(c. 670—740) bishop of Hexham

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St Wilfrid (c. 634—709) bishop of Hexham

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(d. 740), Benedictine monk, bishop of Hexham 709–32. As a young man he joined the household of Bosa, bishop of York; later he became the disciple of Wilfrid and was his constant companion for thirteen years, including those which were spent in various journeys on the Continent. When Wilfrid was ill at Meaux in 705, Acca was told the story of his vision. On his deathbed Wilfrid named Acca his successor as abbot of Hexham. In fact, Acca became bishop as well: he completed three of Wilfrid's smaller churches and adorned the principal one with altars, relics, and sacred vessels. A skilled singer himself, he entrusted his cathedral chant to Maban, a monk from Canterbury.

Acca was a notable scholar. The wide range and outstanding quality of his theological library were praised by Bede, who dedicated several of his biblical works to Acca in language of respectful friendship. Acca, for his part, urged Bede to write a simple commentary on Luke, as that of Ambrose was too long and diffuse. He also supplied material to Bede for the Ecclesiastical History and to Eddius for his Life of Wilfrid.

In 732 Acca either retired or was expelled from his see of Hexham for reasons unknown. The Hexham tradition, supported by two Martyrologies, asserts that he became bishop of Whithorn. Other writers connect his retirement with that of Ceolwulf, king of Northumbria, in the same year, or with the arrival at York of Egbert as bishop.

Acca was buried at Hexham, near the east wall of the cathedral. At his tomb were placed two stone crosses, decorated with Mediterranean-style patterns of grapes and tendrils, part of which survive. In the late 11th century his relics were translated by Alfred Westow, priest of Hexham and sacrist of Durham. In the coffin was found a portable altar inscribed Almae Trinitati, agiae Sophiae, sanctae Mariae. His relics were translated in 1154 and again in 1240. Feast: 20 October; translation 19 February.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.

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