November 17th is the feast day of another of ‘our saints’ at St Chrysostom’s. Hugh of Lincoln (d. 1200) is celebrated by a beautiful window in the north aisle of church. John Russell, parish assistant (2013/14) and now training for priesthood at Mirfield, invites us to reflect on Hugh’s life:
Hugh was a French monk sent to England to set up a religious house in Somerset. Henry II was impressed by his spirituality and his intelligence and nominated Hugh as bishop of Lincoln. Hugh found the diocese in a very poor state – the office of bishop had been vacant for 18 years, Henry II had been appropriating the income, and the cathedral had been devastated by an earthquake. Over time, Hugh made Lincoln a centre of learning that rivalled Paris.
Hugh championed the oppressed, providing settlements for lepers and defended the Jewish communities which were often subject to persecution. Hugh advised three very difficult monarchs and succeeded in staying on good terms with all three, though he was not afraid to speak out when he thought they were acting unjustly. Hugh is patron of sick people, shoemakers, and swans.
Hugh managed to challenge people while retaining his good humour. On more than one occasion, he single-handedly faced down an armed mob attacking a Jewish person, and persuaded them to release their victim.
Some thoughts from Hugh’s life. Are we hospitable to people of other faiths?How do we respond to injustice when you see it? Do we take action to challenge bullies and oppressors, or do we stay quiet and pass by with relief that it’s not happening to us?