Hilda was of royal descent. After her father was murdered she was brought up at the court of her uncle, King Edwin and it was there that she came under the influence of Paulinus and Ethelburga. She was baptised along with the rest of the household of King Edwin at York on Easter Eve 627, aged 13.
Hilda lived her life in 2 equal halves, with 33 secular years and 33 in religious life. When she became Abbess of Hartlepool she was frequently visited and instructed by Saint Aidan. She founded a double monastery at Whitby for men and women, which became famous as a school of learning and religion.
Whitby was known as Streanaeshalch: bay of the beacon. Her reputation for wisdom attracted kings and princes, and 5 bishops came from Whitby, and Caedmon, the “Father of English poetry” lived there.
Hilda was one of the main champions of Celtic usages in the Synod of Whitby 664, but she accepted the ruling of Synod in favour of Roman practice.
In the Cathedral window of Saint Hilda there is a small serpent, a symbol of wisdom, and an image of Whitby Abbey; at the top, Hilda is shown with Bega and Caedmon. Saint Hilda’s day is November 17th.