St. Wilfrid of York was born in 634 in Northumbria, England. After his mother died, his father remarried a woman who made Wilfrid’s life miserable, and at the age of 14, he went to the court of Oswy, King of Northumbria. For three years, he studied at the monastery of Lindisfarne, and then went to Rome with St. Benedict Bishop to study under Archdeacon Boniface.
For three years in Lyons, Wilfrid lived as a monk, but he left when Christians were being persecuted, and went to Ripon, where he was appointed abbot of the monastery there, and brought it under Benedictine Rule.
In 664, Wilfrid worked at the Synod of Whitby to bring Roman liturgical practice and rules to the region, which drove Bishop Colman and several of the monks out. He was chosen as the new bishop and traveled to France to be ordained. He faced a lot of troubles on his trip to England, when he wrecked his ship on Sussex and met with hostile pagans, but finally landed there in 666. The Church had already selected a new bishop, St. Chad, to replace him because it had taken him so long to return, so Wilfrid retired to the monastery at Ripon and evangelized in Mercia and Kent. In 669, Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury determined that Wilfrid should be the rightful bishop, Chad withdrew, and Wilfrid took over.
As bishop, Wilfrid founded Benedictine monasteries, enforced the Roman ritual, and rebuilt the minister of York. Archbishop Theodore tried to subdivide Wilfrid’s diocese and reduce his influence, but Pope Agatho reversed the subdivision, and the intruding bishops were removed. Wilfrid was then exiled to Sussex following accusations that he had bought off the pope from the King of England at the time.
Wilfrid worked as a missionary in Sussex, and then reconciled with Archbishop Theodore in 686. When a new king of Northumbria was crowned, the Archbishop instated Wilfrid as bishop of Hexham, and then of York. After another consolidation attempt and another appeal to Rome, Wilfrid became bishop of Hexham and Ripon, and not York.
St. Wilfrid died in 709 at Northhamptonshire, England. He is the patron saint of Ripon, England.