stwoy_logoThe Jack Pledger WindowSt. William of York ChurchArchdiocese of Southwark

Our Patron Saint: Saint William of York

by Paul Barber

ArmsThe only statue in the nave of the church is that of our Patron, Saint William of York. William Fitzherbert was born around 1100, a nephew of King Stephen. He entered the service of the Church and progressed rapidly, soon becoming Treasurer of York Minster and Archdeacon of the West Riding.

On the death in 1141 of the Archbishop of York, William was elected by the Chapter as the successor. The supporters of a rival candidate, Henry Murdac, Abbot of the powerful Fountain Abbey appealed unsuccessfully to the Pope to overturn the the election and William was consecrated and enthroned. William, however, failed to collect his pallium from Rome (a small woollen garment, the symbol of authority given to archbishops by the Pope).This was a great mistake as a year later his rivals appealed to the new Pope who deposed William, by then a popular bishop, and replaced him with Henry.

William went into exile quietly and lived the life of a simple benedictine in Winchester until the death of Henry in 1154 when he was restored.

On his return to Yorkshire, so many people turned out to greet him that the bridge over the River Ouse collapsed and thousands fell in the river. The fact that no-one was hurt was accounted William's first miracle.

William died later in the same year and many people were cured after praying at his tomb. In 1227 he was canonised, and a few years later, with much ceremony, his body was translated to a shrine behind the high altar. King Edward the I, who had a devotion to William, attended the service and was given a relic of William by the Dean and Chapter. This he had placed on the high altar in St. Georges Chapel, Windsor, where it remained until the time of Henry VIII when it was rescued from destruction by Sir Richard Weston, who hid it along with other relics in the wall of his house at Sutton Place.

These were discovered in the late 19th century and the relic of Saint William was given to Fr. Hayes when he first came here in 1905. It now rests in the reliquary beneath the altar.

50th Anniversary of the Consecration of St. William of York

Monday 5th May 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the Consecration of St. William of York Church!