Eata of Hexham

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Eata of Hexham
Bishop of Hexham
The seven canonised Saxon bishops of Hexham (part 1), former reredos, Hexham Abbey - - 748673.jpg
Eata is the central image
Term ended681
Predecessor Trumbert
Successor John of Beverley
Other posts Bishop of Lindisfarne (682-685)
of Bernicia (678-682)
Abbot of Melrose
Personal details
Died685 or 686
DenominationOrthodox Christian / pre-schism Catholic of the Celtic tradition
Feast day26 October

Eata (died 26 October 686), also known as Eata of Lindisfarne, was Bishop of Hexham from 678 until 681, [1] and of then Bishop of Lindisfarne from before 681 until 685. [2] He then was translated back to Hexham where he served until his death in 685 or 686. [1] He was the first native of Northumbria to take the bishopric of Lindisfarne.

Bishop of Hexham

The Bishop of Hexham was an episcopal title which took its name after the market town of Hexham in Northumberland, England. The title was first used by the Anglo-Saxons in the 7th and 9th centuries, and then by the Roman Catholic Church since the 19th century.



Eata was originally taken to Lindisfarne as a boy under Aidan and trained as a monk. He was chosen as one of the 12 monks selected from Lindisfarne to found the new daughter monastery at Melrose. [3] In 651 he was elected abbot of Melrose. Around 658 he left Melrose and founded a new monastery at Ripon in Yorkshire, taking with him the young St Cuthbert, who was his guest-master. In 661 King Alchfrith of Deira expelled Eata from Ripon, because he had appointed Wilfrid as the new abbot. [4] [5] Eata returned to Melrose.

Aidan of Lindisfarne 7th-century Bishop of Lindisfarne and saint

Aidan of Lindisfarne Irish: Naomh Aodhán was an Irish monk and missionary credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. He founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, known as Lindisfarne Priory, served as its first bishop, and travelled ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the socially disenfranchised.

Monk religious occupation

A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.

Monastery complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monks or nuns

A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, and may also serve as an oratory.

The historian Bede described Eata as a gentle and greatly revered man. As an administrator Eata applied his skills at the time of plague, civil disorders and major ecclesiastical change. [6]

In 663 Alhfrith and Wilfrid persuaded King Oswiu to hold the Synod of Whitby to decide whether the local Church, English and Irish, would come into line with the traditions of the universal Church and would practice the Roman [aka Western] Rite of that Church, or would continue to diverge from it where it clashed with Irish traditions as practised in Northumbria. Thus it would decide whether Roman traditions, would take priority in Northumbria over matters such as the clerical tonsure and the date of Easter; the synod decided to accept the arguments of Wilfrid and the king for the universal Church traditions using the Roman Rite, to which Eata, unlike Colmán of Lindisfarne, acquiesced. [7]

The Synod of Whitby in 664 was a Northumbrian synod where King Oswiu of Northumbria ruled that his kingdom would calculate Easter and observe the monastic tonsure according to the customs of Rome, rather than the customs practised by Irish monks at Iona and its satellite institutions. The synod was summoned at Hilda's double monastery of Streonshalh (Streanæshalch), later called Whitby Abbey.

The controversy over the correct date for Easter began in Early Christianity as early as the 2nd century AD. Discussion and disagreement over the best method of computing the date of Easter Sunday has been ongoing and unresolved for centuries. Different Christian denominations continue to celebrate Easter on different dates, with Eastern and Western Christian churches being a notable example.

Colmán of Lindisfarne 7th-century Bishop of Lindisfarne and saint

Colmán of Lindisfarne also known as Saint Colmán was Bishop of Lindisfarne from 661 until 664.

Before Whitby, the abbot of Lindisfarne was also the Bishop of Lindisfarne, after Whitby these two roles were divided. The old abbot, Colman, left Lindisfarne to go back to Iona with 30 English monks. Tuda was selected as the next Bishop of Lindisfarne and Eata moved from Melrose to become abbot of Lindisfarne. He appointed Cuthbert as prior at Lindisfarne. [8]

Iona island off the west coast of Scotland

Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the Ross of Mull on the western coast of Scotland. It is mainly known for Iona Abbey, though there are other buildings on the island. Iona Abbey was a centre of Gaelic monasticism for three centuries and is today known for its relative tranquility and natural environment. It is a tourist destination and a place for spiritual retreats. Its modern Gaelic name means "Iona of (Saint) Columba".

Tuda of Lindisfarne, also known as Saint Tuda, was appointed to succeed Colman as Bishop of Lindisfarne. He served for less than a year. Although raised in Ireland, he was a staunch supporter of Roman practices, being tonsured in the Roman manner and celebrating Easter according to the Roman Computus. However, he was consecrated as bishop in Ireland.

Prior Ecclesiastical title

Prior, derived from the Latin for "earlier, first", is an ecclesiastical title for a superior, usually lower in rank than an abbot or abbess. Its earlier generic usage referred to any monastic superior.

In 678, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore split the diocese of Northumbria into two new bishoprics. Eata became bishop of Bernicia. [3] Bernicia had two episcopal sees, one at Hexham and the other at Lindisfarne. Eata was the bishop of the whole of Bernicia for three years, after which the see of Hexham was assigned to Trumbert, and Lindisfarne to Eata. After the death of Trumbert in 684, Cuthbert was elected Bishop of Hexham, but was reluctant to leave his hermitage on Inner Farne. Following his consecration at York on Easter 685, Cuthbert went to see Eata, who was at Melrose. Eata and Cuthbert exchanged sees shortly thereafter, and for the last year of his life Eata occupied Hexham. [9] Eata died of dysentery at Hexham in 686, [9] and was buried in the Benedictine Abbey of Hexham. [4]

Archbishop of Canterbury senior bishop of the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. The current archbishop is Justin Welby, who was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on 21 March 2013. Welby is the 105th in a line which goes back more than 1400 years to Augustine of Canterbury, the "Apostle to the English", sent from Rome in the year 597. Welby succeeded Rowan Williams.

Theodore of Tarsus 7th-century Archbishop of Canterbury and saint

Theodore of Tarsus was Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, best known for his reform of the English Church and establishment of a school in Canterbury.

Bernicia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England.

Like most of the early saints of the English Church, St. Eata was canonized by general repute of sanctity among the faithful in the regions which he helped to Christianize. [3]


Eata is remembered in St. Eats' Chapel and St. Eata's Well, both in Alvie, on the south shore of Loch Alvie, in Scotland. [10]

The only church dedicated to him in England is St Eata's Church at Atcham in Shropshire, where he is depicted in one of the stained glass windows. [6]


  1. 1 2 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 217
  2. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 219
  3. 1 2 3 Macpherson, Ewan. "St. Eata." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 12 May 2013
  4. 1 2 Walsh A New Dictionary of Saints p. 166
  5. Stephanus Vita Wilfridi 8
  6. 1 2 St. Eata's, Atcham, Shrewsbury Archived 4 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Bede Ecclesiastical History of England Chapter 25
  8. Bede Ecclesiastical History of England Chapter 26
  9. 1 2 Odden, Per Einer. "Den hellige Eata av Hexham (d. 686)", Den katolske kirke, February 1, 2000
  10. "Eata Bishop of Hexham", Saints in Scottish Place-Names

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Christian titles
New diocese
sub-divided from York
Bishop of Bernicia
sub-divided into
Lindisfarne and Hexham
New diocese
sub-divided from Bernicia
Bishop of Lindisfarne
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Bishop of Hexham
Succeeded by
John of Beverley