Bosa of York

Last updated

Bishop of York
Appointed678 (first appointment)
691 (second appointment)
Term ended687 (first tenure)
c. 705 (second tenure)
Predecessor Wilfrid
Successor John of Beverley
Personal details
Diedc. 705
Feast day9 March

Bosa (died c. 705) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of York during the 7th and early 8th centuries. He was educated at Whitby Abbey, where he became a monk. Following Wilfrid's removal from York in 678 the diocese was divided into three, leaving a greatly reduced see of York, to which Bosa was appointed bishop. He was himself removed in 687 and replaced by Wilfrid, but in 691 Wilfrid was once more ejected and Bosa returned to the see. He died in about 705, and subsequently appears as a saint in an 8th-century liturgical calendar.



Bosa was a Northumbrian, educated at Whitby Abbey under the abbess Hilda. [1] He subsequently joined the monastery as a monk, [2] and became one of five men educated at Whitby who went on to become bishops. [3] [lower-alpha 1]

In 678, after Wilfrid was removed from the bishopric of York and banished from Northumbria, [1] the diocese of York was divided into three. [4] Bosa was appointed to the now greatly reduced diocese of York, [1] which included the sub-kingdom of Deira, [2] thanks to the support of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria and Theodore of Tarsus, the Archbishop of Canterbury. [1] [lower-alpha 2] Bosa was consecrated in his cathedral at York in 678 by Theodore, [2] [4] but Wilfrid declared that he was unable to work with Bosa because he did not consider him to be a member of the Catholic Church. [5] Bosa's episcopate lasted nine years, but with Wilfrid back in favour, in 687 Bosa was removed just as his predecessor had been. [1] He returned to York in 691, [6] after Wilfrid was once again expelled. [1] While bishop, Bosa introduced a communal life for the clergy of the cathedral, and set up a continuous liturgy in the cathedral. [2]

Death and legacy

The date of Bosa's death is unknown; [7] he was still alive in 704 but must have died before 706, when his successor was named. [8] His successor at York was John of Beverley, the Bishop of Hexham. [9] A contemporary writer, Bede, praised Bosa as a man of "singular merit and sanctity". [10] Bede also praised Bosa's humility. [11] Bosa was also responsible for the early education of Acca, later Bishop of Hexham, who grew up in his household. [12]

Bosa appears as a saint in an 8th-century liturgical calendar from York, the only sign that he was venerated as a saint before the Norman Conquest of England. [13] The 16th-century English antiquary John Leland included Bosa in his list of saint's resting places in England, giving it as York. [13] [14] Bosa's feast day is 9 March. [15]


  1. The other four were Oftfor, Ætla, John of Beverley, and Wilfrid II. [3]
  2. Theodore initially split the diocese into two bishoprics; the newly created Bernicia was given to Eata, while Bosa became bishop of the greatly reduced diocese of York. Bernicia had two episcopal sees, one at Hexham and the other at Lindisfarne. Eata was bishop of the whole of Bernicia for three years, after which Bernicia was itself divided: the see of Hexham was assigned to Trumbert, and Lindisfarne to Eata. [2]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Thacker "Bosa (St Bosa)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Stenton Anglo Saxon England pp. 135–136
  3. 1 2 Blair World of Bede p. 148
  4. 1 2 Brooks Early History of the Church of Canterbury pp. 75–76
  5. Kirby Earliest English Kings p. 91
  6. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 224
  7. Kirby Earliest English Kings p. 120
  8. Palliser "John of Beverley (St John of Beverley)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  9. Higham (Re-)Reading Bede pp. 59–60
  10. Quoted in Higham (Re-)Reading Bede p. 159
  11. Higham (Re-)Reading Bede p. 174
  12. Higham (Re-)Reading Bede p. 180
  13. 1 2 Blair "Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Saints" Local Saints and Local Churches p. 518
  14. Blair "Saint for Every Minster?" Local Saints and Local Churches pp. 487–489
  15. Farmer Oxford Dictionary of Saints p. 71

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Christian titles
Preceded by Bishop of York
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of York
691–c. 705
Succeeded by