Saint of the day:
Saint Hugh of Lincoln
Patron Saint of sick children, sick people, shoemakers and swans
Saint Hugh of Lincoln's StorySaint Hugh of Lincoln's Story
Carthusian bishop and missionary to England. Born in Avalon Castle in Burgundy, France, the son of William, Lord of Burgundy, Hugh was raised by monks at Villard Benoit after his mother died when he was eight. While groomed to enter the Augustinian Canons, he was instead drawn to the contemplative life and became a Carthusian in 1160, while visiting the Grande Chartreuse. In 1175, he was invited by King Henry II to found the first English Charterhouse of the Order at Witham, in Somerset. This foundation was part of the king' penances for the murder of St. Thomas Becket. Hugh then became bishop of Lincoln in 1181 at the command of the king, accepting the office only after he was duly and freely elected. Renowned for his goodness and deep learning, Hugh disagreed with Henry and King Richard the Lionhearted on many occasions, but he never lost their respect nor ceased attempting to wield his saintly influence for the good of the Church and the English people. He was also a fervent defender of the English Jews, Protecting them from armed mobs. At his funeral, his bier was carried by notables, including the kings of England and Scotland. Hugh died in Lincoln on November 16, after a journey to France, and his tomb was a popular pilgrim site until its despoilment at the command of King Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Canonized in 1220 by Pope Honorius III, he became the first Carthusian saint.
Legend of the Swan
St. Hugh’s gentleness and innocence attracted animals to him. A day or so after he was welcomed and enthroned at Lincoln, a new swan not seen there before flew in at the bishop’s manor near Stow. It was larger in size and stronger than other swans, and had slightly different markings.
When the bishop first visited Stow, the bird, which had been tamed, was brought to him. Immediately, the swan took and ate bread from his hand and stayed with him like a pet. The bird let himself be touched by the saint, and was not fazed by the commotion surround him. Sometimes when the bishop fed him, the bird would stretch its head and its whole neck into his large, roomy sleeve, and rest its head on his chest.
If St. Hugh was away for a few days, the swan would move about as if looking for or waiting for its master to return. Only with the bishop was it friendly, and it would stand next to the saint as if to defend him against the approach of others.
On his last visit to Stow before his death, the saint found that the swan would not come to meet him as usual. He ordered it brought to him, but it took several days to capture the swan; and when it was finally brought to the bishop, the swan hung its head in grief. No one could understand this behavior, but when the saint died six months later, his people perceived that the swan had been bidding farewell to its friend. The swan lived on at Stow for a long time after St. Hugh’s death, and eventually became the iconographic emblem of the saint.
Minster Yard, Lincoln LN2 1PX, United Kingdom