(d. 1127)

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(d. 1127),

hermit of Coquet Island. A Dane by birth, Henry became a hermit abroad rather than marry unhappily at home. He then went to Tynemouth and agreed with the prior to settle on Coquet, an island which had had a community of monks in the age of Bede and where Cuthbert used to meet Elfleda, abbess of Whitby. He lived in the simplest way, earning subsistence by looking after a garden, pursuing his chosen austerities in spite of discouragement from the monk who looked after the island. After some years a party of Danes tried to persuade him to return to his own country, where there was no lack of sites suitable for hermits. But after a night in prayer and the experience of a locution from the figure of Christ crucified, he decided to stay on. As his holiness became known, visitors became more numerous, attracted by his special gifts of prophecy, telekinesis, and reading the secrets of hearts. One interesting example of the last was his reproof and punishment of a man who had refused his wife sexual intercourse during Lent.

Henry fell ill; with lack of care his illness increased, but so also did his cheerfulness in enduring it alone. Finally, he rang his hermit's bell for help; when the monk arrived Henry was dead, holding the bell rope in one hand and a candle in the other. In spite of strong resistance from the islanders, the monks of Tynemouth took back his body to their monastery and buried it in the sanctuary, near their patron Oswin. Feast: 16 January. His name occurs in later martyrologies but there is no surviving early record of his feast.

AA.SS. Ian. II (1643), 424–6; N.L.A., ii. 22–6.

Subjects: Christianity.

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