St William

This statue is outside our church. It was also outside the previous church building.

Died 1154; Canonized 1226; Feast Day June 8th.

William Fitzherbert, or 'of Thwayt' was a nephew of King Stephen and was appointed Archbishop of York in 1142.

Powerful enemies, chiefly the newly arrived White Monks supported by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, contested the appointment on the ground of simony, but Pope Innocent II, St. Bernard's great friend, decided in favour of William, who was consecrated and enthroned. His enemies, however, did not rest till they had him deposed from his see.

William went into retirement as a monk at Winchester and lived a very mortified life, giving an heroic example of patience and resignation, until he was restored to York, where he was received by his people with unbounded joy. He died, perhaps of poison, almost immediately.

An interesting mural at St. Albans shows him as an archbishop, with an escutcheon.

When William reentered York to take up his see, so many people came to see him that the bridge over the Ouse collapsed and a large number of people fell into the river. The fact that no one was hurt was counted as his first miracle. He is sometimes portrayed clutching a piece of wood from the bridge. After he died several people were cured after praying at his tomb. Both these stories attest to William's holiness and his great popularity with the people of York.