Hugh of Lincoln

Infobox bishopbiog
name =Hugh of Avalon

religion =Catholic
See =Diocese of Lincoln
Title = Bishop of Lincoln
Period = 1186–1200
Predecessor = Walter de Coutances
Successor =William de Blois
ordination =
bishops =
post = Prior of Witham Priory
date of birth = between 1135 and 1140
place of birth =Avalon, Burgundy, France
date of death =16 November 1200
place of death =London, England

:"Saint Hugh of Lincoln redirects here. See also Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln."

Hugh of Avalon or Hugh of Burgundy, best known as Saint Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, (1135/1140 – London, 16 November 1200) was at the time of the Reformation the best-known English saint after Thomas Becket.


He was born at the château of Avalon, [ British History Online Bishops of Lincoln] accessed on 28 October 2007] at the border of the Dauphiné with Savoy, the son of William, seigneur of Avalon. His mother Anna died when he was eight, and his father retired to the nearby priory of Villard Benoît at Pontcharra near Grenoble, taking his young son with him.

Hugh did very well, and was suited to the monastic religious life, becoming deacon at the age of nineteen. About 1159 he was sent to be prior of the monastery nearby at Saint-Maxim, then entered the Grande Chartreuse, at the height of its reputation for the rigid austerity of its rules and the earnest piety of its members. There he rose to become procurator, until he was sent in 1179 to become prior of Witham in Somerset, the first English Carthusian house.

Henry II of England, as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket, in lieu of going on crusade as he had promised in his first remorse, had established a Carthusian monastery or "Charterhouse" some time before, which was settled by monks brought from the Grande Chartreuse. There were difficulties in advancing the building works, however, and the first prior was retired and a second soon died. Henry learned of Hugh and sent an influential embassy to demand his services. Most reluctantly, the Carthusians let him go.

Hugh found the monks in great straits, living in log huts and with no plans yet advanced for the more permanent monastery building. Hugh interceded with the king for royal patronage and at last, probably on 6 January 1182, Henry issued a charter of foundation and endowment for Witham Charterhouse. Hugh presided over the new house till 1186 and attracted many to the monastery. Among the frequent visitors was King Henry, for the Charterhouse lay near the borders of the king's chase in Selwood Forest, a favorite hunting ground. Hugh admonished Henry for keeping dioceses vacant in order to keep their income for the royal chancellery.

In May 1186, Henry summoned a council of bishops and barons at Eynsham Abbey to deliberate on the state of the Church of England and the filling of vacant bishoprics, including Lincoln. On 25 May 1186 the canons of Lincoln were ordered to elect a new bishop and Hugh was elected. Hugh insisted on a second, private election by the cathedral chapter, securely in their Chapterhouse at Lincoln rather than in the King's chapel. His election was confirmed by the results.

Hugh was consecrated Bishop of Lincoln on 21 September 1186Powicke "Handbook of British Chronology" p. 235] at Westminster. Almost immediately he established his independence of the King, excommunicating a royal forester and refusing to seat one of Henry's courtly nominees as a prebendary of Lincoln, but softened the king's anger by his diplomatic address and tactful charm. As a bishop he was exemplary, constantly in residence or travelling within his diocese, generous with his charity, scrupulous in the appointments he made. He raised the quality of education at the cathedral school. Hugh was also prominent in trying to protect the Jews, great numbers of whom lived in Lincoln, in the persecution they suffered at the beginning of Richard I's reign, and he put down popular violence against them in several places.

Lincoln Cathedral had been badly damaged by an earthquake in 1185, and Bishop Hugh set about rebuilding and greatly enlarging it, making it the first English structure in the new Gothic style; however, he only lived to see the choir well begun. As one of the premier bishops of the Kingdom of England he more than once accepted the role of diplomat to France for Richard and then for King John in 1199, a trip that ruined his health. While attending a national council in London a few months later, he was stricken with an unnamed ailment, and died two months later on 16 November 1200.


Infobox Saint
name=Hugh of Lincoln
death_date=Death date|df=yes|1200|11|16
feast_day=17 November
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church
Anglican Communion

birth_place=Avalon, Burgundy, France
death_place=London, England
titles=Bishop of Lincoln
canonized_date=17 February 1220
canonized_by=Pope Honorius III
attributes=a white swan
patronage=sick children, sick people, and swans

Hugh's primary emblem is a white swan, in reference to the story of the swan of Stowe which had a deep and lasting friendship for the saint, even guarding him while he slept. The swan would follow him about constantly, and was his constant companion whilst he was at Lincoln.

He was canonized by Pope Honorius III on 17 February 1220, and is the Patron Saint of sick children, sick people, and swans.

His "vita" was written by his chaplain, a Benedictine monk and his constant associate; it remains in manuscript form in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

He is the namesake of St Hugh's College, Oxford, where a 1920s statue of the saint stands on the stairs of the Howard Piper Library. In his right hand, he holds an effigy of Lincoln Cathedral, and his right hand rests on the head of a swan.

At the site of Avalon, a round tower in a Romantic gothic taste was built by the Carthusians in the 19th century in his honour. [ La tour d'Avalon] accessed on 28 October 2007]

ee also

* List of bishops of Lincoln and precursor offices
* Community of Hermits of St. Bruno in the Carthusian Tradition of St. Hugh's Charterhouse



* [ British History Online Bishops of Lincoln] accessed on 28 October 2007
* King, Richard John "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Eastern Division" (1862) ( [ On-line text] ).
* [ La tour d'Avalon] accessed on 28 October 2007 - In French
* Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde "Handbook of British Chronology" 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961

External links

* [ Patron Saints Index: St. Hugh of Lincoln]
* [ "Catholic Encyclopedia": St. Hugh of Lincoln]
* [ Britannia Biographies: St. Hugh of Lincoln]
* [ Château et bourg fortifié d'Avalon] (in French)
* [ M.R. James, "Witham Priory, the first Carthusians in England"]
* [ Picture of St. Hugh with his swan.]

NAME=Hugh of Lincoln
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Saint Hugh of Lincoln; Hugh of Avalon; Hugh of Burgundy
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Bishop of Lincoln; Saint
DATE OF BIRTH=circa 1137
DATE OF DEATH=16 November 1200

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  • HUGH OF LINCOLN° — (c. 1246–1255), alleged victim of ritual murder. His body was found in a well in the Jewish quarter of lincoln by his mother, about Passover time 1255, near the house of a Jew named Copin. Under torture, Copin stated that he had killed the child… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Hugh von Lincoln — ist der Name folgender Personen: Hugo von Lincoln (1140 1200), Bischof von Lincoln Hugh von Lincoln (Ritualmordlegende) († 1255), angeblich Opfer eines Ritualmords Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit de …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hugh of Lincoln —    1) (Little St Hugh)     (d. 1255)    Martyr.    As a child of nine, Hugh was murdered in the town of Lincoln and his body was thrust into a well. His murderer was unknown, but it was rumoured that a wealthy Jew named Koppin had conspired with… …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Hugh of Lincoln — (1247–55)    Al leged blood libel victim. In 1255 the dead body of Hugh, an eight year old child, was found in a cesspool in the Jewish quarter of Lincoln, near the house of a Jew named Copin. The latter was promptly arrested, and under torture… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Hugh of Lincoln, Saint — • Biography of this Augustinian and later a Carthusian, d. 1200, canonized 1220 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hugh of Lincoln, Saint — ▪ French bishop born c. 1140, Avalon, France died Nov. 16, 1200, London, Eng.; canonized 1220; Anglican feast day November 16       French born bishop of Lincoln, Eng., who became the first Carthusian monk to be canonized.       On his mother s… …   Universalium

  • Hugh of Lincoln, Little Saint — ▪ English martyr born 1245, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, Eng. died Aug. 27, 1255, Lincoln; feast day August 27 [suppressed]       legendary English child martyr who was supposedly murdered by members of the local Jewish community for ritual purposes.… …   Universalium

  • Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln — This article is about the boy known as Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, who was the subject of a Medieval blood libel in 1255. For information about the adult saint, see Hugh of Lincoln . Hugh of Lincoln (1247 August, 1255) was an English boy, whose …   Wikipedia

  • Saint Hugh of Lincoln —     St. Hugh of Lincoln     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► St. Hugh of Lincoln     Born about the year 1135 at the castle of Avalon, near Pontcharra, in Burgundy; died at London, 16 Nov., 1200. His father, William, Lord of Avalon, was sprung from one… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Lincoln (England) —     Lincoln     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Lincoln     ANCIENT DIOCESE OF LINCOLN (LINCOLNIENSIS).     This see was founded by St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 678, when he removed the Lindiswaras of Lincolnshire from the Diocese of… …   Catholic encyclopedia

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