June 7, 2017

Saint William of York, Archbishop

Saint William of York

The life of William of York could have been taken from the pages of a modern tabloid. All the elements of a scandal were present— bribery, suspected sexual misconduct, undue influence on the part of those in power—but, in the end, William proved himself to be both a gentle and holy man, one who was able to forgive those who had sought to destroy and discredit him.

William was born in England in the 10th century, into a family that had at least some connection to the throne itself. A very nasty and protracted dynastic struggle, however, turned many things political on their heads, and William’s own nomination as Archbishop of York came under hostile scrutiny. He was accused of simony and sexual misconduct, and some believed that the only reason for his elevation was due to the influence of the crown. Though eventually cleared of all charges, he was nonetheless deposed and retired to live an austere monastic life.

The election of a new pope saw William returned to York as Archbishop, where he was quick to forgive those who had opposed him. Unfortunately, he had only been in office two months when he died suddenly in 1154; poisoning was suspected but never proven. When miracles began occurring at his tomb, people recognized him as a saint. He was canonized in 1227. His feast day is June 8th. His relics were later translated in a shrine behind the high altar of York Minster,

St. William, you were chosen by God to be Archbishop of York, but were unjustly accused of sin. Your election was opposed by many in favor of another. Yet, you never took your eyes off of Christ and His will for you. You devoted yourself to a life of prayer and mortification. After many years, you were finally restored to the See that was rightfully yours. Instead of spite, you showed the utmost amount of forgiveness and love  to those who opposed you. Help us to follow your example of perseverance and forgiveness so that we persevere in doing God's will. Amen.

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