the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Ripon.

Bibliography: bede, Ecclesiastical Historiography 3.25;4.12; 5.19. eddius, The Life of Bishop Wilfrid, ed. and tr. b. colgrave (Cambridge, England 1927), passim. a. h. thompson, "Collegiate Church of St. Peter and St. Wilfrid, Ripon," The Victoria History of the County of York, ed. w. page, 4 v. and index (London 190713) 3:367372. r. l. poole, "St. Wilfrid and the See of Ripon," English Historical Review 34 (1919). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1167.

[r. d. ware]