A leading figure in the 12th century proto-Renaissance, Hugh of Lincoln has suffered a spectacular historical decline, going from being one of the most famous saints in English history at one point to a virtual unknown today.
He was born in Avalon in southern France around 1135. His father was the local lord and a soldier, who later retired to a monastery near Grenoble. Hugh’s mother died when he was sent to boarding school, becoming a religious novice at 15 and a deacon four years later.
In 1159, Hugh was sent to a nearby Benedictine monastery in Saint-Maximin, after which he left the order to enter the Grande Chartreuse, the head monastery of the Carthusian order, just outside Grenoble.
In this famously austere environment he rose to become procurator, before being sent to Witham Charterhouse priory in Somerset, the first of the Carthusian houses in England. . . .
He also rebuilt Lincoln Cathedral, which had been damaged in 1186, and consecrated St Giles’s in Oxford in 1200. But he was also overworked, taking on the thankless task of being a diplomat for the new king, Richard’s appalling brother, John, and he died on November 16 1200.
Canonised 20 years later, St Hugh was very well known in the later medieval period but became less so after the Reformation.
He is the patron of sick children, shoemakers and swans.
David Farmer's 1985 biography is still probably the most reliable source. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
St. Hugh of Lincoln, pray for us!