Wulfstan Bishop of Worcester

Born : Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England, c. 1008
Died : Worcester, England, 1095
Canonized : 1203 by Pope Innocent III

Worcester Cathedral
Photo © Mike Warren

Benedictine monk and Bishop of Worcester, Wulfstan was educated at the abbeys of Evesham and Peterborough. He served as treasurer of the church at Worcester, was Prior of the monastery, and was named Bishop of Worcester in 1062.

Wulfstan was recognised as the holiest man in the land and Harold's own personal confessor. He rebuked Harold once, for having walked 30 miles out of his way in order to make confession and receive Wulfstan's blessing. Wulfstan was called the Bishop of the Market-Place and loved nothing better than to sit in the porches of churches and talk to the village people whilst gathering the children about him.

Wulfstan regarded long hair as highly immoral, criminal, and beastly. If anybody should offend him in this respect, he would cut off a handful, throw it in his face and tell him to cut of the rest or he would go to hell.

After the Conquest, Wulfstan, being accused of certain offences, was ordered to resign his see. In order to retain his position it is recorded that he performed a miracle. He planted his crozier in the shrine of the Confessor, declaring if any of his accusers could draw it out he would resign. No one could do so except St. Wulfstan himself and so his innocence was admitted.

Wulfstan was an able administrator, a great church builder and a successful crusader against the Irish slave trade. He introduced the use of stone instead of wood for altars and stopped the simonious practice of paying for the baptizing of children. Wulfstan had a great love of the poor and is venerated as the patron of peasants.

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