St. Wilfrid (634-709) was born in Northumberland, educated at Lindesfarne and then spent some time in Lyons and Rome. When he returned to England, he made it his life’s work to bring the English Church in line with Roman practice. He was elected Abbot of Ripon in 658 and Bishop of York in 669. During his life, he established many monasteries which followed the Rule of St. Benedict. After a conflict with St. Theodore, Bishop of Canterbury, he was forced into exile. During that time, he worked hard to evangelize the southern Saxons. He was recalled in 686, but forced into exile again in 691.
In 703, he resigned his post and retired to his monastery at Ripon where he spent his remaining time in prayer and penitential practices, until his death in 709. St. Wilfrid was an outstanding personage of his day, extremely capable and possessed of unbounded courage, remaining firm in his convictions despite running afoul of civil and ecclesiastical authorities. He helped bring the discipline of the English Church into line with that of Rome. He was also a dedicated pastor and a zealous and skilled missionary; his brief time spent in Friesland in 678-679 was the starting point for the great English mission to the Germanic peoples of continental Europe.